In the same way that millions of people pack their bags for a move overseas on an annual basis, many expats decide that the time has come for them to return to their homelands.
Whatever your reasons for choosing to go home and repatriate in your home country, here’s six top tips for repatriating in a stress free manner.
1) Acknowledge that things WILL have changed. Regardless of how long you have been away there’s a strong chance that things will be very different when you return. The place you lived will have new shops and restaurants, road layouts and facilities will have changed and your next-door neighbor may not be there anymore. More importantly people will have changed, and you cannot expect to simply arrive home and pick up your friendships and social networks exactly where you left them. Be mindful that your experiences abroad will have changed you and time away from your friends and family will have impacted your relationships—you will probably have to start right back at square one with many of them. When you first moved overseas you will have had to make a special effort to make friends at feel at home, be prepared to have to make similar efforts to fit in when you return home and never underestimate the challenges that await. Make sure that you, and your family, understand that this is a new start, not a move back into your old life.
2) Make sure there’s money in the bank. International relocation is expensive and you will need to ensure that you have enough money to fully fund your move back home. Depending upon your circumstances you may need money to cover living expenses while you find a new job, you may need to rent somewhere on a temporary basis while looking for somewhere new to live and you may need to fund the purchase of a new home. Be aware that, if you did not keep a bank account open in your home country while you lived overseas you may not be entitled to any credit (including a mortgage) on your return. Before you make plans to return, make a list of all the expenses you will face, research your financial limitations and ensure that you have a big enough budget to tide you over during the settling in period. If not, it may be prudent to remain in your host country until you do.
3) Understand your rights with regards to access to medical services. You will need to understand what health care you will be entitled to once you return home and will need to establish if there will be a requirement for medical insurance. Depending upon what country you are from public healthcare may be available. However, do not assume that you will be entitled to it. In many countries the right to public care is foregone after you have lived continually outside of the country for a set period of time. Fully research medical and dental entitlements and, if necessary, arrange appropriate private healthcare if required. Always do this before you return home, not after- you need to know that you are covered immediately the flight touches down.
4) Don’t expect to be welcomed with open arms. When you return home you will find that you are met with a wide range of responses. Some people will be smug that you “amazing life overseas” wasn’t so amazing after all, and others may jealous of the fact that you have had your own adventure and may resent you. Unfortunately it’s just a fact of life that people can be negative and you will have to take it on the chin. Grin and bear it and after a few weeks it will be like you never went away at all.
5) Be conscious of your children’s emotions. In the same way that you needed to prepare your children for a move overseas you will also need to get them ready for coming back home. They will have had a wide range of experiences that will stand them out from their friends and classmates and you need to be on guard for any negative emotions or experiences that this may engender. Communicate regularly with their school in order to verify how they are settling back into the education system and ensure that they get all the support that they need.
6) Remain positive. In many cases returning home may not be your preference but you may be doing so because your contract has come to an end or your host country is no longer able to offer you a suitable standard of living. In situations like these it can be very difficult to remain positive and you may dread the thought of returning to your old life. For your own wellbeing it is crucial that you embrace the move and accept that it is happening. Think of all the family, friends, activities and unique elements of your home country that you have missed and try and focus on these as opposed to concentrating on what you are leaving behind in your host country.