On this page, I aim to provide all of the resources needed for a successful relocation back to one’s home country. I am coming at this as a western expat living in Asia (South Korea) and returning to a western country (USA), but my hope is that anyone looking to repatriate can get some benefit from it. If you see a missing resource, please don’t hesitate to reach out and have it added.
Affiliate links are used occasionally on this list of resources but only for resources I would endorse regardless. I have also linked to information and products put out by fellow repats where appropriate. We gotta stick together! To that end, if you have a blog or product that you think belongs here, make sure to contact me and have it added.
Stuff that doesn’t fit neatly into one of the below categories, but still useful.
In terms of books for hopeful repats, the literature is pretty thin. Fortunately, Jackie Bolen’s self-published book Life After ESL provides an excellent introduction to the challenges repats facing a likely career chance have to contend with. The book focuses on a survey she conducted of former ESL teachers. While it is not perfect and I don’t think it would count as scientific, it’s a fast read, reasonably priced, and, currently, the only book of its kind on the market. For more information, check out my full review.
For US citizens, it’s easy to fall behind on filing your taxes (yes, you DO have to file your taxes) while living abroad. And then even if you do the right thing, it’s easy to rush through and make a mistake. This happened to me personally and Tax Uncomplicated got me square with the IRS.
For myself and many others, getting a visa for a spouse is the greatest source of anxiety in relation to making the leap. The process is different for every country (U.S. citizens click here), but whatever you do, make sure you get your information directly from an official government website. In other words, do not trust companies with paid search engine placement promising to facilitate the process unless it is specifically an immigration law firm. There are many scammers out there preying on people’s hopes and dreams. The good news is that for the vast majority of us, all we have to do is follow the instructions and checklists to a T and the process will go smoothly, albeit time consuming.
Getting your personal finances in order sounds like a chore. I’m not gonna lie: it IS a chore. But repatriating is serious business. While for you the idea of going might be comforting, for your family, it is going to be disruptive. Getting on a budget (written by my friend and fellow prospective repat Shawn Roe) will be far more helpful than you realize. There may be a few uncomfortable conversations with your spouse about spending habits and priorities, but investing in those conversations on the front end will be worth it for the arguments they save you from in the long run.
Setting a relocation time frame.
Best bank accounts for expats
Building Credit as an Expat
Choosing a New Home
You may not have a choice between buying and renting a home or apartment when you make the leap. If you aim to be a homeowner right off the bat, be prepared to have a hard time securing a mortgage until you have been gainfully employed for a time. Regardless, Zillow will be useful in scoping out geographic areas for possible relocation. Zillow will give you an idea about real estate prices, area schools, etc.
For even more intel on the town where that perfect job ad you found is located, AreaVibes will break down all of the above, plus info on crime rates, cost of living, weather, and employment.
For US citizens, health care has always been a major concern (in fact a strong disincentive) for relocating back home with our families. The Affordable Care Act, while not perfect, has changed the landscape somewhat. You may be surprised at how affordable healthcare for you and your family turns out to be. Run the numbers at Healthcare.gov, and remember that the initial monthly cost it will show you likely does not account for credits and subsidies you will receive.
Getting a Job
First: You need a website as well as a carefully curated social media presence, even if you aren’t involved in entrepreneurship or freelancing. Think about it this way: a prospective employer is going to google your name. Is the first google search result an editorial you wrote for your college newspaper defending the right to drink beer in class, or is it a one-page website with a professional photo, links showing off your very best work, and your resume?
After spending some time getting a professional-looking website of some sort online, and your social media presence in order, it’s time to start applying to jobs. There seem to be a couple different ways of going about this:
- A network-centric approach: Target organizations that are a good fit. Find mutual connections through LinkedIn and alumni groups.
- An applications-focused approach: Start hitting up job posting websites and identifying a few different job types and regions to focus on, create ongoing search agents that email you about new postings, and start applying like crazy.
These two focuses are not mutually exclusive and you can try to strike a balance based on your own strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you are a people-person with a strong network, it’s okay to focus 90% on networking, but you are still probably going to have to follow bureaucratic application procedures at some point.
Regardless, it’s a good idea to try and create a systematic approach to this, though. Creating a job application workflow can greatly reduce the stress and physical wear and tear of customizing your resume and cover letter for every single job you apply for.
JobScan.co is invaluable when it comes to customizing your resume for a particular job application. It compares the language in your resume to that of the job announcement and gives suggestions that help you get past the applicant tracking system (ATS) and land the interview. Use this link when you sign up and get 10 free scans.
We’ve all had those moments where you click ‘send’ on an email and then spot an obvious grammar or spelling mistake. When it comes to sending out resumes and cover letters, it can truly be a disaster. Grammarly helps you avoid that. Although I’ve always been proud of my writing skills, when I started using Grammarly I realized just how many mistakes I’ve been making all along. Check out my own experience with Grammarly and decide if it is for you. <link to blog article about Grammarly>
Resume writing advice/services
I always felt cover letters were even more of a mystery than resumes. That is until I read this article. Now that I’ve written a few CLs based on the advice in that article, I really feel like my cover letter game is getting strong.
Interview skills and prep
Things you can do NOW (in your current physical location) to improve your resume (volunteering, improving practical skills)
Recommended skill improvement courses
- Udemy LinkedIn Course
- Master Excel
Networking from far away
- Start blogging and posting on LinkedIn
- Professional Organizations
- Alumni groups
- Start blogging and posting to these groups
Starting a Business
Entrepreneurship, especially with an online business, has solid benefits as a route to repatriation:
- You can start working on it right now.
- Having location independent income already coming in can free you up to help your family with their transition.
- There are enough proven online business models that you can surely find one that fits your skills.
The best resource out there for ‘repats’ is the secret Facebook mastermind group.
Starting a freelance business is a way to start making money right away. You may be surprised at how fast you could get up to speed and start getting work via odesk, freelancer.com, fiverr, etc.
Freelance skill courses
- Teach English Online
- Rob Percival’s Complete Web Developer Course
- SQL Course (relatively easy to learn and a lot of jobs in the field)
“Location Independent” resources
- The Four-Hour Workweek
- Smart Passive Income
Starting an LLC (How and Why)
-Building credit personally while abroad is very difficult. Your LLC, however, will be physically located in your home country and CAN build credit. This probably won’t help you buy a house, but maybe a car?
Best Practices for Online Life
Having a website is important for all of the above.
Build your own website (server space, domain name, wordpress)
Hire someone to do it for you.
Getting a professional sounding email address (Smith.John@gmail, not HotBodLuvr1975@aol)
Calming Fears (yours as well as loved ones)
Culture Shock resources
Effect of relocation on children
Expected adjustment times for spouses/kids