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How long do you put up with homesickness before you throw in the towel?

(42 Posts)
Qirshali Fri 21-Mar-14 05:07:42

Ok, I've not been away very long, only a few months, but I never wanted to emigrate, and my gut instinct was telling me not to do it. Agreed to it though after deciding it would be better to try and then know for sure, or who knows, end up being pleasantly surprised and loving it.

Unfortunately the latter hasn't happened and I still feel like a complete fish out of water. I don't want to give too many details, but I dislike the climate, and we are not financially that much better off, so possibly my frustration lies in that. Even though things were a bit tight in the UK, at least I felt comfortable, whereas there has been no financial leap and I am struggling to see the point. I know it's not all about money, but that's most people's motivation or starting point, correct me if I am wrong.

To anyone who went back home: do you think you made a mistake? Did you feel like you'd failed because of it, or were you just happy to be back?
You can regret not giving it a go, but what about regretting not going back, is it worth sticking it out to see if your perspective changes? I thought the hard part was deciding whether to go or not, but this is much harder.

scottswede Fri 21-Mar-14 07:56:11

I can sympathize with your situation.
I would say that a few months are not long enough to know, but I knew it wasn't going to work after about 6 months.
Unfortunately 4 years later and I still feel the same.

On paper our life here is pretty idyllic, dh has a good job, we have a lovely big house in the country, kids go to a little village school.
I still feel as unconnected to the people and place as I did a newbie. It has never felt like home
I have lived in other countries so I have something to compare it too.

We are planning to return to the UK, but have a house to renovate and sell first. Knowing we are moving makes the situation a little more manageable.

Their are a few people on here who have returned to the UK, longdistance is one and she seems to have no regrets.
I am under no illusion that the Uk is better than here but at least I feel more connected.

Is their a chance you can return?

TheseAreTheJokesFolks Fri 21-Mar-14 08:09:57

Truth? Sooner rather than later before you get stuck there.
Yes there is culture shock and indeed reverse culture shock but I still think you know within a year and if you do not act on it you can end up trapped due to finances, kid's schooling and before you know it years have gone by of perpetual misery.

Good luck. Send me the shovel. X

froginthepond Fri 21-Mar-14 08:11:07

Hi Qirshali, sorry you are not enjoying your relocation. I have not moved overseas but did have a massive life change moving from a city to the countryside here, i mean surrounded by fields, very enwelcoming insular communities. It has taken me just coming up to 5 years to make friends and start to feel settled. Just as we have settled we plan to emigrate in approx 2 years to Oz. grin I really dont think a few months is enough to get over homesickness as you are probably still finding your feet. I would say that sometimes when you tell yourself you are not enjoying somewhere you can close yourself off to opportunities and get stuck in your head and end up not making an effort, i went through phases of this and so did a couple of other people i met. Is there are groups you could join? Do you have any hobbies? Sometimes even just going to the same shop every day and seeing the same faces can help. Are you able to drive where you are? I dont think people always emigrate because of money sometimes it can be for more family time, increased opportunities for leisure, weather, learn about new culture. Im sure someone with experience will come along soon. Best of luck.

MrsThor Sat 22-Mar-14 01:41:47

I would say it takes about a year. I think I still had doubts up until the point I went home for a visit...then I thought dear god what is actually here?

I think a mistake is trying to fit your old life into the new just won't work, there are some things you just have to let go of

froginthepond Sat 22-Mar-14 08:46:25

Can i just say i love what MrsThor has said that you cant fit an old life into a new one you have to be open to the change to embrase it as a new life and expeience. It rings very true to mesmile

Mitchell2 Sat 22-Mar-14 08:58:40

For me it was 12 months..they were hard but 12 years later I'm still here and don't regret it one bit.

GhettoPrincess001 Sat 22-Mar-14 09:00:48

We (husband and I) emigrated in 2011. It's for a finite period of years, so we'll be returning in the next couple of years.

Try and put a definite end date on it, i.e. I'll give it until the first anniversary of our arrival.

Review the situation every three months or so. Write down a list of pros and cons of staying/returning.

chloeb2002 Sat 22-Mar-14 09:53:00

I think the issue is maybe in part your motivation? We certainly didn't emigrate to be better off! We did it to provide a different and in our opinion better quality of life for our children. I traveled over seas and returned to the uk ... First day woo hoo exciting.. First week.. Omg has anything here changed??? Urrr no... In 3years nothing .. Ground hog day.. Week three I was only too aware I didn't want to be in the uk! I had to stay for 4 years to re train.. Found a husband to bring back with us grin now not looked back. Even dh who has had two business trips back to
The UK has no regrets. Similar findings.. It's no different. People we miss of course but they enjoy the hissy period.. Then it's over.
As previously said you can't relocate your old life.. You have to want to make a new one. I suspect if your motivation is being richer that will be hard!

mrsnec Sat 22-Mar-14 10:20:21

Hi, I definitely understand how you feel. There are aspects of my life here that didn't turn out as I expected. I thought I'd find work and I thought I'd integrate with both the expat community and locals but none of those things really happened. I didn't have a brilliant life at home before I came here though in times when I get homesick I just remind myself of that. If I go back for a holiday I'd be sleeping on someone's sofa amusing myself while they work and occasionally going to westherspoons of an evening that's not worth the airfare so ive not been home in 2 years!

I Too have problems with the climate here. The summer was unbearable last year and winters are a nightmare without central heating and carpets!

However I know people who have gone back wanting to slip into their old lives. And all of them want to move again can you imagine the expense?

I think it's about making the most of what you've got for me both countries have the same problems plus different ones of their own. I'm now staying put as I think id rather bring up children here than where we lived in the UK.

castlesintheair Sat 22-Mar-14 12:23:58

I agree it takes a year. If after that you still aren't happy then you have to consider long term. I also agree that you have to let go of your old life, stop comparing and embrace your new one. If you don't do this you won't be happy imo. I spent most of my first year in mourning for my old life. I'm happy now that I've stopped letting those same negative thoughts go round and round my head. I appreciate the huge differences now and look at them as advantages. I also think that if you can get home for a visit it may put things in perspective for you.

A year at least - but I found it went in cycles of elation, joy and high motivation alternating with deep, angry unhappiness for the first 3 years or so, until I started to feel just normal and settled, no big highs, no big lows, after about 4 years...

I was highly motivated to make it work - for quality of life (yes, for the kids mainly) reasons, not for money - we got out of debt by moving and have a bigger house than we could have afforded in the part of the UK we lived in before, but we don't have any more money to spend, esp as I don't work atm - and we have had 2 more children since moving! grin

If you never really, deep down, wanted to move in the first place the chances of it working would seem slim to none though sad

Good luck with your decision!

mrsnec Sat 22-Mar-14 15:56:53

I didn't really want to come here if I'm honest but dh had never lived abroad. He is an only child and his parents, his only family, moved here and set him up in business I'd already turned him down when he wanted to move somewhere even further away on a whim so I felt I couldn't turn him down again when I explained my reservations he just came back with 'well have you got a better idea then' and I didn't so I had to make it work. Living abroad was an experience I'd already had and I thought he should experience it too.

chloeb2002 Sat 22-Mar-14 19:49:38

As said I think 12 months to settle in..but up to 5 years for life to get easier! I think it probably takes 5 years to put down roots.. To settle into work... To find friends.. Kids normalise so much faster! grin

Pupsiecola Sun 23-Mar-14 13:59:16

We were overseas for 11 months and came back 6 months before DH who commuted between here and there for that time. We've been back in the UK for 11 months. We didn't want to come back and it hasn't been easy. Not helped by the fact that we returned to a different area (by choice). But we feel settled now and have made some lovely friends in our new town but that's taken almost a year. I believe it does take at least a year, even in your home country. Think about it carefully. We so wish we'd stayed our planned 2 years and then headed off elsewhere. I beat myself up sometimes wondering what else I could have done to enable us to stay where we were partly because then we could have made another international move. Now we feel rather trapped in the UK because the kids are happy and settled at school and that's not to be underestimated (we moved back due to schooling issues). For now we're happy but don't expect to move back to the UK and for everything to be peachy because it can really mess with your head (the what ifs etc). Also think about your next move. Do you want to try a different country or do you see this is a one time ex-pat situation?

Good luck.

helzapoppin2 Sun 23-Mar-14 21:19:30

I was away five years. Been back one and a half. I decided early on that however long I managed to stay I would never feel I'd failed. Sheer bloody mindedness, but how many people do you know who would never have been brave enough to try it in the first place? Quite a lot, I suspect!
We didn't emigrate, it was a job transfer. I could cope as long as I knew it would only be for a limited time. I got stuck in, made lots of friends and had a life, but knew ultimately I was a guest in another country.
I hope that however long you're there you get something out of it, OP!

GhettoPrincess001 Sun 23-Mar-14 21:28:13

I didn't want to emigrate or relocate as my husband prefers to say. It's not that different from Britain. It seemed a lot of upheaval just to replicate what we already had. However, if it stopped him going on and on about moving, then I agreed to do it.

I'm just humouring him as he was keen. As far as I'm concerned it's just a finite period of years. Not really a question of worked or didn't work. His 78 year old mother lives in this country but in another town. His sister is married with children and lives in the same town as their mother.

Didn't come here for financial gain, so no worries there !

I've only been able to find temporary work as despite submitting loads of applications for a permanent jobs I've never had a job offer. So, we are reliant on my husband's salary. We were a dual income household in Britain and I want to return to that.

chicaguapa Sun 23-Mar-14 21:41:09

I've moved around a lot (UK and overseas) and would echo what other people have said and say that it has always taken me a year to settle in properly and make friends.

In your shoes, I'd give myself a point in the future, ie the summer holidays or a birthday, just a date to reach, and say to yourself that if you're still not feeling right about it you can think about your options then. That way it doesn't feel like your life is stretching ahead of you for eternity and a shorter timescale seems more manageable.

Good luck.

Kelly1814 Sun 30-Mar-14 17:32:17

I loathed the first nine months. I would give it longer....

Qirshali Tue 01-Apr-14 08:58:00

So sorry for posting and running. I was in one of my lows at the time but thanks everyone for sharing your experiences.

Sorry to hear Scottswede that you have struggled to settle in. Four years is a long time and I hope moving back to the UK works out for you.

I think part of the problem is that it's not a definite period. If I knew it was two years and then back home again, I'd just make the most of it, and would fit in everything I wanted to do against the clock. I am filled with envy whenever I meet an expat who says they or their husband is on a fixed contract. Not knowing for me makes it harder as I feel like my old life is slipping away and my new life is not filling me with joy either. I am probably sending out the wrong vibes to new people too.

Also it makes me feel worse whenever I hear people saying how much they love it here, and I think to myself why the hell am I different? Or are they just saying that? I lie when someone asks me because I'm not exactly going to pour my heart out to a stranger in a lighthearted brief chat so are they putting on a brave face too? I find myself saying through gritted teeth that things are great but I don't know how else to respond to that question!

I know I need to give it longer as most of you suggest but there are other factors (schooling etc.) that need serious consideration too and I'm scared of messing up my children's education because of poor judgement on my part.

Like you say MrsThor maybe I need a holiday back in the UK to help me see clearly!

I definitely identify with the highs and lows though, they are extreme and every time I experience a taste of euphoria, I know I will come crashing down, and vice versa too.

The fear of having made the wrong decision haunts me constantly, and even worse is the fear of giving it all up, going back and then finding out we should have stuck it out a bit longer.

mummytime Tue 01-Apr-14 09:39:20

You are looking for certainty and there are no certainties in life.

Talk to your DH, and set yourselves a time limit like 2 years - if you aren't happy you will return (or 6 months until you discuss it again). Then go out and do the things you've always wanted to, see the things you will regret not having seen, try the things you will regret not having tried.

Remember travel is supposed to broaden the mind.

MrsThor Tue 01-Apr-14 09:59:03

It's hard, sometimes I think now that I have moved I won't ever really be happy in either place again

The weather is a killer here and there are still some days I just want to go home...but like you I do worry if I do that an it's a mistake then we are stuck

Pm me if you would like to chat some more

castlesintheair Tue 01-Apr-14 10:30:29

I know how you feel about fear of making the wrong decision especially when it comes to the DCs education in my case. I try to put the fear out of my mind (hard I know) and just concentrate on trying to make the best of now. I console myself by thinking daily "Well at least they'll speak a new language" if everything else goes tits up grin

TerrorAustralis Tue 01-Apr-14 11:07:54

OP there's a post from me, late last year about struggling to settle in a couple of months after relocating. I was having a hard time, made more difficult by some logistical challenges. I received some words of wisdom and encouragement, and a couple of other members reached out and I met up with them.

Fast forward to now and I am definitely feeling a lot more settled. It helped to make a few decisions about making things easier on myself, and also finding a preschool for my DS that I am happy with (quite a challenge). There are still frustrations, but I do feel settled. Going back home unexpectedly for a funeral helped to cement the feeling of being settled - coming back felt like coming home to our settled life here.

It also helps that I have met people (mostly other expats) and have been able to find a regular babysitter. Apart from the mumsnetters that I've met, local expat Facebook groups have been great (for meeting people and for sharing information). I have heard that is also good for meeting people.

I've just started working, which presents it's own challenges, but helps me to experience working life here. After my contract is up, I may just end up doing freelance work for clients back home (the rates are better). But for now, working is all part of the experience of living here.

We're also here for an indefinite period. My DH has a long term job, so as long as he isn't fired or made redundant, it's up to us how long we stay. We do have the arbitrary date of DS starting school, which is three years away. But if we are happy we'll stay longer, and if we're unhappy we would move back sooner.

Sorry for the ramble, but I think you should give it at least six months, probably a year before really deciding. And in the meantime try to make the best of it. Get out and meet people. Do things that make your life easier. You may not love it, and may still decide to go home, but might at least enjoy some of your time.

If you're in Singapore, PM me.

Longdistance Tue 01-Apr-14 12:39:30

Hello <waves>

I was in Oz for two lonnnng years too many. I really did not settle. It really was a combination of things. We moved out there as dh wanted to give it a go, I had about a week to decide if I wanted to go, I was about 5 months go with dd2 at the time. We left the Uk when dd2 was 3 months old, and dd1 was 2yo. It was awful as I had to adjust to having next to no support. Dh had hi two dsis' there, who lived a considerable distance from each other. One dsis was not that interested, his other was but has dc of her own, so it was a struggle, especially adjusting to giving two with a dh who was not supportive, and pretty much had the attitude of 'just get on with'. Really fucking helpful hmm

I gave up my job of 15 years which I bitterly regret, as I loved my job, and they were giving out part time opportunities like candy. I was on ml and they left me alone for that year. I looked into play groups, swimming, gymnastics, and one lady I did gel with hated it in Perth lol, but then left shortly after being there just 5 months.

I think the gods were looking down on me, when after I broke my leg, and was desperate to get back to the Uk as dh was more than fucking useless, he was made redundant from his company. We had a holiday booked in Phuket for before we came back, and we headed home. But omg the relief of actually getting on the plane was exciting, and when we got back, it all fell back into place.

We had rented our house out, and the tenants were happy enough to move out, as they were supposed to be looking for somewhere to buy, but liked our house too much, and were relaxed about it.

We've been back since October and it's been so much better. I have my support network back, we actually go away for weekends, we're not struggling like we were with the expensive rentals. I have my friends back, I'm not sweating and living in flip flops and worrying how much it's gonna cost to go to the doctors for an appointment.

I did return for a holiday in the August of 2012, and I so wished I didn't get on that plane back to Oz, I should have stayed in the Uk. We were only on temporary 457 visas, so Amen to that.

I don't regret coming back, but do regret staying there as long as we did, as I should really have come back to MY job, instead of pandering to his Lordship. As funnily enough, my job would still be there today as my friends are still there, but dh was given the boot, so I had the most stable job. Our marriage has been greatly affected by the move to Oz.

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