Expats - how did you make the decision to eventually come home?

(15 Posts)
Flushedwithsomething Thu 03-Aug-17 07:53:04

We've been in the Middle East for nearly ten years...come home to the UK every summer for a few weeks and usually quite happy to head back afterwards. However, this year I just don't want to get back on that plane!

I'm concious that my parents are ageing and my kids are growing up so fast. I want to buy and live in a permanent home, I want greenery and countryside!

DH is in a good steady job and is understandably nervous at the prospect of resigning and moving home, but I think I am done.

For those of you who have come home - how did you make the decision?

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MEgirl Thu 03-Aug-17 21:02:43

We went on a fixed contract. Always knew it would only be for 3 years. Saying that, there were plenty of people who were there originally on the same basis but ended up staying for years. There are so many factors that go in to deciding when to leave. The first one for me would be the ages of the kids and what stage they are at in their schooling. The English system is quite rigid when it comes to slotting kids in to year groups. Other things follow on from that.

HTH and good luck with your decision.

Cantseethewoods Thu 03-Aug-17 21:07:57

flushed I'm having similar feelings (9 years away), but what's confusing is that I had those same feelings in 2014, and then for the last 2 summers I've been glad to go back to Asia, so not sure what I'm thinking. I'm conscious that I see the UK at its best in the summer. Might feel differently getting a 6:45 train to London in pissing rain and dark. Kids love UK but again, when they're here its always the holidays.

Flushedwithsomething Thu 03-Aug-17 22:14:39

Thanks both. I just feel there are so many factors to consider and it's all really confusing. Dh and I from opposite ends of the country so we don't really have one "home" which doesn't help.

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habibihabibi Fri 04-Aug-17 04:32:14

We are 10 years into a 2 year contract in the ME and still can't make out minds up.
Initially we thought to gi back for the eldest ( born here) to go to into Year One and then Year Three and now it's been pushed back again.
I have mixed feelings, life here is easy but I do long for the culture and history of Europe as the children get older.
My DH is happy to commute between here and the UK if we did decide to go back but I don't want that.
Sorry OP, not really helping but you are not alone!

12stars Fri 04-Aug-17 04:48:25

I was 1 year and 10 years in two different European countries and hit a point like you OP where i just wanted to be back. I still loved my adopted country and still miss it years later. I think once you live abroad for any significant length of time it's hard because you always have a foot in each camp and in sone ways neither place is completely home any more.
Sometimes it's just good to jump. Either place is clearly good to live in so neither is a bad decision. Start pushing doors 're jobs and see what happens.

ButterflyFree Fri 04-Aug-17 04:52:06

I've been in the Gulf for 5.5 years and always enjoy my month-long visit back to the UK every summer, but as you say, I'm also always happy to go back to the GCC again in the end.

Last summer's London trip was particularly special as it was my first time to travel with my DH (who I met through work, married last year and is a GCC national) so for the past 12 months I found myself yearning for the UK again. However, this summer we came to the UK for 3 months, and with such a long stay the reality kicked in massively and I remembered all the reasons why I left in the first place... I'm absolutely desperate to go back to the Middle East in 10 days' time!!

My situation is quite different from yours in that I moved over there as a young single 20 year old for work, and then found love with a local, got married and started a family. So I highly doubt I would ever come back to the UK as a permanent resident again. However, what I would definitely say is that our perception of life in the UK can be skewed when we come back to visit for a holiday, compared to the reality of how it really is to live in Britain full time. I love and appreciate the UK more when I only have to deal with it in short bursts!


Fruitboxjury Fri 04-Aug-17 04:55:45

I think the fact you see the UK as "home" says a lot - namely that you won't / can't be where you are forever which means you've already made a step in the right direction. A lot of expats quite rigidly view their country of residence as "home", and don't identify with long term return to the UK (but haven't thought through long term practicalities of growing old abroad).

It's really hard, I was overseas for 7 years and left because I realised that whilst I was mostly happy, my future and job prospects there were limited and I needed time to go on to build opportunities and a life back in uk before too much time had passed me by. I saw a lot of people staying too long and finding it increasingly difficult to find jobs and lives back home (a bit like leaving your job for a career break after mat leave)... I was in a niche country / job though so that doesn't apply to all.

I would say it's never going to be 100% the right time but 80% is good enough. Barring some kind of pull effect like a job change or family illness, think about what each person needs longer term in the uk and what you need to do to achieve it. For example when do kids have exams, how long do you want them here before them, what schools do you like, how much lead time do they need to get in, what jobs do you want longer term and will they be there for you when you get back... does staying away longer impact them more, how old are parents, do they have health worries, are other family nearby to support them, do you simply want more time together Etc etc

If those sorts of questions don't help, look at whether there are any obvious practical time horizons that you can aim for... for example transitions to secondary school etc. It sounds like you need a 5 year plan or so, sit and work out what you'll all be needing in 5 years time and if you can get everything (happily) where you are you simply might not be ready to come back.

Lioninthemeadow Fri 04-Aug-17 05:03:00

We've been overseas for 6 years and are moving back to the UK this year. Love it here but we've always had that torn feeling. We always said we'd move back home one day, but have put it off for years because we are so happy here. In the end, my MIL's illness has been the trigger for us to come home - I think we needed something like that to force our hand or we were likely to dither here with our heads in the sand forever

Flushedwithsomething Sun 06-Aug-17 19:41:39

We're back in Dubai now and all hit by a horrendous stomach bug! I'm just popping in to say thank you for your advice. I will come back again when we are back x

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Cornflake15 Mon 07-Aug-17 19:11:08

We recently returned from overseas. It felt like the right decision to leave, but leaving was really hard and the UK has changed a lot since we left. Our decision was based around school age and costs mainly, as well as cost of living and lifestyle factors, but we have arrived back with no jobs yet , and trying to get ourselves set up again is frustrating (no credit rating). Our planned idyllic summer of return has been hijacked by home renovations and a rapidly shrinking budget, so its not been an easy transition. However, all that being said, we still feel leaving was the right decision and it is nice to be "home" again.

Kathysclown Mon 07-Aug-17 19:17:36

After 6 years in the ME, we finally bit the bullet and returned back to the UK 12 months ago. Reasons were around elderly family with illnesses, worries about schooling and the ability for our children to fit back into the UK system easily, and a feeling that if we didn't do it then, then we never would.......

The last 12 months have had ups and downs - work has been slower to come by than we hoped, but that did result in lots of quality time with the children, supporting them in settling back in (into a country they had never really lived in). 12 months in, things are now working out well financially and we feel very much settled back here. Still miss friends and the lifestyle, but on balance, it was the right decision for us.

fatowl Mon 07-Aug-17 19:54:43

We're making that decision now (14 years in Asia)
DD3 is about to start Y11, so we will stay for her to do her IGCSEs, then me and her are moving back. Undecided if Dh will stay for a while (will depend on his job). DD1 and DD2 are already back in the UK, working and at Uni.
I'm done, i miss home and being so far from DD1 and dd2,, my dad died six months ago and I want to be home near my mum.

I am torn because I can have a lovely part time job I'll be sad to leave, and I'm not sure what job I would do in the UK. It's also so long since I've lived here. like OP we come home every Summer, but I have no idea how to do stuff like tax a car anymore.

But I think it is just a fear of the unknown and the uncertainty.

DubaiismyBlackpool Tue 08-Aug-17 05:45:04

Our youngest 2 have spent more of their lives living outside the UK than living in the U.K. Every year we want to 'go home' and spending 2 months there every summer with our family and lives in the U.K really tugs at that yearning.
This past year has seen our DS head off to the US, so we spent Jan to March getting that all sorted. I think the awful murkiness and bone numbing damp was a real soul sucking durge. I think knowing that 'this is it' just weather wise opened our eyes to the reality of everyday existence in the UK. Getting off the plane to warmth and the sun shining everyday really put a smile back on our faces.
DH has a new job in Bahrain, so we won't be 'home' for another 2 years just yet. Only this time, we don't have to find schools for any children as they are both in University now, it's just the 2 of us 😁

Like a PP said, being 'home' for an extended visit is nothing like the reality of returning.

Flushedwithsomething Wed 09-Aug-17 08:14:04

Thanks everyone fot the good advice.

We've often thought about schooling issues but never actually spoken to our local council. I called them this week and it was quite enlightening - essentially it has made us realise that we need to apply for our youngest to start school in Sep18. He will be reception age In Sep 19. His application/place should give some sibling weight to his brother's for year 4. If we don't make the application at that time then we will be winging it for in year school places for 2 at a later date in an area that is extremely short on places. So this has given us clarity and we have made the firm decision to go back for that point.

I really appreciate all your views! We have loved being abroad, I'll never regret it!

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