Expat adjustments after moving back home

Published:  27 Feb at 6 PM
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Relocating to the UK after years in expatriate mode can be tricky but, whatever the reasons for returning, adjustment is no fun.

Whether you’re returning to the UK at the end of a contract, giving up your expat lifestyle for family reasons or just missing the familiar, it’s essential to take steps to mitigate the shock of changes, both in yourself and in the home country. The remembered advantages of being on totally familiar ground are just that, memories, and much may have changed since you stepped on the plane on your way out.

One of the most important considerations, particularly for those lucky enough to have found themselves in a hot country, is the notorious British weather. Arriving during winter is likely to change your mind and send you heading back to warmer climes on the next flight out, unless you’ve prepared well in advance. It might be tricky to find snow boots and padded coats in many favourite expat hubs or, worse still, to locate suppliers of thermal underwear in the Gulf States, but there’s always the internet for those who can’t wait until they actually arrive back to purchase the essentials.

The warmth of being surrounded by family and friends you left behind when you emigrated may be scant consolation if the central heating breaks down mid-winter, especially if home is located in the north of England or, worse still, in the admittedly stunning wilds of Scotland. If your kids are used to playing in the sea and with the sand, strapping them into padded all-in-ones for a shopping trip isn’t likely to thrill them, or you. Even in England’s slightly warmer southern counties, the prospect of briefly glimpsing the sun once a fortnight can be depressing.

After years of being used to delicious, spicy dishes from road-side stalls or in quaint local eateries, coming home to warming stews and roasts doesn’t sound so very bad, but you’ll soon realise hot countries have the most apposite cuisine for colder climes. Unfortunately, recreating your favourites in your own kitchen will cost far more and won’t quite measure up to the inner warmth created by exotic, highly-spiced dishes.

As a result of some, or even all of the above downsides of relocation back home, it’s no surprise that many former expats find themselves returning overseas, especially when the kids are grown and retirement beckons. The freedom to just live on your pension in an exotic, sunny location without having to worry about schooling, language difficulties at work and the expense of private health care for your family is as close to heaven as you’ll ever get. At least, it was before Brexit...
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