What Makes Expats Move On

Palm trees on Cayo Sombrero

How could I ever say goodbye to Venezuelan beaches like Cayo Sombrero?!

A while ago I wrote about why expats stay in difficult places. I was trying to explain what brought me back to Venezuela, a country that I fell in love with and have lived in for the past four plus years. Now I’m well into my second month of my fifth year in Venezuela and I’m asking myself “what makes expats move on?”

If you look at my resume you can see that I’ve moved my fair share. I left the international school in Mexico because I wasn’t making enough to pay my student loan payments (even with tutoring three times a week). I left the international school in China because I was kind of depressed that two of my grandparents died, my boyfriend broke up with me, and I was constantly working until 9PM and still felt like I was drowning in work. I left my first school in Venezuela because I wanted more professional development, I had friends working at CIC who described it as a dream school (it is!), and I had fallen in love with Valencia.

I’m just one person, though. What makes someone leave a school/country/job that they feel is a dream school/position? I often joke with my friends that I wish I could just pick up my current school and put it in another country with fewer hardships (maybe Mexico or Colombia). Sadly, I can’t take my school somewhere else, so what will finally convince me to leave this place?

I asked my friends what would make them leave Venezuela and here are some answers I got:

  1. Family in the US: One of my friends last year just had a grandbaby join the world and she wanted to be a part of his life. Two of my friends are talking about leaving because they want their children to have more contact with their grandparents in the US too.
  2. Hardships in Venezuela: I haven’t seen shampoo, soap, sugar, flour, toilet paper, nor can you find most medicines in stores. Inflation is out of control and costs have doubled this year. I only have running water for a couple of hours a day (a lucky bunch has water tanks to alleviate this, but I don’t). We also have regular power outages. Everyone agrees that this year the internet has also been cutting out more than ever too.
  3. Danger: Three of my friends were out at some hot springs the other day and overheard people talking about kidnapping them. Two of my friends were in a café a block from my house and witnessed an armed robbery. A friend was walking his dog in the early morning with his toddler and was robbed at gunpoint. I was driving in rush hour and was in an attempted armed robbery. Five men were shot dead just outside of my apartment. People just don’t feel very safe in Venezuela. (I wrote some tips about ways to stay safe in a dangerous location because of this.)
  4. Career Advancement: I know quite a few people that moved on from Venezuela to dream schools of their own.
  5. Wanderlust: sometimes you just want to see the world and as an international teacher there is no reason why you shouldn’t.

What is Enough to Make You Stay?

I don’t know anymore. I used to say that you have at least two of three things to be happy enough: a good work life (check), a great city (sometimes), a good personal life (great friends but no love life here).  At this point it is all mixed up for me.

I am really happy most days at school and I love my coworkers. I absolutely love every weekend full of Salsa Casino, Bachata, and Kizomba. I’ve even started going to two dance practices during the week at a local friend’s house! I also enjoy going to the gym and on hikes after school, so I feel like I am keeping super busy (in the best way possible). However, I think I’m feeling a combination of reasons 2, 3, 4, and 5 because I feel like I’m getting ready to move on in the 2017-2018 school year.

I have a list of 90 schools worldwide (this is what wanderlust really looks like friends!) that I would love to work at and I’m sure the list would grow even more if I started really looking. I haven’t yet registered with Search Associates, TIE, or UNI, but I feel like I’m getting closer to it every day. For me, I think it will be the hardships here are what will finally push me into moving on.

Please comment below: What do you think? What is the thing that finally convinced you to move on to a new location/school/job?


3 responses to “What Makes Expats Move On

  1. Hello,
    I am a senior in the honors program at Central Michigan University. One of my requirements for graduation is the completion of a research project. I am conducting mine on international education. I am interviewing teachers at international schools around the world about their experiences. I came across your blog while conducting my research and am very intrigued. Your teaching experiences seem so interesting! I was wondering if I could use you as one of my interview subjects for my project.


  2. Thank you so much! I’m conducting the interviews over email because international calls are tricky and I (unfortunately) cannot travel all over! Is there an email address I can reach you at?


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