What is a Trailing Spouse?

In short, a trailing spouse is “the husband or wife of an employee who is sent to work in another country” (Cambridge Online Dictionary). The word ‘trailing’ comes from the fact that the spouse often finds it difficult or impossible to find work in the new country, often due to visa restrictions.

In November 2011 I moved to Brunei from the UK as a ‘trailing spouse’. Although apprehensive at the prospect of my first international posting and the implications of being a ‘dependent’ wife, I have found the experience more enjoyable than I ever imagined. I was intrigued by the term ‘trailing spouse’ and the negative connotations this implies – type the term into a search engine and read in horror articles with titles such as “The ‘Trailing Spouse’ No Longer Need Be Such a Drag” or “Why Trailing Spouses Can’t Be Happy”. I’m not saying that relocating to a new country and giving up my job hasn’t been difficult at times, but I wanted to share my experiences and hopefully reassure others who are making a similar move that life as an expat can be a rewarding and exhilarating experience, as well as satisfying the curiosity of all those people who ever wondered what it is really like to be an expat.

About Me

I live in Brunei with my husband and son. Before moving to Brunei I worked in the UK as an English teacher. I am a voracious reader and have recently started experimenting with my own writing, thanks to my new found freedom as a trailing spouse! I spend my days volunteering and pursuing my interests in reading and writing when I’m not attending baby groups. My other passions include food, running and travel – not necessarily in that order!

About This Blog

This is by no means a definitive guide to living abroad, merely my personal experience of life as an expat and what it’s like adapting to life in a new country with a culture very different from my own. My aim is to relate my own experiences in a (hopefully) informative and entertaining way, and of course I am happy to respond to comments and suggestions. The structure is very loose, but I will try to theme each post to cover a different aspect of my experience. I will not be posting political or religious comments on Brunei, or anything that could otherwise be deemed as offensive. Above all, I hope that whoever may happen upon this blog enjoys reading it and I in turn look forward to discovering new blogs and meeting new people.





18 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi, your life is so different from mine, will be interesting to follow your blog. I found it through Blogging 201. Feel warmly invited to visit mine and hopefully follow it back. 🙂

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my blog. It seemed very different when I first moved out here, but it’s surprising how quickly it starts to feel normal. I look forward to reading your blog.

  2. I enjoyed reading your page. I never heard of that term (trailing spouse). I think I’m one of those. Have been to P.R. but mainly travel to different states in the U.S.

    1. I think there are different degrees of trailing spouses: here in Brunei it’s very difficult to get a work permit if you are a spouse, so there are definitely plenty of trailers; other people may just classify themselves as people who move around a lot. But if you follow your spouse in his or her job then the term applies. Although I feel less like a trailing spouse now that I have a baby to take care of as this is what I would be doing wherever I was in the world.

      1. Okay. I do follow my husband in his job but I have two kids to take cate of. I could get a job if I really wanted to so I guess in a way I am trailing and in a way I’m not : )

  3. I m just moving to brunei and trawling the internet to find out what spouses do there. Will be reading your blog and hope I do get an idea!

    1. Fantastic, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it here. Some spouses do get jobs but it very much depends on what you do for a living. But there’s plenty of other things to do if not. Please let me know if you have any questions.

  4. Bula Liz, thank you for visiting and for following my blog. I really appreciate it. All the very best to you and to your family and I look forward to more great posts from your adventure.

  5. Thank you for following Flying Goannas. I hope you enjoy our travels. And thanks for explaining what a “trailing spouse” is. It did sound negative when I first saw it but I think I could be one. I couldn’t have once upon a time but these days I’m very comfortable in my own company.

  6. I would love to be able to tell you, but I can’t remember. I think I set it up as part of my blog’s theme as it was the first photo I uploaded and is like my blog’s cover photo. Sorry I can’t be any more helpful than that!

  7. Hi Liz,
    Is there a way to contact you privately? I couldn’t see a contact page and I wanted to ask you some advise unrelated to blogging!

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