For many economic expats (those who changed countries primarily for economic reasons), the plan is obviously to move back to their home country as soon as they are financially able to. But for lifestyle expats who’ve chosen to switch countries for other reasons, it’s an interesting question as to how many would move back home if it were simple to do so.
Just having finished a nicely-written article called Overcoming the Expat 7-year-itch about a family that moved from the United States to Nicaragua in 2005, I have to wonder how conflicted many expats are once they’ve been away for a long time.
Obviously everyone is different
Having traveled around the world and lived in quite a few places, I’ve met many people who’ve relocated long ago and consider their new country to be home, and of course I’ve also met many who consider it more of a short-term adventure than a permanent move.
For some of us, the draw of seeing new things that we didn’t grow up around is a big part of why we left in the first place, but of course once you get settled in one place for a long time then the novelty disappears. This, I suspect, is what the author of that article means by “7 year itch” in that those who are able to might find the temptation to move on again for new adventures.
There’s no place like home, or is there?
On one hand, it seems like everyone in the world feels a strong connection with where they grew up. Even those who’ve moved from Third World to First World countries seem to dream of moving “home” again, hopefully on solid financial footing. However, it’s unclear how many of those people would be truly happy back where they grew up. I think we all have a tendency to romanticize things about our childhood and upbringing, and the reality is very likely going to be different as an adult, or at least an older adult.
The fellow who wrote that article listed some very compelling points about why he and his family prefer Nicaragua to the US, and interestingly, many of them have to do with the increased freedom they enjoy in Central America. Obviously, for everyone it’s different. It depends on where you grew up and where you later moved to, and also to what sort of person you’ve become in the process.
We are all likely conflicted
Having been away from the US for more than two years now myself, I’m regularly conflicted about moving back there. It goes without saying that most things are easier in your home country, particularly if there is some kind of language barrier in your new country, but also with the cultural differences between nearly any two countries.
But is life really about putting yourself in the easiest possible place? Many people enjoy the challenges that come along with life in a foreign country and those people are probably motivated to either stay put or move to yet another foreign country if they get bored. Those who are annoyed by the challenges of settling in a new place are probably living just a short distance from where they grew up anyway, so maybe there aren’t many of them out there in other countries?
Have you seriously considered moving “back home” and how serious are you about it?