While living in Hong Kong ten years ago, Jutta Scheidner turned down a job offer and decided that she wouldn’t seek another. It was a decision that changed her expat life.
The working life
“My husband Patric and I have lived in six countries but I only ever worked in Singapore during his first international assignment. We weren’t married at that stage, but it was still possible for me to get a job on his visa, and so I did!” says Jutta, whose background is in accounting. “Next we moved to Hong Kong, where it was also possible for me to work, so I set about trying to find a job and received an offer. But then I checked the contract…”
“I noticed that I would only get five days of holiday a year. I remember the expat employee whispering, ‘don’t worry, I’ll see that you get seven’. I thought, hmm, that’s still not very much! The job also required a huge amount of unpaid overtime. I was also told that I would often have to work very late as the company’s main client was based in Germany. It’s nice to earn money but if you have no time to spend it, well, what’s the point?”
Filling the days
“In the end, I turned the job offer down but Patric warned me that all local contracts would be similar. We discussed it and decided together that he earned enough. It’s a decision we have never regretted. Instead, I established social networks. I discovered more about Hong Kong. I devoted time to organising all of our regular travels. Unlike most expats, we had no housekeeper, so I took care of the household. I found it quite easy to fill the days and feel entirely fulfilled.”
A major turning point
Since Hong Kong, Jutta and her husband have lived in Texas, where they got married, Switzerland and South Africa. They repatriated to Germany in 2018 and will move to Shanghai in early 2020. “Turning the job down in Hong Kong was definitely a turning point for us. At the end of the day, Patric is on assignment, not me. It’s important that we are both happy and I believe work wouldn’t have helped me feel fulfilled. By not working I can have much more energy to ensure our life runs smoothly.”
This article was originally published for the thousands of expat partners that Global Connection supports around the globe. It is reproduced here in its original form.