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What expats need to consider when returning home after living abroad

Living in a foreign country as an expat can be a life-changing experience. Some expats change so much that they feel out of place when returning home after living abroad. Rather than having a sense of familiarity, expats going back to their home country might find it feels more foreign instead. This Pacific Prime Latin America article covers what you need to consider to ensure you wrap up your time abroad in the best way possible.

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The best way to reintegrate is in increments

Reintegrating into local customs is one of the biggest hurdles expats face when returning home after living abroad. This process can feel just as overwhelming as it did when you moved. Look at your return home for what it is: another relocation. Take the same steps by gradually managing your move and rediscovering your sense of home.

Many expats find it helps to return home every so often to maintain familiarity and connections within the community.

Your loved ones may be jealous

You’ll likely return home with lots of stories to share with your friends and family. But be aware that some may be jealous when hearing about your time abroad – especially if they feel stagnant or uninspired in their own life. Sharing the ins and outs of where you’ve been and what you’ve learned could lead to alienation or feelings of resentment.

Avoid this situation by saving your stories for natural openings during conversations and being respectful of other peoples’ feelings.

Your old friends may not be there anymore

It can be comforting to think about the friends and family you’re returning to. However, keep in mind that things back home may have changed quite a lot while you’ve been away. Your friends may also have relocated while others may have grown into different people. Understand that some relationships may have run their course and some may take some work to restore. Just don’t return home thinking that everyone is the same as when you left.

You may experience reverse culture shock

Relocating abroad can be incredibly exciting. Since you’re not in your comfort zone, you’re able to see awkward or annoying experiences as cultural differences, which helps you learn and find your sense of balance. This happens in reverse when it’s time to go home. It’s important to prepare for this transition and adjust your outlook to stay positive and open to the changes. The bigger the cultural differences, the more shocking returning home will be.

You’ll need to manage your expectations

In some cases, you might have to return home for reasons you have no control over. Some expats move abroad for their careers and realize that it’s not their path while others return for family or medical reasons. Whatever the case, all expats can benefit from managing expectations when returning home. Remember that your surroundings won’t be the only thing that changes drastically. Your work-life balance and career could be affected during the transitional period as well.

Your communication skills might need brushing up

We usually don’t think communication will be an issue for expats returning to their home country. Depending on how long you’ve been gone, you may find there are new common phrases and slang words. This can make everyday communication trickier than what you remember. Staying in touch with friends and family can help you stay on top of new slang words. Don’t stress over this too much though, as you’re likely to pick up on it once you’re back.

Be prepared to feel a different type of homesickness

Home is a concept that changes throughout our lives. Essentially, home describes a place where we can escape from the outside world and share intimate moments with our loved ones. Even though we might miss the place we grew up in when we first move abroad, living abroad and creating a new life there changes our outlook.

It’s common for returning expats to miss the place they just left and look for ways to deal with that feeling, such as by integrating certain customs or making friends from that nationality. One useful tip is to plan a trip back to your second home before moving.

You should get your financial affairs in order

As with any big move, returning home can be emotionally exhausting. Practical steps are not only necessary but can also help take some of the weight off. If you were classed as a non-resident for taxation purposes while you were away, you’ll have to re-register when returning home. It’s imperative to sort out these types of details, especially with financial matters.

Additionally, you’ll want to calculate changes that could affect the cost of living in your home country, as well as increases in fuel, property, vehicle, and healthcare costs. This will be useful when it comes to creating a budget and making practical plans that’ll ease your return.

Take charge of your health with Pacific Prime Latin America

Make sure your medical needs can be met no matter where you live in the world by securing health insurance. Whether you’re looking for expat health insurance in Mexico, retiree health insurance in Mexico, or any health insurance in Mexico or globally, Pacific Prime Latin America is here to help. We compare health insurance plans from leading insurance providers to suit your needs and budget. Contact us for free insurance advice and a plan comparison today.

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Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime Latin America
Jantra Jacobs is a Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime with over 10 years of writing and editing experience. She writes and edits a diverse variety of online and offline copy, including sales and marketing materials ranging from articles and advertising copy to reports, guides, RFPs, and more.

Jantra curates and reports on the results of Pacific Prime’s monthly newsletters, as well as manages Pacific Prime’s Deputy Global CEO’s LinkedIn posts. Complemented by her background in business writing, Jantra’s passion for health, insurance, and employee benefits helps her create engaging content - no matter how complex the subject is.

Growing up as a third-culture kid has given her a multicultural perspective that helps her relate to expats and their families while 8 years of working remotely have given her unique insight into hybrid work arrangements and enthusiasm for employee benefits.
Jantra Jacobs