As promised, I am asking to international travellers and people living and working in a foreign country to share their life stories with me to know why they decided to leave families and friends behind to explore new realities and meet new cultures!
Are you curious about how they managed to adapt and settle in their new countries? Then follow my expat interviews categorised by country! Are you an expat wanting to share your tips and experience with the rest of the world and be a source of inspiration? Then fill in the expat interview form: I would love to hearing from you!
“Travelling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Iba Battuta
Let’s meet Libby: an expat leaving her “Aussie” life for Seattle
Introduce yourself briefly. Tell us who you are!
Hello! I am Libby Mansour, a wife, mum, daughter, sister, aunt and friend. I am also an interior designer who helps stylish expats make home wherever they are. Design can have a powerful impact on people’s lives and really support them. I want to help expats use design to help them settle so they can go and live their biggest, boldest lives.
Why did you move to your current country?
We moved to Seattle for my husband’s career. Our boys were 3 and 7 and we were up for the adventure. My husband and I had both lived overseas but not together so we jumped at the chance.
What do you do for a living? How was the job hunting?
After careers in investment banking and tv production, I knew there wasn’t much filmed in Seattle (being so close to LA) and I was absolutely not going back to banking. After the dust had settled I started thinking about what to do. I knew it was an opportunity to do something new and out of my comfort zone and reinvent myself.
I had always loved design decided to study at the New York Institute of Art & Design mainly out of interest but soon I realized how much I loved it. I did lots of free work for people I met through my kids school. Then I started charging for my time and my biz was born.
How is the social life in your city, is it easy to make friends?
I met friends through my kids school and through the design industry.
I am an extrovert so it has been easy to make friends. Seattle has a fairly reserved and understated culture. Think millionaires dressed in Northface. I struggle with that sometimes as I like vibrancy and boldness and sometimes it can be a little boring.
Why should people move there? Why did you fall in love with this place?
Seattle is a great place to raise kids. It is safe, the people are progressive – it is a very watered down America. More like Melbourne but not as cool. The job opportunities are also amazing. Seattle is also considered as the forefront of medicine. I am being treated for breast cancer at the moment, so I am grateful for that!
What do you want to say to people looking to move there?
Get on the phone and chat to people you know here, or friends of friends of friends.
How is the health system? Is it a safe place to live in?
Amazing Medical System! The quality of care is great, if you have the right insurance.
I feel safe in my neighbourhood. But downtown is tough with a lot of homeless people and drugs. Unfortunately, there are many of homeless in Seattle for a lot of reasons.
How is the general cost of living, what is the average rent?
The cost of living is great if you earn tech wages. The houses are much less expensive than in Australia but expensive for America. Not like in New York and San Francisco in terms of prices but compared to the rest of the states housing is expensive.
Food is cheaper than Australia but all the Americans I meet say food is expensive.
Tell us something you don’t like about where you live and the difficulties you came across when settling in.
I struggle with the aesthetics – the interiors are not to my taste.
I sometimes have difficulties getting closer to people. Some people you can chat to every day and never feel like you know them any better. A guardedness: that is the concept of the Seattle freeze – a coldness to people. Also the weather – the grey is tough for this Aussie.
Tell me an unmissable thing to do in your city over a weekend
Visit the MOPOP, “The Museum of Popular Culture”. It is amazing. The building itself was designed by Frank Gehry and aerially it is supposed to look like Jim Hendrix smashed guitar. It houses amazing collections from music, movies and everything in between. It is super interactive and blows my mind. We have been members the whole time we lived here. It is a great way to spend a rainy day, the rumours are true, it does rain A LOT!
Did you find Libby’s experience useful? Then check out the other upcoming expat interviews in other cities! If you ever need a professional and talented interior designer contact Studio Mansour, Libby’s company or get in touch on her FB page!