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In the expat community in the UAE, most people choose to rent a house or apartment rather than buy.  Unless you’ve taken the bold decision to invest in your potentially-not-forever country, 99% of us remain at the mercy of our landlords, so no matter how much you try to feel at home, you somehow never quite do.  Not unless you’re in the 1% who’ve put their stake in the sand.

In the eight years we’ve lived in the Middle East, we’ve moved house four times.  I’m happy to say that every move has been a move for the better, but we went through a stomach-churning, sleep-deprived period in the run up to each move debating the pros and cons of types of house, how far we could stretch our budget, would we be close enough to certain schools, what if, what if, what if?

I’ve had curtains made to measure for four properties.  We’ve sat around four kitchen tables, dealt with four different types of garden and various degrees of random foliage, and settled our children to bed in several configurations of cots and beds.  Their bedrooms are always a priority, to help them feel at home, and – crucially – be able to sleep contentedly.  Our favourite sofas were once relegated to the children’s playroom (in a particularly spacious property) in favour of a super-trendy corner day bed construction for our living room.  It was only when we got it home, we realised it only had one functional armrest, and if I actually tried to relax on it my feet didn’t touch the ground.  Not in a good way.

Behind this adorable child is the trendy sofa that nobody ever sat on

Behind this adorable child is the trendy sofa that nobody ever sat on

When we moved again, we managed to sell our uber-cool sofa that we never sat on, and had our old faithful, favourite sofas re-covered (by the curtain people, who are now on speed dial and on the Christmas card list), and re-installed in our living room.

One of my friends loves moving house – she gets bored quickly, has itchy feet and loves the thrill of not quite knowing what’s coming next. She has an eye for design, an appetite for the unknown and a budget to accommodate a frequent upheaval.

My 3rd generation kids, who have moved house every couple of years, also seem to take it in their stride.  When we go to look round houses, they immediately pick their bedrooms, and start mentally moving in.  My husband has a home-is-where-the-heart-is approach.  If we’re all together, happy and healthy, why should we worry?

So am I the only one lost in transition? Or do any of you feel it too?