Monday, 9 May 2011

Top Tips for Repatriation

Last year we featured a blog post about preparing yourself for the culture shock of repatriation and how to face the challenges of returning home after a prolonged period abroad.

We regularly feature tips on Expat Explorer for a successful expat assignment and speak to many expats who are still enjoying their lives away from home but what about those who choose to come back and as it the place they remembered?

Our Expat Experience report found that a third of all expats who live away for more than 10 years have not been home for more than two years. For those who have ‘gone native’ the home they return to can feel as strange as the foreign land they once travelled to!

To add to our tips from last year we came across these top tips for a stress free repatriation:

1) Acknowledge that things WILL have changed. Regardless of how long you have been away there’s a strong chance that things will be very different when you return. It is important to remember that your experiences abroad will have changed you and time away from your friends and family may have impacted your relationships.

2) Make sure there’s money in the bank. International relocation is expensive and you will need to ensure that you have enough money to fully fund your move back home. Depending upon your circumstances you may need money to cover living expenses while you find a new job, you may need to rent somewhere on a temporary basis while looking for somewhere new to live or you may need to fund the purchase of a new home. Be aware that, if you did not keep a bank account open in your home country while you lived overseas you may not be entitled to any credit (including a mortgage) on your return. Before you make plans to return, make a list of all the expenses you will face, research your financial limitations and ensure that you have a big enough budget to tide you over during the settling in period. If not, it may be prudent to remain in your host country until you do.

3) Understand your rights with regards to access to medical services. You will need to understand what health care you will be entitled to once you return home and will need to establish if there will be a requirement for medical insurance. Depending upon what country you are from public healthcare may be available. However, do not assume that you will be entitled to it. In many countries the right to public care is foregone after you have lived continually outside of the country for a set period of time. Fully research medical and dental entitlements and, if necessary, arrange appropriate private healthcare.

4) Be conscious of your children’s emotions. In the same way that you needed to prepare your children for a move overseas you will also need to get them ready for coming back home. They will have had a wide range of experiences that will set them apart from their friends and classmates and you need to be on guard for any negative emotions or experiences that this may engender. Communicate regularly with their school in order to verify how they are settling back into the education system and ensure that they get all the support needed.

5) Remain positive. In many cases returning home may not be your preference but you may be doing so because your contract has come to an end or your host country is no longer able to offer you a suitable standard of living. In situations like these it can be very difficult to remain positive and you may dread the thought of returning to your old life. For your own wellbeing it is crucial that you embrace the move and accept that it is happening. Think of all the family, friends, activities and unique elements of your home country that you have missed and try and focus on these as opposed to concentrating on what you are leaving behind in your host country.
If you have a story of repatriation to tell or further advice to give please share your thoughts on our blog or get in touch if you’d like to guest blog for us....


  1. I've been away from my original home in the U.S. for ten years and haven't been back for a visit in over five. I doubt that I will ever move back. I like being in Europe, I like that I can afford health care here, and I like the style of living. I will be moving soon for a variety of reasons, but I will relocate in Europe, not back in the U.S. where I think I would feel like a foreigner in my own home.

  2. Usually people think that adjusting to a new country is difficult, but seem to forget that coming back and adjusting is just as hard! I referenced your post in my blog for expats thinking of moving to Mexico or already there. Are you an expat or have been? I'd love to hear more!

  3. Certainly one of the tips should be getting a good expat medical insurance. This is a must for someone planning to live abroad for a longer period of time.

  4. Great to know, as I'll be going through this very soon. Thanks!


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