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Returning home after living abroad: one year on

Autumn walk now I have returned home

I find it hard to believe that a year ago we had recently moved back from an amazing few months in Singapore! When we got back I wrote a post all about reverse culture shock (yes it's totally a thing!) and I opened up about how the first few weeks / months felt. Sometimes settling back in to your 'old life' (I don't like to think of it as my 'old life' actually, but more on that later) can feel as hard as moving somewhere new.

Fast forward a year and we've now been back home longer than we were away. So much has changed and I thought I'd write a little honest and chatty post about the reality of settling back into UK life after the expat experience. If you are new round here, then you can read my post here about why I decided to move abroad as it will give you a little more context!

Initial feelings when returning home after living abroad

It really sucks at first. I know I need to check my privilege and I am fully aware of how lucky I was to be able to experience Singapore life, but that doesn't change the fact it sucks when it's all over. One of my favourite bloggers, Beth Sandland, wrote a post recently entitled 'I don't want to go homeand it really sums up how I felt when we had to leave.

Of course leaving was a choice. Sort of. I wasn't working in Singapore and I knew that I would struggle to find a job there without some further training (I have recently completely changed career) and it just isn't somewhere which is great to live without lots of money. I'd never say never about returning some day, but in the end it made sense to come home when we did.

Autumn light

The things that sucked when we returned home

I thought it would help if I actually delve a bit further into this feeling, rather than just saying 'it sucks' like a petulant toddler. There are so many positive aspects about moving back and I have become a way more grateful person since experiencing life elsewhere but some things didn't feel great at first. 

Back to usual routines

It feels like a huge comedown after experiencing new and exciting things practically every day when you're suddenly back in the land of bin days, frosty mornings and lengthy commutes. This took a while to get my head round and I found myself craving new and exciting things to do. I think this is where some people would have that epiphany that life on the road is totally for them, and I think that can definitely be an amazing long-term option! For me I knew I just had to be patient as I could list endless reasons why I was happier being back in the UK.

Lack of regular travel

This is something which I am still not used to as I love getting away to explore unknown places. We live in Newcastle, which is a city I love but I don't love the lack of cheap, direct flights. I genuinely think if travel is your passion then you must base yourself somewhere with good flight routes otherwise you will find yourself either bankrupt or dissatisfied from lack of trips! You can read here how I find cheap flights now we are back in Europe.

I think the good outweighs the bad here, and whilst I do dream of being able to nip away for cheap weekend breaks, I love my home and I am willing to travel less than I could from somewhere else.

Some things had to change as I just wasn't willing to slot back into the same old life I had before we left. Elements of it were great but I have really changed in the last few years and wanted my lifestyle to reflect that. It felt like an exciting chance to have a new start!

Autumn walk near home

Big life updates after a year

Buying and decorating a home

This has been an amazing experience and one which I am so grateful for. I find that the lack of cheap flights from Newcastle has led me to prioritising home-related purchases instead of booking as many trips away. I really found the lack of a proper home base difficult as an expat and this would be my number one reason why I prefer being at home overall. One of my most-read posts ever was about what home means to me as many of you resonated with how confusing it can be.

You don't need to own a home to have a base, and so many people enjoy travelling longer term, but this is something I am extremely grateful for and brings me so much joy. It may be in part because of the next big life change I am going to talk about....

Adopting two cats

A few weeks ago we adopted sibling British Shorthair cats, aged 7 and they are amazing. I need to go back and edit my post about what home means as I now can't imagine it without pets! These two furry babies completely soak up all the love and affection I've got to shower them with!

Returning home after living abroad: one year on- halloween

Total career change

If you have followed my blog for a while you might have already read about the fact that I decided to totally change career a couple of years ago. You can read my favourite post here about why I ditched the 5 year plan. This is part of why I find it hard to even recognise my old life, pre-Singapore, as I just wasn't in the right career at all.

I can't quite believe that within a year of coming back I have got a full-time job in a brand new field and can actually say I am HAPPY! I don't absolutely dread Mondays! I can't tell you how good that feels. If you are unsure if you're in the right field then I would really recommend taking some time out with a note pad, writing down everything you want from a job / your life goals (it does get quite deep) and this can really help you focus on what you want to do. It worked for me!

Moving home after a stint abroad really does make you re-evaluate your life and it might just be the ideal time to look at a new career or even just a company move in the same field. It is hard to just slot back into the same life so don't be worried if you are in the same boat and you find it is time for a change.

Change in attitude

When you return home from living abroad not everyone is bothered. That sounds blunt, but it is very true! People don't always know what to say or how to identify with this life you have led which is a million miles away from their reality. You might not have spoken to everyone as much as you expected whilst you are away. It is totally OK to take a step back and evaluate your friendships. This is a fresh start after all! 

I must say that I feel very lucky to have some amazing friends who have always been there, and despite a few months of less contact we are still as close as ever and I have slotted back into groups quite easily. I have loved meeting new friends though and mainly have my blog to thank for this! It's important to throw yourself in your life back at home and this includes making like-minded friends. I have so much to thank blogging for, and helping me to settle in back at home is something it has really helped with.

My attitude towards other people has definitely changed. I used to try and be a friend to everyone and always check in with friends, I don't try to do that any more. I keep my circles small and make the effort with those who I know will always be there. I am much happier for this.

Returning home after living abroad: one year on-  a winter walk

Future plans

This is a scary one for me as I don't do big 5 year plans any more. My main plan is to always choose happiness, and to make decisions based on happiness for myself and my loved ones. Money doesn't interest me any more! Seeing the way of life in other places like Cambodia and parts of Bali has really made me re-evaluate my life and doesn't show any sign of diminishing even a year on.

Travel plans

As at the time of writing this I have zero plans to move abroad again. Never say never, but for now I am really happy to stay put in the toon. I have more proper holidays now and enjoy a shorter break with a bit more luxury (although I now realise how expensive holidays are outside of Asia!).

Plans for 2020 are in the making, but I am rounding off 2019 with trips to Prague and Istanbul which I am so excited for. I have had five months of no travel after a cancelled trip to Turkey as we have focused on doing up our home, and I have realised that I can find happiness without always chasing the next destination.

Expat life in my every day life

I wrote a post in May about how I try to bring some of that expat magic into my day-to-day life and none of that has changed at all. I try to see more of my home city and have had some fantastic days out recently which you can read about in my monthly round-up posts. I make the effort to eat out for my work lunch break at least once a week, going for totally different cuisines and definitely not the usual sandwich at my desk.

I am very proud to say I went on my first ever solo trip this year, on a press trip to Aberdeenshire. I wrote a post all about this first solo trip as it was a big one for me. You'd think as an only child I'd love my own company but I am actually rubbish at being solo. So to find that I actually enjoyed it and would do it again felt like a miracle - I'd say that is testament to how much Singapore changed my outlook. You can read my honest blog post about my first solo travel experience if you are interested.

This has quickly turned into some kind of annual round-up or a new year post, but maybe each year after expat life is like my own mini new year celebration.  I've been to Asia and back, completely changed my career and at the end of the day I still like to sit at home with a glass of wine, stroking my cat babies and watching Netflix. I wouldn't have it any other way!

Returning home after living abroad: one year on- Gibside hall walk

Returning home after living abroad: one year on

I hope this is helpful for some of you who are ending your travels soon, or perhaps it will provide comfort to those who would love to live abroad but can't for whatever reason. I love living in the UK, I enjoy the cold days as I'd rather have that than constant humidity. I embrace every cup of Yorkshire tea and will never take proper gravy for granted! Singapore I loved you so much, but this is my home now.

Returning home after living abroad: one year on: pinterest pin

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