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10 Things Expats Should Know Before Returning Home

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10 Things Expats Should Know Before Returning Home

The idea of relocating abroad is nothing new, although this is something that is becoming increasingly popular among British citizens in the modern age. An estimated 323,000 citizens emigrated during 2015, which represented the highest number on record since the height of the great recession in 2008.

10 Things that Expats need to know before returning home

An estimated 43% of these emigrants were British, many of whom had reached retirement age and wished to see out their idle years in the warmer climes of Spain and Portugal. Some emigrants are younger and may relocate for work or other reasons, however, and this demographic is more likely to return to the UK at some point in the future. As expats they will need to be prepared for a period of transition when returning to their country of birth, while also keeping the following points in mind: –

1. Returning Expats must manage their return in increments

One of the main issues with returning home is reintegrating into local customs, as this can often be as overwhelming as moving abroad in the first place. You should therefore consider your return home as another form of international relocation, as you look to manage your move in increments and gradually rediscover your sense of home.

According to Singapore based medical professional Gwen Sawchuk, the best method is to buy a property back home while still living abroad, planning regular visits and holiday’s to build familiarity and relationships within the local community.

2. Returning expats may face jealousy from friends and loved ones

When you return home, you are likely to have a myriad of tales to share with friends and loved ones. These individuals may be a little jealous of your adventures, however, especially if their lives have remained largely unchanged or uninspiring during this time. By overwhelming them with information about where you have been and the things that you have experienced, you may alienate loved ones or build feelings of resentment.

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Instead, find natural conversational openings to share your stories, doling out information slowly and respecting the feelings of those around you.

3. Returning Expats will need to manage their expectations

Occasionally, expats may return home for reasons outside of their control or due to an unexpected career development. This is the situation that faced young soccer starlet Jack Harper, after the Scottish youth player fulfilled a boyhood dream by joining Real Madrid and moving to Spain at the age of 13. Having decided that this career path was not bearing fruit, he returned to the UK and currently plies his trade in the south of England with Brighton.

The proactive nature of this decision and willingness to embrace even unwanted career developments is a lesson to all expats, who must manage their expectations when returning home. Not only will their surroundings change dramatically, but their career and work-life balance may also suffer for a transitional period of time.

4. Returning expats may need to adjust in a Transient Community

With cultural and career shifts in mind, there will be a pronounced period of adjustment when returning home as an expat. This may influence the type of region and neighborhood that you look to move into, and attempting to return to your previous home or move into a close-knit community that is resistant to new-comes may prove challenging.

Instead, consider relocating to an area that has a more transient population, where there is a higher turnover of newcomers and a more open sense of community. This will ease your transition and help you to adjust quickly to your new surroundings.

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5. Returning Expats should prepare for the fact that old friends may have moved

When planning your return, it may be of some comfort to note that you are returning to the bosom of friends, family and loved ones. Even if you do choose to relocate to your home town and previous abode, however, you will need to prepare for the fact that things may have changed considerably in your absence. Some friends may have relocated themselves, while others may have changed in terms of their personal and outlook.

This means that while some relationships cannot be restored others will need to be rebuilt, so keep this in mind when returning. As engineer and expat Don Merritt has confirmed, we must strive hard to ignore the notions that everything will stay the same back home in our absence.

6. Returning Expats must prepare for cultural and political Transitions

When we first relocate abroad, there is an innate sense of excitement and wonder. This means that we treat even irritating or uncomfortable experiences as cultural anomalies, which in turn helps us to learn and maintain a sense of balance. Such an outlook is reversed when we return home, however, as we no longer have the illusion of cultural or political differences. This means that we must prepare for cultural and political transitions, while also adjusting our outlook in order to remain positive.

Serial-expat Elliott Chen believes that this issue is even more pronounced when returning to the East from the West, thanks primarily to the huge cultural differences that exist and the stifling regulations that are placed on personal liberties in the west.

7. Returning Expats may struggle with slang and everyday communication

It may seem strange to think of communication as an issue for expats, especially as they are returning home and to the land of their native tongue. Despite this, senior content manager Matt Schiavenza struggled to understand the common slang words and phrases that entered the lexicon while he was away and found everyday conversations a struggle.

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In this respect, maintaining regular content with folks back home prior to your move may help you to familiarize yourself with new and popular slang words. You may also want to check out the Urban Dictionary online, as this will help you to identify that latest phrases to have entered the mainstream.

8. Returning Expats should have their career plans in place before moving

We have already touched on the importance of treating your return home like the process of international relocation, so it is crucial that you have the next stage of your career development mapped out before you make your move. If you fail to do this, you may find it difficult to source work or realign your business venture while also adjusting to a new environment. This is even more important if you own your own business, as you and you alone are responsible for making such a commercial transition work.

According to the-travel-franchise.com, the UK’s franchise industry alone has seen 20% over the last five years. This is creating a higher number of entrepreneurs and encouraging more people to move regularly between countries, but we must never lose sight of the importance of proactive planning and making preparations ahead of time.

9. Returning Expats should be prepared for a new kind of home sickness

Home is a malleable and fluid concept, and one that changes as we progress through life. It essentially refers to a place where we seek refuge from the pressures of work, raise our families and share intimate moments with the ones that we love. So while we miss our place of birth and homeland when we first relocate abroad, we our outlook changes as we live overseas and make a brand new home in our new surroundings.

This means that when we return as expats, we tend to develop a new kind of home-sickness where we miss the place and country that we have just left. This may manifest itself in several ways, as you seek out new friends of a specific nationality and try to integrate associated customs where possible. According to content manager Schiavenza, the best remedy is to break this spell and plan a holiday to your second home prior to your return.

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10. Returning Expats should be proactive when attending to financial matters

Returning to your homeland is an emotionally challenging experience, but it is also one that requires numerous practical steps. You may have been classed as a non-resident for taxation purposes during your absence, for example, so it is crucial that you re-register with the relevant bodies when repatriating.

This type of attention to detail is crucial, especially when it comes to financial matters. It is also important to calculate any changes that may have altered the cost of living in your home nation, along with increases in property, fuel and vehicle prices. This will help you to budget and make viable plans that make your return more manageable.

Featured photo credit: Outpost Magazine via outpostmagazine.com

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Last Updated on January 13, 2022

15 Best Places for Expats to Live (And Why)

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15 Best Places for Expats to Live (And Why)

Many of us dream of living abroad but can often be scared to make such a big change to our routine lifestyles and leave our home countries behind. Daunting as it may be, living abroad can be a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor and can give you the quality of life you have been looking for.

From a warmer climate to a more easy going way of life, there are many foreign countries favored by expats who stay for a long time – and sometimes forever. Taking into consideration livings standards, opportunities and social aspects, here are our top 15 best places to live as an expat and why.

1. Thailand

A hot spot for expats, the ‘land of smiles’ as it’s commonly known offers expats a tropical climate, a huge array of sandy beaches and islands to explore, and a rich culture. The cost of living in Thailand is extremely low, and when combined with the friendly tax system means that disposable income can be very high.

Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city, offers expats great employment opportunities.

2. Switzerland

Another popular destination for expats, Switzerland offers exciting employment packages and a high standard of living. It’s great for those who love the outdoors, as there are many beautiful lakes, mountains to hike in and skiing in the winter. The school standards for expats are also excellent, making it appealing for those with children. English is also widely spoken so day-to-day living can be stress free.

Unemployment in Switzerland is low and expats moving here don’t need to worry too much about finding a job before they arrive.

3. Australia

Many foreigners who visit Australia don’t want to leave as it offers a great quality of life, beautiful beaches and a warm climate. Making friends in Australia is easy too, due to the lack of language barrier and the large number of expats who already live here. Australia is a great place to move to if you have children because of its wide range of schooling possibilities and recreational outdoor activities.

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Low population levels and high quality of life are two of the main reasons expats choose Australia as a place to live.

4. Singapore

Expats in Singapore can benefit from generous financial packages, great career opportunities and low tax rates. Although education is expensive here, it is rated one of the top places for raising children abroad due to the quality of the education system and the array of schools.

Public transport such as buses and MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) are cheap and very reliable in Singapore.

5. South Korea

South Korea offers expats a unique range of opportunities and a very different way of living. Jobs for expats are easy to find and usually very well paid, with apartments provided by the employer on the most part making living costs even lower. There are also many tight-knit expat communities in South Korea, making it easy to socialize and meet new friends. The excellent education system is also a pro for families wanting to move to this culture-rich country.

South Korea has a cheap public healthcare system and offers great medical care, with most doctors speaking English.

6. New Zealand

New Zealand is constantly on the lookout for skilled workers to expedite to the country – especially those under the age of 30 – and skilled migrants can be granted a stay for up to five years. It offers a good climate and although income levels can be lower than other countries, quality of life is high, with its awe-inspiring scenery, low crime rate and state sponsored healthcare.

New Zealand is great for those looking for a laid back and active outdoors lifestyle.

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7. Canada

Its national healthcare system, friendly locals and very high quality of life are just a few of the reason expats choose Canada as a place to live. It’s very welcoming to expats and skills shortages encourage foreigners to move here in order for the country to grow economically. It’s easy for expats to feel comfortable quickly in Canada due to its multicultural environment.

Canada was largely unaffected by the economic crisis, making it a very popular country for expats.

8. Qatar

Qatar is becoming increasingly popular among expats with an estimated 500 new arrivals every day. The salaries are generous and are tax free too, making disposable income very high. Car and housing allowances are part of many remuneration packages, and education for your children and airfares are often included.

The cost of living is lower in Qatar than in other UAE countries but salaries can still be just as generous.

9. Hong Kong

Where east truly meets the west, this bustling island has a population of over seven million people. If you’re looking for a fast-paced environment and an active nightlife, Hong Kong is definitely the place to be. Benefits for expats include its advanced healthcare system and elevated standards of schooling for children, along with great employment opportunities. The cost of living in Hong Kong can be high, so trying to negotiate a housing allowance with your employer can be beneficial.

Hong Kong is great for those looking for high incomes and career advancement.

10. Japan

As an expat destination, Japan offers a rich culture and a chance to experience a very different day-to-day life. Currently around two million expats live in Japan, and in the larger cities such as Tokyo a large portion of the population speaks English. English speakers are also in demand and there are a large number of opportunities for language teachers, especially in the capital.

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Japan offers a high standard of living for expats and a good education system for those with children.

11. Spain

Spain is a very popular destination for expats due to the high temperatures and year-round sunshine. EU residents don’t require a visa to work here, meaning the move can be a lot easier. Skilled foreign workers also continue to be in demand with jobs such as engineering, customer service, skilled trades and language teachers widely available.

A huge 14% of Spain’s population are expats from a variety of foreign countries.

12. Dubai

Two of the main attractions of moving to Dubai are the tax-free salaries and the warm climate. Some of the most popular jobs for expats are in construction, banking, oil and tourism. You can also enjoy a busy social life in Dubai as the expat community is thriving. Although it can be an expensive country, the tax-free salary means you experience a higher quality of life than in other countries.

You will need a work permit, residence visa and an Emirates ID card to live in Dubai as an expat.

13. Germany

Germany is one of Europe’s most populous countries, with around 82.4 million people. It’s a lively and inexpensive country to live in as an expat, and if you have children the education system is great and healthcare is to a high standard. An estimated 250,000 expats live in Germany currently, with the numbers rising every year.

If you are already an EU citizen, you don’t need a visa to live and work in Germany.

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14. The Netherlands

The Netherlands is a great place for expats who love the outdoors. Cycling is one of the main modes of transport and looking after the environment is widely recognized. There are a lot of English speakers in the Netherlands too, but learning the language can work to your advantage and make day-to-day life that little bit easier. Skilled expats can also benefit from a tax-free allowance equivalent to 30% if they meet the correct criteria.

It is often more important to be able to speak fluent English than to speak Dutch when looking for employment in the Netherlands.

15. China

China offers expats great employment opportunities with little competition. Those who embrace the culture and decide they want to live in China long term can see a host of employment opportunities as its economy is growing rapidly every year. Economists predict it will overtake the US as the world’s largest economy by 2018. China also offer expats low living costs and high disposable incomes, which is why many look to live here for a higher quality of life.

Shanghai and Beijing are the most popular destinations for expats who live in China.

Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

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