Managing your repatriation

Last month, I've asked you to help me find out about your repatriation practices and concerns. So far, I have 21 responses, and am now happy to share some of the findings and your (anonymous) comments. The survey consists of seven questions, covering 1. demographic information, 2. geographic information, 3. support, 4. expectations, 5. challenges, 6. hindsight, and 7. time investment. Except for the demographic information, all questions allowed for verbatim comments.

1. Respondents' Demographic Information

  • Male - 7
  • Female - 14

1.a Occupation

  • Expat Assignee - 9 (5 female, 4 male)
  • Expat Partner - 4 (all female)
  • Expat Family member - 2 (all female)

1.b Age (non-mandatory)

  • 20-30 - 3 - 5.45 %
  • 30-40 - 7 - 12.73 %
  • 40-50 - 5 - 9.09 %
  • 50-60 - 4 - 7.27 %
  • 60+ - 0

3. Which support is / has your company been providing? (multiple answers possible)

  • Moving support - 8
  • Visas - 7
  • Tax - 5
  • House-finding - 4
  • Language Training - 3
  • Repatriation - 2
  • Career planning - 1

With respect to repatriation, no support was offered except airfare.

NONE of the respondents have received cross-cultural training, work permits or career planning assistance for the spouse.

SEVEN of the respondents have received NO repatriation support whatsoever.

4. What are you looking forward to about returning home?

American grocery stores (not necessarily the food in them, but only needing to go to one place to buy all of my food).

The top three things expats were looking forward to when returning home were family (15), friends (12), and familiar environment (8), followed by home culture (7), food (5), and neighborhood (4).

5. What challenges are you and your family facing about returning home? What are your concerns?

  • Fitting in again - 14
  • Another move - 14
  • Social Circle has changed - 12
  • International Experience isn't valued at work - 11
  • Smaller compensation package - 10
  • Lifestyle is more limited - 9
  • Another career change - 8

Missing friends you left behind. And having to build a new social circle in the city you used to live, which feels a little strange, since it feels like 'your' town.

Having to return to a country you wanted to leave feels even worse after having lived abroad, even if for only a few months.

Trying to get a mortgage was near to impossible.

6. In your own words, please share what you would want / would have wanted to know before repatriating to make your adjustment and your family's adjustment easier:

I had no idea about life in the new city and region, and no real understanding of the new industry, so it would have been nice to have that information. Also, ordinary ex-pat inquiries (how long are you here for; where will you go next, etc) would be deemed threatening in the new environment, which I did not realise. The responsibilities in the new position were more limited than in the old international one, and this did not please me. There was almost no international news in the part of the US where I was sent for the new job, which was very odd after being surrounded by it overseas. My new colleagues (and even the HR department) had no appreciation of the living and working circumstances or experiences of those from other countries (or those of us who had been living on secondment overseas). It all was very surreal sometimes.

I would like to see more appreciation for the competencies gained while working abroad and would have liked more information on career chances after the assignment abroad.

I would have wanted to know that the job I moved into was actually what the description was. Sadly, it didn't turn out to be... I also noticed old friends have much less time as they're used to not having you around.

These is nothing that comes to mind as I know the area have kept in touch with friends and have repatriated back to my home country once before and so I know what it can be like. I am looking forward to it but perhaps feel a little concerned about my children and their adaptation as they have never lived there before.

Company to be honest about when my husband could return home. They kept delaying and delaying. They even argued over who would pay the return air fare! They also have no realistic job for him -- and they've had SIX YEARS to figure that out!

Career counselling. The working world has changed since we've been away. Expectations, pay and conditions are all different. Work culture also seems different (but perhaps it's us that have changed).

Be aware of the fact that the city/country you left behind, will not be the same city/country you will find upon your return. It is not simply slipping back into your old life, but adjusting to a, though familiar, now different life.

These are just a number of the wonderful comments you shared, thank you again for your time. Many of you sounded like experienced ex- and repats, so I'm especially glad you're sharing your expertise with first-timers. Recurring themes I noticed include the perceived and perhaps actual lack of support provided by the company, as well as family concerns still topping the list of challenges. Check back next week for ideas and tips of how to bridge those gaps.

If you'd like to add your comments to the survey, please click here or leave a note below.

Til next time, have a good one!