At the moment I have a cold … Not earth-shattering news, admittedly – but, when you haven’t had one for approximately four years, it’s remarkable enough to warrant a note in the diary.

But the bug – probably brought specially from England by a visiting family member – also prompted a train of thought about what you may miss when living overseas.

So, just in case you’re thinking of making that giant leap and starting a new life in the sun, here are five things you may find hard to do without to begin with – and five you probably won’t:

A beautiful view can be bought along with your property.

A beautiful view can be bought along with your property.


Things you may miss:

Being able to watch British TV at the right time: If you’re a fan of Coronation Street or any of the other soaps, if you watch the news over dinner, or if you like your sport on TV it’s easy to take it for granted that you can flop down in front of any of them and simply flick a switch to watch. Overseas, it might not be that simple. For a start, there’s a time difference to take into account so your favourite show won’t be on at the same time. Then there’s the issue being barred from watching British TV if you’re in certain overseas countries; you may need a VPN to circumnavigate the restrictions and the best ones don’t come free. You may also encounter a bit of buffering; it’s frustrating when images freeze and then jump ahead a few seconds so you miss a bit of plot, a vital line of dialogue or even your team’s goal. As a result you may find yourself longing for the days when you could watch a programme without interruption.

Comfort food: It depends on your tastes of course but you may find some of your favourite food and drink is either hard to find or simply unobtainable. Cheeses, English breakfast tea, British real ale, some sauces and pickles and some brands of biscuits are good examples. Enterprising types may bring back additional supplies to sell after trips back to the UK but competition for them can be stiff and you’ll need to develop ways of keeping your ear to the ground.


The weather: You might not think so but, after a few months sweltering in temperatures over 40C or more, you will probably find yourself hankering after a wet and windy day. You won’t want it to stay that way of course and you might not want to say it out loud – but, sometimes, the thought of a cooler, wetter climate is strangely attractive.

Family & friends: You will probably see quite a lot of them in the first couple of years as they descend on your new place for a cut-price holiday in the sun. However, once they’ve visited a few times, don’t be surprised if you hear they’re looking to try somewhere else. After all, holidays are limited so, once your family and friends have seen the sights and done the trips, not all of them will want to keep coming back to do them again. After a few years, you can begin to feel a little isolated or out on a limb and, if you want to keep in touch, the onus may be on you to return “home” from time to time.

Being able to walk into a shop or restaurant and speak your own language: This one is probably not something you notice until the first time you return “home”. It’s quite exciting to use a new language to get by and, often, you’ll find staff in shops, bars and restaurants speak a little English anyway. Nevertheless, if you live overseas, leaving the house means preparing yourself for a linguistic challenge of some sort – so not having to do so can feel a little liberating.


Things you won’t miss:

Colds, coughs and sneezes: We’ve sort of covered that one already. Whether it’s diet or just because the other causes of the common cold are not as ubiquitous, getting one seems to be a much rarer occurrence. You can still pick them up of course, but they’re just nowhere near as frequent.

The weather: Weeks of overcast grey skies, sub-zero temperatures and rain will be a thing of the past. No matter where you decide to live, there will still be a winter – but, if you’re heading to the counties where we have property for sale, it’s unlikely it’ll be anywhere near as grim. Indeed, there will be days in December and January in Spain, Portugal, Turkey or Greece that still feel a little like an English summer. Enjoy them!

The huge coat: You won’t need a cupboard full of them anymore. It’s best to keep one just in case but your wardrobe is likely to be that bit less bulky. Jeans and jumpers for winter; shorts and T-shirts for summer. There’s no need for anything that resembles a costume from Game of Thrones.


The 9 to 5 Routine: There’s something about life as an expat which is a little more spontaneous. A routine of sorts still exists for many – indeed, some even create one for a sense of security or familiarity. But, because the weather is a little more predictable, folk don’t scurry indoors at 5pm and stay there until the morning. Indeed, one of the big risks to begin with is to find yourself enjoying your tipple in the sunshine at your favourite bar a tad too often, which can start to eat away at your bank balance; there will be barbecues and parties too. But, as long as you don’t over-indulge, there’s a lot to be said for making new friends and socialising a little more than you may be used to at “home”.

Political correctness and the “fun police”: Not for one moment would we advocate a reckless approach to health and safety or a disregard for how your behaviour can impact on others. Nevertheless, there are some who would say that perhaps the pendulum has swung a little too far in the UK. Sometimes it’s actually refreshing to make your own decisions about your activities and not have Big Brother or a Nanny State make them for you.

Hopefully, all the above helps but if there’s anything else you’d like to know about starting a new life as an expat, feel free to give us a call or drop us a line. We have a variety of villas and apartments for sale to suit all budgets in Portugal, Spain, Greece and Turkey and can help with some of the paperwork too.

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