Moving back home after living abroad: Caroline shares her tips

Moving back home after living abroad: Caroline shares her tips

Moving back home - Caroline's storyMoving back home after an exciting adventure abroad can be difficult and quite an adjustment. A decision to move back home can be driven by personal reasons, professional reasons, like expiring work visas, or unforeseen circumstances, like most recently the pandemic. 

Caroline has lived across Barcelona, Madrid, Sydney in her twenties. After almost 4 years in Sydney, the decision to move back home came soon after the birth of her first child. After spending some incredible years in Sydney, the decision wasn’t taken lightly but also showed new opportunities. Today, Caroline shares her story and valuable moving back home tips to help you with your move back home.


Before we talk about your living abroad journey, Caroline, let’s start with your moving back home story. How was it, to move back after an abroad adventure of almost four years, to move back to the Netherlands?

Moving home was a big adjustment; it felt boring even though it was amazing to spend lots of time again with friends and family. It was also fascinating to see your own country through new eyes and appreciate things like reading the newspaper in your own language and going to your local supermarket to buy those favorite buns I missed.

After a year or so, it’s all back to normal, and you are used to it again. That’s why I often look at our photo books from our time living abroad or meet up with friends from there. It gives you the spark again. It makes you question: what’s next? It makes you think and keeps you on your toes in a good way. You made that choice back then (SO GOOD), but are you still living your best life now? 

Moving Back home

What was the main reason for you to move back home?

We wanted to be closer to family and friends after our son was born. It wasn’t easy to make that decision. We were so happy in Sydney, but our free life changed, and the idea of not being able to have our son around our family was too painful. 

Was it easier to move back home? What are your tips for people who are planning a move back to their home country?

It was definitely quicker and easier to move back home. My tips for people who are moving back would be:

  • Make sure you know how to end your lease and keep your deposit. 
  • Bring a great souvenir (e.g., we bought a large framed photo of Bondi beach where we lived). 
  • Try to think for yourself only, and not for others – of course, people want you to come home, but what makes you intrinsically most happy? 
  • Keep in touch with people you’ve met abroad (or people at home who lived there as well). No one will really understand what you’ve experienced unless they’ve had the same experience, and it is great talking with people who understand it. 

Going back to how it all started, what made you move to Australia?

After two experiences abroad at 18 and 24 (a gap year in Barcelona and studying law in Madrid), I knew I wanted to do it again (and again, and again). Especially before having kids to make use of our absolute freedom. Together with my partner, we tried to arrange the move abroad via our employers (loud and clear, let them know this was our goal). One day, the opportunity popped up: a fitting job opening in Sydney at my partner’s company. 


Once the job opportunity came up, how did you plan your move? And what would you have done differently?

It’s been quite a while… I remember using an excel sheet per category (moving out, moving in, visa, stop and start plans like gym, phone, internet, (de)register at city hall.). It took us around 1.5 months, which was really enough time. Visa and housing were arranged via my partner’s work, luckily, which helped. 

I would not move with my complete furniture, including things like kitchen appliances. Our container arrived after six weeks of living in Sydney, and in the meantime, we bought everything we needed. 96 boxes/items arrived that one day, and with our Sydney apartment being a lot smaller than our Amsterdam apartment – it was quite an event. I guess, in a country with such good weather you don’t need so much :-). 


And then you arrived in Sydney, what do you remember from your first weeks?

The first run from our house to the opera house! We were completely blown away by the beauty and climate. Even after that, every commute felt like a city trip, cycling through beautiful surroundings (palm trees, the ocean, hipster cafes). I always enjoyed looking around and seeing new things. 

I did miss the practicalities from our own house, and arranging the internet was a pain. But the most challenging part was the time difference with home. It was soo hard to call home (time-wise), and when you called, you’re on a different level: evening vs. morning.

How did you settle in and created a sense of home?

We met a lot of Dutch people via friends back home and our network. Also, finding a job with pleasant colleagues from various nationalities helped a lot. Everyone was in the same boat. 

I joined gym classes and really made an effort to explore and get to know the city and the people that work at the bakery, grocer, etc. 

How has your living abroad journey changed you? What are you most proud of?

I would say I’ve become more open-minded and got more self-esteem and pride. I felt very happy to live a life that is not too standard. It’s just the best feeling to get to know a whole new world, which we embraced, and it felt vice versa. 

What is your last piece of advice for others who are thinking about moving abroad?

You hardly ever regret what you did, but you will regret the things that you never did. 


Inspired by Caroline’s story and keen to get your journey started? Get the Let’s Move Abroad book and go! 

If you have any questions for Caroline, send us an email at hello@letsmoveabroad and use “Question Caroline” in your subject line. For more stories of people from all over the world, check out more incredible stories below.

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