There are tons of blog posts out there with tips for moving abroad to a completely new country, culture and way of life. But we don’t always give a lot of thought to what happens when expat life ends, and when you have to move back to your home country. Sure, expat life is addictive and you may be hoping that you’ll be an expat till the day you die, but life tends to get in the way and we can’t always control when or why the expat life ends. Moving ‘home’ after years abroad can actually be a huge challenge, but don’t worry we’re here to help you navigate the pitfalls. Here are some tips to help you readjust to life after expat life.
1. Focus on why you moved back
While all work and no play can be dull, it’s recommended that you hone your focus in on one aspect of your life in your home country, at least for the first few months. Remind yourself daily of why you moved back in the first place, and funnel your time and energy into those phases. If you moved back for a better job, work hard. If you made the move to be closer to family, schedule plenty of quality time with the ones you love. After several weeks you’ll be keen to ease up, but this focus will pay off in an emotional way by keeping you busy and preventing you from lamenting too much about what expat life used to be like.
2. Create a new routine
Most of us crave routine—even if everything else is tenuous and prone to change, it’s comforting to know that at least one part of your day is usually the same. Living in Milan your daily lifeline might have been drinking an espresso at the same café at around the same time, and now that familiar routine has to go out the window back home. The fastest and best way to deal with the disorientation of moving back home is to create a new routine for yourself immediately. Scope out local coffee shops to find a daily haunt, or come up with an exercise routine that gets you out of the house and interacting with other people. The quicker you are about forming your new routine, the easier it will be to readjust.
3. Avoid setting expectations
Maybe you’re an expat that’s looking forward to moving back home to experience the good old days all over again. The harsh reality is that those good old days are long gone, and it’s pretty unlikely you’ll jump back into life exactly the way it was before you moved abroad. The clock doesn’t stop just because you’ve been gone, and people tend to move away and move on. Even if you’ve only been gone a year, that’s a heck of a long time for a heck of a lot of stuff to change. Avoid setting expectations for your life back home. You won’t be returning to the life you left when you became an expat.
4. Find new hobbies
Living abroad can change you in many ways, both big and small. The way you speak, your mannerisms, and even your interests can undergo massive transformations. Something you once enjoyed doing back home might not seem like much fun anymore, and old hobbies can come across as stale or boring. Instead of forcing yourself to take on the hobbies of the old you, find ones that fit more with the new, well-travelled you. You might even end up with a hobby you never imagined you’d try even once! Embrace how expat life has changed you, and let your interests guide you to exciting new hobbies.
5. Make new friends
While living abroad you probably became an expert at meeting and making new friends. So it shouldn’t be too hard to do the same back home, right? The thing to remember about expat life is that you’ve had experiences that a lot of people who never live abroad can really understand. And while it’s great to reconnect with old friends back home, you’ll also want to seek out people you can relate to. Join an expat meet-up, or find ways to keep the language skills you picked up abroad fresh through classes and language exchange. Just because you don’t live abroad anymore doesn’t mean you have to go on like it never happened!
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Are you preparing to move back home after years living abroad? What are some of the ways you’re preparing for the big move?