The burning question asked by every expat facing re-entry (and every repat in its throes) is this: “How long does it take?”
It’s a good question, but it’s tough to answer definitively, for a couple of reasons. First, every expat (and therefore, every re-entry) is different. Second, repatriation isn’t an event. It’s a process.
Yes, it can be quick. In fact, some lucky souls re-integrate almost immediately. Of the 539 repats who answered this question on my repatriation survey last year, 11% of first-time returnees said they started to feel at home right away.
I’ll confess to gnashing my teeth with envy when I read that. My experience was quite different. For me, it took about two years and involved a lot of dancing, of the one-step-forward–two-steps-back variety. Eight years later, I still have occasional relapses. But again, everyone’s journey is unique.
Based on my research, I’d say the majority of repats (43%) start to feel at home within their first year back. That doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing after that; it just means the choppiest waters are behind them by that point.
How long did it take you?