The date is set, your tickets are booked and there is excitement in the air with the prospect of being back on home soil. What now? Have you planned what you need to do when you land? This is why your next check list needs to be created, even though you have settled all the issues you may have run into in your host country, arriving back at home is certainly not an easy process. These Top Ten tips should help you along your path home.
1. Who is picking you up from the airport? We arrived back at home with six huge suitcases, a box, 4 hand luggage cases and 5 laptops. We needed help, a taxi was not going to get us from A to B, two would be needed. We would need to hire a small passenger bus, the local train service would see us trying to pull a truck load behind us and was undoable. We arrived back on 4 January, family and most friends were still on holiday. We were lucky to have one close friend still in the area who kindly brought their 4×4 and with our hire car we managed to transport the luggage to our destination. You WILL need help unless you are arriving back with only a suitcase and laptop.
2. Where will you stay on arrival, until you are settled? Do you have friends or family that you could stay with until you know where you are going to move to? If you are moving back with your company, will they have accommodation for you? Ensure you have an interim solution to your accommodation requirements. We stayed with family for the first three weeks and found a house to buy in that time period, however it was going to take another six weeks before we could move into our new home. The estate agents found us a self-catering unit at a reasonable price for that time period. It was not ideal, but served our purposes and we are all still speaking to each other.
3. Find a home and school? You can start looking for a home before you leave your host country, there are some fantastic property search websites out there that can be found in nearly every country. The fantastic thing is that you know your own country and the areas you will be looking at, what you do need to take into consideration is the proximity of your new home to school/s and work. Few people buy online, but it will give you a good idea of prices, area and size.
4. Register your kids into a school? This goes hand in hand with your new job and hopefully finding a home close by. Government run schools are a little easier to get your children into if you live in an area that has to enroll your child into a school in the district. Private schools are more difficult and you will have to register your children and they may well go onto waiting lists. Be patient you will find a school and don’t compromise, places do become available as the list shortens with children going to other schools.
5. How will you get around? Did you keep your old car stored away for the period that you were an expat for or will you need a hire car? How long will you need the car for and do you need to buy new one/s? Start looking online for pricing and dealerships or second hand offers. We kept our hire car for three months and bought one car after being back at home for a week. After three months we found the second car and were back to a two-car family.
5. Do you have bank accounts? Did you keep your old bank accounts functioning? If so you should not have a problem with obtaining loans or a mortgage. If you haven’t you need to get a bank account set up asap. We did keep our bank accounts and a mortgage account which we did not owe a lot of money to, just in case we needed the extra money for deposits on the new home or cars, etc. It did help but we battled with the legalities of proving we were resident in the country and not still expats as we did not have a house which would give us Water and Light bills. However, as we were known by the bank we eventually managed to prove permanently residency to ensure our new mortgage was approved.
6. Insurance? Why this question, well unless you have kept up your insurance policies such as personal insurance of you laptops, jewelry, etc, you may want to ensure that you are insured. We were expats in a country where crime did not exist, you could walk out of a shop without your mobile phone and a shop assistant would find you in the mall to return it to you. Our home country is the complete opposite it was vital that we were insured before we landed.
7. Have you kept your host or home country mobile phones? Do you have Internet connection? Host country mobile connectivity is going to cost. When you land in your home country there are always shops around to buy a new sim card or top up your old one. We arrived with children who needed new sim cards for the BlackBerries, my old home sim had gone missing in the move and my husband had cancelled his old one before we left. We needed new sim cards and connectivity to ensure we could work, within 30 minutes we all had new mobile numbers and were connected.
8. When will your container arrive? This will determine how long to rent or install yourself in someone elses home, as well as when your container can be delivered and unpacked. When we moved to our host country it took three and a half months for our container to arrive, we therefore sent our container ahead by half a month in the hopes that we could find a house within the three months we expected it to take to arrive on home soil. Our container arrived within one and a half of departing the host shores. We had to organize storage for the period it would take us to move into our new home. Beware of these incidents that may seem small but can become a headache.
9. If you have transported your Pets, when do they arrive back home and how long will they have to be in quarantine? This can be very traumatic for the animals and owners, be prepared for long quarantine periods in certain countries and find out where and when you can visit to keep contact with your hairy friends.
10. Unpacking, this is all dependant on buying or renting a home, when the container arrives and can be delivered. Help is always required because it is chaotic, find some helping hands who can look after children and who is willing to drop a hot meal around. Find that box with the linen and towels for those first few nights.
And finally have an action plan for any indiscrepancies that may occur to your plans. You cannot plan for every eventuality but you certainly can try.
Good luck and enjoy your new job, home and being back on familiar ground.
Denise is an Expat and Marketing Manager at http://www.xpatulator.com/ a website that provides cost of living index information and calculates what you need to earn in a different location to compensate for cost of living, hardship, and exchange rate differences.