10 Tips For Expat Executives and Their Families Returning Home


It is not a secret, It is very hard for expatriates, especially successful ones, to go back “home”.  I already described the emotional phases and grieving process most expat families experience when they return to their home country: Expat Life: Returning Home and the Grief Cycle

Here 10 tips on how to make your transition process as smooth as possible for you , your spouse and your children:

1. Reinforce that family core beliefs, values and principles are not built on geographic location and will be the same even if you your family members feel they became different persons after their experience abroad.

2. Don’t deny the pain of leaving and acknowledge emotions, understand that your spouse or your children might not have the same feelings than you about the move: they left friends behind, unfinished business, a mix of excitement and sadness, loss of routines and support systems, loss of self-esteem. Communicate often and give time to mourn.

3. Once back “home”, avoid speaking about your overseas experience : nobody cares and you can even get hostile responses to what is perceived  as “showing off” and bragging. This is true for adults and children when they meet with extended family members, people at work and other kids at school.

4. Meet other ex-expats families not only for you and your spouse but often third culture kids need to meet other children who share same expat experience regardless in which countries they lived.

5. Expatriation changed the way you think and behave, expect others to have changed too. Be open-minded and curious about their experiences.

6. Recognize that you need new routines and a new support network.

7. Balance family time, work time and respect individual needs. Each family member copes with transition at their own pace and need some space and time alone too.

8. Make an effort to reconnect with people in your organisation. You may have extended your international professional network while living abroad but try to meet more people locally, ask questions, look for people who share same interests. Network as if it would be a new country, especially if you have been expatriated for a long time.

9. Recognize that your interests and professional career changed  and will not necessarily evolve in the direction you thought before the expatriation. Find a good mentor or an executive coach to help you redefine your new career vision and goals and a solid action plan to reach your objectives. With a coach it is much easier to get motivated, keep looking forward, move on, be accountable and open your vision to new possibilities.

10. Focus more on the present, accept your new role, enjoy the positive of your new situation. Stop longing for the past.

About Anne Egros

Zest and Zen is a blog about Expat Life Challenges, Global Leadership, Intercultural Communication, Health and Wellness, Nutrition, Change Psychology, Life Transitions
This entry was posted in Career, Career management, change, Executive Coaching, expatriates, Global Executives, international coaching, Life coaching, parenting, professional development and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to 10 Tips For Expat Executives and Their Families Returning Home

  1. Pingback: 7 Most Common Thinking Errors Expatriates Make « Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach At Zest and Zen International

  2. Ann,

    I am an expat living in the US 🙂 I returned ‘home’ for 4 months in 2007 to give my kids a taste of the Netherlands, including grandparents, cousins, language and school. After about 4 years, they treasure those memories, but I have to say, we did have some adjustments to make. The kids all had very different experiences – ages 2, 7,9 and 11 and myself, returning home to the Netherlands with kids was great. When we returned to the US, even though it had been only 4 months, we had to adjust to so many things. For the 2 year old, 4 months had been an eternity. He’d lost all English and had to relearn the language. The school-age kids were comparing everything and of course the Netherlands was better ;). I was glad to return home to the US. My experience was that other ‘foreigners’ understood what I’d done but most other friends were not much interested in learning about our experience. I think your post can help many expats struggling with the same issues. Thanks for the information.

  3. I repatriated about a year ago after 20 years overseas. I’m finding point 3 hard with social media. Most of my friends on my personal facebook page are / have been expats. I know that when I interact with them on facebook some of my new friends feel as if I’m showing off. Another hard one was getting used to having to do things myself (cleaning, gardening, filling my car with petrol, packing my bags at the supermarket, etc.) Not only that, but I couldn’t complain to anyone around me because then they’d just assume I was a spoilt expat … (probably some truth in that).

  4. Rajan Chopra says:

    Very true,Tough but can be done.

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