Home not so sweet home

Moving abroad is tough. Moving back is tougher. Sure we all know about the hardships associated with an overseas assignment, but what about repatriation challenges?

While companies often boast generous expat packages, including fancy pants cross cultural training and super expensive relocation support, rarely do they offer assistance reintegrating back home.

No place like home

The hardest part about moving back home is that ‘home’ doesn’t exist anymore. You’ve changed or the place has changed. Either way, you no longer seem to fit in.

reverse culture shock

Repatriation challenges

According to a survey by KPMG, only 36 percent of companies have an advance, proactive repatriation process in place, and only 30 percent offer post-assignment career planning. Many repats quit within a couple of years of returning home. Most worryingly, many employers don’t have a clue: 32 percent don’t know how many of their assignees leave the organization after an assignment abroad.

High expectations for the return home and a longing for the former country’s culture and lifestyle can sour the move back home.

repatriation challenges

Broken career ladders

But it’s all worth it for the career progression, right? After all, how many companies list ‘international experience’ on a job advert? Surely a posting abroad on your CV is a bonus? Alas it isn’t so simple.

A 2013 study by Cornell University in the US showed that, instead of moving up the career ladder, most repats return to a job at the same level compared to when they left.

Weighing up expat life

Life abroad is a rollercoaster ride. Depending on your personal situation, the repatriation challenges are worth it for the expat life thrills. For me, undoubtedly there have been more highs than lows.

Expat life has afforded me incredible memories, experiences and skills. Life in Angola, Syria, Switzerland and so many other places has taught me things that you just can’t find in a book or buy in a store. Nevertheless, for anyone considering a move abroad, it’s worth sparing a thought for the move back home, too.


  1. charles fairley
    December 31, 2019 / 5:40 pm

    Very incisive blog. Beware of what you are returning to in your ‘home’ country.

    • Nina
      January 7, 2020 / 11:05 am

      Thank you, And yes, it’s not always a happy return!

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