Expat life in Abu Dhabi pre-covid-19

So true it’s not always sweet and rosy on the other side of the fence but if you are lucky you will have often taste the sweet life than the lemon sour on your taste buds. Definitely the UAE particularly Abu Dhabi gave us a huge opportunity and a different kind of life that we didn’t experienced in our own backyard.

It is now finished and just reminiscing the good life we had while we are there pre-covid times. Unfortunately for those newcomers in times of pandemic they may find it very hard nowadays to even feel the life unless of course you want to risk getting sick if you do the way people do before the pandemic. There’s a lot of job losses and businesses closing here and there. On and off lockdown and non stop quarantining of people.

Let’s face the reality… I may not be able to see these places above. Travelling is banned overseas (well for us NZr’s & most countries) and it may take a year or so before we even get back to normal outside of our boundary. We definitely do not want to risk it.

No more lavish buffets, eat all you can and shop till you drop when there’s a big sale which is almost every public holiday or special events! End of those days we are so feeling carefree. FYI, foods (restaurants & hotels) and branded products are so much cheaper in the UAE or some part of Middle East and yes including Saudi Arabia… and may I add even GOLD. Even now they introduced 5% vat in the UAE for all goods and services, it’s still cheap as compared to prices in the West, South and most part of Europe. Correct me if I am wrong!

Seafoods galore & Hotpot nonstop

No more ladies night (50% are mom’s like me who sometimes enjoy the night out and the hubbies are the ones taking care of the children for once! Fact, most hotel bars are decent and caters to all women with free sushi and drinks to lure them). No more beautiful events to be held in the posh hotels and parks (Fact, you can even get 50% discount to these posh hotels by buying in groupon and other discount coupons!)

What I am saying is… I truly treasured the times we were in Abu Dhabi as an expat family. I will never forget the high and lows. These were good memories that will last a lifetime as we may never have this again.

Now back to our home country New Zealand, facing the reality now of having the pandemic all over the world and the market crashing down… I can also say we are lucky just in time to be HOME. NZ is still not open for other countries which I approve of to minimize the risk though on the other end our economy is suffering… but ALL countries are anyway so we just have to bear with it and try to be patient. Health is wealth!

Take care everyone!

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Expats saying goodbye!

How can you really say goodbye to a place and people who matter to you for a long time? Who helped you coped in a new environment and lifestyle? Who became like a family as they can relate and understand what you are going through? It’s hard and I’m sure some ex-pats can relate to this.

Some of you dear readers know me for so long by following me through my journeys from Auckland to Abu Dhabi and a 10 month stay back in my birth Country Philippines then back again to Abu Dhabi and now finally going back for good in Auckland, New Zealand.

Some of you can understand that though I always bring positive travel blogs and ex-pats life, it may not be always positive and happy all the time. Yes! That’s life and sometimes life isn’t fair.

This is the time to say my last goodbyes to Abu Dhabi and to all my friends and Mom’s group as I won’t be back anymore. Though it saddens me to say my final goodbye to them, the positive side of this is I’m not hanging or feeling unbalanced anymore as I know that we’re going back home for good now in New Zealand. I can better plan our lives and we focus on what’s necessary and in my heart knowing that I will stay HOME.

Goodbye Abu Dhabi. You’ve been very good to us especially to me that I have experienced a different lifestyle that I never thought of and meeting so many people from all over the world and even learning from them. Thank you for all the experiences and opportunities.

Ma’ assalama!

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Going back home to Aotearoa

“The thrill of coming home has never change” … by Guy Pearce

Perhaps some of you who are new to my blog are wondering where is this destination?  Is it a Country, a City or a Town?  AOTEAROA is a Maori name for NEW ZEALAND.  Nope NZ is not in Europe!! Some people asked me before where in Europe haha!  It is actually closer to Asia than in Europe hence a part of Oceania. It is a part of Australiasia where Australia is included.  But never ever say we belong to Australia or inside Australia.  There you go!

I have done my research as I heard that being re-pats anywhere in the World will never be the same as coming back home after a long absence, rather it is the same feeling as being an ex-pat in your own Country.  Anyway… my experience is so far it’s good the only complaint I can say is all my friends are too busy since they are mostly working moms (as I used to before).  I miss the rush and being busy as it’s a different life here in NZ compared to the lavish moms of leisure that we can afford to in Abu Dhabi.

Here are the reality now in Auckland that you may be interested to know just in case you are wanting to relocate here or also like me as a repat.  It’s a mix of good and bad.

  1. The housing prices have gone up so high!! More demand less supply, unfortunately from an average $500K before 4-5yrs ago it is now $650- to a million $$$ based on average but good location and yes a brand new car is expensive too because of the taxes.
  2. Strictly zoning for schools as the population is getting bigger thanks to BREXIT and TRUMP.  I am sure you can figure it out.
  3. Schools are very RELAXED here for Primaries compared to other Countries.
  4. You don’t know your neighbors anymore as some are gone or sold their houses and those who stay have a boarder to afford the mortgage payments overcrowding the street now with cars parked off-street that cannot fit in their garage or driveway.
  5. There are road works everywhere.  When I left it in June 2015 they started to do the road widening and some sort of beautifying if you can call it that.  Then the Waterview TUNNEL to the airport came to fruition last July 2017.
  6. The City looked less of its beauty before with so many road works and reconstruction of some buildings.  Main train station was already beautiful before but now half-closed for reconstruction.  I even got lost 2x walking around because I am looking for the Westfield Mall with a nice bench area outside for people on the go having a quick lunch or a chat with their mates.  It’s all closed for public and looked like a big mess!  Same with my own town, though there are more improvements and new establishments around.
  7. Speed cameras and from 50kmph for the main roads they are thinking to implement 30kmph in the City Centres and around which is ridiculous! (Motorway 100kmph). You don’t want to be caught up speeding in there haha! It can cost you your day salary.  Coming from the “fast and the furious City of Abu Dhabi”  which is a normal 80kmph for the main roads and from 120-140kmph for the motorway, it is harder to get adjusted to but necessary to learn how to be SLOW around NZ. (BTW… we drive on the left side of the road here, pls take note!).
  8. Some grocery food items gone up and some remain the same or even surprisingly cheaper because of competition.  If you are in the foodcourt BK can cost from $5 and that’s already a combo (didn’t change) to some food stores with rice meals with a drink costing from $16 combo which was $14 before.  BTW… some tourists says that our beef here is so much better and you can taste the difference in BK or McDo.  But you will be happy to find that SUSHI and other Japanese foods are cheaper compared to the UAE.  Thanks to some Japanese immigrants who established their restaurants and food stalls in the mall.
  9. Unfortunately, finding a job won’t be as easy as before. So do not be fooled.
  10. Some law changes and rubbish collections which we now have to buy a ticket per bin which is cheaper if you don’t have enough rubbish (you can wait to 2 weeks to fill up) and to those with large families, the bin may never be enough.

There you are…  so far this is what I realized coming back home. But hey, anywhere you go you will encounter bad politics, problems, and inconveniences… at least here in NZ for sure, this is the reality… RELAXED LIFESTYLES!!!

Queenstown, NZ; vinnevefoto

But if you can live simply and try to be content with what you have… NZ is a great place to live especially raising your children.  If you love sports there are some for you and your whole family to join, just check out within your community centre, local papers or FB events. Nature is at it’s best here so you will not be disappointed how beautiful it is here better than a poster card.  Parks are everywhere in every town and Cities and yes it is free.  Hiking or trekking is of minimal fees just be sensible when doing it for the first time as some trails is not that easy especially if it’s damp.

Arrowtown, NZ; vinnevefoto

I live in the WEST so as they say… West is BEST.  We are just less than an hour away from the beach or the open sea as well as the Mountains.  We both have it all here. Do be careful with the back roads (winding roads).

WesternSpringPark, vinnevefoto

Nevertheless… I won’t discredit my life in Abu Dhabi as it was the most convenient and luxurious life I ever had in my life!  though it’s a desert and it can get to 50-degree heat plus some limitations, still anywhere you go there is no perfect place.  There’s always something not to your liking.  I say I am happy to have experienced both Worlds.

AucklandZoo, vinnevefoto

I leave you now with Thanks for reading and let me know some thoughts that would be great to read your comments RE your experiences as repats or as an ex-pat.  Soon (I hope) I will post our brief holiday in QUEENSTOWN.  Please hang on.  Cheers!!

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W.O.T.D. – Expectation & Worth

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Here I go again… 

It’s been hard for me to write this post as I seemed lost for words and it takes time to tell you, dear readers… I will finally be coming back HOME.  I sure hope it is still “my home” though as I am a bit afraid after about being an ex-pat for more than 3 years without even visiting the place, unlike many other ex-pats.  I have been anywhere except holidaying in my home country isn’t it weird?  It’s because of the tedious flying time of 18 hours straight or cut it in two to Australia 14 hours + Auckland 4 hours = 18 hours. Which is better?  Even going back to my birth country for a holiday is more or less 9 hours away from where we are at the moment (Abu Dhabi) which is really in the middle of  Europe and Asia.  So going to Australasia down under so to say… feels like so far far away!!

WOTD Expectation

What to expect?  I am freaking out actually.  I heard so many stories about ex-pats coming back home realizing it’s NOT the same as before or perhaps WE ARE NOT THE SAME AS BEFORE?.  Even the roads will not be the same as when we left New Zealand in 2015 there are a lot of road works going on and adding some lanes and a tunnel etc.  I’ve read that the almost rural place we go to for Farmers Market and now in demand and becoming posh suburbs that we cannot even afford to buy a small land. Auckland is now one of the most expensive Cities in the World.  Though our place is farther away from the City it is still ridiculously expensive!  Good thing we have a house to come home to.  There’s a scarcity in the housing market.  A big problem indeed.

I think it’s better NO EXPECTATION.  It can save me from whatever fear facing the future.

WOTD Worth

One thing for sure we will try to make this worth it.  My son is growing and need more stability as for the past 3 years or more he has been to 3 different schools.  Yes, it’s hard to say goodbye again.  I cannot say No to being an ex-pat again if this is the only way our family can stay together.  Depends on the next contract of hubby.  Just hoping he will also come home to us for good, that would be great! though not financially.

Now that I finally adjusted to the life here, I will miss a lot of brunches, friends parties, events and celebrations around here.  I surrounded my life with many groups of moms like me in school, in our place, my closes friends and even acquaintances. FYI, I am one of those they call “trailing spouse” so yes I choose not to work (after working almost my whole life in 3 different Countries) so I am the nanny of my own child but unlike with nannies, I have a much better social network. It took me two long years to finally adjusted and accepted the life here and now we have to go for personal reason that cannot wait.

Life is easy here and less stress (except when driving haha!!) and I get used to this somehow that having to begin a new life in NZ seems a bit scary though exciting too, to be honest.  So many things to do and see places perhaps seeing it as an ex-pat.  We have to be re-acquainted to the Country.  I am hoping we can adjust quickly… hopefully!

Anyway… I often read some advice and hopefully,  I can be able to apply it.  Here are the LINK1 and LINK2 if you are curious and have time to read.

Are you an ex-pat who came back home after years of life overseas?  Please tell me your stories and perhaps I can learn from those.  Feel free to give me an advice.  Thanks!

Any ex-pats coming home to New Zealand like me?  Let me know or you can PM me.

Thanks for reading and cheers to the next journey!!