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.
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.
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.
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.
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