For unhappy expats life abroad can be hell

By annanicholas

The great conundrum about unhappy expats is whether they were always miserable or became so when they set foot in a new country. Aye there’s the rub.
Why are some expats so unhappy?

I was pondering this question when a long established expat in my valley pounced on me as I shopped in the market. Rolling her eyes and puffing like a distressed hippo she recounted events of her disastrous summer. The catalogue of horrors included interminable sunshine, pollen in the pool, visitors, lazy workmen and gardeners and the icing on the cake, plagues of insects. Ah, how those invasions of wasps, flies, frogs, mosquitoes and ants had all but driven her to the vodka bottle. It’s of course true. After more than a decade living in rural Majorca, we’ve experienced many of Egypt’s ten plagues, but thank our lucky stars that we’ve so far avoided boils, locusts and bloodied water. As for tardy builders and gardeners, everyone knows here that as soon as the first day of August arrives they melt away like butter on a hot pan.

But of course, there was more to come. The traumatised expat told me how awful the local builders were in her village. Oh! Now that September had arrived they were back at the crack of dawn with their drills and hammers, chisels and saws and why, for crying out loud, did they have to sing and shout and whistle so much? And she was being driven to distraction by the constant clanging of the village church bell, the cockerels, the damned dogs barking, the donkeys braying, and the late night music from the local fiestas. The tourists had been so annoying taking the parking spaces and snaffling all the baguettes in the local bakery early morning, and she was furious that lack of rain meant her garden hose was gasping like a dying man in a desert.

I asked her if she had any good news to impart. That required some thought. After a a few moments she told me that, thank heavens, she was back in the UK for a week and would have a chance to recharge her batteries and enjoy a little cool weather and some real culture.

Perhaps, I mooted, life abroad just wasn’t for her and she really should contemplate upping sticks and hot footing it back to her beloved Blighty. Return to the UK? Had I not read about the riots, the pollution, disastrous economy, appalling state of the NHS, crooked banks, rising costs, and lack of sun? No, she was staying put. Nothing would induce her to return home.

And so it would appear that certain expats really are unhappy wherever they are because, quite simply, they are unhappy people. Let’s hope in their dotage they won’t feel it necessary to quote the writer Colette when she said: “What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realised it sooner.”