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Going Home After Living Abroad


Coming Home

These days, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to be successful in the transition back home after living abroad for so many years (10 in my case!). I don’t hate Korea, but I don’t love it either and sticking in a place for 10 more years just because I work 3 or 4 days a week and get 5 months of vacation in not a good way to live. It’s onwards and upwards to bigger and better things for me that do not involve teaching any more “conversation” classes, ever again, for the rest of my life, hopefully.

During my time, I’ve seen more than a few people come and go, and in some sad cases, come again. I hope to be one of those who is able to come, and go (I’m pretty sure I will be- I’d probably sell my entire stock portfolio and live off of that in Canada for 10 years before I came back to Korea). Based on my observations, here is what it takes to be successful in a transition back home after living overseas.

Top 5 Tips for Going Home After Living Abroad

1. A Plan Those who return home with a fuzzy sort of plan that involves living on friend’s couches or in parents’ basements just don’t do well. It’s too easy to coast along, indefinitely without a job that way and the longer you’re unemployed, the harder it is to get employed.

2. Serious Job Skills The people that do best are the ones who have some sort of well-defined job field they can go into. Or, they need to be willing to go back to school to get that, in a lot of cases. That is my plan: to get the minimum education necessary so that I can take all the certified financial planner (and other similar things) licensing exams.

Many ESL teachers abroad make a serious mistake when they think that they can do this same job back home. You can, but you’re competing against people with serious qualifications and experience for $15 per hour part-time jobs. Do you really want that for your life?

3. A Money Pool Having $30,000 or $50,000 goes a long way towards giving you a bit of breathing room so that 2 or 3 months of unemployment during your job search won’t force you back overseas.

4. Motivation Some people seem to head back home just because they don’t really like Korea, or whatever country they’re living in. The people that do best are the ones who are going back to their home country because they really want to and not because they have nothing better going on.

5. Support Those with a good network of family and old friends back home seem to do much better than those without that, for obvious reasons. Having this network makes it a lot harder to leave again as well.
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