Since planning our return to the UK, I've read a lot of blogs and posts in expat groups about how hard repatriation is.
There's a lot of negativity around about going home, how it's not the same anymore, how people aren't interested and how difficult it is to slip back into their old lives.
This is something I've been worrying about. For the past (almost 10 years) I've not settled living as an expat. I've dealt with not being able to get a visa to work, having to make the tough decision to send the youngest child back to the UK for boarding school, dealing with empty nest syndrome when the last child left home, tenants from hell requiring court evictions and serious financial costs and damage to our family home and the sudden death of my father, 3 years ago.
Being on a residents visa (not allowed to work), living in a country where voice over internet is banned, coping with my husband travelling with his job, has left me feeling isolated from family and friends, a loss of identity from being a working mum, to someones mum, to someones wife has been hard and with no company support, I've struggled with getting things done, from paying bills, to buying a car to moving house several times and countries.
We bought a flat in South Wales 4 years ago, so we had a base for people to come to us, so we didn't spend all out trips to the UK charging around the country, spending a fortune on hotels and sleeping in spare rooms and on air beds.
We claimed our family home back in December 2019 and made the decision for me to return to the UK with the cat and dog and get house sitters for me to travel back and forth to see Peter. However, Covid has stopped us in our tracks, but this is something everyone around the world is going through.
We're not moving back into our old lives, Peter will be retiring and I will be venturing back into the world of work. I've started volunteering locally, have police checks from previous countries in place and updated my CV. I did teach for a year and have worked hands on with a couple of charities, long term, since we've been abroad.
We have a grandchild now, kids living abroad also, our family home still suits our needs and the location is perfect. We have a couple of friends in the area, we may move house, but won't be moving town.
Things have changed dramatically in the UK since we've been away, the way we do things, Brexit looming etc, but we don't have to deal with visas, we're doing the move without the help/hindrance of HR. I'm not relying on waiting for other people to get back to me.
I still have a few years ahead before the UK becomes our full time home again and I do still hold a residents visa to live abroad and am satisfying the requirements for the UK as well as for my visa, so I guess technically I'm still an expat for the time being.
Maybe I'm just become a 'when we'
In South Africa, we met a group of long term expats, 40+ years of living abroad, they described ex-expats who had returned to their country of birth as the 'when we's'