Repatriating with family

Expats returning home with children

Sara is sharing her repatriation journey with us in a new series of posts to allow us a peek into her life as she and her family manage their return home.

There and back again

After 9 years of living in Courtenay, in the central province of Vancouver Island, we’re facing a relocation back to the UK.

We moved here in 2005; my husband had been made redundant and there was greater call for qualified carpenters in Canada, so we decided to bite the bullet and relocate. We thought about lifestyle, environment, population and education and decided that Canada had more to offer our little family of three than our home town of Leeds, where antisocial behaviour was on the increase and educational standards were slipping due to the problems of discipline in inner-city schools. Canada didn’t seem to have these problems, instead we’d be offering them beautiful countryside, low crime rates, a stable economy and great cities.

So, my husband lined up a job and went alone for a look-see visit. He loved everything about the country, brought back loads of pictures and information for me and Janie (then aged 3), found a little property for rent that was within our budget and in July 2005 we moved. For good – or so we thought. It was never the plan to move back but we all know the old sayings about the best laid plans…

Living the dream

We’ve had an incredible time here in Vancouver, made friends, had a great social life, hiked the Comox Glacier trail, learned to fish, lost weight, got fit… oh, and had 2 more children; not exactly part of the original plan, but they certainly have been a part of living the dream.

Our children, Janie 14, Felix 10 and Noah who is 8 are fluent in French and English and have been educated in a relatively small Catholic public school. They have a lovely circle of friends, belong to several local sports clubs and have wonderful healthy tans. Sounds perfect, I know. You’re wondering why on earth we’d give that up to move back to the UK? In one word – family. It’s the only thing that’s been missing from our perfect life in Vancouver and as our parents grow older and aren’t able to make the flight as often we’re all feeling the loss.

Planning the move

I remember when we moved here, making endless lists and preparations. Thinking about culture shock, schools, houses, work, hospitals, GPs, dentists… and now I have to do it all again in reverse. The weird thing is, to me, although I’m disappointed to be leaving Vancouver, it doesn’t feel like a big deal. I’ll be returning ‘home’, I still have friends and family in the UK, I’ve already lined up a part time job as a GP’s receptionist and I imagine it’ll be easy enough to fit back in.

How will the children cope?

What about the kids though? Janie left the UK when she was 3 and the other two have only ever been there for a week at a time for holidays with Nana and Grandad. What will they make of it? Will they find it easy to make new friends? What will their peers be interested in – Janie loves ice hockey and diving, Felix plays Canadian football; where will their sports skills fit in? Noah isn’t sporty at all, Noah is a shy and retiring computer fanatic! I guess he’ll always have Pokémon Go to help him make connections! That’s universal, right?

Actually when I stop to think about it there’s so much about UK culture that I don’t know any more that I am a little bit worried.

The first thing we need to think hard about is where we are going to live. I can’t face Leeds, it’s too busy, too noisy, too industrial… but we can’t stray too far from the family or it’ll defeat the point of moving back. House prices are phenomenal! We looked at Maidstone and an average 3-bedroom terraced house was in the region of £280,000!

This is going to take a lot more work and a lot more research than I assumed and I’ve only got 3 months!

Check back next month to find out how Sara and her family are doing!

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  1. Thanks for sharing story of Sara family. Really good to know they think about their elders and thinking coming back for family at the cost of comfort.

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