First visit home after relocating overseas

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Visiting home after moving abroad

That first visit back to your home country after relocating overseas can raise a mass of emotions and is often approached with mixed feelings.

While you look forward to seeing your family and friends again, you may also worry it will throw your decision to move into doubt. This is especially true if you are finding it hard to settle in your new home country.

It is not unheard of for someone experiencing difficulties in their new country to go back for a holiday and then find they are emotionally unable to return. Obviously this can be detrimental to the whole family, so here are some pointers to help you ascertain whether to make the trip or not.

Don’t go ‘home’ too soon

Try not to return to your home country too soon after relocating overseas. While it may validate your choice to live abroad, for some people it may have completely the opposite effect. If you are struggling to adapt to your new country, you can expect your first trip home to make you feel more homesick. Of course, some people don’t experience any homesickness at all – everyone is different – but be aware that it may creep up on you when you least expect it.

Don’t go back for at least six months – preferably longer. Try to establish yourself more deeply in your new country first. This is true even if you are extremely happy in your new home, so leave it much longer if you are having difficulty settling down.

I posted an article recently about the tricky aspects of these visits home, so I won’t repeat myself about the actual visit. But there are ways of minimising potential homesickness issues.

Minimise the homesickness potential

Many people overcome the problem by only visiting their home country during an unpleasant season. So, for example, if you have moved to a warm country from the UK, you may find it easier remember why you moved away if you visit Britain in the winter. The short, gloomy days and damp, cold weather can make it very easy for you to get back on that plane again to head towards warmer climes! It will help you appreciate your new home more.

Expect to have a few low days when you return, so make sure you have something fun to look forward to when you get back. Plan some trips or days out with friends and organise to have visitors come to stay so you have something to plan for.

Enjoy seeing your friends and family and everything your home country has to offer and don’t over think it too much.

The feelings and the difficulties soon pass.



Expatability Chat Podcast

If you’d prefer to listen to me talk about this topic, here is my podcast episode about Planning a Trip to Your Home Country

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  1. Loved this article especially as we just arrived yesterday in the country that my children define as their home country. The smiles have been amazing but as we’ve only been barely 6 months into our current home country I was concerned about it being too early. And I chose feb for exactly the reason you stated (though let’s be honest, there really is no bad time to visit Barcelona). Will be curious how the goodbyes will be for the kids this go around and how they will be when we return “home” on Sunday. Thanks again for the great, well timed read!

  2. Pingback: When an Expat Visits Home: Caught Between Two Worlds? | Expatriatus
  3. Great piece. The only thing I would say about going when the weather is bad is that when you take your little kiddies with you (as I did) it really limits what you can do and you end up stuck in people’s houses all the time. Given how small some British living rooms are, it’s not always fun.
    It’s expensive to go at any time of year so i try to make sure that we go at the best time of the year and have the most fun. I don’t want my kids to think of the UK as freezing cold and rainy. Ha ha ha ha. Having said that…. you can go any time in the summer and it could be the same.

    1. Thank you for reading!

      I agree that the weather in the UK is something ‘special’ whenever you visit! That point was made as advice to people who aren’t settling in their new country.
      And yes, it really is very expensive there now, isn’t it?

  4. 4 years in and I only just feel ready to return. Up until now I was terrified I would never get on the plane back once I touched British soil. Of course now there Is the cost factor 5 kids and a jaunt to the uk seems impossible.

    1. Do you think you will make the trip? The cost must be prohibitive. Something many other people do is meet up somewhere half way between the two. Sort of…!

  5. i have often found, that it is only on your return from your first trip home, that you realize where you live now IS your home. it’s where your routines and day to day friends are, but you only really understand how much you have settled in once you leave and come back.

    1. That is so true, Gilly. And a very healthy way to approach expathood.
      But there are many people who find the visiting very hard,especially if they’re not that keen on their new country or have many friends and family at ‘home’.

  6. A great read. I revisited the UK this year after spending two years living in Australia. We chose to go during the summer a nice time of year! Not!! It sadly rained for the two solid weeks that we were there and I had gastroenteritis! Even though I miss my friends like crazy I’m in no rush to return.
    Pre trip I felt I hadn’t settled in Australia but on my return to Australia it finally felt like home!!

    1. Thank you!
      Yes, the weather in the UK has been a complete washout this year. I know my mother is completely fed up with the rain.

  7. Oh man, we haven’t even gone back to LA to visit — no way I’m doing that much travelling with two little kids! It’s better for me, personally, clean break and all. I do stay in touch over Facebook, but it’s not the same when kids are little just to go all over town meeting people for coffee and dinner. But you’re right, visiting home would make me really homesick!

    1. I can fully empathise with not wanting to do the trip with two little ones!
      In my personal experience, the more I love my current country, the less I like my home country. And, to be frank, I’ve never been particularly keen on life in the UK. However, after six years of living in countries with difficult languages to learn, I am getting much more nostalgic for the English speaking world. Somewhere I know how to get things done, where to go and general familiarity.
      I think I’m getting old!

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