There comes a point in all expats’ lives when they realise that moving back to the UK is on the agenda.
When relocating to foreign climes most expats have things they miss about their native turf, and this culture shock can make it difficult to settle into their new surroundings. But many expats wanting to repatriate don’t realise that making a move back to the UK can be a psychological jolt too.
Our concept of ‘home’ is not just the physical location where we live, it’s founded on familiarity, routine and identity, triggering actions and emotions that make us feel ‘at home’. After the initial thrill that comes with relocating, we often start to miss the things, people and experiences we were previously accustomed to. This can cause a rollercoaster of emotions and mental stress.
Moving back to the UK after living and working in another country to which we have become adapted can cause ‘Reverse culture shock’ (RCS) – and it can be a demoralizing experience which leaves you feeling out of place in your own culture.
The best way to beat the repatriation blues is to thoroughly prepare yourself for the move by focusing on the practicalities.
Here’s our guide on how to make the transition as painless and positive as possible.
Keep the Government in the Loop
Tax can be tricky, and there are numerous financial implications for an expat returning to the UK to consider.
Depending on the exact date you move you may have tax obligations in the country where you have been living for the remainder of that tax year. Also, if you return to the UK within 5 years of leaving you might have to pay tax on your foreign income or gains you brought into the UK while you were non-resident.
In addition, other factors such as pensions, your employment status, how much you have been earning and other assets such as overseas property can all complicate your tax affairs when moving back to the UK.
Contact the HMRC as soon as possible to get registered and to determine whether you owe (or are owed) any National Insurance contributions or other tax payments, to transfer pensions and to receive any benefits you may be due.
Find ‘Home’ When You Move Back to the UK
Home is where the heart is, and it’s a certainty that if you organise a place to stay in the UK before you move back you will feel instantly more settled when you arrive – even if it’s just a stopgap.
An initial short term rental can also give you the breathing space to investigate the area and make the best and most informed choice about where you want to live in the long term.
The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) has a website dedicated to helping tenants find rental accommodation with reliable landlords . The rental market is competitive, so be prepared to move quickly if you see a property you like.
Surround yourself with familiar things and get your belongings shipped over as soon as possible. To reduce the burden on moving day use the relocation as an opportunity to de-clutter ready for a fresh start and get as much stuff packed in advance as you can.
When shipping belongings back to the UK from a country outside of the EU, you may be liable to pay customs tax and duty. Your shipping company should be able to guide you through this process.
Don’t forget your furry friends! Depending on the country you are repatriating from, your pet may be required to have specific vaccinations before departure or go through a period of quarantine upon entering UK soil. Do you research before you book them a flight ticket.
Getting the Kids Back in School
Kids can be adaptable, but nevertheless a move back to the UK can be tough on them – particularly if they have spent most of their life in another country.
Mentally prepare them for the transition by spending time with them to discuss the move and the change in lifestyle they will experience long before it actually happens.
For their wellbeing as well as their education, schooling should be organised well in advance. Research the availability and entry requirements for nurseries and schools that fulfil your criterions for your child’s education and choose a place to live that falls within the correct catchment area for the school you want. Register early to have the maximum chance of your child getting the place in your preferred nursery or school.
Avoid Reverse Culture Shock
Although you are returning to a country you have lived in before don’t underestimate how significantly it may have changed. Do not attempt to recreate your old life.
To reduce the chance of suffering from any reverse culture shock, anticipate the cultural and lifestyle changes to come and prepare.
Planning is key, so start getting organised several months in advance. With the practical side of moving back to the UK taken care of, your relocation will be simpler and less stressful.
- Reach out
Your UK friends and family are there for you, so make the most of your renewed geographical closeness to reconnect. Get involved in your new community. Join clubs and sign up for courses to meet people and make new friends.
The key to a successful repatriation is to cherish the memories you made while away without comparing them to what you will have when you return to Blighty. Think of your move as a fresh chapter full of new adventures, challenges, discoveries and exciting experiences – enjoy every moment!
Are you worried about moving back to the UK?