5 Things expats realise after they move back home

You have just had the time of your life living abroad, but you are now back home. However, you start to realise that things have changed,  or rather you have changed. It’s quite clear that life at home won’t be the same again.

This is me right now and the struggle is real. It’s strange hearing English all the time and not a mix of languages. It’s weird not to be anonymous in a foreign city, but to be recognised in my hometown. Since I have been back I have noticed things in a new light and it’s not just me, but my friends who have also moved back to their hometown.

Azar Nafisi“You get a strange feeling

You have changed for the better.

It doesn’t matter how far you move from your hometown, you will grow and change in one way or another. When you are in new surroundings it gives you the chance to meet new people and to try new hobbies/pastimes and food. These all contribute to you changing and growing as a person. I only realised this once I moved back home. I can see that I approach things differently and I am more open to new ideas and possibilities. Accept that amazing new change with open arms, you are awesome and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

You have become a little selfish.

Maybe you don’t want to admit it,but you’re selfish, I’m selfish. Let’s face it the decision to move abroad in the first place was selfish, because it was for you. You only thought about you in that moment, you never thought about the people you were leaving behind, but honestly it was the right decision. It doesn’t matter whether it was a good or bad experience you learned from it and it taught you about yourself. Sometimes you need to be selfish and do what’s best for you.


You don’t fit in anymore.

Once you are home you soon realise that people don’t really want to hear about that time you accidentally told people that you were pregnant instead of saying you were embarrassed. Those false friends can be tricky at times and so can old friends (see what I did there?). Your stories are about adventures and the unknown, their stories are about promotions, houses, engagements, marriage and babies. You don’t fit in with your old friends anymore, so cue lots of Skype calls to your friends in far-flung corners of the world because they get you. I would rather talk to someone who listens to my stories, because friendships aren’t supposed to be a one way street. Quite frankly I don’t want to listen to your stories about DIY projects to fix your house or that your baby spat her/his food up on you, unless you listen to my stories of adventure and misadventure. Sorry.

You have outgrown some people and they don’t realise it.

It’s sad when you realise this. People that you once were so close with and had so much in common haven’t changed or they have a ‘real life’ and your goals are different. You realise that you can’t talk about things that you want to, but the problem is that they don’t see it. They think everything is the same as it always was, but you aren’t the same and you could possibly regress back to your old self and lose the new improved you.


You realise that you haven’t missed much, because it takes about 20 minutes to catch up on the gossip.

They care about their world and what people are up to around them. You have been gone a year and it took about 20 minutes to catch up. So five people from high school have engaged and two are pregnant, good for them, but we aren’t friends with them so it isn’t need to know information for me. Whilst engagements, marriages and pregnancies are cause for celebration I don’t need our catchup to be about someone who spoke to me five times during high school.

Do/did you feel the same? Do you have anything to add? Write in the comments below. 




13 responses to “5 Things expats realise after they move back home

  1. Great post! I’m in the process of temporarily moving back and I feel exactly the same way!!! You know how ex-pats seem to group together in their new countries? Well I think I’d find it easier here if there were a bunch of ex-ex-pats local to commiserate with!!! (ps. I once asked someone if they’d liked to be blackmailed rather than like a portrait – recatto, retratto…. pfft!). Anyway, I feel your pain! x

  2. Totally agree with you, coming home is a massive shock to the system. I think it’s important to take note of how much you’ve changed for the better though. It’s easy to slip back into old habits after a while…

  3. Love the post! It’s exactly how I’m feeling now that I’m back home. Granted I’ll be returning to Madrid in September, but it has been a struggle adjusting to the friends I have back home. I’ve found myself talking more with the friends I made in Madrid because they get me, at least the person I’ve become now after living abroad.

  4. Word for word this is all true. I find the last point the scariest. If I ever get to the point where I can sum up the past two years of my life in twenty minutes, I’ve done something horribly wrong. It’s crazy to come home, sit in the same living room you left with the same people drinking the same beer telling the same jokes listening to the same music. On one hand its like putting on a favourite sweater, on the other it makes me want to leave a person-shaped whole in the window. Great post 🙂

  5. It’s really hard. I’ve been gone from home (Germany) for 20 years now. I’ve never felt at home in the US, although I do love the country and its people. When I am in Germany (visiting), I feel happier, but I also encounter similar problems, because I cannot accept certain things there anymore. Of course, I traveled as my job before I moved, so I have been used to being away and being exposed to many different people and cultures for a long time. But I always got to go back home. I sometimes tell people that if they truly want to be happy, don’t ever leave. But where is the growth in that? For me it is nice to go back to my hometown and find the same friends there still, doing pretty much the same things after all these years. But could I have done that? Probably not.

  6. This is going to be me in a few months. I’m dreading it. I had a conversation with someone here that was filled with back and forth of places different things we saw reminded us of. I don’t think I’ll get that in the U.S. where few I know go anywhere and probably will think I’m snobby if I bring up travel too often.

    It’s going to be so weird seeing street signs in English instead of German. There’s a chance I’ll at least hear Spanish. I did living in Florida and I’m going to Texas.

    One thing I do have is the growth and opportunities I’ve had here and I want to continue making that a priority. Even if I have to settle for seeing my new hometown like a tourist, taking day trips, etc. I know that exploring and experiencing has been feeding my soul and it will be soul sucking if I slip back into living paycheck to paycheck and doing little of value with my limited vacation time.

    • Thanks for the comment! Sounds like you have a good plan for when you go back!

      It’s annoying that people don’t want to hear you keep talking about your expat/travel life and that you seem snobby somehow. But it’s been the last two years of my life so of course it will come up. What really annoys me is that it is perfectly fine for them to talk about their current/previous life. Do your best to keep you! 🙂

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