UK to Dubai – Tammy tells her expat story


What made you decide to become an expat and move from the UK?

UK to Dubai, another great interview from a fellow expat. This is Tammy’s story.

Moving to Dubai from the UK was an exciting time. Initially, I travelled to the UAE to visit my dad (who was working there). Supposedly a stopping point for a few weeks before going to Australia. I enjoyed Dubai so much I never left! My extended stay lasted 15 years.

Where do you currently live in the UK?

In 2004 I moved back to the UK with my three lovely children. I live in The Cotswolds, a beautiful area which I didn’t quite appreciate upon my initial return from Dubai. I went from a big cosmopolitan city to a small hippie like town in the UK therefore, it was a huge adjustment, one that all expats must make, however, I can see the beauty of it all now.

Which countries have you lived in apart from the UK?

I lived in Singapore as a child, which I’m sure started my itchy feet! and Dubai.

Which was your favourite and why?

Chinese lanterns
Great memories of Singapore

I have some fantastic childhood memories from the Far East; night markets, Chinese lantern parades, Tiger Balm Gardens, and prep school. However, Dubai shaped my life tremendously. Arriving at 18 years old, I quickly got sucked into the expat lifestyle. Back then everyone knew everybody. It was probably the first time I felt really confident and ready to start my adult life. I was having fun and met some truly diverse and lovely people. Isobel being one of them. We have known each other for 27 years. I also have a UAE husband and my lovely children – Rosie, Reem, and Thani.

A forever friendship
Back in the day at Dubai Marine Beach Club in the 80s

What have you learned from expat life?

To loosen up and enjoy it! Also, the realization that you can literally live wherever you want, and consequently, be open to opportunities when they come along. There is no rule book as to where you should live your life.

What were your least favourite things about being an expat?

There was always an element of elitism and ‘keeping up with the Jones’ attitude.

What were your favourite things about being an expat?

To get up every day and see the sun shining. Lush, warm, weather. Meeting interesting people. Experiencing the culture and being able to see that there is a much bigger world out there.

What advice would you give to a new expat?

Enjoy it! Make an effort to meet new people of all nationalities. Form friendships, even if this is outside your comfort zone. Expats are transient people, therefore, don’t lay all your eggs in one basket. Your best friend could leave on a plane tomorrow. Just do it! There is a whole world out there to see and explore. The experience will enrich your life so much

What more would you add?

Do your homework first. Everyone will have an opinion, however, take time to form your own. Be yourself always.

What was your favourite food of the region?

I bloody love a Shawarma and fruit cocktail from Al Mallah, in Satwa.

Yummy shwarma

Do you feel that being an expat from the UK shaped your life in any way?

Totally. Had I not gone to the UAE, I would not have rebuilt my relationship with my dad, met my husband, and have the privilege to be a mum to my three fab children. In addition, I blagged my way into some great jobs which then shaped the direction of my career. It was one of the best moves of my life.

What did you find most challenging about being an expat?

When I arrived in Dubai from the UK, the expat community was very small. Everyone knew each other. This was all new to me. As a result, I felt shy, like a fish out of water. That soon changed! As Dubai became astronomically expensive towards the end of my 15 years there, it became difficult financially to stay. School fees, rent, and living expenses were high. This became the deciding factor to move back to the UK. Dubai was no longer the easy, carefree place it once was.

Inspirational Quote?

Live with no regrets, and love with no limits

Any regrets, or anything you would have done differently before moving home to the UK?

No regrets, just great memories. I may be should have saved more money and drank a few less Margaritas – cheers!


A big thank you to Tammy for sharing her expat story. If you have enjoyed this Blog, please feel free to read other expat interviews on the site.

Expat life isn’t always easy. If you would like a little guidance, and support in all things expat, get in touch. Expat coaching is available online wherever you are in the world.


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