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Coming Home After Relocating for an Overseas Job

Posted on August 2020

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Most who relocate for overseas roles have an incomparable experience when working abroad and adapting to another culture. Friends are made and routines are built as employees integrate into their new workplace and the local expat and wider community. 

However, there will come a time when many who work overseas hear the call of home, motivated by the wish to drive forward in a career path, or for more personal reasons. 

Returning home is a very emotional time within itself after months or years as an expat. Many feel a mixture of excitement and dread. Happy to see family, reconnect with friends and move back to the familiar, and uncertainty about adjusting back to home life.

Why Employees Repatriate

Those who are expats because of their job often repatriate when they either want to leave their job or move back home for another role within that company. However, many also move back to their home country because of a ‘rootless’ feeling which is shared among many expats.

For those seeking a more traditional lifestyle, there will come a time for expats when they must decide whether they are going to ‘settle down’ in their country of choice, or return back home to live closer to friends and family. It can be a very hard decision to make, and repatriation isn’t an easy process, as home can feel like a distant place after a couple of years living in another location. 

Plan For Changes

You will not be returning to the same place you left. Your social circle will have advanced. There may be new children to visit, promotions to celebrate, new partnerships to get excited about and breakups to commiserate.  

The job market will have also transformed, and your professional network may not be as solid as it once was. Connections move on to new roles or even join new sectors or leave your sector entirely. 

You need to think ahead and plan for these changes. Accept things won’t be the same and adapt to the new lifestyle you will be returning to. Choose a good friend or family member to help you ‘mentor’ your return home. They can help you with practical issues and get one foot ahead with certain job opportunities. 

Reestablish Your Social Life

Reconnecting with your old friends can be both the most exciting and most difficult part of repatriation. Recognise that the social lives of your friends have continued in your absence, and the response to your tales of life abroad may be faced with a  lukewarm response. As much as you want to, it is best not to constantly share your anecdotes and show your photos of expat life to everyone you meet. 

In terms of increasing your social circle, there are ways to find your fellow travellers. Seek groups who will have similar international experiences to you, which can help you find new social connections who will understand the unique experience of repatriating. 

So finding a group of people with similar international experiences can be a good way not only to debrief but also to broaden your existing and establish a new social circle.

Reconnect With Your Network, and Make New Connections

Curb your expectations about ‘slotting back in’ when returning home after working overseas. If you have not been around for a few years, the people you knew will have changed and you may have lost touch. 

Returning home is a great time to put effort into making new connections. There are plenty of ways to do this:

  • Business networking groups

  • Business events

  • Coworking space events

  • Sector-specific events

Use social media sites such as and Facebook groups to see which events are happening in your area and start to meet and connect with people. Get a sense of what is happening with your sector on a local level. This knowledge and the network you build will help you both find job opportunities or help you settle faster into a new role. 

Use Your Experience (Both Soft Skills and Hard Skills) In Your Resume

Some who return home after living overseas can feel like they have ‘gone backwards’, but time working abroad is far from wasted. In fact, many recruiters jump at resumes coming from those who have returned from an overseas role. 

Experience overseas is highly valuable in many sectors, including tech, financial services and engineering. Handling a range of projects and bringing experience and knowledge of systems from other countries can strengthen your offering as a candidate. 

Those returning home after an international relocation also hold a range of soft skills employers admire. Uprooting your life and moving overseas shows that you are not afraid to make big decisions, face challenges and adapt quickly. Not everyone would feel confident or comfortable enough to make such a large and ambitious move.