Reflections From A Balcony In Spain:


I have written before about how easy it has been to blame the recession for the number of expatriates that have had to return home; I said then and will repeat again, that I don’t doubt that for one minute it has been a huge factor, particularly the effect the exchange rate has had on UK pensions paid over here. The fact remains though that personally I have known more people that have moved to Spain, only to return to the UK for one reason or another before the recession, than since the recession. I am not the world’s greatest at keeping in touch with people, but a couple of months ago, by total coincidence, I bumped into somebody that I used to know that had moved to Spain sometime ago. I had heard that they had moved back to the UK, but as I hadn’t kept in touch I didn’t know for sure, but it appears they had and the green green grass of home that looked so tempting on the other side of the fence was in fact, in their own words… a swamp! I am sure that it works out well for many returning home, but I am equally certain that for many it is very much the equivalent of out of the frying pan and into the fire, or as one article that I recently read so eloquently put it: “Repatriates return home to find that the world was their oyster, but the future right now is a clam.” The gist of this particular person’s problem was that in his mind the England that he had left behind when he moved to Spain would be the same, but in reality it had moved on: friends had moved, careers had been forged, families had been started, old haunts had been knocked down. And this prompted one of those facts that I had tucked away some time ago ready for just such an conversation: did you know That a third of all expats who live away for more than 10 years have not been home for more than two years? I was reminded of this conversation again recently when I read some advice being given to expatriates planning to return home, which I actually thought made sense whichever way you were heading, so here, in summary form, are a few tips: Anticipate the culture shock associated with the move. Rather like a relationship, as one door closes another opens, so embrace the future and accept the past. Use technologies like Facebook and Skype to keep in touch. Create sustainable habits i.e. will you really ‘pop back’ every 3 months to see friends and family? Have an achievable, realistic and agreed plan!


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