Overcome the feeling of isolation as an expat

did you know

I know when people read this title they’ll be a little confused – how can people living the amazing, luxurious expat life ever feel isolated. I mean expat life is all about those picture perfect snaps on Instagram,  great food from different cultures, meeting all these fun people from different walks of life and partying every weekend… Right?

Well there’s one thing that people don’t get to see and that is the isolating and depressing side to expat life. Now I have to point out here I am so fortunate that I have my husband, made so many friends that have become like family, my brother and sis in law live here with my gorgeous nephew and my parents visit A LOT. However, some expats I have spoken to have expressed how lonely they often feel, especially if they aren’t able to make regular trips back home, and more importantly those who are in Dubai all alone and struggle to make friends.

Recently there was also an article about the high levels of depression within the expat community in the UAE so I thought this blog post was much needed!

There are some ways we’ve suggested to people who go through these difficult experiences in order to reduce that feeling of loneliness as an expat;

  • Make full use of the technology available to you arrange weekly Skype calls keeping the time difference in mind – regular video chats with your bestie can make the world of difference and is often enough to keep you going for another week. Snapchat and Facebook also help you to feel closer to your loved ones and you can always send little snaps or Facebook live videos to people and keep communication going. You definitely need to make a conscious effort to do this in the beginning but after a while it becomes part of your weekly routine.
  • Become a social butterfly Search Facebook and other social media platforms to see what events are happening that match your interests. Don’t be afraid to go alone as a lot of people turn up solo – as long as you make the effort to socialise and chat to others you’ll definitely leave feeling happier with new friends who have the same interests as you! p.s. there are a lot of FREE events that happen so make the most of them!
  • Sign up to classes – Dubai offers a range of classes from yoga to book clubs so this is where Google is your best friend. Get searching for classes that you would love to try out or be a part of and sign up! Even one class a week can help you get out of a bad rut and help you feel a lot better. Oh and another great way to meet people!
  • Workout – Almost all residential buildings have a pool or gym, (or find a cheap gym nearby) so try make a few trips a week to work those stresses out. Studies have shown that working out boosts your mood and gives you that bounce in your step to get through difficult days. If you find yourself stressed, try working out and see how good it makes you feel after!
  • Help others – Get to know other new expats within your workplace or your building and offer a helping hand. The best thing for any expat is to know there is someone out there who understands how daunting living abroad can be. Helping others is so rewarding and can really boost your self-esteem and confidence.
  • Be yourself – When meeting new people don’t be afraid to share your experiences and your interests. Living in Dubai you will meet people from all walks of life so not everyone will agree with your views but that’s fine! This is all apart of self-development on your expat journey and as much as you’re learning about your new environment, it’s just as valuable to share where you’re from. As long as you’re being respectful and open to other views, it will make you happy talking about your background and will also help people understand more about you!


Now I know this all sounds like so much effort but honestly once you get into a proper routine it’ll be so easy and you’ll find yourself really enjoying the expat experience. After a few months you’ll definitely find your expat feet and hopefully be a happier you!


P.S – For those who are alone during Ramadan check out this lady’s Facebook page for Ramadan meet ups with other expats who are also alone this year. For more info click here.



Add Yours
  1. Expat Panda

    It is really mind boggling to me that there are people out there who think that expat life is a constant party. Like seriously, toilets don’t unclog themselves when you move abroad haha! Anyway I am so fortunate here in Kuwait that I have made some good friends at work that live in my building or nearby so isolation hasn’t been too bad. But sometimes I definitely long to see a familiar friend from HOME but South Africans cannot come to Kuwait without a sponsored visa and you can’t sponsor visas for friends, only biological family members 😦 Anyway I think this post had a lot of great tips!


    • thexpatUAE

      You know I really think it’s down to what is shown on social media! One guy actually told us that he never thought how isolating it’d be coming here because he’d always been with friends on holiday and assumed it’d be the same as those Instagram stories 😳 and I do know of some people who do live it up on social media but I also know how lonely they get but they just don’t show that side!!

      Wow I did not know that about visas for South Africans! How long does that process take lol dare I ask!


  2. JerseyGirl

    It’s so true. I have written a lot about the perception of expat life and how people think it’s all palm trees and perfection. The truth is this life is hard, it’s not everyday hard but it’s very common to have blips of loneliness , where you question everything ans I’ve witnessed plenty of people fall past the expat blues head first into depression. All your tips are absolutely spot on and exactly what I do to pick myself up and make most of this life. Lucky you have so many family members close e by, we have not had (or will have) any visitors whilst here, which can be hard when people have ruled out a trip completely because it’s kuwait, which can be hard to accept. Thank goodness for Face time is all I can say.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s