Things to Think About Before Repatriation
Expat life changes you, there’s no doubt about that. While most expats believe this is for the better, it can make repatriation difficult.
Have you prepared yourself for going home?
Though it’s easy to kid yourself that a year or two experiencing another culture will have no effect on the ‘real life’ you’ll one day return to, many expats are faced with a rude awakening when the time to repatriate rolls around.
Some of the challenges repatriation presents are the same as those you will have faced at the start of your expat life. Here, the expat health insurance experts at Medibroker International share their tips on things to consider before moving back to Blighty.
Firstly, you should research whether the cost of living has changed in your home country to avoid any nasty shocks and help with budget planning.
While you have been living away from your home country you may have become a non-resident for taxation purposes. When you repatriate you will need to re-register with the relevant taxation body.
Your retirement planning and pension arrangements could be affected too, so you’ll need to think about whether you need to make new arrangements back home.
If you closed your bank account in your home country, you may no longer have a credit history – so it may be worth keeping an offshore account open until you arrange a new account back home.
If you’ve been earning in a different currency from your home currency, and you’re planning to repatriate some or all of your earnings, you may not be aware of the foreign exchange solutions available to you, so you should also research these.
If you’ve been out of your home country for a long period of time, it may be difficult to get references and credit history. Make sure you have things like a proof of former addresses for your future landlord or mortgage agent. You may need family to sponsor you as a guarantor to start you off.
Reverse Culture Shock
You may find you’ve adopted habits and traits that help you integrate with the local community in your expat destination that make you stick out like a sore thumb upon return.
Similarly, your concept and memories of ‘home’ may have become outdated. Which leads us on to…
Many expats return home expecting to slip gracefully into their old life. What may come as a shock to you is that things, and people change. Things ‘back home’ don’t crystallise while you’re living the expat dream – people move, have kids or change jobs. New friendships are made, existing ones are broken and your old friends might not really want to hear all those stories you’ve been saving. They can’t relate, and you can start to feel isolated.
It’s common for old friends to want you to remain the person you were before repatriation, and you may even encounter smugness that you’ve come back. Remember that you haven’t failed by returning from your overseas adventure.
Remember the hassle of finding an international or suitable local school for your kids during your expatriation? Learn from your own mistakes – make sure your children are on the waiting list for your preferred school.
It’s also wise to get your children’s records from their school in the host country and be sensitive when the time comes for them to say goodbye to school pals.
Is This What You Want?
There’s a difference between leaving your expat country on good terms, feeling satisfied with what you’ve achieved during your time there, and running away because you haven’t given your new country a real chance. It takes time to settle into a new life abroad and more time after that to accept that bills need to be paid and laundry must be done wherever you live in the world. Whatever reason you’re repatriating, ask yourself “Is now the right time to leave?” Have you gotten everything you can out of the expat experience?
You will need to re-register with a GP and a dentist in the UK, though your eligibility may have changed. The NHS’ recent crackdown on ‘health tourists’ coming to the UK to receive free healthcare means that unfortunately, expats like yourself may no longer be entitled to treatment on the NHS. Find out how this affects you and budget for potential costs.
Tip for Successful Repatriation
Pretend you’re preparing for another global assignment. Make it exciting!
Do all those things in your expat country that you’ve always wanted to do before you leave.
Goodbyes are never easy, but make solid plans to meet up with your expat friends again.
Try to remember that just as you have grown, so have those you left behind.
Take delight in the little things, like that first sip of your favourite coffee that you missed while abroad.
Be a tourist in your home country. This will help you appreciate it and make you realise there are still new experiences to be had.
Medibroker International provide free, impartial advice on international medical insurance plans which can be tailored to expats’ needs.