Photo Credit: Courtesy of Dubois Family
The Black Expat: 'I Was Just Like, I'm Not Going Back To America.'
An expat, short for expatriate, is one who resides in a country other than where they grew up.
Twenty-six-year-old Tallie Dubois was born and raised in Florida but considered herself a New Yorker at heart. The first-generation Haitian-American loved the energy, go-getter spirit of the people, and the glamour.
She finally moved to the city in 2014 to attend college and later became a teacher. It’s also where she eventually met her husband, who had moved to the Big Apple from Ireland to work as an accountant. Their two children, ages four and one, were born there. New York is in Dubois’ blood.
So what triggered her move to her husband’s homeland, vowing never to return?
“It kind of came up during the pandemic and with everything that was happening in America, the thought of just moving somewhere else seemed realistic,” Dubois explained to Travel Noire. “I just remember everything that happened last year and the chaos in America. I remember thinking to myself, I don’t think I can live here any longer. I remember just throwing it out there, maybe we should go to Canada or something or figure out where we can go. We started talking about the possibility of what our plan would be, where we want to raise our kids.”
Initially Ireland was considered as an option for retirement when they became empty nesters. But as the COVID-19 numbers began skyrocketing and residents entered lockdown, Dubois found New York to be extremely isolating.
“I don’t have any family in New York whatsoever, so I honestly didn’t have help. We had to hire help and all of his family’s here in Ireland. So, New York was increasingly expensive. And I think everything that was happening in America just threw me over. My husband works in the corporate life in New York which is so exhausting and demanding. It takes a lot out of your family because he’s gone most of the time.”
Despite Dubois’ love for New York, she craved work-life balance and time to focus on her kids and marriage. The ongoing conversation surrounding police brutality coupled with the increasing racial tension and division also factored into the decision to cross the pond.
Another dealbreaker was gun control.
“Guns terrify me, honestly,” Dubois admitted. “I have a big fear of mass shootings. I think especially growing up in the South, the gun culture is so big.”
Under the weight of these concerns, Dubois and her husband sought some respite.
“When I came to Ireland in August, it was temporary. It was just going to be for six months, so I can just get a break from America, be able to kind of reset and get help. And then I think within three weeks of being here, I was just like, I’m not going back to America.”
With this resolve, Dubois and her husband started gathering all the necessary documents to facilitate a permanent move to the Emerald Isle. They’ve spent more time in lockdown than not, but the family appreciates the peace of living in the countryside. Dubois has also discovered many benefits afforded to them.
“Cost of living is a lot cheaper here. There’s a lot more help with your kids, and more programs. When I came here, it was just like, wow. I went from paying $25 to $3 for diapers. I went from paying $1,400 a month for my daughter’s daycare to paying $500. You have more help with the kids. Until they’re six, they have free healthcare. We were paying $800 for a family of four in New York for healthcare each month. And so, we were able to just get rid of that. Your costs get cut in half. So, why would I go back to New York and go back to struggling? You’re saving so much more.”
As for her teaching career, Dubois has had to put a pause on the master’s in education that she started in New York. She is currently acquiring the proficiency in Gaelic that Irish primary schools require for teaching. In the meantime, Dubois is hoping to put her degrees in psychology and social work to use.
Overall the move has been a positive one for her family, and she is especially thrilled that her kids will be able to assimilate into the culture at a young age rather than making a more difficult transition when they are older. Dubois has advice for anyone who is on the fence about a major life change.
“I did my research. I was like, all right, it ticks my box as far as economy, work, policing, gun control, and cost of living. I just took a leap of faith. Trust in the process and don’t be scared. I think it’s the fear of, ‘what if I don’t thrive outside of America?’ I think America has that message. This is the richest country. This is the place where it’s all happening. And so there’s a fear that you won’t thrive. In another country you won’t feel safe, or it won’t be any better than the United States.”