Well, I never thought it would last forever. A small part of might have believed otherwise but now it’s official: I have finally moved home after living abroad for 6 years.
Why? Ooh good one. Actually, I haven’t figured that one out yet.
I like the UK. I do. It’s nice, for a while. When I lived in Spain I returned temporarily on a regular basis – 2 months in summer and a week or weekend here and there. I really enjoyed myself. Living in Oxford for most of the time made it all the more bearable; I loved the city, colleges, pubs and general buzz about the place. But having moved away for a new job in a completely new location where I know no one – I have begun to feel pretty depressed.
Disclaimer: this is not a self-pity post, I promise.
I know why I chose to stay. I’m doing it for my career. Isn’t that the reason we all move home? As much as I’d have loved this travel blogging malarkey to turn into a thrilling and prosperous career (I also run this blog), it hasn’t quite worked out. It might eventually, which would be great, but ultimately I’m happy to keep travel blogging going as a hobby and a side hustle while I focus on something else.
So what’s the big deal? If I’ve accepted that blogging is probably not going to turn me into a millionaire then surely I should be excited about this new start?
Well, I am, but I can’t help but miss the lifestyle and friends I left behind in Spain. Moving home after living abroad is really, really tough. But I’m dealing with it, and you can deal with it too, by doing these things:
1) Work harder.
More work and no play makes Josh a dull boy. More work and no play makes Josh a dull boy. All work and no play makes Josh…
Well, perhaps don’t work that intensely. But I’ve found that focusing on your new job (in my case the main reason why I chose to move home) is the best daily distraction. Hard work pays off, both financially and emotionally, in the long run. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway! Patience and determination…makes Josh a dull boy.
2) Establish a new routine.
Chances are where you used to live the way of life was quite different. You developed a routine that worked. Now that routine doesn’t work for shit, so it’s no use trying to make it work. For example, I’ve had to give up avocado on toast for breakfast; I can’t afford £1.20 avocados from Tesco. Nor can I find a 5-a-side football team to play with (wah), so I’ve taken up squash instead (my only opponent is much worse than me so I always win. That makes me feel good).
The key is to adapt to your new environment. If you resist you’ll only make things harder.
3) See your friends more regularly.
One thing I was never able to do when I lived abroad was see my best friends and family regularly. I’d only ever get the opportunity at Christmas and once or twice in the summer. Somtimes I’d wait two years to see mates, to the point when they looked noticeably different. Older, more wrinkled etc. They probably thought the same about me.
Since moving back I’ve had chance to spend time with my core group of friends three times in as many months. That is a record since I moved to Spain 6 years ago. Although their lives are very different now (“what’s that, another wedding?) and it’s easy to compare. You shouldn’t compare; you moved abroad and have experienced something entirely different. Maybe you learned a foreign language. Those are skills and experiences you could never really have acquired by staying at home, and now they’re with you for life. Always remember that.
If you live away from your friends, plan weekend visits. Always give yourself something to look forward to; it doesn’t have to be an expensive night out.
4) Get in shape.
I’ve never had problems with my weight, and I count my lucky stars for that! But after a 5-month jaunt around Cuba, Mexico and Central America, I arrived home as thin as a rake.
Now I’ve regained some of that lost weight and joined a local gym. I go three times a week and genuinely look forward to it. Seriously, it’s the first time I’ve ever enjoyed going to the gym. I guess I’ve never been stressed out enough to understand what a great release it is. The way I see it, I’m killing two birds with one stone: anxiety and body fat.
I feel so much better mentally and physically after a workout, like this frog:
5) Talk to people. Be open.
I’ve never been one to ‘bottle it up’. I know people who’ve done that and ended up having a nervous breakdown. If you’re seriously unhappy then talk to someone about it. Talk to several people about it. People who you can trust, who care about what you have to say and will give you the assurances you need to hear. That’s what family and best friends are there for, after all. If your best friends are back where you came from, use Skype!
Just don’t be embarrassed about how you feel. Be open and honest. It helps.
6) Clean up your act.
Kick your bad habits and improve your diet. I’ve massively cut down on booze and I’ve given up smoking completely. Now I just drink at the weekends. I drank pretty much every day in Spain (who could blame me when it costs €2 a beer) and smoked whenever I felt like it. Being in the UK not only makes both those habits a LOT more expensive, but neither are as fun anymore. The best way to cope with a shit social life is to focus on work and health. Get both those things right and your social life will revive itself in no time.
Consider giving up takeaways too. Eat fresh, or eat toast when you come home drunk (at weekends 😉 )
7) Find some new friends.
Depending on where you end up, it may not be so hard to find new friends who can relate to what you’re going through. Ask friends if they know anyone. Go and meet them for a drink if you can and have a chat. It will certainly help.
You may well miss speaking a second language you learned abroad. I miss speaking Spanish terribly. When I first moved to Spain I remember how many Spanish people were desperate to speak English with me as they’d spent some time in the UK and never had the opportunity to speak it anymore. Now the tables have turned. I am the desperate one, and, sadly, I’m yet to find a Spanish-speaking friend where I live. But I have faith that I will! All it takes is one friend who knows someone, or a dating app!
In the meantime I live you with another quote, which I remind myself of daily:
Have you moved home after living abroad for a long period? How did you cope? Got any other suggestions? Let’s hear them.