Returning Home after Living Abroad? Not as Easy as Expected!

p.coming_home01Undoubtedly, expat life can be very exciting. The experiences and challenges of life abroad develop one as a person, teach new skills and enhance capabilities, create new meanings in life, and generally translate into valuable memories, which are worth remembering for many years ahead.

Nowadays, the young generation gets involved with a globally mobile lifestyle already during their formative years, by planning for university studies and the first valuable working experiences abroad. According to a Unesco report, by 2009 there were 3.4 million students on the move each year, and the number is expected to grow. Students get more globally mobile than ever before. For many, experiencing globetrotting before ‘settling down’ at home becomes very sought-after. However, when it is time to pack up and head back, the reality of repatriation turns out to be not as easy as expected.

As noted in a recent International Herald Tribune article, there is ‘the dark side of expat life’. The comments provided in the article imply that young people living away from their home countries feel somewhat ‘stuck in limbo, neither here nor there’. This feeling is quite understandable given that for many, life in the host country is perceived as temporary, however as time passes ‘home’ in the native country becomes more distant. The main concern is that while being temporarily abroad, the lives of one’s peers, relatives and friends back home move on too: families get established, careers progress and house mortgages get paid. And even though equipped with new skills, experiences and prospects, at the moment of repatriation the recent traveller finds him/herself in a situation where a job needs to be found, new accommodation arranged, and social ties renewed.

This is how the problem is reflected by the young generation:

“I’ve watched as peers back home have married, had children, bought houses, advanced in their careers. Meanwhile, most of us here in Seoul find ourselves living Peter Pan-like existences. I’m entering middle age with nothing tangible to show for it”

“I do worry whether I should return and put down roots permanently for once in my life”

“So should I go home pre-emptively and try to build a life there? But therein lies the expat’s problem: there’s nothing back home for me now”

 (“The Dark Side of the Expat Life” By THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE)

 

Well, plainly speaking, the solution to such ‘rootless’ situation is quite simple, as it is up to only two choices: either settle abroad, or return back home. As discussed, returning back home may not be easy, and indeed, it may be perceived as starting all over again. However, there are ways of making such transition more positive. The following tips will make repatriation easier:

  • Expect change

Failing to plan for changes can be the biggest contributor to the experienced difficulties. Hence, you should be ready to face changes in yourself, other people, places and lifestyles, as the result of the move itself and the effect of time.

  • Find a mentor at home

While being abroad, it is difficult to organize a host of different things for your return. Having a mentor who can help you with administrative and logistical issues while also looking out for possible job opportunities back home is crucial in assisting your return. The mentor can be a family member or a good friend.

  • Use the continuity of certain things for your benefit

Regardless of the time spent abroad and the country you have lived in, there are certain things that have remained the same at home. This can apply to people, places and activities. Identifying such unchanged things and focusing on them can help you in managing the transition.

  • Find similar people

When returning home, you are often confronted with rather lukewarm interest in your experiences abroad – exactly at a time when you want to share the rich experiences you have gained. However, for family and friends back home who haven’t experienced life abroad it is difficult to grasp what it all entails. So finding a group of people with similar international experiences can be a good way not only to debrief but also to broaden your existing and establish a new social circle.

  • Plan ahead

Surely you have made plans about living arrangements, jobs, social activities and so forth when moving abroad. However, the same is valid when repatriating as well. In other words, when going back home it is also worth planning for this new phase of life, being optimistic, open-minded and aware of the challenges and differences waiting for you in the once called ‘home’.

97 thoughts on “Returning Home after Living Abroad? Not as Easy as Expected!

  1. Not only the students – all over the world people are getting more globally mobile than ever before.
    I think we can’t live without mobiles anymore 🙂
    Thanks for the advice!

    1. Pamela,Take a deep breath. Netanyahu just completely condemned the letter. It is not law or anything like that.Now, stop generalizing about Israelis. The Israeli public (surprise, surprise) is not different than the Oklahoma one. It is just you are happy give “your people” a pass while holding Israelis to ridiculous standards. Same ballgame exactly, people all over are basically very similar on average.

  2. I know what you mean and I hear it a lot, not only in relocation advice as a consultant, but also as a new theme people are looking for answers on every single day.

    When people move a lot, especially during younger ages, they accumulate multiple identities. This makes things a bit tougher when coming back home.

    It takes a good 6 months to re-blend and catch up with family and ties.

    Why not try to offer more from our experiences to our home countries, rather than rambling about how things just aren’t good enough or different?

    Let’s go positive, shall we?

    1. Thank you because it is do able
      i am from Sierra leone and i am planning to go back home
      i see more positive than negative
      No electricity or water but i will be around my family and my country and not feel so lonely.
      Fighting for a change will be my reality, than me living in the states complaining about Africa.
      i need all the positivity i can get
      let’s go positive

  3. “When returning home, you are often confronted with rather lukewarm interest in your experiences abroad…”

    This resonates v well with my own experience – people back home had not travelled, and were perhaps a little envious / did not feel at ease at listening to me enthusiastically explain how I got to do things that they perhaps never will.

    And it IS hard to find people in the same boat as you, particularly if you’re from a smaller town, where travelling, or even studying in a different city, is rare.

    I hope insights like these don’t put people off!

    1. I left UK just once on my own.Twice with Army and then at the falklands we all had our pay stopped until we returned.17 weeks for me and nearly lost the home on mortgages. Mind you living in Latvia now is no rose garden.Cant wait to come home but then only rental at my age.Still reading the web they say benefits help if aged.Im on a pension so that may help. Sad really as a great loss of money went into this house that no one wants unless for chips or pennies.Latvia is one poor place and so lawless it is the wild west. Roads are biblical and snow roof high all winter with no end until June mostly. No pavements to walk on no buses that pass only long distance wagons on sand based roads that fill the lungs with dust in summer and ruin all hedges in winter as they slide between them. I had my home taken by Nat trust so that was why I came abroad but really a true old English man loves his country better than he loves any other.Only thing in its favour is that no rates no water rates and no tax on cars is a saving. England is not cheap by any means and watching the pound sink is not so good a hobby to enjoy. That knocks hard against the Euro and brings that up for 69 pence in the pound to an alarming 77 today Still to see Oxford again and to eat fish and chips from Hereford and drive to Scotland for the weekend would be lovely.The memories my dead wife gave me and now this lady wants more than money she wants blood.

      1. Sounds similar to albania..i have been asked to live there but after visiting it i was so bored people just want to sit around while their streets are full of rubbish and drink coffee.my boyfriend wants to live there best leave him to it but it is painful

        1. Le 13/01/2011 à 12h47 Oui je les ai aussi ces tennis (trois couleurs différentes)! Et pareil les miennes sont également toujours en vie! Et bien moi je dis longue vie à Primark parce qu’il m’a quand même bien dépanné quand j’étais en galère de tune!

  4. I am returning home next month and have all these concerns! Glad to read im not the only one! Having my doubts now and wondering if I should stay on… Eeeek!

  5. “stuck in limbo, neither here nor there” is exactly how i feel.
    I have been living abroad for over two years and I still don’t feel like its my home and my “home country” feels more and more distant. I have had some fantastic times and have unforgettable memories of living abroad but its true that being alone away from home can cause difficulties when you try to adjust to living back home. I hope this article doesn’t put people off traveling but in my opinion, it is the reality of living abroad.

    1. Totally agree with you… When I lived abroad I missed my home and my country sometimes and felt lonely when my friends there spoke in their languages. While now I’m back to my home , I feel my friends here cannot understand me fully and I don’t fell I belong to here completely… I think not many can understand and think similar as me unless they don’t experience the same.

      1. I do feel the same as you. I moved back to my country and hometown two years ago, after living in London for 16 years. The more time passes by, the more I feel I don’t belong here anymore and in fact there are many things that I do not like anymore in here. I’m starting feeling lonely and questioning whether I should have returned back to my hometown. It’s difficult to make the right decision.

      2. Yes I cannot speak Latvian after 3 years I dream of English lanes in the sunshine and land marks that tell of my youth at my fathers side.Being alone is not the problem in UK BUT as you so rightly say being abroad is serious stuff.

  6. I have only just returned to SA after almost 4 years abroad, 3 of which were spent in Italy. I already want to go back and it was simply a matter of work not being plentiful enough that forced my hand to come back. You are right about luke warm interest from others, one friend confessed she was happy to have me home so as not to see all my photos of Italy as she gets jealous! I hope to make some better plans for a return to a place that I just adore. Thank you for the article. It is honest and very appropriate!

    1. I’m in a similar position. I had a fabulous experience abroad in Guatemala and loved it. I have not stopped thinking about returning and feel I have a strong desire to do so. I had to leave for financial reasons and I also left bc I felt pressure to settle and establish my life, and from my family to come back to the states. But I was MUCH happier there than I am here. I really think I need to do what makes me happy, but I’m curious as to whether you or anyone knows whether it’s normal to still want to be in the other country after a year and a half of being back to your “home” country, or if this should tell me something (I.e I really want to go back and should do it) or if it’s the eternal pull that you have on your heart from the other country that will never leave if you have pleasant memories of the place.

  7. I am glad to find this article. I am a retiree returning home after a wonderful experience in SA. In talking with some family they will be happy to have me back home. On the other hand I expact that perhaps my life choices will be a little different than they were previously to leaving. Glad to go home, but I am not the same ‘ol Rhonda’. Hope others and I understand.

  8. From the older end of the spectrum… We are based in the UK and both my parents and grandparents opted for a move to Southern Europe – the ‘no place like home’ reality sunk in for them after 2-3 years, they found the ‘off season’ winter months particularly hard. There is also the issue of language (they could ‘get by’, but medical forms/legal contracts is a different ball game).

    Anyhow, coming home wasn’t so easy – the property market in the UK had appreciated hugely, meaning they were unable to re-enter the property ladder at the same level previously. There was also matters like doctors/dentists waiting lists, etc etc.

    I don’t want to discourage travelling or seeing the world, I just think people need to distinguish that to ’emigrating’ or living somewhere for an extended period of time (beyond 6 months), as its a very different thing.

  9. Im back home after working abroad for 8yrs.Im feeling like a stranger, cause all my friends got their own lifes.My son is very happy, having me back.I got everything i need, but its like im dreaming and that i’ll soon go back.Now i look around me and i miss my friends, the food, dancing.I now know that home will never be the same, travelling is what both myself and my son enjoyed.I survived abroad and the only way to enjoy my time at home, is to start explore in my native land.Thanx for this info its really helpful.

  10. I’ve moved to Edinburgh UK 14 years ago, I was 30 where I currently live. I moved from Italy because I didn’t have any direction and I wanted to explore new possibilities. I had a very good friend here so I moved and good things started to happen. I’ve found a good job, I’ve bought a flat, I’ve met a nice girl. In the last 2 years I’ve lost my friend due to an argument and it’s beyond repair, I’ve split with my gf who is now with a another ex good friend of mine. It’s 5 years I work freelance and business is doing ok.

    I feel like my life here is over and feeling very depressed. I don’t have any energy or motivation to rebuild my life, meet new people etc. and I just spend my days working and been alone.

    I feel like I’ve been left alone by everyone. I’m longing to go back to Italy, but the working situation there is dreadful and at 44 it’s virtually impossible to find a job.

    I’m also considering to go somewhere else, but I don’t have clear ideas of where and to do what.

    I feel very stuck.

    1. That sounds tough… I can relate as I have been in a similar situation. If there’s no realistic move back to Italy then you need to make your life in Scotland as good as possible, or at least save as much as you can to be able to possibly retire there, or visit often. Good luck man!

    2. This is 2 years after your comment but I totally understand your feelings! I just returned to the US after spending 12.5 years in France and I am having a very difficult time! I miss my life in France dreadfully and am depressed and isolated and alone. Nobody here is interested in my experiences. So many Americans don’t even possess a passport!

      1. I feel the same. It’s not easy, but at least you feel more secure and cushioned at home. And maybe you can start planning your return.

    3. Yep… I left for 5 years during the worst of the UK recession.

      Struggled with alcoholism and substance issues for most of it I think. Expat life, you either get ratted with the locals or the expats, but it’s hard to find much else (when you’re lazy, poor, and you’re living in Asia where booze/drugs are insanely cheap).

      Half way through I met a nice girl, went to China for her. Ignored my de-skilling while drifting through the TEFL system grumpily, getting more and more entitlement issues.

      Fast forward to now. Our relationship is over, still can’t help but wish it wasn’t, but the logistics of dual emmigration to Australia gave me a nervous breakdown. I spent all my savings learning a language that is next to useless outside of a handful of countries. I am completely sober, which is actually really nice, but has fully exposed underlying depression and anxiety (helped nicely by the breakup and reverse culture shock).

      And dipping back in to the family for short intense periods over the years led to a massive rifts, so now I am dealing with that too.

      In short. Getting told I should be grateful for minimum wage. Finding everything incredibly expensive, to the point I jsut sit in supermarkets staring sadly at anything that isn’t reduced. Only have one dream in life now; long term emmigration. But trying to decide how to do that beyond just TEFL slaving (and risk waking up in another 10 years, even more screwed than I am now, which is quite screwed enough cheers).

      A hundred life plans, and none of them involve staying here. I want to run back to China, but getting stared at by literally 100s of people no matter what you do (and once you understand what they’re loudly shouting about you, it gets worse) is not wise for my mental health issues. Seriously, it’s like being an elephant or unicorn to them,so despite loving the culture, food, life, and even work (my god the hours were phenomenal)… I can’t really go back. The pollution and summer heat, terrifying.

      So I am completely at a crossroads. A full moratorium. I have pulled away my cruxes of drink, drugs, family, girlfriend, money, travel… and I just sit here, trying to think of a way to make my future tenable.

      It’s not great.

      But then I bought a rice cooker 😀

      1. Richard, don’t feel alone. At pushing 30 years old, I’ve been facing and experience some difficult, albeit amazing and awkward experiences, similar to you.

        I graduated ‘uni’ back in the States. I majored in Marketing with Focus in Asia-Pacific Strategies. Shortly after graduation, I decided to go study abroad.

        Besides what little savings I had to help out through school, my parents were kind enough to “help me out” a bit. Yes, I was lucky in that sense, but I’m not bragging. I was very thankful for their help. I had a choice to study between three languages: German, Arabic, and Chinese.

        For obvious reasons (business and affordability), I decided to study abroad in China, via a third party study abroad program, which liaison applicants to the schools of their choice. I ended up studying at China’s 3rd most prestigious university (in 2009). What began as two semesters of Mandarin study ended out being four semesters of Mandarin study.

        During that time, I met a lot of new people, some new friends which I still keep in touch with today, although we’re now in different cities now. We had a lot of interesting travels and experiences. I even went through a phase where I “nearly had” a Chinese girl friend, but things didn’t turn out so well. So I was alone once more after.

        I did a volunteer job at a trade expo (in a big Chinese city), did internship work (unpaid) at a small foreign investment firm, and even did part-time teaching (all this while in China).

        Two years later, I was so saturated that I needed a fresh start. I decided to go back to the States to search for opportunities there. While back in the States, I spent the next 8 months sending, editing, and proof-reading various versions of my resume, CV, cover letters, objectives. You name it. After numerous follow-up calls, correspondences, I basically was left with “either join the military as enlisted” to gain experience that way (because officer school was very competitive and only were searching for Engineering, Math, and Science/Tech majors — Air Force and Army); or I would just work at a local insurance company, and live by 95-100% commission, leaving me to earn the rest of my income by working a night job, while still having to pay for transportation, gas, insurance, some medical, and sharing rent with my parents… even applying to the U.S. Foreign Service/Consulates were very difficult and tedious processes, yet with no avail.

        Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out, even after applying to some “big name” hospitality/hotel company’s, I just gave up. I was mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted.

        Shortly after, my parents retired, but didn’t have enough savings to help support me while I was searching for jobs “home-side”.

        Later we decided to go to the Philippines to visit family there (which I myself hadn’t visited in the past 20 years).

        I spent my time (3-4 months) in Philippines searching for jobs there, but with no successful avail, unless I’m willing to live downtown in Makati City or Oritgas in a really old apartment, questionable living and security conditions. I knew that I would have to face such “conditions” until I was able to find a more suitable job, more suitable living conditions (i.e. the nice highrise apartments, gated community, 24/7 security, etc.)

        Most of my time, if not job searching, was spending time with relatives I haven’t seen in years.

        We then decided to take a short trip to China, and that’s when I applied to an ESL company there, and fast forward several months, I am now back in China.

        Where will this current path take me, considering it’s not even in the remotest way related to my major?…I really don’t know, but I plan to make the best of things now, and seek more opportunities to come.

        Richard, if you see this reply, you can post-reply. I’d like to share more experiences with you.

        Hope life is better for you now, wherever you may be.

        And yes, I know all about the pain whenever you hear Chinese talk about us or behind our back, and we perfectly understood what they were saying. If they only really knew we understood their conversations…lol

        1. Are you still in China? I have just returned to Canada after working for two years in China at an “International School”. I have an education degree, and a license to teach for a province I don’t really want to work in. I am trying to get teaching licenses for other provinces so I can expand my job search, but it is a very slow bureaucratic process. I’m heading into month 3 of my job search, and nothing yet, not even an interview. It is beyond frustrating, and with each passing day China is appearing more and more appealing.

  11. Nice article Sebastian – I’m a recent repat who came back to the US after 8 years of living in China, mostly. Over the past year I’ve been working on the very things you mention in this article. I’d agree that the nuanced changes you see when you return can be compounded and feel much different than they actually are.

    And while you’re away, the modern internet has a way of giving you a false sense of connectedness. You feel like you can juggle life between two very distant and culturally disparate places, but that house of cards comes crashing down when you start the repat process. A network of support and good planning certainly help make the process easier.

  12. I’ve been living in a second world country thus moving back to the third world country i call home won’t be too bad.
    However there’s that gap in experiences. I’ve been here six years and as time passed i changed according to my surroundings becoming a hybrid of who iwas from my home country and the foreigner i am here. The result is that even people back home don’t think I’m from my own country…
    It’s a conundrum. Either move on as this country has terrible immigration policies. ( hint you have to be a jew before you can be allowed citizenship… It doesn’t matter that you’ve built a life for 6 years or speak the language fluently) or go back home where everyone’s moved on with life and find myself stuck as the “peter pan” bachelor uncle that all the kids find cool but whose parents constantly wrn them not to turn out like him

  13. My question is “where do you begin when looking for a job before returning home?”
    Our son has been teaching in remote areas of China for 4 years and hopes to return to the USA this fall with his Asian wife and infant. Any suggestions on where to start looking for employment in the Houston or Austin areas? He has TEFL certification but he got his degree in economics.
    Thanks for any input.

    1. Hi,

      Tell him to get a good profile set up on LinkedIn and start networking.
      I would defocus off TEFL and on to Economics. China is an interesting place in terms of an emerging economy to have been in for the last 4 years. Focus on that story. And of course – plan and plan some more. Write up a list with old country vs. new country and when things get tough go back to the list and remind yourself/himself why he is going home.
      6 -12 months in – it will all have settled down and he will be grateful for a fabulous experience of living in China – one for the grandkids!

  14. I decided to work abroad for a greener pasture. I’m on my 6th month now and is hesitant whether to go back home or stay here longer. I can honestly say I’ve changed a lot now (mentally and emotionally), compared to the “me” 6 months ago. But, my heart is longing for home. I know there are more opportunities abroad, but life back home is far better. It made me realized that it’s not always about money, you know life is very short. We must spend it doing the things we love the most, we spend it with the people we care about, we must spend it with all our heart’s desires. After all the hardships and struggles abroad, we will still go back to our own country. And at that time, I’m pretty sure our times would be limited. So why not settle home as early as possible. Find a stable job, live simply, and be happy about it!

    1. Mm good point – exactly what my parents have been saying to me. And I completely feel you .. it’s how I felt when I was only 6 months into living abroad. In the midst of my parents pressuring me to come back home, and after living abroad for over 2 years now, I kind of want to settle down here. I’ve met friends here like me, struggled their ways through to adjust to the new environment, culture, and community for 2~3 years, but those who’s lived here +3 years are loving the place [better than home]. I’m hoping to get a long-term job, meet the love of my life, and continue on with the new life I’ve created here the past 2 years. But still not sure if I want to go back or stay here? I had to tell my job 3 months in advance that I’ll be quitting, so I’ll be jobless soon. Now that time is getting closer, I’m so lost… should I find a permanent job here or research for jobs online [in US] before returning home or go home and look for jobs there? I’d love to be back at home in the US for good in the near future, but I’d love to stay here as well… SIGH, life is so hard.

  15. The excitement and challenges of new horizons has universal appeal, as ‘grass is always greener on the other side’. As UK expat financial advisors, we are often engaged as last port of last call when the dream starts to slip, and reality kicks in where finances and mortgages are concerned….

  16. Exactly. People get too excited about going to work abroad where the company will pay for house, car, everything, sometimes in cases they go to a por country and can have a luxury life, but the dream ends!!! back on reality, no economy, when the bills will need to be payed by their own money…then reality kicks in as you said…

  17. Reading several of these posts made me want to cry. I`ve been abroad for 15 years. Grew up in an expat family that moved accross continents every 5 year odd so I always felt comfortable away from my birthplace. I`ve been where I am for the last 7 years now, which seems an eternity to me. I had a child last year, my relationship promptly disintergrated. I`m really lonely and I want to go “home”. With parents living on opposite sides of the world I feel a huge burden of guilt leaving one hemisphere to be geographically closer to the other parent. Both are aging. I visit home every 3-4 years for an extended break (1.5 months) and know I always start feeling alienated toward the end of the stay. It`s really sad, I love my country but I feel like I cannot connect with anyone there. I`ve also detected my best friend has changed ever so slightly towards me. I want to erase all memory of the last 7 years of my life and I am ready to start afresh but I`m not ready to pack up and go home just to feel like an outcast. I`m almost 40 so I don`t have bags of time to find a satisfactory job (in an increasingly ageist world). I know my child would have a much happier childhood back home. I really don`t know if I should just suck it up and stay put with a good paying job waiting for me after my maternity leave. Or if I should cut my losses, go through a massive relocation –only to feel as lonely as i do now. Loneliness here or loneliness there. Is the only advantage of moving home being able to be lonely in my own language???

  18. I live all my life in Poland then 2 years ago I left to England as I get a job there. It was a great time living there, met a lot of great people. Now when I get back to Poland and my city I found out that all my friends left. I feel like I’m starting my life here, not an easy thing…

  19. Great post Sebastian. I knew that I was not the only one who feels that way about returning home. I recently made a decision to return home due to family issues.

    For someone like myself who had been living aboard for 15 years, I am 32 now with wife no kid, this is more like moving overseas than returning home. This was no easy task, I decided to take baby steps to get there mentally. I am lucky enough to be able to put everything I have here (houses, career and our business) on hold and of course, with the supports from people around me. My boss, for example, was kind enough to promise me that I can continue working for the company when I get back (if I ever get back). Friend who offered to look after our belongings while I am away. Friend who give a precious advises.

    For all of us who left behind our life many years ago and started a new one aboard, we have done ourself a tremendous achievement in life and the experience is with us forever. A tale to tell your kids. We settled in a foreign land, knew no one at all or only a few, discovered our own careers and found loves. All of these were difficult, not to mention having to handle the loneliness and isolation from family and relatives.

    I made a major decision to go aboard many years ago and made here my home. Looking back now, I did not have any expectation of how life would be then. It is surely scary to think of the unknowns but unknowns also can be exciting. I disagree that returning home is a new start. I believe it is a continuation of my life for the next chapter. Be open-minded and embrace challenges, I think of it as a new arena which same rules apply, I choose battles where I have a chance to win, and if I lose a battle or two, I can still win the war and be successful.

    I have no regret for my time overseas, I experienced things that I would never experience at home. I met incredible people through career and studies. Some of which will remain friends for the rest of my life.

    So what is my plan when I return?

    My knowledge about the home country is limited, I am not able to form expectation of how life will be. At this point I know my objectives but unsure of how to achieve them. The plan is to assess and re-evaluate strategy as I learn more about the new surroundings. So I am starting by working for my father. This should keep me occupied until I figure it out the next step.

    So, what do you all think? Suggestion?

  20. Sebastian, so many things in this article, and the comments that follow, though some people from different backgrounds and ‘ages’ of the spectrum; I can resonate and sympathize with them. In fact, I am back abroad after spending almost a year back in the States “trying” to repatriate and “start fresh”. I find that although my current “expat” life in China is hard and awkward at times, especially doing something unrelated to my major, I try to make each day meaningful, and hope to find other opportunities that will allow me to explore myself, and the world further.

  21. I’m making the leap to go back home after 6 years abroad. I’m 27 with most of my friends married with a house and a car and babies. I have a great boyfriend abroad who never wants to leave his country. I know I don’t want to stay in his country for the rest of my life. So we decided to break up and I’ll move back home. It was a ‘leave now or stay forever’ thing. I have a great job, great apartment and love my boyfriend. When I think about having children abroad or my aging parents, it really isn’t much of a choice. I have missed so many weddings, my nephew’s birth and my grandmother’s deatg while away. I just want to stop missing everything. I want to raise a family in my home country. I can go back to school or find a job. I would like to have more permanence in my life. I want to be nesr lifelong friends and family members. The expat community is so transient and after 6 years, it gets tiring when you make friends and they leave. Make new friends and they leave too. Many cycles of that.
    I’m ready to make the leap. It’s intimidating and scary. I don’t know what life will be like in the long term.

    1. Hi Miranda,

      I am going through a similar situation, and it extremely difficult to keep it to myself, since no one would ever understand.. I have been living abroad for 8 years, and it is pretty tiring to make new friends and see them going away.. I am tired and not up for meeting new people since i know they will leave. my husband is the love of my life but he doesn’t want to move away from his country. I have a absolute great job and great life standards.. but, it is just too difficult sometimes..

      Perhaps we could share experiences? I hope you still can see the post

    2. Hi Miranda, I am also going through something similar. I just moved home after 5 years abroad and it is one of the most challenging things I have done. I miss my life, my friends everything but I was tired of the rotating friends and for me my family and future relationships took precedence. The decision was easy but the emotional implications are very hard to get through. I’m on month 3 and I miss my friends dearly. I worry I will never find more people like them or feel as fulfilled but then I think back to when I first arrived in the other country. Good luck and I would love to keep in touch with both of you as well.

      1. I forgot to add. Another thing that is beyond difficult is people assuming because you are home that you should be adjusted in a month or two. Even expats themselves are so emotionally silly it is hard to comprehend. I find myself constantly having to remind people of how long it took them to adjust and how much harder going home actually is than leaving in the distance place.

  22. I have been living abroad for 25 years ( Thailand ) and had to return to the UK because i was ill.Probably the biggest mistake of my life.I hate the UK and after being back 5 months there is no change.I have no friends and completely ” Out Of Sync ” with everything and everybody.
    My values have all changed from living in Thailand.I have to go back home ( Thailand ) soon or i will crack.I would advise anybody strongly to consider very carefully before moving back to the UK after spending many years abroad.
    Regards,
    M x

    1. I know exactly how you feel! After 20+ years in Asia I returned to the UK just over a year ago and am constantly thinking what a mistake I’ve made. I miss Asia sooo much and gave up a fantastic lifestyle to return to … well not a bad life now for sure but it’s not brilliant and I still don’t feel settled here. Home in my mind is still Asia, same as you M. It’s probably because we’re more familiar with the Asian way of life now than the UK way – after being away so long.
      It took me an age to even be able to watch a documentary series about Bangkok Airport because I’d been there so many times and it just upset me and made me realise what I’m missing. Sounds ridiculous I know but it was so easy living there and I had many friends and an active social life. Being back here I don’t really have any friends in my area and haven’t re-kindled any old friendships as people don’t seem that bothered and have all moved on with their own lives. I do have friends but spread all over the country and they’re all people I met whilst living overseas and who have also returned to the UK. They mainly tell me that it took them at least 18 months before they felt settled here.
      I eventually found a job after a long process and now I pretty much feel my life is just work and home with nothing much in between. Oh what a change to what I had.
      I could go back as I have permanent resident status but I’m too old to get a job there now and too scared to start up the business franchise I’d been thinking about, having never run my own business and always worked for an employer.
      Reading that I’m not alone in how I feel does help somewhat but I hope the feelings will dissipate and that living here will become easier. If not then am I just going to bleat on [to myself!] for evermore about what a bad decision I made? Oh dear…. how sad. I am going to try to will myself to put a positive spin on things.
      Eventually 😉

      PS – Charlotte’s comments below are very positive. Nice one! [but easier said than done … I can’t socialise alone and don’t want to holiday on my own!!! …..]

      D

  23. Hi,

    I have literally just returned back from living in SEA for three years to the UK. Iv been back just 3 wks (one of which was i was in holiday in France ) and it’s so hard psychologically! I really feel in limbo as I can’t start work for a few months due to paperwork and therefore can’t look for a place to live yet..so I’m splitting my time between staying with friends and parents…not as easy as it sounds at 33! In trying to stay positive as much as I can but it’s not easy to feel like your life is kind of in tatters , like someone pulled the rug if from under your feet and your left like ‘where did my amazing life go?!’
    It’s good to read the previous posts to know I’m not alone in feeling the reverse culture shock. I personally think the best thing to do is as quickly as you can get back some sense of routine , be it hobbies, socializing or things you did overseas that can be adapted to your home country. Also , it can be a good time to try something new or something you might have been putting off while you were overseas due to financial , time or cultural constraints. Failing that, (money permitting) get some holidays booked up in sunny places to keep your spirits up and it’s also something to look forward to! (People dealing with ‘British summer time’ especially!!)
    I love my friends and family, but they don’t understand and how can they? Stay positive and patient , good things will come : ))

    1. Charlotte if you see this I would love to talk to you! It sounds like we are both in a very similar situation, I am 32 and I have just returned to Canada from China. I have been back for over 2 months, and it looks like it’s going to be about another 2 months before I get all my paperwork done so I can go find a job.

  24. OMG! thank you for defining how I feel. After 5 years of expat living to return ‘home’ has been a huge adjustment. These feelings were confusing to me (and no one that understands) I was not prepared for it at all. I’m so happy to know that I am not alone and weird. Its been less than a year of leaving the expat life behind, its also taking all I’ve got to not buy a one way ticket out of here.

  25. Really it is hard to settle at home after staying almost 6 years in abroad.I used to stay alone in abroad and there was no one to tell me anything i can do whatever i like but after coming at home I have to think for all the thing before doing it.

  26. For me returning from abroad after 25 years is easy.Never in my dreams that I would stay there forever even though I have a comfortable life, even own & driving my own car.Home is still where I belong.Send all my four children to school & finish their course is the most significant achievement of my life.Now they are all fairly doing good both singles & married I build my new house to the same place, got a fairly retirement allotment.I could not ask for more..because I planned to reach this stage of my life.Now my only ultimate dream is to travel around tge world in backpack.:)

  27. I first left the UK for Australia when I was 24. A few months in, I met an Australian woman and we really hit it off. I put my travelling plans on hold and we ended up moving in together for a while. A year later though I was so homesick I ended up catching a flight home. The thing that surprised me…..the thing that had changed the most….was myself! I began to see how most things hadn’t changed at all. I realized how being away from home changed my perspective on other people, which in turn made my relationship with them vastly different. Suddenly some of my good friends were now just friends and some friends had become acquaintances. Being away can really dilute your friendships. Anyone who hasn’t left home can’t relate to you over the difficulties you have living abroad and how alienated we now feel on coming home! I found myself slipping into old habits just so I could assimilate with my old crew. Once that happened I knew it was time to leave. I’ve now been in Australia for almost 2 years. I’m in a committed relationship (the same woman) but sure enough the urge to go back home is stronger than its ever been!! It’s pretty confusing. I have no idea what it is im doing here or there. I ask myself “Whats the point in being here if all you do is live the same life you could be having back at home? How is this any different”? I guess its different because I’ve done the thing that most other people only dream of. But I always wonder though how different it would be if I went back considering how long I’ve been away. A few of my friends have moved on to different jobs in different parts of the country. Some are quite depressed! and could probably use my company :). Most of my cousins have gotten married and had children. Last year I missed my grandmothers funeral (that stung). But it’s the price we pay for living away and will no doubt be paid double on coming back.

    So yes, right now I can’t decide whether its worth staying or leaving. I’m completely in-limbo!!!

  28. Along with almost everything which seems to be building within this particular subject material, all your points of view are somewhat refreshing. On the other hand, I appologize, but I can not give credence to your entire plan, all be it radical none the less. It would seem to everybody that your remarks are actually not completely rationalized and in fact you are yourself not really totally certain of your argument. In any case I did appreciate reading through it.

  29. I have been living abroad for nearly two years. I am 27 this year with most of my friends back home having set up families, having their babies, or at least having boyfriends. My parents are worrying about me, especially my single status, which makes me very frustrated.
    I am deciding between return or stay, and it gives me much agony. I was educated and brought up in my home country. Different from most of the threads above, I started my overseas experience because of work (though there were a few student exchange program that gave me chances to live no more than one year abroad). I enjoy the living environment but hate the workaholic culture here. Besides, the boys around are all very shy (it is Japan…), and perhaps due to my introvert nature, I have few connections outside my company.
    I know it makes no good to compare my own life with those of my friends, but whenever I feel alone at home, I cannot help thinking that if I had chose to work in my home country, I might have had got married already just most of my friends…

  30. Reading these posts has made me feel better in realizing I am not alone in feeling the way I do right now! After 20+ years in France, I have returned to the US. I have been back for 6 weeks and, after an initial period of happiness and relief (I had wanted to come back for a long time for a lot of the same reasons mentioned in other posts), I am now feeling increasingly ill at ease and stressed that I have made a mistake, that what I felt was ‘missing’ from my life is not here. It is very complicated. I feel like jumping on the first plane back home! I also feel like crawling under a rock. I knew it would be hard, but this is much much worse than I anticipated.
    I know I need to give it time though, and need to dive in more. I do have the possibility of going back to France in a year’s time if we really don’t like it here as my husband has taken a sabbatical so can go back to his job if need be. I think the hardest part right now may be that we are staying with family while I look for work so I feel like I have “lost” my independence and my world. I guess I just need to snap myself out of it and try to make the most of this year here (et plus, si affinités) knowing that there is a way out if need be. Sigh. Indeed, this is the dark side of expat life.

  31. Give yourself time to adjust. On coming back home, take time to settle back into your usual or new routine. If you have a job to go back to, no doubt that will come up shortly. But if this was big year overseas prior to looking for a career, you’re bound to be feeling trepidation at what lies ahead–your entire future! To get you started, it’s good to get into a routine as soon as possible

  32. Fantastic information. 3.4 million students on the move each year…WOW. Now they are more. I am astonished. Young people know that the experience is very important. I am so glad that I am part of this generation. Greetings!

  33. Thanks to everyone who has posted on this forum. It’s really helpful to hear from others who have experienced similar things. I’ve lived in the States for the last 5 years and down under for 2 before that. My husband is American and I’ve now got US citizenship too. We lived in two different states over there and I loved a lot about it, especially the friendly people and positivity, weather, skiing, space and amazing foods. I never felt completely settled so came back to England 8 months ago, though am now thinking that lack of settling was perhaps more to do with my own nature than anything external.

    I’ve found it really challenging being back. So far it feels like a mistake, though I’m trying to see all the positive things being back has shown me. I’ve changed so much and I feel as though the country has too (though perhaps it’s just me). Friends who felt very close now feel far less intimate (that’s the hardest part). I’ve always been an independent traveller type and less intimate with family than some, but airport goodbyes and missing the landscape here and architecture (I know that sounds ridiculous) got me thinking, then planning my return.

    I don’t feel particularly ‘British’ any more so it’s been a bit of an identity challenge. Now, people I meet think I’m not from here, so I find myself in no-mans-land, not quite belonging and feeling like a stranger in my ‘home’ country, as I felt more at home there in many ways. I find myself missing some real aspects of being in the States though for the things I appreciate about here, I start to think: ‘Would I miss this back there?’. Our work is mostly from home which gives us flexibility though less roots and socializing. My husband isn’t particularly happy here (it’s rained almost non-stop which hasn’t helped!) and doesn’t share my love of London, though he’s a generous hearted guy who would stay in England if I really love it.

    I know we create our lives and happiness and I’m aware this is a complete ‘first world problem’. I’m very fortunate to be able to live in two such great places… it’s just a challenge to chose where. I want to feel settled and put down roots. Any gentle words of wisdom folks?

  34. This article is exactly what I’ve been thinking. I’m glad I found it.

    I’ve recently returned to Canada after spending 5 years in Australia. I really hoped I would be able to reconnect with some long term friends, but lukewarm as a reception is an understatement. Basically I’m being made fun of like I’m some kind of failure, which really hurts. I chose to take an opportunity in oz, because it was the right choice both professionally and personally, but after five years, I wanted to come home to be closer to the friends and family who kept saying I should come home. Now I’m here, and all I want to do is go back, or go somewhere else, as these same people have treated me like garbage.

    I have a feeling it comes down to jealousy, as I’ve gotten to do something that they all haven’t, but why do I need to be punished for it?

    At least the people at my new job are nice, but still, it hurts when people you call friends act like dicks now that you’re back.

    1. Hey James, I would love to talk to you. My husband and I have been living in Sydney for just over 4 years and have been trying to figure out if we should return to Canada. I am terrified to pack up our lives here only to regret it. Can we chat?

  35. It is right to say as living abroad for study is not easy but one develop many qualities and make friends. It is great pleasure also touring places in vacation. Not only we learn new things but also we make friends of different origin and returning home with such qualities and friends definitely boost all.

  36. I been away from South Africa between 10-15 years. I am now 38, divorced, no kids and been feeling homesick for the last few months. I’m in limbo as I had returned home more than.12 years ago and stayed for 1 year, but life was really tough. Work was difficult to find, felt like a foreigner in my own land and faced many challenges that I couldn’t cope with. I left a year later to return to UK. Now that I’m older, wiser and single again. The longing for home is so much stronger…Have given myself to the end of this year to decide what I will do. Not sure I don’t want to remain in UK for the rest of my life. Have spoken to many who have returned and everyone have their own opinions. Some would like to return while others are Happy being back. What to do….my friends.over here keep on saying that I will be back in no time, but I honestly feel in my heart that it’s time to go back….decisions… decisions

    1. Hi Edwin,
      My husband and I have been in the UK for over 8 years now, 9 maybe (I’ve stopped counting), we have been in limbo about going back/not going back, pros/cons and so on for years. It’s getting to a point where we REALLY want to go back… came accross your comment, I’m curious to find out what challenges you had in the year that you were there (if you don’t mind me asking)?
      Thanks,
      Leoni

  37. This article is amazing – accurate, interesting and helpful. Let’s add a basic moving tip: Don’t be shy and ask for help. Your friends will always be there for you. Even if you are using a mover, ask for help from them, family, and neighbors. You will need all the help you can get. Make sure you throw a BBQ afterwards or something like that to award them for the hard work they did. Having friends around will also make the move a lot less stressful, because you will joke around and have fun all day. ~ Walthamstow Man and Van Ltd.

  38. I have been in Australia for 14 years with my wife. We are both from Scotland and have two girls born in Australia. We have loved living here and have made a life beyond anything I could have imagined.

    We want for nothing materialistically but still there is a gap… We miss our family more with every year that passes and I miss feeling like I am in a country where I truly belong. It would be nice to spend some time not being the person from somewhere else.

    My take on it is this:

    You can’t theorise upfront whether or not this “what if” you returned back home is going to work out. The outcome will be uncertain because there are many things you can’t be aware of or control, like the reactions of others or yourself. Some things can only be experienced, felt and then decisions made on that basis. All you can do is try, adjust, reset if need be or enjoy. At the worst, you’ll be one step closer than you were to finding the right fit for you. The only certainty is you will never find it if you don’t try.

    One of the things I do believe is that there really isn’t one place that is better. We change and places change. Different places suit us better at different stages of our lives. When comparing places you have to remember its usually unbalanced. In Australia right now I can tell you all the things that are better in Scotland because we notice the things we don’t like first. I am quite sure the opposite will happen when we are back in Scotland. This is called temporal discounting. We pay much more attention to the things we don’t like right now and discount the things we didn’t like in the past. AKA Rose Tinted Glasses.

    We will dip a toe in the water with an extended stay without selling up in Australia. If that works we’ll take the next step. It will cost money and effort but its an investment in ending the “what if” so we can move on one way or the other.

    Exposing ourselves to the opportunity to find a better fit is of more value than trying to predict which one of two or more places is the better fit.

    Al

  39. Well it’s been 50 years since leaving the UK and living in the USA.. I have a home, some friends, live by the sea and retired BUT even after all these years I am still home sick..my family has grown and have children on there own, they live in a different state so I don’t get to see them very much maybe once a year. I have thought many times of going back home..as my family is still there. I miss the UK so much but like everything else it has changed its not like it use to be.
    I am lucky because I go home every year my “old friends” have gone .. I don’t see them any more…but my family is still there..I would love to go back but I need to try it for 6 months before giving up my comfortable life here. I lost a lot of my friends here through moving or they have just died off…
    I feel I live in the Atlantic Ocean..1 foot in the US and one in the UK.
    Reading others comments have made me realize I should have gone home many years ago as its too late foe me now. So to others I would say try it for a year if it doesn’t work go back..at least you tried and then can Seattle down in a place you belong

  40. I think living in abroad is more difficult then returning home. I have been living in abroad for almost three years still I missed my home my family and my friends I just want to go back and that’s why in my opinion going back to your home is not difficult thing to do.

  41. This december marks two years since I left the UK to take a job in sunny California at age 28 (where I knew no one but thought I would regret the experience if I didn’t try. ) The first six months were the worst, found myself looking at flights more than once but stubbornly have born it out two years. Been making the most of the time- traveling, hiking, climbing when I can but I think I will return to UK next year as it’s closer to friends and europe and the life I’m used to . Best to go back before too late and realise that it will be hard, and there will be downs , but I think I will appreciate life a lot more after seeing the health care struggles and poverty here in central valley of CA. It’s so hard…and I feel no one understands what goes on in my head is this internal struggle of should I stay/ should I go that occupy way more of my free time than it should. Will be a transatlantic for life. I think the most important thing is to choose to settle, to accept the downs with the ups and focus on building a stable foundation, where ever it may be.

    1. Hey Holly,
      that sounds like something I’ve been thinking about lately- 29 Canadian and living in France after about 5 years of study/work in Europe. At one point or another we have to settle- I think living abroad compounds a lot of life’s difficulties that we are going to encounter regardless of where we live. It’s easy to view it all throught the prism of problems associated with being a foreigner. Life is hard wherever you are, sometimes living abroad can crystalize what we feel or know we need, but for many it seems to have the opposite effect. Anyways, I’d be happy to exchange emails if ever you wanted to! Good luck!

  42. When I came home this summer I felt exactly the same! I wanted to appreciate it so bad, but I also felt uneasy and unhappy and confused on how to fill my time.

    I’m finally content, clear headed and excited for my new adventure but for a period of time it was really confusing!

  43. This is interesting subject-matter to me. I have been living abroad, with the exception of ten years, for almost forty years and am, in two years, facing retirement in the U.S. I will continue working, but will have to take less lucrative and much less meaningful work. I foresee an adjustment – probably a fairly monumental one.

  44. Wow – this has been a great and enlightening read. I love hearing everyone’s experiences – glad to know I’m not alone!

    I must say, I’m thinking of returning to the US after nearly 15 years living in Australia (10) and New Zealand (4). I’m mid-40s, no house, no kids, and happily single, so no ties – easy! But here I have a great job with good pay and 4 weeks’ vacation every year, and good, subsidized medical (not that I need it now, but I will one day!). I’m lucky to have a nice, solid group of long-term friends… But the more time passes the more I miss my home (San Diego) and my friends and parents.

    I’m trying to be practical and realistic with balancing the pros and cons about moving back, but the cons for moving back outweigh the pros of staying here! Everything hinges on getting a good job with good benefits, and like someone said earlier, there’s also that ageism factor too… And what would I go back to? The same kind of office job I’m doing here with less pay and a lot less vacation time. Here, they have excellent socialized medicine – over in the US they’re terrified of the word let alone able to get their heads around a good, government-subsidized system. And I don’t even want to think of the crazed gun culture.

    Another thing I think of sometimes when I’m back there for a visit, and this may be super egotistical or self-centered, if I move back permanently I won’t be “special”, or like someone said earlier, I won’t be “that girl from someplace else”. Like many of you have said, once back at home, it’s like your time and experiences living overseas just melt away like a dream that no one can relate to or really wants to talk about, it loses its specialness, and that makes me sad to think these experiences will no longer be special on a daily basis. When I move back I’ll be just like everyone else….. Almost like I never left….. Hard to explain I suppose.

    I don’t know what to do, which way to go. I’m trying to keep the realities and practicalities of a permanent return in perspective. I’m not at all worried about settling back in, in fact I’m excited about it, but once the glow (and my savings) wears off, I’m worried that I’ll miss Australia and it’ll be harder to get back if/when I want to – like another person said earlier I’m afraid it’ll hurt too much to hear stories about what’s happening in the place you just left. Then again, where there’s a will there’s a way!

    I’m so conflicted. It makes practical sense to stay here with my good job, great pay and vacation time. But my heart misses my city and my friends (and the Mexican food!).

    Anyways, thanks for letting me vent a little. And thanks for reminding me I’m not the only one with one foot here and one foot there…..!

  45. It’s extremely important I find when dealing with returning students is that perspectives of so called “home” become so different when a growth period has been lived, most I find these days I speak with continuously travel after long breaks and it becomes a lifestyle in itself, the strength is great in the youth to adapt in grow and it should be promoted far more as it develops great understanding of the world around us.

  46. Truer words cannot be said of living abroad. Before you go it all looks and feels super great yet when you get there after the weeks roll into months and into year after year, you begin to notice nothing seems working as you had thought/expected or planned as you’de have given it time enough and chance to get better than expected but to no avail cause you don’t seem to advance one inch in progress and the prospect is only looking dim and goal-less! You’re just going around in circles! You grow wise to realise how much you lost and how little you gained as in missing all the time spent abroad far away from your dear country and beloved family and the thought and feeling of missing out on family occasions by being absent and like a fool looking at a flat screen skyping to them isn’t sufficiently the real thing. You realise you haven’t achieved nothing and your ambition waned out when your enthusiasm went and was replaced with misery. You realise you paid a heavy price for the step you took. A sacrifice of leaving all your beloved family and country behind. Those whom wish to live abroad I wish them all the luck in the world but a word of friendly advice if your feeling lost or depressed of missing your loved ones and own country don’t hesitate but return to your roots where everyone knows you and you know them. For the lack of listening to your own language being spoken by your own native people outside or on telly or radio and all your country’s precious cultural traditions and folklore will most surely be missed and the feeling of being denied of all the goodness your own country and family offered you. You’ll be and feel like a stranger in a strange land among strangers. Good luck to those that don’t have nor feel a hint of homesickness by missing their roots of origin and family but the emptiness within will always be there. But perhaps one won’t realise until they have experienced it for themselves.

  47. Catherine, if you read a little of what I wrote it might be of a little help. See from what I read that you wrote your young but at the moment your single but if by chance you got to meet someone where you are and it develops into a relationship well than it may be evenmore difficult to leave back to home to your country of origin. I know cause that’s one main reason why I left my dear country and have since missed it and my dear family etc. Where I am work is scarce and life is a struggle whereas if you have a job like I had the pay is good here more than back home but your smashed with additional bills and taxes! And where I come from it’s a small country and distances aren’t as far as they are here where I am for it’s large here and transport is of a great essence and the climate is cold too whereas back home I had warmer climate. Ok back home I wouldn’t have high pay in wages as the rate is low there but you woundnt be choked with a multitude of bills and taxation as it is where I am. Frequently I debate going back but going back will mean no more being in a relationship as my partner can’t actually leave like myself as they are in negative equity which means your tied down with a mortgage and where I am property sale isn’t at it’s best so selling wouldn’t actually be wise. Yes you said you have a good position in a job with good pay and medical expense are covered and you have good friends. But the way I see it you could be on top of everything abroad but you still are lacking that one thing which is your family and home and they are are both precious and irreplacable. That is an emptiness that won’t be filled with nothing abroad. That will always come around to should I say haunt one. For me that’s what it feels that the emptiness is a wound that can only heal up by being back home with your own family. Even the one time I am there it’s like medicine for me! A boost! But from what I gathered you said you seem alone abroad with no family member there with you just as I am so it would be wise and adviceable to consult with them apart from your close friends that you may have. Cause it’s a big move just like the move one did when they departed from their beloved ones and country and once gone back home and one is re-integrated into the system there could be no turning back. Also find out what your rights would be with the local social security where you are etc. Maybe you have as you said you went through the pros and cons but talk with the family and see what they say or think about it they surely will be more than glad to help and advice you. See since you been absent from your country you would need to be updated in any changes so they will fill you in apart from checking online. I think the family can be the best guidance for directions. But if one is going to think of what they will be leaving behind them like friends and job etc than with all respect that can be seen as an obstacle of impedment. There’s a say, ‘either you go with your heart or go with your mind.’ Hopefully time tell and we all will make the right choice and take the right decision. Best of luck to you!

  48. Very well said returning home is not a easy task some time it is very hard to leave a home while living in abroad because of many reasons like our emotions, our new friends and all above difficulty shown in this post like expect changes , find a mentor at a home.
    so several things should kept in mind while living in abroad and returning home.

  49. HI everyone I have just been reading through all your’e individual helpful comments, i am a lady of mid 50s who came back to live here in France a year ago leaving behind my family and a good paid job, I have provided totally by myself, small jobs here and there gite cleaning etc, but the wintertime has been awfully quiet and isolating, i have now run out of money and am planning to return back to the uk but am so afraid as i dont want to live with family members and will only be able to afford to rent a room in a shared house, the thought terrifies me but this is my only option, other than staying here in France with no money and totally alone, the isolation is awful it was nerve wracking for me coming back here alone and i am, has equally as frightened returning back to my country of birth.

  50. After 30 years living in the USA, moving home abroad is a challenge, i thought i had planned everything, for the kids i am OK but it is me and having the right income to support them is the challenge.

  51. My father was a psychologist who did research on the stresses of living in a new culture. I can see from the posts that there is stress living in a new culture. And also stress when moving back to your old culture. Maybe this is caused by having gotten used to the new culture? “New ways of thinking, being, acting” as my Dad would say. My Dad passed away last year (I stayed close to home to take care of him) and I just lost my job. I feel rootless and was thinking about taking an expat job. I am in my early 50’s. After reading these posts however I think I will hang in there in my own country. Coming back after a couple of years abroad will not be any easier. And I have a lot of support and a familiar culture at home. Stay positive no matter what you do!

  52. Hi, I am back from London for 8 months n stayed there for 2 years through student visa. But after came back I m feeling very upset here cause I don’t get any job albietly having uk msc degree. Furthermore can’t go for immigration visa despite of full time work experience minimal of 2 years. So have to try for again student visa but need to earn tuition fees. Positively feeling too depressed n missing London specially my boyfriend is there. Feeling like not here nor there:(

  53. I have been living in London for 11 years now and I started to feel home sick after 5 years. The main reason for me it’s my parents are ageing, I’m the only daughter and I cannot be there for them. I feel I’m loosing precious time to be with them and here I haven’t got a family. I also have a job that pay my rent but that I don’t like. I tried to go back to Italy twice but after 6 months spent to look for a job that I didn’t find and living on my parents expenses I felt depressed I came back to London. I’m here again now but I’m thinking again to move back. I feel I cannot stop this circle and I really hope to find a solution

  54. I’m so glad I found this post! I lived in London – England for 3+ years while at university, and I was born in eastern Europe in one of those ex-communist filthy countries. My first contact with the western world left me breathless and had a huge impact on me, especially because it happened at the young age of 18, and I feel like most of the grown-up things in my life happened in those 3+ years: lived alone for the first time, fell in love for the first time, got my heart broken for the first time, started smoking & drinking for the first time etc. Now I’m 22 and back home in eastern Europe and I can’t seem to adapt to my old hometown. I’m jobless, I’m overqualified for jobs I apply for, I’m single, I don’t have any friends here anymore, my parents have gotten old and don’t understand what’s going on inside me, people are generally poor not only financially but also culturally and spiritually, I literally got no people I could talk to because they cannot relate to me. At the moment I feel disappointed, depressed and lonely. British higher education surely sounds great, but outside the western world it means nothing. I want to move back to London because I have made friends there and there’s plenty of jobs for me, but I can’t afford it anymore. As crazy as it may sound, I just want to go back abroad again wherever because I now feel more comfortable than in my own country and hometown.

  55. Hi everybody! I share your worries, returned home after almost a year living in London and 2 years travelling around Asia. I missed home and friends so much, I wished I would go back and settle down. But now I don’t know any more. I changed so much and people don’t, I feel bored meeting with them. I don’t feel like it’s my place, and I don’t feel I even have any. I don’t want to go back to London, I don’t want to stay here, I don’t want to try and find a new place… I just don’t know how to live from now on. Nobody have written about what they did after coming back… Any ideas how to help yourself?

    1. Hi Elena,
      I feel like I am in a similar situation. I lived and traveled abroad for the past 4 years and just returned to my home country 4 weeks ago to do a course (we have class once a week and work the other 4 days of the week) for the next 2 years. I had to move to a new town for my course where I didn’t know anyone. What I find most difficult so far is that everywhere I traveled I could be open with people, share my experiences and people were generally interested and said I was brave for traveling alone and excited for me. Since I got back I have practically stopped talking about it because I experienced people being jealous and also not understanding me at all. Some people said that you must be running away from something if you travel for so long which I think may be true for some but is a very generalising statement to make! I have stopped telling people that I have been a nomad for the past 3 years because I am trying to fit in more with the other people on my course but now I feel like I have a secret or like I’m lying… it’s so weird! I had all these ideas of things I would do when I got back, like joining a choir, playing lots of sports, all the routine things that I couldn’t do for the past years and things that I would normally do when moving abroad but it’s not that easy to find the right sports clubs and well, it takes time and I don’t want to force things but let them take their natural way instead of trying to have 5 new hobbies in the first week…. anyway, my ideas now are to treat my home country as if I was abroard.. leave the house more, be as open as I was during my travels, join the clubs as I had planned and not start feeling ashamed for having a ‘different’ biography, I also joined a facebook group for Latin Americans in my town so that I can meet more foreigners (and also practise Spanish) who might understand me better than for example my class mates, some of which have never left the country! Anyway, let me know how you get on 🙂 We need to stay positive 🙂

  56. I’ve lived most of my life in foreign countries due to my father’s profession. I felt more or less at home because we weren’t certain as to when we’ll move again. As I was still young I didn’t realize that I had very little knowledge on our home country. When we finally moved back, I learned that I’m not fluent in my own language
    (mostly cause we were more used to speaking in English) and worst of all, when someone spoke to me I had a hard time recognising every word that came out of their mouth. I felt somewhat pressurised and had no choice but to study it for educational purposes. I became shy around people since it seemed somewhat difficult to comminicate with others but knew I had no choice but to learn and speak. Im more used it now and I’ve started to feel more at home. People are nice and know of my circumstances. So, we communicate through english often
    (and sometimes a mix of both english and our native language)

  57. I’ve lived most of my life in foreign countries due to my father’s profession. I felt more or less at home because we weren’t certain as to when we’ll move again. As I was still young I didn’t realize that I had very little knowledge on our home country. When we finally moved back, I learned that I’m not fluent in my own language
    (mostly cause we were more used to speaking in English) and worst of all, when someone spoke to me I had a hard time recognising every word that came out of their mouth. I felt somewhat pressurised and had no choice but to study it for educational purposes. I became shy around people since it seemed somewhat difficult to communicate with others but knew I had no choice but to learn and speak. Im more used it now and I’ve started to feel more at home. People are nice and know of my circumstances. So, we communicate through english often
    (and sometimes a mix of both english and our native language)

  58. You’re so cool! I don’t suppose I’ve truly read through anything like this before.
    So good to find somebody with some original thoughts on this topic.

    Really.. thanks for starting this up. This website
    is something that is required on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

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