Am I a ‘permapat’? This is the question I find myself pondering when I have a moment to ponder. Which admittedly isn’t that often, but nevertheless I was mulling the concept over the other day after I read an article written by Singaporean blogger Rashmi Dalai titled ‘Does Asia still need traditional Western Expats?’.
Dalai defines ‘permapats’ as skilled individuals who ‘value the expat lifestyle with or without corporate packages’. It was an interesting read not the least because undoubtedly the fall in oil prices, regional unrest, diminishing numbers of cashed up Russians and probably somehow the Panama papers have meant that we all know people here in the UAE who are unfortunately being made redundant. This also coincides for me personally with many of my friends deciding to head home as their children reach senior school age. It feels like I may be the only one left.
I’m wondering if I, and many of my friends and acquaintances I suspect, have slipped unknowingly from expat to permapat. My husband and I moved here in 2007 with a strict 2 year time limit and the goal of paying as much off as possibly on our monstrous mortgage on our tiny Sydney house. We’re now approaching our ninth year, our family has expanded (I can confidently say that if we’d been back in Australia we certainly wouldn’t have expanded it quite so much) and we’re cautiously looking at senior school options here in Dubai. The pull of home is there, but after my eldest son nonchantly told me following a trip back to the UK that his best friend (all of 9) had told him that his new UK school had recently been raided by the police because someone in the sixth form had been caught ‘sucking drugs’ the more I appreciate what we have here in Dubai. That said, through my husband we do enjoy the corporate package that Dalia references, and having seen friends face the possibility of ploughing through their savings in order to stay here whilst they look for a new job poses the question to what degree of ‘perma’ am I?
Questions, questions. What do you think?