"You're Not Alone … Really": Coping with the Ups and Downs of Expat Life
by Andrea McKenna Brankin
I know I’m not alone on this topic---MOVING, ugh.
Many of us are dealing with unplanned moves due to (egregious) rate hikes on our houses and condominiums. This is a fact. I’ve certainly met many fellow members who have faced this and are struggling to come to terms with the situation, which is so upsetting and seems really unfair.
My own investigations reveal some discrepancies. While there is a supposed market demand from new expats, I have to say that, in our family’s research, there aren't as many people coming in as anticipated and at least the units available in my condo are not renting for sky-high prices. So, It’s very hard to be the one family at our complex on the end of the deal where rent is just too much and we have to consider moving. It makes me sad and angry. But what to do, Lah?
Indeed, moving is considered one of the most stressful life events you can go through. It ranks right up there with changing jobs and death of a loved one. Sigh. I have been beside myself in the past few weeks, absolutely dreading having to go through all our stuff, cull and then having to replace household items and furniture, etc. once we get a new place. Reconfiguring where everything goes takes up a LOT of time in my mental space as I face relocating, the last time of which was six years ago.
In the interest of connecting to this month’s theme of jumping into something new, managing change and taking a leap of faith that new things will work out, I wanted to offer some of my recent mind shifts on the subject of moving house.
As of this writing, I’m doing these affirmations daily: It will work out. It will be nice to start in a new space. It will be nice to redo the house. And more.
My epiphany came just a few weeks ago when I had an overnight spa scheduled for the expat fav locale, Tempat Senang spa, located on the island of Batam. Initially, I thought, OMG, I better not obsess about whether or not we are moving on the six-hour spa time! That’d be a long day on the massage table to feel stressed and miserable. Instead, something special occurred: I realized that I am being given the chance to start my house plan and designing all over.
Rather than dwelling on being forced to move and redo the house, I shifted my mindset to this more positive tone, in which I realized I could now take the opportunity to totally redecorate my place. That means fun furniture shopping (or at least I plan to make it fun, linking it to cocktails and dinner post-shopping). Maybe I’ll take a trip to Bali or Vietnam or Thailand to buy some wall art. It’s a nice time for me to revisit my dream of having a Balinese style living room (or EVERY room). My daughter can even get in on the fun by designing her new bedroom.
Other things that were getting me down about moving included not being located close to the things we are used to. Many friends have shared this lament as well. But, with my new mindset, I am choosing to see this potential move as the option to discover a new neighborhood, new back gates, new gardens, new pools, and maybe even get me closer to a beloved wine bar.
Worrying about how our kids will adjust surely is a concern for many. Sometimes, kids are even more adaptable than adults. I hope a new bus route might be exciting for my daughter and maybe it’s a later pickup time? Too much to ask? We’ll see.
Overall, I’m going to continue to lean towards the pros over the cons. In my head and in my heart, while sitting in limbo at the spa, I realized it just feels better to think positively about the situation. I surprised myself at how happy I was with this mind shift. Maybe you will be too.
Wherever we all may land, we can find comfort in the fact that we are all dealing with this issue in one form or another. We can stick together. You’re definitely not alone.
A mental health advocate and author of the book Bipolar Phoenix, Andrea runs the AWA Listen Ladies Group, providing confidential support for members at regular meetings. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org