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’.

196 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 boyfriend wants to live there best leave him to it but it is painful

  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!

    1. After I left the U.S. in 2001, I vowed never to return there. A few family members said I’d regret it.

      It’s 15 years later and I’m still waiting to prove them right.

      1. Because the guilt hits you after 15 years. When you’re gone 20 and all those relatives who were kids when you left are now in their 20s, and you have missed out BEING THERE , not by Skype or line, but really being there, the regret sets in hard. You cannot just be a talking head on a Skype screen. And events that you miss out on will be more than what you participate in. Go home. Now.

      2. I left four decades ago and still don’t regret it. It feels like torture to go “home.” I do go back to see my ageing mother, who is 94, but the US holds nothing of interest to me, unfortunately. I actually wish it did. I mostly like the freedom I have now to travel around the world since I am so close to everything where I live now.

        1. I’m with you. I left the US in 2003 and after 16 years, I do not miss it at all. I have gone back 3 times and each time was disturbing. Every time, to me, the US has changed for the worse. More rules, more laws, more restriction, more expensive, more fear, less freedom. To me it feels like the land of the unfree.

          I want to live where I relate to people and I simply do not relate well to people who have not travelled.

          It is a struggle, but all of life is in one way or another. I cannot imagine living any other way.

          We are a blip in the history of humankind, and with all of the rapid changes in recent decades, I believe that we are all pioneers in the world becoming a global society, especially people like you have done it for decades.

  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.

        1. I was in Oman for 20+ years. Now back in Canada, I feel like i don’t belong here. Was it a mistake to return…..yes. 100 percent. I am forever a changed person (for the better!) and do not know how to relate to most people and family here. I am a positive person but feelings of negativity just creep in. Not sure what to do.

          1. I was in Dubai for 18 years and now am in Canada. I want to go back to my home country India. While away from my country I lost my Dad & my Mom. I feel so guilty for not being there for them in their old age. I don’t feel at home here from some years now. I am stuck with so much of confusion. Like you said “feelings of negativity just creep in”

          2. Wow Katie, I feel exactly the same. Moved back to Canada with hubby after living in Singapore for a long time and I feel we can’t relate to anyone who never left. Just the way of thinking is different.

          3. Dear Kathy. Lived in Canada for 30 years. Middle eastern background. Im a flight attendant and i travel to dubai 3 times and im already feeling i dont beling in canada anymore. I love the UAE. I dont know what do im so confused. Been a flight attendant i have missed many things here with family so at times i think why not as well live abroad and get the hell out of here. Please share with me ur thoughts. Any ones response im willing to hear.
            Thank you

      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.

        1. I came back from Arizona after 32 years. I love being back in England but I feel terribly alone at times. I don’t regret coming back but it’s difficult to make friends. Somehow I wish I had not left my adult children but I couldn’t bear to think of growing old in Arizona !

          1. I am looking at leaving California to be closer to my brother s in UK, miss English life, any tips for re entering British life, Tracey

        2. Sir Kevin. I currently live in TX and have been in the US for more than 30 years and still dream on England the same way you do. Unfortunately for both of us that country know longer exists the same way except in the country. And now with Brexit looming I worry about the family members who are still there.

    2. We are all so stupid 🙁 I have exactly the same. Instead of enjoying life we are thinking “should i live abroad or my homecountry?”. I came back 1 month ago to my home and since then every single minute I think of what to do to feel comfortable. I was living in China for 1,5 year, it was very difficult there and exhausting. Terribly exhausting. It caused me pain but also career advance as never before. After that time I feel like I would like to settle a base for myslef. Something that I can start to call my home.

      And I realized that what drags us abroad is curiosity. There is no curiosity when you go back home. Nor excitment. I had some plans, some ideas of what to do when I go back but it’s all irrelevant right now. I think the best is to find the 3rd option. Something that is new, closer to home and something that will excite us and wake up new curiosity. And this is what Im trying to do now. It’s not easy, but I guess it’s the only way. Only new things will help us to move on.

  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.

      1. The experience abroad doesn’t ever leave, but fades as you move on to new experiences. I worked and lived in Israel for a while, and the country and people touched my very soul, to the point that I mourned the loss for years once I returned home. Then I went to Botswana for work, and after 6 months was called home for a family emergency. That was two years ago, and I still feel ‘neither here nor there’. My decision was that my family is the most important part of my life. But that decision has cost me dearly in my yearning for a life abroad. I grieve over and over again, and I want the pain to stop. How? That’s why I ended up here with this article. I can’t seem to reconnect here in my home country! My experiences have faded but the longing to continue life as an expat has not. I don’t think the desire for the expat life will ever leave me.

        1. Yes, this is where I am 15 years on. Not only did I return to the US unwillingly, I returned to a city in which I had never lived. I made some serious bad choices as I still felt as an outsider of sorts where societal norms didn’t apply to me. My isolation and social confusion lasted for 5 years as I had to Develop a whole new support system and career.
          I still long to “escape” into my life as an expat again, but fear the consequences.

        2. Hi Jessica, I wonder how you are settling back in now. Been living here for 16years. I miss my home country, but I feel that I 100% relate to all the things people are saying on here. I miss Botswana, but at the same time the idea of transitioning to live there scares me. Life is good there too but I know readjusting to living there after all these years will be harder that I’d like it to be. I know I will find it difficult in a lot of ways. All the best,

  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.

    1. They are different things just like going abroad to study and to work.

      I studied in Britain for a year and totally loved my experience there. I’d love to return, but realize that having to make a living there is another ball game. Especially in the wake of Brexit.

      Still, I’m willing to go for a short term work assignment there, if possible.

  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.

      2. I is hard.would like to go back home to France but it cost lots of money to move and after 40 years away,will I still like the way France does things? But I have no family in America and I am getting older,worry about getting old in America without family.what should I do.i love both countries but it is hard to be without family

    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.

      2. Man! Do u speak my language!!
        I’m certainly on your wavelength, similar scenario. I’m in HK & just getting by. Went back to UK for a month this year- it was just great but equally a lonely place after 20 years out of it. Hope things are cookin better with you. Take Care

    4. Hi..absolutely agree. Been living in Italy for 30 years, but still consider UK as home. Very difficult life here… went home for a few weeks this summer ..lovely to see the family…all getting on and towards pension age…you think it remains how it was when you left it.After all this time, even tho’ i work here, got married, gort divorced, two children, speak Italian , not many GOOD friends…i must say it’s quite a lonely life. And i am finding the Italian is also changing…getting very i’m still considered a foreigner… well from one good Brit to another..i absolutely agree..a true English loves his home… will probably eventually move back..dreaming of country lanes..seeing my sister in Scotland..and all the other members of the family..i didn’t feel atall out of place when i stayed those few weeks in July… And i would’nt be surprised if my children came with me… good luck Sir Barr…

    5. I’ve had soured relationships, too. They are tough to get over.

      But I’ve never owned property. That would theoretically make me more mobile than you.

      On the other hand, I don’t have a permanent base to call home.

      That’s okay. I chose this path in life and continue on it until my money or my health runs out.

  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???

    1. Chris what did you decide on?
      I’m living in Korea with 2 kids *who mostly speak Korean* & my marriage is disintegrating.
      I feel so strange towards my own country & I know if I move there it won’t be easy to find a job or house unlike in Korea but being called a foreigner everywhere I go is making me unhinged.

    2. Like you, I’ve been abroad for 15 years.

      Unlike you, I don’t have a kid or want to go home.

      If the U.S. hadn’t started to impose a $2,300 exit fee to renounce one’s citizenship, I’d have renounced already.

      It’s not great where I am now, but I know I’d miss it if I had to leave.

      And I’d feel like crying, too, if I had to return to the U.S.

  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

      1. Hi Mia and Miranda,

        I am going through the same thing after living for years abroad and deciding to come to my family and friends. While I found peace in returning home, it absolutely broke my heart to leave my partner and pet overseas. How are you both dealing with this now? Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

        1. I too am going through the same thing. My boyfriend and I, who was the love of my life, have very recently split up as he has decided he is not ready to leave the UK. My visa expires in the next 4 months so I have no choice but to head home to Australia. I am absolutely heartbroken and terrified having to move home after 3 years away. I love London and always imagined some day I would come back after a few years in Australia with my (ex) partner. So many emotions to deal with! It’s hard to know what to process first – the loss of a partner, a new home/life, having to find my feet again in a place that is supposed to feel like home, but hasn’t for a very long time.

          1. Hi Rebecca, Cai, Mia and Miranda,

            OMG I recognize myself so much in your words !
            I just broke up with my partner because I have decided to go back in France next March (I live in Australia since 2011)
            I love him , but I could not imagine having kids here, I miss my parents and it breaks my heart to see them getting old through Skype.
            Living in France for my ex was not possible as he has 2 children from a previous wedding.
            However I am so scared, I am 31 years old, all my friends in France have babies, houses, career and mortgage, and I am going to start from the beginning.
            If you want to share experience I would love to !

    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.

    3. You said it!
      I am so sad that I missed so many wonderful people’s weddings and birth of the little ones in our family. Being away from home for so long, I just want to make the big leap but still it becomes so difficult to leave off and go back.

      1. I totally agree Gita. I am trying to move out of Canada but evertime I try to make a decision, I get stuck on how to manage the change back in India.

        I lost my father while in Canada and now I am totally alone with no support in India to encourage me and say we will manage you come back .

    4. In the same boat but I am a 60 yr old woman. From US, have lived last 12 yrs in W Australia. Have gone home to visit as often as I could, missed all so much. I moved there to be with Aussie defacto husband. Divorced, only I moved, kids stayed in CA with their dad, although my son came to live/go to school for awhile early on, then went back to California. My daughter never came over even for a visit. My Oz defacto marriage relationship has soured, not been great for awhile now. Being so far away from my kids and CA has been very, very hard. I’ve had some great experiences, have made some amazing, wonderful friends there (most are from somewhere else, but not all – most of US friends I met there have come back to US), and are like family to me – I now have more good friends in Oz than in CA! Leaving them will be very, very hard. But I miss my now middle-20s kids … my daughter gets married in March 2017. I’m in CA right now, here for Christmas and very happy! Will stay through March to be here for her. I do have to go back Oz, one last time, tie up loose ends, get my car, pack up my remaining things (got rid of a lot already before my trip here), sell more stuff off, say bye to partner, move to a friend’s house, say bye to friends and leave. I have rights as defacto spouse, but it will take fighting for them, gonna be ugly. Need the financial help, but will take awhile, not sure I can stay to fight. Even within the relationship I worked to support myself, he did not support me. Had to have some surgery before my trip, had leave ok’d, then they resigned me. I’ve very little money having no income since August surgeries. The only “correct” thing I did when leaving in 2004 was keep bank account here. The exchange rate is killing me, for any money, which is quickly becoming “0”, is in Oz, and I need to access it to use it for things here. CA is home, but I have no house to come back to, my kids live with others. Having so little in the way of finances, I of course, will need a job, but where to even look. You need a location to find housing and a place to live, but you need a job to get the place to live. And good credit to get anything … used to be great, I imagine it is “0” now? …. It’s expensive in Perth, but so it is too in the OC! The job I had, before I was a stay-at-home mom, and way before I went to Oz, was a great one, but the certifications required for it now has changed so drastically, there is no way I can go back to that. It would pay well, but would require a lot of school, and all I will have time for is work, and more work. Any regular job I get will not pay as well as in Oz. Oh how I wish I had considered things more before I left … did not think about one day perhaps having grandchildren, about my own aging, possibly developing any kind of infirmity (healthcare is so much better in Oz, as is senior care), did not think about how eventually physically and financially I would not forever be able to travel back and forth whenever I wanted. What an idiot! (My defacto husband does not travel, is not in favor of my traveling to see my family – his live around the corner!) And now I want to come back, my kids want me here, but they really cannot help me, and well, they shouldn’t have to. My doing, so my responsibility. It is daunting, I am somewhat petrified – I cannot fail. I am doing best to keep positive outlook, but … Anyone out there, who has already come back to the states, who has any info/suggestions for what to do first, what is most necessary to do, how to do it … well I would greatly appreciate anything!

    5. Miranda – I’d love to hear what happened in your story after returning home. I am in exactly the same situation now and face the same feelings, either I stay forever or leave now. 5 years abroad, a bf I love (but who wants to stay in his home country) and 28. I’m home now visiting and it honestly becomes harder. My friendships aren’t the same, and I feel like a stranger here. I’m scared to come home permanently and miss my life now. 🙁

  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.
    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!!! …..]


        1. Oh what a constructive question Mxo. I wish I’d seen it earlier as you probably won’t see my response now at this late stage.

          People have many different and often quite personal reasons for returning to their country of birth. My post on here was merely to share my experiences since returning from Asia, not to go into the reasons why I returned. It is after all in response to an article on “returning home after living abroad … ” NOT “reasons why I returned home”.

  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 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.

    1. Well, it’s over a year later. Where are you now?

      Your experience is a big reason why I don’t want to return to the U.S. Go back for a visit every few years, sure, but settle back down there? No way.

      I keep hearing how everyone wants to immigrate to the U.S., but that’s a lie. Plenty of people are content where they are.

  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?

    1. I guess I’m lucky that one of my best friends in the U.S. could still hit it off with me either by e-mail or (on that rare occasion) in person when I take a trip back to the U.S. or he visits me where I am now (as he did this past summer). After I left the U.S., he found his better half and now has two kids with her. Usually that would be a recipe for him to drift apart from me, but his wife, whom I’ve met and am on good terms with, has encouraged him to continue corresponding with me. That’s a big factor in our still-strong friendship.

  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)?

    2. Hello Edwin:
      After moving here in October 2016, being sponsored, by my wife, i find/found it very difficult to blend in, i experienced racism at a card stor days before Christmas, (mixed with Asian and english) when i went to buy a card, wife says dont worry, i never experienced this back in Toronto. As for jobs here in the UK its terrible, i have been told i am over qualified, i am 59 yrs old and still have alot in me to work and give back. What makes it so difficult is there is absolutely nothing here, Wife is all British, i have 2 daughters who lost a Mom to Cancer in Toronto, i hate my self for that i really do. I also have friends back there, genuinely caring, as for jobs i can work contracts, i dont go for money my life is about simplicity i never grew up rich, i would rather work be happy with what little i have, my photography helps me immensely through the dark times. going on six months day after day looking for a job and nothing, the UK does not offer me nothing , But Canada (Toronto) gave me space and time. here its nothing positive.

  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.


  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 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 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 least you tried and then can Seattle down in a place you belong

      1. Hi, my family and I moved from the U.K. 40 years ago and I’ve always felt I had one foot in the U.S. and one foot in the U.K. . I have family in the U.K. that I visit every couple years. My 3 Sons are grown and have their own lives so I’m trying to decide whether I should move back to the U.K. or do a TEFL course and teach abroad for a year and see if I like it. This thread is so interesting and also worrisome as it seems rather disheartening regarding how people feel. Any advice regarding my plans? I’m in my 50’s and single so my worlds my oyster so to speak though I do have one grandchild but they are not close by.

    1. I am looking at leaving California to be closer to my brother s in UK, miss English life, any tips for re entering British life, Tracey

  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.

    1. You’ve only been abroad for three years which is not that long. I’ve been abroad for just over five years and many have been for (far) longer. If you have a social life, a career, a house, that’s a lot to leave behind when you’d go back b to your own country where maybe you’ve lost contact with most old friends, the country’s changed, prior change. I think it becomes harder the longer you’re away.

  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…..!

    1. Hi Catherine,
      I just came across this article and read your post with interest. A lot of your feelings resonant with me. I’m 39, been living overseas for 14 years (in Ireland, with 2 yrs in New Zealand). I’m also from the States.
      Can I ask you what you decided to do in the end?
      Thanks! X Mary

  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

    1. Hi Roby, I feel completely the same as you. I have been in France for 8 years and have been feeling homesick since a very long time. Like you too I am always feeling guilty for not being there for my parents as they age and fear hearing some horrible news some day and then return back with regrets for not spending enough time with them or even my grandparents for that matter. I am the eldest of two daughters but my younger sister is young and just completing her education. As the older, working earning daughter i constantly feel its my responsibility to be there and share their day to day worries and just spend time with people who love me the most. My friends from school and university are only in touch with FB and their lives have moved on so much. When i go back home for a visit its always great to see them and the connection is still there and i keep thinking may be i should just wrap up here and head back. But then my issues are, i have a good job here with a decent salary that allows me to travel around the world. I finished my higher education in France and have worked here through all my career years, so i am not sure if and what kind of job opputunities i will find there. Should i just wrap up and go and then look for jobs once i am home or should i find something there first before actually making the move. Also the job i have which is good is not exactly in the career i always wanted, its the job i found here after my studies which being in a big organisation and renowned company everyone keeps telling me how lucky i am but inside i know this corporate world aint for me. Its in a field far removed from the creative passions that i have so i deally a fresh start that i want is that which will be in the field where my real talents and passions lie. The biggest problem for me however is making a move that wont destroy my relationship with my fiancée. I met him in France, he is from England and going back home to India for him is not a option that he will be happy with. But, we need to marry and settle down soon as we have been together and engaged for several years and people are starting to wonder why there is no wedding date set yet. SO, all in all, i am stuck. Stay here and be with him. Go back home alone or get married then go back. Go back together, find jobs there together (if he agrees) then go home. I don’t know what to do! Everyday here now feels like torture :(. I came across this post hoping that i will find some positive success stories but so far repatriation stories don’t sound too encouraging! 🙁

  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.

    1. You don’t sound crazy at all.

      When I left the U.S. for the first time, I initially became homesick after the “honeymoon” of being in a new place wore off. But after four years, I was sad to leave my new (old) home. So I reluctantly returned to the U.S. and spent two unfulfilling years back home. But I never stopped dreaming of going back to the place I’d enjoyed for four years. When that chance came, I quit my job and was on a plane the next day.

      What could be holding you back is your elderly parents. That’s understandable. It also reminds me of my own parents, who aren’t getting younger. That they could still take care of themselves makes it possible for me to remain abroad. But that may not last.

  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. After I graduated from uni i went straight to Australia for a year and met a french guy about two weeks before my return flight to England. I really liked him and he was also travelling. We talked everyday when I flew back to England and then shortly after I decided to jet off to New Zealand so we could travel and be together. It got really serious and we ended up living together for two years before our visa ended and then did some more travelling in a few other countries. But we hardly ever brought up what we would do once we finished travelling as we had no idea… so bottled it up the whole time until the end of our travels where we ended up breaking up as neither of us wanted to live in each others country.

    Been back in England for a month so far and been really hard with the breakup plus adjusting to the English lifestyle again. Feel really disconnected from everyone in England and my mind set has definitely changed from being away for so long. Sounds weird but it’s a culture shock coming back to your own culture. Never thought that was possible but it definitely is.
    But you have to remember the amazing experience you had whilst travelling and all the memories. It is really painful to look back at it now as I miss it so much, however I know in a few months time/ a year I’ll look back and feel great about it all. Just have to adjust and get back into a routine. I have an interview at a travel agency in London next week so fingers crossed!

    1. Steven I went through EXACTLY the same scenario, breaking up with both my boyfriend AND my life in Australia. Now I am back in England I feel kind of trapped. It suddenly feels so smalll and irrelevant. All i want to do is go back to Australia but the immigration is so militantly rigid! I have no required skill so they simply don’t need me. Feel very isolated. But it is helpful to see you in such a similar position look at things in a very positive light. I need to change my perspective!

  59. I am 56 and my husband is 64 we lived in NZ and Australia for 15 years. We have four children 2 stayed in the UK as they had already left home and had families of their own and we took the 2 younger ones with us. Eventurally they returned to the UK and we headed off to Australia just me and my husband for 12 months travelling, ended up settled on the Gold Coast having fantastic jobs and lifestyle. Kids used to visit and we went home every year. Hoped at least one of them would join us. My daughters had 8 children between them and whilst they were babies came to visit us for upto 3 months at a time but now the grandchildren are at school they couldnt do that. A few health issues and thinking of retiring we returned to the UK 2 years ago to great welcome home fanfare, we had finally come to our senses as far as the kids were concerned and they had great plans of us looking after their children whilst they all went off to work, also with lots of cash from our sale of property it appears we were in a great position to give them £10k-£8k for deposits on houses, look after kids whilst they went on luxury holidays abroad etc. We managed to buy a flat in a good area with no mortgage which used up all our lolly and we are on a pension which is just enough to live comfortably but now after 2 years the kids arent that interested as we havent delivered. I have brought up my children and I dont want to bring up theirs. I worked hard for my step on the property ladder and to be able to retire mortgage free. Its seems when we first arrived home everyone wanted a piece of us but now the novelty has run out along with the cash. We have just been dumped by our youngest daughter on christmas day as she is going to her mother in laws, she is upset as we wont have her 2 youngest children while she works, our second daughter dumped us after 18 months because we would’nt give her the money for a deposit on a house, then money for a car, my husband is so upset as he feels we have given up our fabulous lifestyle for a con. We really did miss the kids and they kept saying how good it would be to have us home. So christmas day 2 years down the track we will be alone just the two of us as all our children will be with their ‘families’ . We cant go back to Australia as we arent able to claim a pension there and we will have lost too much money in the moves back and forth to be able to buy a property there. At least here we are retired and mortgage free which is only because we worked so hard and saved so hard. I feel totally dumped.
    Our family is a mess.
    At least when you are younger you have time to rebuild your lives so if you find the right partner keep hold of each other and ride out the storms.
    I have had great times living overseas and amazing experiences. I will not regret those times I will not regret sacrificing them for what I thought was right for my family.
    I hope my children take stock of what they are doing and start to consider us as much as we considered them.
    If not, then I have my husband and he has me.

  60. How to live in another country NZ
    First off you need to accept that the country you have moved to is not going to adapt to you.
    You have to adapt to that country. Moving to NZ in 2001 from the UK we thought it would be very similar to the UK, same language….duh….not…sweet as bro, dont say you were rooting through your stuff as in trying to find something as rooting means having sex…..shock when you tell your neighbour you and your husband had been rooting for something all day… on the same side of the road….duh….roads are very different in that there really is only one motorway kids can drive at 15 and they dont have silencers on the cars in fact the noiser the better…. Not many trains either….in fact never saw one in 5 years. More of those little planes around as easy to get a flying licence and cheep enough to buy one so you can fly off to your bach at the week end…bach is a holiday home originally a wooden shack which is now worth millions usually on the coast or one of the many islands. not neccesarily got planning permission….in fact I’d put money on the council not knowing your now 5 bed luxury pad even exists…..she’ll be right mate.
    Same culture….like going back 40 years mate.
    It was a learning curve and for anyone considering moving countries here are a few tips
    Never say, where I come from they do it this way…… one is interested
    Always say, I love my new country I am so lucky to be able to live here……even if your not feeling it its what they want to hear. Say it often enough and it will be true.
    Mix with the natives…..its easier to mix with like minded people from your own country but if you want to get on board then 70% of your social circle needs to be from your new country or mixed with other nationalities. Lots of south africans not many aussies lots of asians. Few americans looking for ‘alternative’ lifestyle.
    For NZ the culture was very honest, was like going back 40 years, you could trust people. We would leave our windows and doors open when we went out. No one wore shoes in the house so you knew who was home as the shoes would be on the front porch. They dont have gardens they have yards and a field is a paddock even if there arnt horses in it.
    Kiwi’s share their stuff with you be it the muffins or the swimming pool even their boat. Our first neighbours who were kiwi’s brought muffins the day we moved in and told us how to get into their yard to use their pool. Took us a while to take them up on their offer as very British and seemed rude. Stuff to thow out just put it on the berm…..grass verge outside your door…..count to 10 and someone will have put it in the back of their ute…utility vehicle a van…there are people who hide in bushes all the time just waiting for you to put your stuff out….we put our old washing machine out and it went before we even got back in the house…fastest time ever bro…..
    We spent our first christmas day with our neighbours and its at these times you miss your home country the most. Always expect visitors as everyone travels around and you end up taking in kids travelling the world from people who know someone who knows someone you know from somewhere you once had a job with or went to school……everyone is passing through they can sleep on the sofa or the floor but usually your kids are sleeping on some one elses sofa or floor so theres usually a spare bed. Dont let them bring in their sleeping bags chances are they are infested with bed bugs so keep them out the house. Bed bugs travel freely througout NZ and AUS and leave their relatives after your guest has moved on……Your own kids will move out at 16 to go flatting which means they never use an iron on their clothes ever again.
    BBQ’s and the bring a plate…..this isnt because they are low on crockery this means bring your own meat….I hated this tradition as when I entertain I like to supply all the food and it spoils the idea of hospitality if your invited to dinner but your expected to bring your own food …..grrr….
    Vegetables….never eaten so many, delicious fresh and tasty. They have these small yams which I’ve never seen any where else, they are yellow,orange or red and look like a fat maggot with ridges in them and they can be roasted they are so sweet. Meat is so good except the lamb which they export the best. Fish is amazing the taste is incredible and you can catch your own. Crayfish again catch your own. A guy from work caught a crayfish brought one into work for me one Monday for me already cooked it was delicious……sweet as bro…..
    How to live in another country….Australia
    Not to be confused with NZ not the same. Very different…..again the ‘I’m so lucky to be able to live in your country’ goes a long way. Aussies call you POMs which means Prisoners of the Motherland and refers to the convicts who founded the country.
    Confusing…..well yep as they are the POM’s or at least the decendants of the POM’s and we had to pay a fortune to get there…..and we made the choice to be there….and er….dont have a criminal record….not related to a criminal….not decended from a criminal….mmm
    Advise you to just ‘suck it up’ and go with the flow. Dont even think of pulling the racist remark card as they will simply tell you ‘if you dont love AUS then xxxx off’ to be honest its the right attitude rather than trying to be politically correct to everyone all the time its really works to say this is the way we do things and if you dont like it get out. You soon realise its such a fantastic place to live that you come to agree and your glad you can live there.
    Follow a new sport. Football is not going to be the same….different shape for a start and in NZ and AUS they call football soccer and the quicker you pick up on the lingo the easier it is
    If you dont then you will find yourself getting up at 3am to watch the UK games on sky sports and no one is interested how your team are going…….pick another team
    The nearest we got to ‘getting on board’ with the rugby was in Brisbane with the ‘Origin’ series when Queensland play New South Wales for 3 matches it was electric and more exciting than a Derby match between Man U and Man City or Liverpool V Everton. You picked a side and gave it your all……suggest when moving to a new country you pick a side… cant have 2 home teams so pick the one your standing in and back it all the way, with passion, commitment and sing the song they want to hear. And dont forget to bring a plate….

  61. I found this post and it’s so comforting to know that these feelings are shared by many like me across the globe. I live very far from my home country — i moved for love and it was very hard in the beginning, and it still gets every now and again. But now im at home visiting and i can barely stay here for 2 weeks at a go. I am really in limbo. I was yearning to come back and feel my familiar surroundings, but now that I’m actually back I feel as foreign as ever, and now yearning to go back to my “new nest”.
    It’s a very strange sad feeling.

  62. It’s called grief and it comes in waves.
    You can be having a fabulous day then suddenly it hits you and almost knocks you off your feet.
    I felt it when I was still in my home country long before I emigrated and after my mother died. You almost forget what you lost then right out the blue it hits you again, what does happen though the times in between get longer but you feel it as grief like you’ve lost something you will never get back again. They called it being home sick but its really grief.
    Your old life has died, the person you grew up to be the jobs and recognition you earned the familiar places you used to eat your favourite takeaway. It’s the price you pay for a new life, a new belonging and a new adventure.
    Your betwix and between and to a certain degree everyone who travels the world has this feeling.
    Its not wrong it doesnt meen your in the wrong place.
    You have to accept these feelings will come but they will also go.
    And as I said the times in between will get longer.
    This is why I never reccomend a couple to emigrate as its can be so hard especially if you dont feel the same about the new country.
    Its good that your wanting to go back ‘home’ because what this means is there are good things in your new country that you miss.
    Its funny that when you come back to your native country that takeaway doesnt taste as good as you remembered it to be.
    One of the things that made my life bearable was trying to make sure I had enough funds for a trip ‘home’ so that if there was an emergency or I just ‘had’ to get home if I needed to I had the funds to do it.
    This may not be always possible maybe you could get a credit card for a reserve for such an event. When it came to the crunch just feeling you had to get back and actually spending all that hard earned cash on the flight was a different ball game. I ended up sending the money to a family member for them to come and visit us instead. It was much better having them sit by our swimming pool drinking martini’s and taking early morning walks along the fab beaches and taking them to our takeaways than actually flying back for 2 weeks.
    Bad news is that you will always be in limbo. But the good news is your yearning to go back.
    Be kind to yourself and remember the grief will roll in but also the grief will roll out…..

  63. Dear MariaThis year my 12 and 13 yer old told me they know about Santa Claus. They told us that they wanted only a few material things this year but mostly they just want us to do things together as a family. So we are having no secret presents under the tree this year but instead are just going to spend the week in a cabin in Tennessee and really talk and just be together. I think this is what I would want to do if the world ended tomorrow. I am so thankful for my kids because they really are here to teach us rather than us teaching them.

  64. I have been living abroad since 98 but 3 years ago i decided to go back home ,i felt like a fish out of water in my own country,it took awhile to get used but last year i felt i was not ready to go back for good then i made a decision to live abroad,to sum up,it is not easy once you live abroad for such a long time.

    1. True it is not easy, but it is worth it, you should find something to keep you busy, think of it as a vacation for the first three months and keep in mind that the world is yours and that you are free to leave whenever you feel like l.
      When you have that mind set in place, you will learn to enjoy been back home day by day and before you know it, you will realize that you did the right thing by going back home.
      It is not worth it to live all your life away from where you belong, where your family is and where your roots are. The older you get, the harder it will get and if you do not do it now and think if it as a positive thing ( coming home ) then you will regret it later.
      Ask yourself this question : living as a foreigner till when ?
      It must be an end to every journey and the sooner is the better because as humains we age and things become harder .
      Hold is the way to go but only when you are ready.
      Best of luck for all the people stuck between home and away .

  65. I studied abroad for four years. Since 2014, I am home and I just can’t get used to this life When I was abroad, I had so many friends and my social life was rich. But now I feel so alone, I lost contact with most of my friends and the ones with whome I kept in touch , I just speak with them like once a year through emails. Worse than that, I can’t get the job I want (even if I have a good resume) and I can’t find a good partner. All I feel is that I am so different from the people in my country and I lost all sense of belonging. Now I’ve decided to go back abroad, I don’t care to which country but all I want is to leave mine.

  66. Actually moving back to your roots is not a bad idea.
    It is never too late, afterall we live only ones, and the choice to make here is: are you willing to give up on your life far away from your love ones until you go to their funerals and regret not having spent enough time with them.?! Or
    Going back to your roots now and enjoy the priceless moments with the ines you truly love?
    Change is a scary thing, but change is always positive at the end.
    Fact is you belong with your people, you belong where you came from.
    Living your life away from your loved ones is basically running away from life.
    The same way you got adopted to a foreign country you gonna have to get adopted to your own country but this time you have support of family and friends you have a sense of belonging and that alone is freedom of the mind.
    Living abroad seems like a movie it is not reality reality is when you feel like you belong somewhere you are part of something big “family”
    This is the experience of a man moving back home from the US after 35 years. Is there a sense of fear? Yes but it’s vanishes as soon as you get stable and feel so free.there is no magic answer to moving back home but there is only one answer that is HOME.
    You will get a lot of benefits from moving back home to get a sense of stability sense of beloved sense of belonging and that alone is where worth it it’s called Love.

  67. Been living in Germany (Bavaria) for almost 5 years now, I’ve integrated here completely and have a partner that is a Bavarian born German, barely speaks English and gas helped me fit into society more and get a job. My birth country is in Cape Town South Africa and strangely enough I don’t feel much of a longing to go back, I’m not much of a beach type person and prefer a country rich in history and old castles, so far do good, I did visit my hometown couple months ago and felt more like a German tourist than a South African, I also ave nothing in common with family/friends there as they themselves have never set foot in Germany, let alone Europe, I think it would be really hard and depressing if I ever had to return there permanently, can’t stand the heatwaves out there anyways, prefer the beauty of wintery snow, sometimes I wonder why I was born on the African continent and not on the European continent, it’s as if I lived in Europe somewhere during my previous life as I feel zero connection to my hometown and it’s also not the same country as during my childhood years. Not sure how some expats can give up everything just to return to their country of birth, then only to be disappointed after a while, I’m happy with travelling back n forth once a year for 2 weeks at a time, my previous visit I couldn’t wait to fly back to Germany.

  68. I’ve been back in Greece for nearly 21 years from Australia. Still in a limbo between the two countries. My love for Australia and what the place has given me, my friends there and the life style I was used to, is always in my thoughts and my desire. Especially, during the last 7 years with the economic crisis of Greece which has been robbing the people of this country from the earnings of their labour and savings they managed to accumulate the past decades, the countless faces one observes daily in the streets, people with tight lips, since they lost their smile and happiness, with the Mass Media that all day long is talking about reduction of pension and wages. Reductions which have led to reduction of the GDP by over seventy billion Euros, (ie one quarter of GDP), the fear that people could tommorow loose their own homes to banks or creditors and many such related experiences has made my own life misurable unacceptable and occasionally thinking of suicide as a way out of this world, like 15.000 thousands other fellow Greeks have done. I returned to this country in the hope for a better life and now after so many years not having managed to adjust, it is exceptionally difficult to return to my other home, Australia, especially because I don’t have a home there and since my friends and mates there have all moved on in life due to social mobility in the country. I just wish there was a way out of this situation.

  69. aw man I feel exactly like this.
    I live in Tokyo where I have been for eight years now. I can do anything by myself here, have a fairly well-paid job and a nice apartment and am completely independent, but I feel neither here nor there. I feel very, very lost.
    I have only just started toying with the idea of going home (UK) but am petrified about the challenges of starting all over again, finding where to live, getting used to London…hell i miss the people (I think) but i am not even sure I like the environment back home anymore.

    I wish expats could just form their own “expat country” where like minded expats could just live together…

    1. I also live in tokyo and feel lost like you do. I am married to a husband who doesn’t really want to leave Japan, have a comfortable apartment and can function in daily life and simple Japanese.. but I’ve been away from the US for 5 years and don’t feel like my life abroad is ‘real’. But is it worth giving up what I’ve established in japan just to return home and see if it’s the right place? Especially when I don’t even have any connections left in my home country.

      Jean, if you have any updates on your decision to return home, I am all ears! All of us in this comment section have such similar dilemmas and really need the support of others who understand this struggle.

  70. 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.

  71. Like a mirror to my mind…beautifully written. For the last 3 months my very being has been breaking into pieces. I have now spent 3 years of life in Japan, on two separate occasions. I went on an broad program when was in college and it changed me forever. I am not ashamed to say I was teary-eyed and a complete wreck when I boarded the plane to return to my home country the first time. I got back and didn’t know what to say, think or do. I even tried cramming all remaining courses required to graduate on time into one year, that was 22 credits one semester and 21 the final, also switched my concentration just so I could graduate on time in the hopes of finding some way back there as fast as possible. The result was my perfect 4.0 dropped to a 3.2. I at the time of graduation though had to being working to pay for my loans that I incurred from not just my undergrad but the extra personal student bank loans I took out for the abroad trip. …3 years went by…I made new friends, forged new unforgettable memories and found a new passion that helped fill the void Japan left inside me. I eventually got frustrated and depressed because I hated the job I had. It wasn’t even in the field I graduated from and the place began to hemorrhage money. When knew I had to quit I didn’t know what I would do…I had now 3, almost 4 years of experience in a field I absolutely hated and since I switched concentrations before graduating my degree was just too basic to attempt jumping into anything related to it. I enrolled into a TESOL cert program. When done I immediately left for Japan again. Now older and now as a working adult, not a student, so my views and expectations of what to expect were all askew. The job I quit prior to leaving for Japan, was so meaningless to me, lacking in any form of creativity, that it rose my anxiety levels and ADHD through the roof. It took me a bit to remember and feel more like the “me” that years earlier, bled anything Japanese and would sacrifice anything to be there. However, the life and new passion I mentioned that got me through the years in between coming back the first time and returning the most recent time, now was like Japan, forever in my head. I couldn’t figure it out. All I wanted before I returned was to be there, I had reveries and dreams of me living on my own back there, so happy. Then once began to get my groove back in Japan I had a great time, grew as a person even more but I started to feel like I left all those who became more than just mere friends and pieces to my life, that helped me get over having to return the first time were slipping away. I felt like I betrayed them somehow. I began to wonder if my decision to come back again was more selfish and impulsive rather than the most logical decision. Now it’s too late. Now back in home country. Left Japan after another 2 years. Been trying for months to find my way back where I grew up. I even began taking online courses to lead towards a teaching certification and masters in English Ed for my home state NY, also working yet another job while taking the courses that I can’t stand and find it so unrewarding because too old to enroll f/t in university again. I know one thing Japan this past round showed me, I love to teach. I felt so good at the end of each day there, it was more my thoughts of friends and family back home and the daunting fear of how long is too long to live abroad. 2-3 friends got married and settled into a new home and life while I was away. I missed all of that. I came home because I felt I was missing out on important friends/family’s lives, people who in my past have done amazingly generous and selfless acts that I will never forget. The final nail in the coffin is when my 87 year old grandma fell and broke her leg and I had to settle with asking her how she was via Skype from 12,000Km away. I decided to come home but was so torn I left a job opportunity open for me to come back to Japan 3 months later. 3 months is a bit too long for me to just sit so that’s where this desk job came from. But what’s the first thing I did when sat down at saw the screen?… I immediately downloaded 9 different city scapes of my favourite cities lived in back in Japan, almost like i immediately knew I had made a mistake. I’m supposed to go back in literally 2 weeks but haven’t even bought my ticket yet or began preparing. Part of me is so worried I will just end up going for another 2 years and then repeating this pattern and ending up back here in NY even later in life trying to make do…I am the poster-boy for this ex-pat dilemma…my gut is telling me to pack up and buy the ticket today though just because until I have more of this program completed I have to wait longer before I can teach in NY so I feel where leaving all my friends, family, pets and hometown is very sad and stressful; working for a few years at a job I cannot stand and feel miserable about is much worse for my career down the road.

  72. Its sooo hard isnt it!ive returned back to uk after living in oz for 15years!never planned on returning longterm but after losing 3 family members including two dads im here but i miss oz!

    1. my case is similar. I’ve been out in the Caribbean teaching for about 11 years, and feel like I have a ‘life’ here. now, having really moved away from my family 35 years ago (that is, I didn’t even live near them in my home country) I now feel like I should re-establish some sort of relationship with them before we all die!! And yet I hardly have much in common with them, and fear it might be awkward or depressing to be around them for more than a few hours. (I’m not very sociable anyway, and sometime find social occasions a nightmare). They on the other hand frequently socialise together. I am basically a stranger to them, and yet we do communicate via skype. Mum is now 80, and quite dominating still. She doesn’t want me to mention God during my time with her (I’m due to visit for a couple weeks in July), which I find is very controlling of her. I’m tempted to stay with some quakers I met on the internet, near her, and then just visit her for lunch dates etc! my own mum that is… but why should i compromise my freedom of expression just to please her?? and so it goes on. Mind you, life here in the Caribbean is certainly no bed of roses, with a frequent question being – when are you going back home? Ha – seems like only heaven is my real home! (But i’m lapsing in my searching for god too, so all around, thiings are a bit shaky….). Confusion. I’m thinking of making the whole trip (stying with family and then friends from another part of uk, for total of one month) as a ‘sketching trip’ so as to focus on that, and not family psychostuff— or at least create a little distance from it all, and my own negative feelings vis-a-vis them – sorry to babble on – anyone relate??

  73. After reading this impacting article and everyone’s comments, I felt as though it was my own reflection in a mirror personified. As if I were having conversations with myself as weird as that sounds lol. It has been wildly comforting to read everyone’s thoughts and feelings examining the spiraling life as an expat. Yet I did notice we need to provide supportive commentary and positive solutions for everyone in this community because when thoughts and ideas are exchanged openly than others gain insight and explore other alternatives. Which is what I am so many others are in dire need of. As the directionless, we need some direction too.
    So much confusion. Feeling so lost or if nothing makes sense. Or cultural identity crisis? I relate to all of your stories! I don’t know if I should Just stay where I am in my host country and adapt or should I go back to my home country. Should, should,should…”shoulds” get us into trouble sometimes. Maybe we should replace the word “should” with “can”? It opens up more doors and countless possibilities, yet the word leads to the essential word: sustainability. What is sustainable for you to be your optimal self that coincides with your true self and aspirations and true colors to be yourself? Where is this possible? Yet still torn… It’s as if we are two different people in one body wanting both realms, of both host and home country.
    I googled countless entries to find some sort of answer and found this very blog which spoke wonders to me. Yet still after reading, I have no answer and I’m sure you all feel that way too in the sense that that your still searching for the right answer. The quote by the Buddha “the answer always lies within” has not quite kicked in for me yet. I’m sure everyone can relate to that, that we think we know deep down inside what we should do or what we think would be best, yet it backfires because we are from two separate worlds and once we make the decision to go back to our native hometown, we feel disconnected and as if no one can relate to us so we isolate and hyper focus on our past experiences as a foreigner, wanting to return. It’s worth examining what hurts more, being faced with the challenge of living abroad with the initial culture shock and seeing your past life slip away before your eyes, and all your friends and family moving forward without you, yet you flourish in this new terrain as a foreigner and have that insatiable thirst and hunger for the thrill and adventure to feel free and see/experience new and exciting things on a daily basis? Or does it hurt more to live back in your hometown where people seem alien to you or your bored, or feeling like a failure returning or working the 9-5 job again, yet you have all the basic comforts and the feeling of security back home, and the joy of being back with family yet they don’t relate or understand you so you feel stuck in a way feeling depressed and lost?
    Question is what is your gut instinct? To stay or go? I found it helpful to stay awhile longer abroad. Told myself: Give it time, reflect, journal, practice yoga to explore why I left in the first place? What do I like more about being here? What bothers me the most? What are my true passions and where can I live where they can realistically manifest? Where I can make a living and feel myself. Am I wasting time where I am? Well here’s my story and it would help me a lot if anyone may write me or reply to me because I am struggling as you are too.
    Right now I am living in India. I am an American citizen with roots and family from two different countries. I was raised abroad as a child for eighteen years due to my fathers job as a diplomat, mostly living in South America. I came to the states for the first time to live and study all the way to grad school for my masters, still in culture shock, and have been traveling post education and from job to Job. I’ve lived in five different places in the past two years. From three states to India then Central America and now back to India. I feel completely lost right now. A year ago when I came to india I felt a part of me died. After returning to the United States I was a different person. People could not relate to me. I isolated myself and began to feel very depressed. The only thing that seemed to make sense and to feel excited again was to return to India and be with the man I fell in love with. When I got the plane ticket and landed in Delhi I felt alive again. Yet I am questioning why I did this rash move in the first place when there are so many cultural Barriers here and limiting negative beliefs that remain. After all dr Seuss once said “wherever you go, There you are.” It’s true you cannot escape yourself so it’s worth asking yourself what is it about myself that maybe is not settled, do I miss home? I don’t like when others are stereotypical or generalize us expats as running away, because it’s not running away, it’s running towards. I think we all may have something deep inside us that we feel as though we are not satisfied with and are constantly searching. Sometimes it’s just about sitting where you are and trying to make the best of it right? To plant roots for awhile here and elsewhere until you find peace within. Things begin shifting in the mind when you open yourself to other opportunities like when traveling. But in your hometown can we explore it as we did in our host country to adapt? Now I don’t know. I still haven’t found answers yet but I am trying to rationalize and reflect. Did I make the right decision coming here because the man I love does not believe in marriage nor ever wants to have children. He wants to stay in this country where I’m a complete alien and annoyed at everything here due to second stage of culture shock. I am living in a small village where there is nothing to do and I am frustrated because I want to help to make change here, yet there is no paying job, and I don’t see life for me here long term. I see things that are lacking here that I like or need and it’s frustrating. It’s been two months and I feel I’m in agony. It’s hard too when you don’t speak the language and everyone stares at you in this culture especially men. It’s unnerving and how careless the people are here burning trash and polluting rivers and we have no stove. We have electricity shortages and trouble with Internet. It’s tough when I compare it to my previous apartment I had California that I just left for my boyfriend, giving up an an apartment I paid for with a kitchen with all amenities, and had a decent salary working hard paying off my bills and college loans. Yet here in this economy there is no room for a job for me. There are no jobs. My boyfriend is struggling financially and we don’t even have furniture. I sold all my things back home that were dear and meaningful to me and I kind of regret it in a way. Books, journals, grad school work, or things from my travels. Yet I got over materialism after my first trip to India which is why I was able to let it all go to Salvation Army. But like all expats we sway from side to side on a pendulum almost like we are schizo in a way. We live in one place and miss home terribly. Then we return home and we are itching and screaming to leave and go back. It’s crazy. What’s the solution. Not sure yet. any one have any advice for me. I’m not sure what to do and feeling restless and hopeless. It’s like wherever I go I’m an alien. But I genuinely miss home and do not see a future here long term unless we can truly build something big like an NGO to help people here. Yet maybe I miss home because I simply don’t like the place but feel stuck because I love my boyfriend and want to see and experience India to find where to plant roots. Am I forcing myself to settle? Considering all circumstances I’m not sure what to do taking into account My boyfriend, the new surroundings, anxiety boredom, and confusion? Anyone relate? Any advice?

  74. Its been 3 months now that I have been in the USA.I came from Africa so that I could live the American dream.I was a well established young business woman with a company running,an apartment with modern furniture and a very nice lexus suv.
    Just because I was not finding a soulmate and that my home country’s finacial and political situation was deteriorating,I felt I I had to find somewhere in the world where I get a nice man and also improve myself finaciallly…….
    I sold everything that I had..I mean everything.
    Honestly I thought once I step my feet on the American soil,my life will be changed forever.
    I came on a B1 visa and that means I am not entitled to work or any other thing….I have to figure everything myself.
    The only option that I have is to enroll in a school and start from zero.As a student I am only entitled to 20hrs of work per work making it difficult to have a good job,I can only work in etc…something that I have never dreamt of.
    I am depressed and confused on what to do.Am staying with a friend and he has been good to me but till when will he acomodate me?How I wish I was in my apartment in the so called Dark Continent… least I was happy…free and did things at my own time..
    I feel going back means I am failure…remaining in the USA …then I will have to lower the standards that I have set up for myself…..I surely dontt know what to do.
    I cant think properly…I need to make a decision quickly…but I dont know which route to take….Any ideas please

    1. woman do not see it like that, you have made the right choice, you just got in, with time you are going to blend i can assure you,

  75. Hi Chelsea,

    I know exactly how you feel. I commend your efforts for taking the strides forward to move all the way to the states very far from a our homeland. I too sold everything to come to India. And things have not quite turned out as I expected. Sometimes we do have to take risks and the bumps are lessons along the way. The only advice I can give you is to try to lower your standards a bit. Because nothing is forever. And there are always options and creative solutions to any problem. To be kind to yourself and let go of any negative limiting beliefs like oh I am a failure. Because that just hinders us from adjusting to our situation in. Calm way. So to be still and look around at what you do have rather than what you don’t helps a lot. I went from having a nice apartment and car and full time job to having practically nothing now. And I am trying to just live moment to moment and practice loving kindness and patience. If I self sabotage its wast less energy when I can try to find other possibilities. You could apply to school or for a work visa there. And meet people in your same shoes that have traveled to the us from other countries. It’s hard when mapping out your life in a way. But to have great expectations leads to great disappointments. I am still in the process of acclimating here to the culture. I don’t even speak the language in this small village. And I too don’t know what to do. If I should go back or stay. What sustains me I suppose is releasing the need to control. And to surrender to fear. I will admit I share your confusion so you are not alone. I hope you are feeling better and less depressed in a way because remember what led you there in the first place. Maybe retracing your thoughts to the decision you made to leave to the us will remind you and comfort you. It’s self rememberance. Well dear I hope we both soon find clarity in what to do. It’s also a gut feeling. So trust your gut!

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  77. Hello everyone,

    Hope you all doing great. I am 25. I went to Canada for my Masters in Civil Engineering in 2015. After spending two years there I realized I don’t belong to Canada. After recent completion of my Masters I moved back to my hometown and now I am being offered a good job here and also I have family and friends here. But still every single minute I have this thought in my mind that Should I go back and try a luck to find a good career job in Canada ? I still have my three years visa. I am really figuring it out that what actually is SUCCESS? Is it to leave everything home,family, house, job in your home country and move to abroad to become a self-independent person?
    To be very honest. I don’t want to regret in future — nobody wants..
    I am really confused. Leaving home again is not a easy thing. But is it worth it to take such a difficult decision to go back to Canada and find employment opportunity from the start?
    Share your experiences guys. Please
    Cheers– Take care– Mani

  78. I left home at the age of 10 to escape war and establish high qualification. I am in mid 20’s now still living abroad without qualification. I miss my home town a lot even though I’ve established great relationships with people here but I can’t stand being humiliated/judged for my beliefs. At a young age I didn’t understand discrimination but now I do. My level of tolerance towards discrimination is getting lower day by day.

    My home town doesn’t offer much according to my living standards it’s been like that for decades due to wars.
    Sometimes I wonder maybe I can bring some sort of positivity educate locals what life is like as a foreigner abroad instead of developing foreign countries why don’t we all develop our home town from scratch since nobody works there.
    Is there anyone else experiencing similar situation please do share your thoughts

  79. Spent 10 years in China, and 5 years working for a Canadian International school. Was earning a decent income and had 3 months a year holidays paid in full with airfares of $1,500 a year paid for. Wanted to come back to Australia to be with my family and to try and establish a new life back in my home country. Like many of you have said, People move on and have a new life. My old friends are living their own lives and don’t seem interested in meeting up. Makes me feel like I don’t belong here. When I would come back once a year during the Summer holiday for about 6 weeks, I would spend time with my family and have a great time. They would come from many parts of Australia to catch up. Now I have been here for 6 months, it seems like I see them less often than it was when I would here to visit. Nobody is really interested in my time abroad, and it feels like nothing has really changed. Can’t get a job here because I don’t have any qualifications, so I am studying online to get some. No friends, Limited family contact. The government want bank statements from my Chinese banks which I can’t supply, So I am living off the money I saved from working overseas to live and can’t claim benefits from the government while I am studying, so I can get a job! Everyday I just want to go back, because I feel like the work I had is way better than the work I will ever get back here in Australia. So lucky to have a sister that cares so much, or I would be out on the streets in my home country. Thanks Australia. Lucky country? I don’t think so.

  80. My husband and I have been married for three years and we have three kids. I was pregnant and devastated with our fourth child when I found out about his secret affair, I discovered he was always hiding his phone from me, staying out night outside, as a pregnant woman, i need his attention and care, he made me feel less of a woman when i needed him the most, my condition got worst every day by day, i could not help it but find who will take me out of my miserable condition, i contact dr_mack@yahoo. com to save my marriage, after 3 days my marriage was saved from disaster.

  81. 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.

  82. I feel identified with lot of the comments, i’ve returned to my homeland for months ago after living in Japan for 5 years. Japan was fascinating in many ways, i’ve experienced things and learnt stuff that i probably wouldn’t if i stayed in Argentina, wasn’t easy at all, felt lonely many, many times in there. While being in Japan i’ve never settled because i knew and wanted to be temporaly, also, used to thought “would be easier in so many ways once i return to Argentina”, now, i’m here and i’m finding very very difficult to adapt. I feel lonely, but even that feeling is different, while i was abroad “the lonely was mostly because i was physically alone, and it was kind of understandable”, now, i’ve have this feeling while being with family and friends, most of them can’t understand why i find difficult to re adapt.
    I barely talk about the experiences i had in Japan, if its good people tend to think i’m kind of showing off, if i talk about the bad ones, people seems to not understand that living in a first world country could be difficult (compared to Argentina), so i decided to not talk at all, i only talk with people who had experienced similar situations. Could be also the contrast between the two countries, insecurity issues, social-economical problems, poverty, lack of jobs and very very difficult for entrepeneurs, etc.
    At first, i was very excited, i used to think “ok, im in a country i know, i can verbally communicate perfectly, i’m with loves ones, i’m full of experiences, became stronger, things should be easier now”, i was full of projects too, after these 4 months, my “illusions” were just that.
    Currently, i’m feeling a bit depressed, i’m in my 40’s, i know i can’t live in Japan but i’m also feeling i’m not confortable (at least for now) living here, things also, are not easy, i’ve returned to my parents house, don’t have a job, friends got married, had children, and some just are not there anymore. On my weekends, i’m only stay home, watching movies in my room to avoid “think in this kind of stuff”, i’m living like a teen with no friends and dreams… waiting my father to say “what the hell are you doing with your life, move that ass”, yeah, i’m not feeling good.
    Anyways, to avoid getting more depressed, i’ve spent time watching and reading positive stuff, inspiring stories, positive people and things about work possibilities. Well, i hope everybody here can find soon a little bit more happiness in their homelands.

  83. Morning chaps, found this article and all the comments really interesting, but would like to offer a different point of view.

    I’ve been a serial expat for the last twenty years, before that I was lucky enough to study overseas with uni and do short term contracts which gave me the opportunity to travel.

    There’s a lot of talk on here about the TEFL ghetto. Oh I went to ‘insert Asian/ South American country here’ and I got drunk every night, lived a Peter Pan lifestyle and now I want to go home and I’ve achieved nothing.

    Hate to say it but you chose to achieve nothing.

    TEFL is a multi billion dollar industry and it is more than possible to make an exceptionally good living from it.

    However, the vast majority of people fling themselves out into the wide blue yonder armed with a broken heart, alcoholism or substance abuse, an online TEFL Cert worth bupkis and treat it as a way of escaping from a situation, not making a life.

    Whatever choices you make you have to take responsibility for them.

    There are other people who have constantly up-skilled and worked bloody hard, the same way as people ‘at home’ did, to make it in their careers.

    I have friends who stayed ‘at home’ and are still living with their parents, doing exactly the same things they did 20 years ago. I also have friends who have taken further qualifications, set up businesses and worked really hard to get where they are.

    All expats are not created equal, as all people who ‘stay home’ aren’t created equal.

    There are people who do and people who don’t.

    ‘Going home’ is hard because you have both a value to measure yourself against and people who remember you as who you were, this in turn mirrors what you have achieved or not achieved and it’s really difficult.

    There’s also that feeling of ‘I’m not special anymore’. No, you’re not, I’m not, he’s not.

    Yes, it’s hard to relate to other people ‘at home’ but half the time it’s because there’s so much navel gazing going on that a returning expat is actually really difficult to be around.

    TS Elliot said ‘a man travels in the hope of returning to his own country and finding it a foreign land’.

    That’s how I see the UK, a foreign land. I’ve been away for so long that it would be rediscovering again and I love that idea.

    Of course you mourn for things and people who have gone but mostly what I’ve noticed is that returnees mourn for themselves.

    Their younger versions, their lost hope or lost promise.

    For me I miss the countryside, the wind in the trees, the sound of autumn rain, the dappled sunlight on a country road, the wildness of the moors, that first morning in winter you get up and you feel that cold nip in the air, true and biting, and you know it’s time for huddling in pubs next to open fires.

    To go back to live though? No, it’s like a memory of first love, keep it in special place of memory, tinted with rose coloured spectacles and hope that you never bump into them and see how time ravaged they have become.

    A holiday does me fine, recharge my batteries and keep on going.

    Home is where the heart is or home is where you hang your hat?

    Wherever you are is a beautiful place if you choose to make it so.

    1. Vanje, a beautiful post. And very true. “To go back to live though? No, it’s like a memory of first love, keep it in special place of memory, tinted with rose coloured spectacles and hope that you never bump into them and see how time ravaged they have become.”
      I have traveled widely, however, it is my now 27-year-old daughter who is moving back to Asia. During college she lived in both Japan and Hong Kong (and South America during high school). She is going to the UK to get her Masters, but her goal is to live in Asia – forever. She does not waver. With a very small family in her home country, and no close friends for her having been away, she yearns to return to the place that gave her joy and peace. To me, she has always been an Asian girl in a White girl’s body. As her mother, I do support her choice to move away. Hopefully, it will be satisfying and she will set her roots there. I can always visit. Our extended family is very small and not engaged. She has little here to leave behind. Some people “belong” in that other country. Some go to explore and have fun, but then miss their home culture. In this case ,it is she who feels she is in the wrong place to stay. Maybe there are others who also feel the same – they just don’t belong in their home country. I call them “transnationals.” Those are probably the ones who stay and do not return, but maybe will visit the place where they were born/raised. No matter what the reason, having experienced a culture and country so different from your own can only expand you. It can create division between you and others who do not travel or have never lived abroad. But there are people like you who feel that the country they were born into is not the country to which they belong. Go with your heart, and an open mind, and you may find that your life is perfectly happy for having chosen a place that draws you, feels you and envelopes you. And if you choose to come back, remember that time does move on, and you can never step back into that same time of which you left. Think carefully before leaving a country that has become “home” to you before going back to the place where you were born. Home truly is where your heart is. Good luck to all.

      1. Hi Wisteria,

        Thank I have my moments! My son is the same, spent his entire life on the move but even at the age of 11 he knows who he is and where he wants to be. Good luck to your daughter, hope she finds the place that fits her, peace and happiness.

        What strikes me about many of the posts on here is the fear and shame of ‘going back’, it reminded me of this poem.


        The Shame of Going Back by Henry Lawson

        The Shame of Going Back And the reason of your failure isn’t anybody’s fault —
        When you haven’t got a billet, and the times are very slack,
        There is nothing that can spur you like the shame of going back;
        Crawling home with empty pockets,
        Going back hard-up;
        Oh! it’s then you learn the meaning of humiliation’s cup.

        When the place and you are strangers and you struggle all alone,
        And you have a mighty longing for the town where you are known;
        When your clothes are very shabby and the future’s very black,
        There is nothing that can hurt you like the shame of going back.

        When we’ve fought the battle bravely and are beaten to the wall,
        ‘Tis the sneers of men, not conscience, that make cowards of us all;
        And the while you are returning, oh! your brain is on the rack,
        And your heart is in the shadow of the shame of going back.

        When a beaten man’s discovered with a bullet in his brain,
        They POST-MORTEM him, and try him, and they say he was insane;
        But it very often happens that he’d lately got the sack,
        And his onward move was owing to the shame of going back.

        Ah! my friend, you call it nonsense, and your upper lip is curled,
        I can see that you have never worked your passage through the world;
        But when fortune rounds upon you and the rain is on the track,
        You will learn the bitter meaning of the shame of going back;
        Going home with empty pockets,
        Going home hard-up;
        Oh, you’ll taste the bitter poison in humiliation’s cup.

  84. We are returning to the UK after 8 years in Uganda due to reduced number of ex pat jobs and International School fees + rent = Salary.
    Kids are 10 and 12 hence time for them to adapt to UK school before GCEs, at least they can have some freedom.
    Im not looking forward at all. Even unplanned head aches of trying to rent before getting a job, then even getting a job, Brexit seems insane. I have always worked but coming up to fifty its a worry.
    I too am very anxious and second guessing was it right to move in the first place. Trouble is I have become addicted to making a difference as director of a hospital, now in the UK how will I make a differences on the same scale. Am I going to be so happy someone visiting brings me a kg of really cheddar cheese or the kids Nutella, we are not a marmite family. I feel mediocre and still to weeks before my flight. Eldest can have his dream for a trial for a football academy, youngest proper gymnastic training, wife some order in her daily life and myself the dreaded medical checkup or dentist, don’t know which is better. Well let me take solace in that if I have a accident an ambulance will turn up not a police pickup needing fuel first, if my kids get lost the police will actually look for them an probably find them and finally power outs will not point all the food in the fridge as for several months I can simply put it outside on the windowsill.

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  88. כיום כבר ידוע כי קשה מאוד לקדם אתר אינטרנט ללא חברת קידום אתרים מקצועית המכירה את כל רזי המקצוע.
    קידום בגוגל הוא תהליך מורכב, וריבוי האתרים והתחרות בתחומים השונים מניחה אתגרים לא פשוטים בפני בעלי אתרים המעוניינים לקדם את אתריהם בעצמם.ייעודה של חברת קידום בגוגל הינו להעניק חשיפה רבה מאוד לאתר ולעסק, לייצר לידים ולשמש לך מנוף להמלחה שיווקית וכלכלית.

    על מנת לייצר תוצאות משמעותיות יש לבנות את האתר ולאפיין אותו מלכתחילה באופן שישפיע משמעותית דירוגו במנועי החיפוש. קידום אתרים הוא נדבך חשוב מאוד בבניית תדמית שיווקית מכונה, המעודדת תנועה באתר. קידום בגוגל, כאשר הוא נעשה באופן מחושב, מביא לקידום ה”מניע את עצמו”, וחוסך בכל כסף רב לבעלי אתרים.

    מה המשמעות לרב תחומיות שמציעה חברה הבונה אתרים
    בעלת התמחות ב- קידום אתרים?
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  89. Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest
    authoring on other sites? I have a blog based on the same subjects you discuss and
    would love to have you share some stories/information. I
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  91. I lived in China for a year on a scholarship, it was good, personally I didn’t mind being called a foreigner or being extensively stared at. I took the good with the bad, and valued the people for what they were, not what I thought they were supposed to be. Because most of the Chinese hardly ever saw foreigners, a black person for that matter, I knew it was mostly out of curiosity rather than racism. The other reality is that in our own countries though without the stares and so on, we do make foreigners feel like foreigners one way or the other. I am planning a more permanent return in case you are wondering ‘then why did you leave?’ No place is perfect.

    On the issue of people returning to their ‘home’ countries because people have died, why return (permanently) because of they have died after all, being there is only awaiting your death of which can be done where one is truly happy. My thoughts are if one has ageing relatives they would like to be with before their death, plan ahead and take time off to be with them, and then return to where you really want to be.

    The notion of sense of belonging and where you are from being ‘home’, I have to disagree. We have no control of where we are born and hence don’t always fit in or feel to belong there. The pressure people feel to return I mostly feel is because we are expected to and also is psychological/social expectation. I believe human beings are made as free souls and hence can adapt to a new environment, this doesn’t mean you won’t find faults in the new environment. It’s what we tell our minds that hold us back. I personally don’t believe that a person needs to die where they were born (home country). I mean what matters is what you fill your life with while you are alive, after that it doesn’t even matter where your home country was but what you exepirienced and felt, because you’d be dead. Returning to/Dying in your home country doesn’t mean you rest better in death. Death is death.

    My point is, people need to value their own hapiness and know that it is okay to be happy elsewhere. Everyone else is moving on with time, being there with them wouldn’t change anything. The people in the new country are equally as valuable to make memories with as the people back home are. That is why the ones back home when you return mostly don’t have the time of day for you, and friendships have changed because life goes on and people are people. It is not a bad thing to grow into yourself and have a life that you have chosen and created for yourself away from what you were born into. In fact I believe it is supposed to be like that.

    I think the ‘limbo’ state is caused by people having the mindset that they are at a place temporarily and hence not setting their minds to permanent planning as they would at their home countries. Otherwise apart from paperwork, if a person goes to a new place and love it and wants to settle, have goals and work towards buying a house there, getting married and settling there than it will happen. But we tell our minds it’s temporary and hence it becomes so. Again apart from the uncertainty of immigration paperwork, if a house is $100 000 in your home country and the same price abroad, on either place you have to work and buy, and you definitely have a job abroad. So it’s being undecided, the guilt, expectations people have that really cause the neither here nor there thing, hence wasted time.

    It’s normal to be nostalgic about the familiar place (‘home’ country), but you soon realise how ‘familiar’ the last place you visited is, so it’s just about what you choose and prefer. Again, sometimes people forget the very reasons they left their ‘home’ countries, simply because they long for the familiarity, and reality becomes the problems are still there (unless it was a person and thankfully that ‘problem’ has died) and they regret going there. It’s just an impractical longing that doesn’t solve real problems, because it is a feeling based on the past, you can still long for how things felt in the past in your own country without ever having left. Let us not be afraid of change and allow our minds to limit us.

    Unless you really prefer to go to your ‘home’ country, which is also okay given that you have accepted the reality that you are not the old you (it would be disappointing if you were), if you like being abroad I would encourage you to set your mind to it, to accept both the positives and negatives of the new country as you would your home country, to set long-term goals and work towards them without being confused or going back and forth because that can consume many years, and then be at peace knowing it is okay to have a new home where your own descendants will be blessed to be from. Everyone is a foreigner once they step outside their border, it shouldn’t cause a person to want to be confined to a space all their lives.

  92. Where do you live now? I moved back home and really struggling and not doing a good job staying positive, I want to leave US again now after I had left it 5 years ago to the middle east. I was unhappy with a lot of things there but unhappy here in US living with my parents at 30, quit my job because its human rights were getting way out of hand to the point of abuse and now I have no idea what career to take, where to live and who to talk to. I feel so lonely and my bf moved to Saudi Arabia and we still talk but don’t think it will last as I don’t even have a job or a planned future. I am so depressed.

  93. I was living in Dublin, Ireland for 12 years but had to move back to my home country Malta (a tiny island in the Med) together with my young child as my relationship with her dad broke down so I had no family support since I could not afford a car to drive over to his relatives.

    So I had to move back home to my parents not out of choice but necessity. Struggling to settle down again as I miss Ireland for so many reasons : great quality of food, scenery, shops and the Irish people themselves.

    So it is even more difficult when circumstances force you to leave a country you love and move back with your parents with a child at 40!

    1. I use to live in Europe as European citizen and moved to the USA as USA citizen also, had a child in the US and i moved back with my child to Europe, now I think going back to the us as my child’s growing i want return him to his country of origin and pursue education in the us, as we feel very lonely hear, all his cousins and family are there. It’s a hard decision but i would love for him to at least go there before his high school. I need to make a decision and to find work for me and school for him. Even though university are free here, but the quality of US education is great and overall i feel i have to decide, the only thing is fear, its a lot of work and not much time to spend with my child us in Europe is laid back.

  94. Living overseas since 2002 in Luxembourg. The longer I am out of the USA the more I realize America is my home. Especially Florida. Lots of good people over in Europe but still now I know all too well how “first generation immigrants” never really call the new land home.

    Although I am “back and forth” a lot both for business and visit family. One day, I SHALL RETURN and never leave again. I miss my Florida rednecks gators and all.

    Important: Make sure to build your credit back before moving back to USA. Living in USA seems you got to have and all about credit.

  95. I had my own experience living in the same country. From migrating south, I discovered how difficult it is for even people bounded by the same geographical line to accept one another as one.

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