When you find yourself moving back to the U.S.

(This is a guest post — so before you think we’re leaving Berlin, hold your horses. We’re not going anywhere. 😉 )

Moving overseas from the United States is a true adventure… but what about moving back home?  Often, individuals that have lived abroad think that the adventure is long over once they return stateside, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Arriving back in the United States after months or years away can be a difficult challenge.  In fact, it can provide a culture shock all its own.  Some people take years to recover from living overseas, while others bounce right back into the swing of things.  Here are some steps to take that might help make settling back home a little easier.


photo credit: The Eggplant via photopin cc

photo credit: The Eggplant via photopin cc

Say a proper goodbye but look forward to the future

Despite so many USA houses for sale, finding a good deal on real estate is no reason to quickly pack up and move back to a country one hasn’t lived in for a significant amount of time.  You must be absolutely sure before making such a move, and once that decision is made, proper goodbyes are necessary.  Yes, this means saying goodbye to friends but also to the host country that has been “home” for so many years.  Closure is essential, so allow it.

Arriving back in the United States can be exhilarating – seeing old friends and family often has that honeymoon experience kick.  It is a time where old friendships can be rekindled and new connections made with the mother country.  It is also a time to become reacquainted with one’s home country as it is now.  Remember, everything changes and the United States is no exception.  Life has certainly changed for family and friends, so be sure to share any overseas adventures in small doses and ease back into living stateside.

Moving is stressful for anyone, whether moving across the street or across an ocean.  This is especially true for those who have decided to move back to the United States after living overseas – it is important to remember that readjusting will take some time.  Be open and honest and let friends and family know how things are different.  Living overseas is a life-changing experience that one cannot simply divorce.  However, be sure not to alienate friends and family with too many complaints about the transition!


The process is arduous but there is light at the end of the tunnel

An international move is never simple, but moving back to the United States from another country is fairly straightforward for citizens.  Though the process does take a while, it generally lasts only a couple of months. If one is moving alone, the process will be fairly simple, with the most complicated aspect being the transport of personal effects and household goods but that can be simplified by looking for international moving companies.  If one is moving with children, a spouse or pets, things can get a little more complicated in terms of paperwork and planning.

Before locking down a move back to the United States from overseas, it is a good idea to do a little research on any rules and regulations regarding re-entry into the country.  Customs regulations are constantly changing, so before sending a shipment of household goods, it is wise to double check that everything can be shipped and to look into what sort of fees may be involved.

Have you recently returned to your mother country? How did the transition go?

Or are you considering a move overseas? What do you think will be your biggest challenges?


  1. BruisedLee says

    There is almost zero practical advice in this article. It is a jumble of feel-good gobbledygook and nothing more. I’ve lived in Asia for nearly a decade and the big issues in moving back to the states are:

    1. Lack of credit history. You will struggle to rent, buy a car, etc. without a solid credit history.

    2. If your spouse isn’t a US citizen, or you have children with potential dual-citizenship, how to unravel the mass of red tape and confusing regulations concerning citizenship, green cards, PR status, etc.

    3. Taxes – how much have you been earning while working overseas, and what are your US tax liabilities, if any?

    I doubt if the writer of this article has actually lived and worked overseas for any length of time.

    • says

      Agreed. It’s not an end all guide, nor did it claim to be. Unfortunately, I think for your situation, life would be far easier now if you’d maintained your ties to the US.

      1 is definitely a concern although it’s not something you can fix instantly. If anyone is going to leave the US for a while, with the intent to return one day, you have to maintain your credit while gone and not burn all the bridges. We’ve lived here in Germany for 12 years, but still have good credit because we’ve kept up with our credit cards all these years and made sure they stayed active.

      2. If your kids have dual citizenship there shouldn’t be much issue — unless you thought you’d never go back and didn’t get their US passports at birth? Plus, getting a green card via marriage is still far easier than without any relation in the US. There’s bureaucratic red tape at all levels when it comes to visas and so forth, regardless of the country.

      3. As a US citizen living abroad, you were supposed to be filing taxes every year anyway. So there shouldn’t be anything you owe that you don’t already know about.

      Hope your move back to the US goes well.

      • KK says

        So helpful as a starting! It’s been very difficult finding a .gov website that cover the topics mentioned.
        I’ll be moving back after 11 years abroad, I’m glad I stumbled upon this article.

        • says

          So glad you’ve enjoyed the article. There’s definitely some culture shock that goes along with it — and the big question is how much did you “disconnect” your life in the US (credit, mailing address, etc) because if you’ve got very few live accounts here, it’s much harder to jump back in and more or less start again.

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