Author Topic: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.  (Read 6429 times)  

Offline Colin

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #25 on: July 12, 2017, 03:08:09 PM »
I expatted myself to Spain for four years. Now I write with a slightly Spanish accent.

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Offline kathrynoh

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #26 on: July 12, 2017, 03:23:35 PM »
I travel permanently and I've found almost anywhere in the world is cheaper than Australia, except maybe Hong Kong.

I can totally understand the idea that expatting is for creativity. It's not just a cheaper cost of living but that you start to look at things differently. There are a zillion things you do without even thinking in your everyday life, things you take for granted because you've always done them and so does everyone else around you but once you get out of that environment you find that everything changes. Just a trip to the supermarket and simple things like that become a challenge.  As a writer, seeing life through fresh eyes is always an asset. It's not just about exploring new places but having a different perspective on life back home.


I blog, usually about stuff unrelated to writing. I write short stories that don't sell and romance (under a pen name) that does.

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #27 on: July 12, 2017, 04:00:36 PM »
I wish you'd write a book about managing a peripatetic life like yours, Kathrynoh.  I lived overseas for a number of years, but always settled in one country with one job. I'm looking at doing your wandering stint in a few years (I won't leave while my fuzzy little guy is still around to get fur on the furniture), and that's very different from settling down in one spot for a couple of years.

I saw your original posts on a the 20Books50K FB site, Jayden, and was cheering for you. Glad it's working out so well.  Thanks for starting the thread.  (San Miguel de Allende has been high on my list for a long, long time)

Offline aimeeeasterling

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #28 on: July 12, 2017, 04:52:44 PM »
A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I decided to pull up our roots in southwest Virginia and move...somewhere. I was looking at Nova Scotia for a variety of reasons, but my husband reined me in to settle on the Athens, Ohio, area instead. This thread is much appreciated since, as reality sinks in, any sort of large move seems daunting since stress tends to make it hard for me to write. Your experience of a move making writing easier was very timely, so thank you!

Offline kathrynoh

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2017, 04:53:44 PM »
I wish you'd write a book about managing a peripatetic life like yours, Kathrynoh.  I lived overseas for a number of years, but always settled in one country with one job. I'm looking at doing your wandering stint in a few years (I won't leave while my fuzzy little guy is still around to get fur on the furniture), and that's very different from settling down in one spot for a couple of years.

I saw your original posts on a the 20Books50K FB site, Jayden, and was cheering for you. Glad it's working out so well.  Thanks for starting the thread.  (San Miguel de Allende has been high on my list for a long, long time)

I'd have to actually be managing my life before i could write that book :) I do blog sometimes.

Check out this blog too - http://gigigriffis.com/blog/ - she travels with her dog. But I do understand what you mean. My sister and I inherited my mum's dog and I'd take him travelling but he has a bad habit of eating things like bed linen!


I blog, usually about stuff unrelated to writing. I write short stories that don't sell and romance (under a pen name) that does.

Offline Herefortheride

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #30 on: July 12, 2017, 08:32:24 PM »
Yeah, I've been doing it for years but only in the last couple got into writing. I have plenty of time for writing or doing whatever I want living in China. I really enjoy the expat lifestyle and it's nice living somewhere which has modern metro in every major city. Health coverage abroad tends to be faster and less expensive pretty much anywhere outside the states so that's nice too.

Offline Abderian

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #31 on: July 12, 2017, 08:47:05 PM »
Come to Taiwan! It's a developed country with all modern infrastructures including excellent public transportation and very cheap, high quality healthcare. The cost of living is cheaper and you can get by with no Chinese. The rest of Asia and Australasia is your playground for holidays. I actually feel more comfortable living here than in the UK in many ways. I think an expat lifestyle works well for many writers as they already feel like they don't quite fit in living in their homeland. Living as an expat you can be as weird as you like and no one minds. In fact, they expect it of you.

Offline Herefortheride

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #32 on: July 12, 2017, 09:08:59 PM »
Come to Taiwan! It's a developed country with all modern infrastructures including excellent public transportation and very cheap, high quality healthcare. The cost of living is cheaper and you can get by with no Chinese. The rest of Asia and Australasia is your playground for holidays. I actually feel more comfortable living here than in the UK in many ways. I think an expat lifestyle works well for many writers as they already feel like they don't quite fit in living in their homeland. Living as an expat you can be as weird as you like and no one minds. In fact, they expect it of you.

I used to live in Taipei. Datong district pretty close to main station.

Offline JTriptych

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #33 on: July 12, 2017, 09:13:56 PM »
I was already living the expat life and semi-retired when I decided to begin writing. I have properties in Thailand and Philippines so I travel back and forth. My son is a dual citizen and I bought new island beachfront property under his name- all I need is a bestseller or two now to get a nice house built by the ocean and I can swim before writing every day. Cost of living is so low I love it though I do occasionally go on trips back to the US to visit relatives.  ;D

Online Matt.Banks

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #34 on: July 12, 2017, 09:18:31 PM »
Glad to hear you're enjoying Guadalajara! I lived there for almost 2 years and it was a wonderful experience. So much so I'm seriously thinking of going back. I'm now in Texas and yet it's near impossible to find some of the dishes I most enjoyed there, like carne en su jugo and birria. I had so many favorite places to eat, and it's a big college town, lots of foreign students and there are many meetup/facebook groups as well. It was so easy to find people to hang out with.

Unfortunately, I didn't get any writing done, but that was a because of a lack of discipline on my part. But I don't consider my time there a waste, I got to know a lot of people, some of whom have inspired characters, and I also did a lot of reading. If you can stick to a plan and be disciplined, I do think it's a great way to get out of your comfort zone or get in a different mindset that could be beneficial to your writing.

Good luck!

Offline JRTomlin

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #35 on: July 12, 2017, 09:22:21 PM »
Actually the majority of expats are older.

With SS payments you can live really well, there are entire communities of retired American's living abroad.

The problem with that is that so many only associate with other expats, in which case - except for finances - they may as well have stayed home. There is no point in being an expat if you don't experience the culture and people there. I've lived in both Europe and Japan and am always astonished at how comparatively few Americans have travelled or lived outside their own country.  I do think it tends to limit your world view.

I'd love to move back to Scotland but am reluctant at the moment to move so far from family. In a couple of years, I may do it anyway.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 09:24:43 PM by JRTomlin »

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Offline Herefortheride

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #36 on: July 12, 2017, 09:38:52 PM »
The problem with that is that so many only associate with other expats, in which case - except for finances - they may as well have stayed home. There is no point in being an expat if you don't experience the culture and people there. I've lived in both Europe and Japan and am always astonished at how comparatively few Americans have travelled or lived outside their own country.  I do think it tends to limit your world view.

I'd love to move back to Scotland but am reluctant at the moment to move so far from family. In a couple of years, I may do it anyway.

That would show a lack of understanding of geography on your part. America is as large as a huge chunk of the entire EU. Americas can travel much farther than a European would travel and still be in America. We can travel half way across the Pacific and still be in the state of Hawaii. We can travel up to the arctic and still be in the state of Alaska. It always surprises me how little Europeans know about geography. This is from an American who has traveled to over twenty countries and lived in three very comfortably. In my current city, we always wonder why the UK expats hole themselves up in pubs and taverns every night with other expats. Usually the Americans I meet are out with locals, learning the language, and getting involved with the local community.

Offline AlecHutson

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #37 on: July 12, 2017, 09:55:46 PM »
That would show a lack of understanding of geography on your part. America is as large as a huge chunk of the entire EU. Americas can travel much farther than a European would travel and still be in America. We can travel half way across the Pacific and still be in the state of Hawaii. We can travel up to the arctic and still be in the state of Alaska. It always surprises me how little Europeans know about geography. This is from an American who has traveled to over twenty countries and lived in three very comfortably. In my current city, we always wonder why the UK expats hole themselves up in pubs and taverns every night with other expats. Usually the Americans I meet are out with locals, learning the language, and getting involved with the local community.

This is all very true. Americans are from a continent-sized country. Living in Maine, California, and Texas is like living in England, Denmark and Greece, in both geographical distance and almost as much in cultural diversity.

I also second that as an American who has lived abroad for 12 years it's been my experience that Americans adapt much better to China than most other country's people. The Koreans and Japanese in Shanghai live in their enclaves, rarely venturing outside their cultural boundaries. The British - as herefortheride said - hang out at their pubs, play their footy, and in my experience make little effort to learn the language and culture. Same with the French. The folk from the smaller European countries - like the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries, and central Europe - integrate much better, which is probably the result of not having a large expat community to fall back on.   


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Offline Travelian

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #38 on: July 12, 2017, 10:43:09 PM »
My take on the Europeans vs Americans expat subject. I'd say on average Europeans are more open to overseas travel than Americans just because they're less cut off geographically from a majority of the nations. And that has an effect on the types of expats who travel from each region.

I know it's a movie but I'll use The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel as an example because I think it's applicable. You have a couple of UK characters who spend much of their time resisting integrating with India. They're retirees with a very UK-centric mindset whose circumstances forced expatriation.

I'd venture to say if they were Americans with the same attachment, they'd be a lot more likely to stick it out in the US. Or would stay closer to home in places like Panama, Mexico, or maybe South America.

On average it's really the more adventurous and open-minded Americans that would cross an ocean to retire. So they're more open to interacting with locals. Whereas Brits as a whole seem more likely to embrace global expatriation than most other nationalities. In other words, I don't think it' a coincidence that the popular movie about Asian expatration came from the UK.

« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 10:55:11 PM by Travelian »

Offline Herefortheride

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #39 on: July 12, 2017, 10:54:28 PM »
My take on the Europeans vs Americans expat subject. I'd say on average Europeans are more open to overseas travel than Americans just because they're less cut off geographically from a majority of the nations. And that has an effect on the types of expats who travel from each region.

I know it's a movie but I'll use The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel as an example because I think it's applicable. You have a couple of UK characters who spend much of their time resisting integrating with India. They're retirees with a very UK-centric mindset whose circumstances forced expatriation.

I'd venture to say if they were Americans with the same attachment, they'd be a lot more likely to stick it out in the US. Or would stay closer to home in places like Panama, Mexico, or maybe South America.

On average it's really the more adventurous and open-minded Americans that would cross an ocean to retire. So they're more open to interacting with locals. Whereas Brits as a whole seem more likely to embrace global expatriation than most other nationalities.

That's a good point.


Offline JRTomlin

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #40 on: July 12, 2017, 10:59:33 PM »
That would show a lack of understanding of geography on your part. America is as large as a huge chunk of the entire EU. Americas can travel much farther than a European would travel and still be in America. We can travel half way across the Pacific and still be in the state of Hawaii. We can travel up to the arctic and still be in the state of Alaska. It always surprises me how little Europeans know about geography. This is from an American who has traveled to over twenty countries and lived in three very comfortably. In my current city, we always wonder why the UK expats hole themselves up in pubs and taverns every night with other expats. Usually the Americans I meet are out with locals, learning the language, and getting involved with the local community.
They're still in America and not experiencing different cultures. More is involved than the size of the country. I turn it around and say I am astonished at how little most Americans know about the rest of the world. Far too many are amazingly parochial and think that the US is the end all and be all of the world.

Maybe you missed the part where I discussed OAP expats who isolate themselves. There are many Brits like that and some Yanks, but Yank OAPs are much less likely to be expats.

However, there is a whole different class of younger expats in the EU, both British and from other EU countries. They are free to work or receive an education in different countries with totally different languages and cultures. and they do so. Many, many thousands of Brits work in continental Europe. This is something that you can't get by moving from Iowa to Minnesota.

ETA: Having lived in the US in Massachusetts, Oregon, California, and Colorado, I couldn't disagree more that there is any radical difference in culture. There are slight differences in slang but next to no cultural diversity. Comparing it to the difference in Greece and England and Norway? Not even in the same universe of differences. :)

If I become an expat again as I was for some years, right after Edinburgh, Scotland, I'd pick Alesund, Norway. Love both countries the most of anywhere I've ever lived/visited. In fact Alesund would come first if the UK does indeed leave the EU and Scotland doesn't become independent.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 11:21:10 PM by JRTomlin »

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Online Alan Petersen

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #41 on: July 12, 2017, 11:15:28 PM »
I'm an expat from Costa Rica living in Northern California. I lived in Minnesota before California and that was more of a cultural adjustment from the Midwest to the West Coast.  ;D

California is crazy expensive compared to Minnesota.

I moved to go to college though not as a writing strategy and I stayed in the states. I like it here. My whole family is still in Costa Rica. A lot of expats down there. Some make it. A lot end up leaving.

Offline JRTomlin

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #42 on: July 12, 2017, 11:24:59 PM »
But ignoring arguments about who are better, Europeans or Americans, I do think that experiencing other different countries, peoples, and cultures are good for expanding our world view. This can only be a good thing for a writer.

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Offline Abderian

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #43 on: July 12, 2017, 11:35:13 PM »
I used to live in Taipei. Datong district pretty close to main station.

Cool! Is that where your avatar was taken?

Offline Herefortheride

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #44 on: July 12, 2017, 11:38:03 PM »
I'm an expat from Costa Rica living in Northern California. I lived in Minnesota before California and that was more of a cultural adjustment from the Midwest to the West Coast.  ;D

California is crazy expensive compared to Minnesota.

I moved to go to college though not as a writing strategy and I stayed in the states. I like it here. My whole family is still in Costa Rica. A lot of expats down there. Some make it. A lot end up leaving.

I agree with you. The differences from state to state are often more different than other countries.

I'd love to visit Costa Rica someday!!!

Offline Colin

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #45 on: July 12, 2017, 11:45:42 PM »
I found when I moved back to the UK from Spain it made me appreciate my country of birth more. Especially the fact that we have our air conditioning on the outside - and it's free!

Offline AlecHutson

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #46 on: July 12, 2017, 11:49:46 PM »

ETA: Having lived in the US in Massachusetts, Oregon, California, and Colorado, I couldn't disagree more that there is any radical difference in culture. There are slight differences in slang but next to no cultural diversity. Comparing it to the difference in Greece and England and Norway? Not even in the same universe of differences. :)


For the record, those 4 states do have a lot of cultural similarities, especially if you stick to the main population centers like LA, San Francisco, Portland, Boston and Denver. All very progressive, liberal places. I'd put more stock in your experience if you'd also lived in the Florida panhandle or the Ozarks or one of the Dakotas. I'd hazard that the average resident of London and Copenhagen (both cities I've spent time in) have more in common than a resident of Portland Oregon does with someone from Brandon Missouri.

But anyway, this is a ridiculous thing to argue about. I've got more important things I could be doing.

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Offline SerenityEditing

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #47 on: July 13, 2017, 12:42:12 AM »
This is laughable! I doubt you've truly spent anytimein the US, if so likely in the UK expat scenes...exactly the problem we've been talking about. Good luck with that  =  )

Maybe it's just me, but I understood JRTomlin to be saying in her posts here that she's an American who has, in the past, been an expat living in Scotland.
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Offline JRTomlin

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #48 on: July 13, 2017, 12:48:43 AM »
Maybe it's just me, but I understood JRTomlin to be saying in her posts here that she's an American who has, in the past, been an expat living in Scotland.

Pretty much that. It really isn't worth arguing though and as usual with these online arguments, no one is going to convince anyone of anything. :)

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Offline Doglover

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Re: Expatting as part of a writer's strategy.
« Reply #49 on: July 13, 2017, 01:50:01 AM »
Just think what da Vinci could have achieved if he'd ever read a book about leaving Italy.  :o


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