Australian Expat Living In Bordeaux - Interview With Mike

Published: 13 Nov at 1 PM
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Filed: Interviews,France
In August 2004 Mike Foster left his home town of Sydney, Australia to begin a trip throughout Asia that was to last 8 months and which took him through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and India. After completing his 6 month tour of duty in India, it was time to head to the UK where he had a working visa. Mike lived in London for 2 years, doing the whole share house living and typical expat lifestyle. He also managed to travel some more through Ireland, Wales, France, Spain, Italy, Turkey and Morocco. That was only the beginning really, as in 2007 he took the plunge and moved to Bordeaux to be with his wife (then girl friend) who he met in Morocco on the back seat of a bus. This was to prove to be the biggest challenge! You get to know a lot about yourself when you have to start from scratch and build everything again. It's now been 5 years since he's arrived and now he's a husband, dad and home owner. Who would have thought!? Mike blogs at Bordeaux Expats (see listing here)

Bordeaux Expats

Here's the interview with Mike...


Where are you originally from?
The Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.

In which country and city are you living now?
Bordeaux, France

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
5 years living in Bordeaux. Perhaps another 5 years, perhaps more.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I moved to chase a girl (not so unusual for expatriates!). Since arriving I have done many odd jobs from kitchen work, English teaching, handing out newspapers and now finally a permanent job working in a marketing agency.

Bordeaux ExpatsDid you bring family with you?
No, but I've started one since being here.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Very difficult at first. Without being able to speak the language you're at the mercy of relying locals to communicate with you in your own language or having a lot of patience with you. It can be a very frustrating and an isolating experience. In saying that, the locals were always very warm and friendly once they found out I was Australian and made a real effort to help me out.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Once again it comes down to the language If your can speak with locals it makes things a lot easier. However, for me at the beginning I was carted around my wife's social scene. Which in hindsight, was probably a good thing to have a full submersion of French culture. However, I do remember often having a severe headache by the end of the night and having missed most of the conversation. Now days, I would say it is an even mix of French and expats.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Bordeaux is a vibrant city, however you do need to know where to look. It is a medium sized city, and you'll find that you can do the main touristy things within a day or two. The FĂȘte de la musique is great (maybe not for families), fĂȘte du vin (wine festival), a Top 14 rugby match or there are always a lot of local gigs going on. In the region, the medieval city of Saint Emilion is a must and a trip out the Bassin d'Arcachon and Cape Ferret is also great for a tour near the ocean.

Bordeaux ExpatsWhat do you enjoy most about living here?
The fact that you're not too far from the ocean, the mountains and Spain. Plus, it's a charming city with beautiful architecture. The size is good also, having the feeling that there is everything you need without the rat race vibe. We eat and drink well too!

How does the cost of living compare to home?
I find the cost of living cheaper in Bordeaux than in Sydney. However you earn less, so I guess it's all relative.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
Being a smaller city, there are less work opportunities. Even the French are finding it difficult at the moment.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
If you're intending on staying a while, learn the language before arriving! It makes life so much easier.

Bordeaux ExpatsWhat has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Finding a decent job. There is work out there but if you would like to continue a career you'll need to either have a good grasp of French or find a company that needs Anglophones.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
If one day we pick up and move back to Sydney, I dare say that it could be a harder for my wife than me to find her place. In saying that, as I've been away from Australia for so many years I should imagine I would miss the European way of life and find that Australia could have changed a lot. However, I won't miss the winter here! Although, the temperature is quiet moderate compared to a lot of other European cities.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Learn the language
  2. Have a lot of patience
  3. Have an open mind
  4. Be willing to try your hand at anything and everything
  5. Remind yourself that it's a wonderful experience and your better off for doing it


Bordeaux ExpatsTell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started the blog when I became aware of the Expat community in and around town. However there really wasn't a central guide as to what was going on. It is a concept to allow Bordeaux Expats to write content about things they're doing, whether that's a business, group or art/music etc. Depending on how much time I have free, the blog is more of a 'What's on' guide. The idea is to open the blog's pages to local expats to write their own content and publish it on the blog. Therefore giving the expats a tool to communicate their message through a central location.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Please contact me on my website contact page: http://bordeauxexpats.blogspot.fr/p/contact-bordeaux-expats-if-you-have-any.html

Mike blogs at http://bordeauxexpats.blogspot.fr/ which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. He can be found on Twitter @Bordeaux_Expats. Bordeaux Expats has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Mike, please also drop him a quick comment below.
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Comments » There is 1 comment

Barbara Mosely wrote 1 year ago:

Bordeaux Expat blog site I've found extremely informative. The range of information is for all tastes of music, concerts, arts and especially sports. Mike Foster has a great way of presenting events with a huge information range on fees for tickets, transport and anything else needed. I read his blog every time it is updated.

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