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What Does Returning Really Look Like

expat life expat mums expat parenting expat parenting abroad Jul 07, 2020

What does returning really look like? I’ve been asked this a few times recently.

To be honest, there are days that I feel like I’m in a bit of a no man’s land. For many people, they think I’ve come home. Some know I’ve lived in Auckland before. Some just assume I’ve always been here.

It’s a weird feeling.

I was doing an interview the other week, and the interviewer asked me “where is home for you?” Hmmmm.

As you probably know, I am Australian and lived in New Zealand for 7 years (the last 2 years being in Auckland) before my husband and I moved to Asia. After 12 years in Asia, we moved back to Auckland, New Zealand at the end of last year.

I haven’t repatriated. Auckland isn’t home for either of us. But it is familiar. My response to the interviewer “my home is where my family is”. 

So what does returning really look like? 

We talked a lot about our expectations as a part of our transition. Both because we wanted to provide the girls with a sense of what life might be like for them. But also for ourselves, thinking about how it might be different for us. 

One decision we did make, 12 years is a long time, let’s not assume anything. We decided we would treat this as a new move, just like any other we’ve done. 

I think this mindset has provided us with some big advantages. Firstly, because we don’t assume anything, we continue to ask loads of questions. Where to find things? Who’s the best provider to use for this? Could you please recommend?

It’s also meant that we are flexible. We thought we would rent a home for 12 months and then consider our options for buying something. But a few weeks after landing, we saw our perfect home online, we walked through it once and decided this was it. We purchased our first family home!

Moving in at the end of January meant that we were in our own space for lockdown, and I was so utterly grateful! 

Then I was chatting with a friend in Australia the other day, “you sound so happy!” I paused, I thought I’m always a pretty positive person, but yes, she’s right I am really happy. Life is not perfect, I am carrying my own burdens, but I am happy.

I’ve met wonderful people, I started a walking group, I’ve joined a book club, we’ve reconnected with friends we made in Asia who now live in Auckland, we are reconnecting with people we already knew in Auckland and as a family we are settled. 

I mean really settled. 

The school we chose turns out to be perfect for our girls. They are trying new things every day and really putting themselves out there. Their confidence is growing, and they are becoming lovely young ladies. 

Hubby is happy in his role, the stress levels have been pretty high and they had to close one of the hotels for a period during lockdown, but he’s really getting into the business and thriving on the challenges. 

We are settled. 

But for how long? This is always the next question people ask us… to which the only response is, how long is a piece of string? Who knows! Who knew this time last year I’d be living in Auckland!?!

So what does returning really look like? I have to say, for us, bloody brilliant! Largely because of our mindset and how we approached this move. 


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