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Why expats go home and how to avoid following suit

By December 21, 2016October 3rd,

Why expats go home and how to avoid following suit

December 21, 2016

Returning home can be a positive experience if you’ve completed a contract and had always planned to return. But many expats leave their country with no plans to come back – only to find the grass is not greener and home pastures are better. So how do you ensure you don’t make a very expensive move, only to change your mind? Here is some advice from an expat who’s lived in three countries and returned home to the first.

Staying put in your new home…

Make plans to connect with your family and friends

There is no doubt, if you’ve lived your entire life in one country you’ll have created some wonderful friends and are likely to have a very supportive community surrounding you. Don’t underestimate the shock that leaving this will cause. Not having an emotional support structure in your new country is not something to be taken lightly.

Yes, you will make new friends – but they won’t have experienced many of your formative memories and it’s important not to underestimate this. If you have children, you might be used to dropping them off with friends or family as you head out on a date night or for a weekend away. This freedom is often curtailed in a new country, where it takes time to build up these trusting relationships. Some ideas on how to overcome these hurdles include:

Communicate regularly:

Plan weekly Skype hook-ups with friends and family – and don’t let anything stop you from taking time to chat. This way you still ensure you have the emotional support you need, as you tackle the hurdles of a new country. It’s often tempting to let the demands of life get in the way of these meetings, but don’t push them out. You’ll be amazed at how quickly friendships fall away if they are not maintained

Plan an annual family gathering:

This is a big one, because it is a very expensive commitment. But it really helps if you can return to your family on special holidays and share them together. Expats who see their family on a regular basis have a far better chance of ensuring their life abroad is a success.

Be financially prepared

The big mistake many expats make is underestimating the cost of living in their new country. If you have been offered a job, the new salary might sound fantastic when compared to your home currency, but how far will it go in your new country? A poor quality of life is often cited by expats returning from abroad when they discover their foreign currency just didn’t cover the expenses of living in their new country – and their quality of life at home was actually better! So try to be prepared by:

Try it out:

Taking a “look, see and decide” trip before you arrive in your new country. If you can spend a month in your new country actually living there before you move, so much the better. See what your weekly groceries will cost. Go out and compare what an average meal in your new country compares to a meal back home. Ask yourself if your quality of life will be the same. If not, consider whether you will be able to adapt to a more conservative way of living?

Do research online:

The Internet is a mine of foreign information and advice. See what rentals and house prices are. Compare grocery and toiletries. Find out how much home and life insurance costs. Then plan an expat budget and see if it fits comfortably within your new salary.

If you do decide to head back home, you’re more than likely to find living and working in a foreign country has given you a lot of advantages including:

  • Increased career opportunities based on your expat experience
  • Improved networking and communication skills
  • A better financial position if you’ve saved your foreign currency
  • A broader, more inclusive mind-set due to your exposure to different cultures and ways of living.

Of course, it would also help a bit if you had some extra cash lying around, right? Well, lucky for you specialises in moving money across borders. We can give you an obligation-free assessment which will show you what policies and assets you have left in South Africa, and the best route to get your money to you. Just leave your details and we’ll get back to you.
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