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No Place Like Home or Missing the Sun? Returning Home After Living Abroad for 10 years.

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

What are my biggest pros and cons for moving abroad and what is it like when you return home? I give my experience of this in my latest blog post.

Life in dubai
Life in Dubai

I have blog posts about living in Singapore and living in Dubai but it is time to create one about how life is now, having returned home, after living abroad for 10 years. There are lots of people who live abroad and making the decision to return home after living abroad is a tough one.

My family and I returned home to the UK over 2 years ago. We moved back right in the middle of Covid19 so it was stressful. So why did we move home in the first place?

If I talk to people about what life was like abroad, they always ask why we moved home. We had all this:

  • The sun

  • The beach

  • A swimming pool where we lived

  • Free accomodation

  • Top class health care

  • Our own private gym

  • Amazing schools

  • Opportunities for sightseeing and travel

  • And so much more!

Having Plans For Returning Home After Living Abroad.

We had a 10 year plan and I think this is essential for anyone who is planning to work abroad. When we moved abroad, my wife and I decided that our goal would be to give it 10 years, save money and return home and buy a house.

We had 5 years in Singapore, which we loved and I think if we had not left when we did, then we would still be there now. We also had some tough times and are stronger because of them. We have many friends in Singapore and we miss the place terribly. Almost everyday we talk about times in Singapore. If you have never been, you should go!

Life in SG
With great friends in Singapore

Our 5 years in Dubai were great, but not a patch on Singapore. This helped us a bit in Dubai because it was almost just a bridge to our homecoming and allowed us to go into full money saving mode, knowing we would soon be returning back home.

Returning home during Covid19 made things tricky in a lot of ways. Here are the main reasons why we wanted to move back:

  • To buy a house

  • To see our family and friends

  • Musical opportunities, especially in brass bands

  • Creature Comforts

  • We wanted pets

  • We wanted our own garden

  • We wanted to own things

  • We missed the seasons

While living abroad in rented accomodation, we couldn't do what we wanted. We couldn't really do any of these things when we moved back either due to Covid19, but we were patient.

Upon first returning, we managed to get by with some supply teaching, online teaching and a few other side hustles! I do feel incredibly grateful though, I know how hard some people struggled and are continuing to struggle.

Home After Living Abroad, How Do I Feel Now?

Fast forward to the present day (2023) and I feel very happy. I own a home with my wife, I have a cat, I am working in a job that I enjoy (with the Entrust Staffordshire Music Service), I have flexibility to do what I want, spend time with my daughter and focus on other interests I have.

I joined Grimethorpe Colliery Band (I still pinch myself everyday thinking I am dreaming) and have made a lot of new friends since moving back home.

So, what has changed after returning home, what do I miss about living abroad and how has living abroad changed me now I've had time to reflect on it?

In many ways, a lot is exactly the same. The UK and British people in general, are big moaners and actually inherently negative. Not everyone, but some people you meet. They are not trusting and are actually somewhat narrow minded.

While living abroad, I didn't really feel like I was mixing with a different 'class' of people. I don't feel that money was the contributer to peoples attitudes either, but generally everyone I met abroad were more positive about life and seemed happier. They followed the rules, supported their communities and had a brighter outlook on life.

I like to think, I have always kept my sense of humour, maybe a side of me that only those closest ever really see. Perhaps living abroad has even helped me remain grounded and relaxed. I think it has helped me be more confident in the person I really am.

Singapore water
Being silly at The Merlion Fountain in Singapore

Making Observations After Returning Home

If I go to a kids birthday party in the UK with my daughter, the group of adults will always complain about something and are not likely to communicate with each other. Don't get me wrong, I am not the most sociable person on the planet, but when you are sharing a day for your kids, I always find it funny when no parents interact.

In the same situation in either Dubai or Singapore, the parents were always interested to find out about me and others. Where had you travelled recently, where were you from, what are your plans, what interests does your child have etc. This is really nice right? Or maybe some people reading this think that those people should mind their own business.

Since moving back home, I have definitly decided that I know who I like spending time with, and I know who I do not like spending time with. This was not something I addressed prior to living abroad. Who you assossiate with has a massive impact on the type of person you are. Some people are destined for a sad, boring life and are fearful of any changes, rather than embracing or creating new opportunities. Living abroad taught me to take more risks.

Having a child is the biggest change in my life, but I hope that coming home was the right thing to have done from my daughters point of view.

Child swap
Just waiting to swap my child 🤣

In Singapore and Dubai, she attended private schools for free (as part of mine or my wife's expat teaching allowance). The opportunities she had in those schools and learning expected of students in those schools was immense.

Here in the UK, I am sorry to say, from my experience of what I have seen recently, the quality and expectations are too low. Poor behaviour is a big problem, one that didn't really exist abroad. My experience as a supply teacher was shocking, I wouldn't wish that treatment on my worst enemy. Read about it here.

In Dubai or Singapore, I never heard a child say "I can't do it", but here in the UK, this might as well be the moto in some schools. I used to teach a lot of American students, wow, we can learn a lot from them in the self confidence area. Belief is so powerful and is something that I try very hard to install into myself, my family, friends and students. The power of belief should be taught in schools.

I just have to take this opportunity to drop an affiliate link to one of my all time favourite books. This is a book I come back too over and over. It greatly impacted me when I first read it. I had purchased it and downloaded it onto my ipad and used to read it on buses or trains in Singapore in between my teaching. Click the picture to check it out at Amazon.


Changes After Returning Home

Something else that has changed is my desire for travel. In the past, I dreamt of far away holidays and long-haul flights but now, I like the idea of camping or exploring places nearby.

Mountain bike
Hitting the mountain bike trails with my brother!

Family and friends is a tricky one. Everyone is very busy, or seems so and locking people in for get togethers is a challenge. It never used to be this hard and I don't think I was less busy in the past or maybe it is just because everyone lives further apart than they used too. It is funny though, sometimes while abroad it felt like I had more connection and communications with family and friends than I do now. Maybe time just went faster!

What do you want your morning view to look like?

So what are my biggest pros and cons for moving abroad for those who have never done it?

moving abroad

What are my biggest pros and cons for returning home after living abroad for anyone who is thinking about it?

Moving home

From writing these pros and cons, it is clear to see that for some, they could be the other way around. I haven't really mentioned the weather when moving abroad or moving home either, because on the one hand the UK is cold and wet, which makes people miserable, but sometimes Dubai was hot as hell, and was literally dangerous. Both types of weather are challenging and I missed the cooler weather when abroad just as much as I miss the warm weather now I am home.

Typical Brit at heart I guess, ready to moan about everything! 🤣

My final piece of advice is to go with your gut. Family and friends can sometimes sway your decisions and they do not always have your best interest at heart. Think things over, take your time but set a date for when you are going to make the big decision otherwise you can be left in limbo and time passes very fast! Good luck!

Thank you for reading. ❤

You can also see blog posts shared on my Facebook Alchemy For Musicians page - Facebook

Mark Glover


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