The Top 5 Destinations That Expats Regularly Leave to Move Back Home

by Jose Marc Castro on August 5, 2011

The rollercoaster that is Dubai!

While the number of people looking to move overseas and begin a new life continues to grow, the number of people looking to move back to their former homeland also continues to rise. There are many reasons why many people do not settle in foreign countries and while we have attempted to put together The Top 5 Destinations That Expats Regularly Leave to Move Back Home this will vary from person to person.

Some of the countries which we have covered in this particular article have been dragged into the top five purely and simply because of the number of people who moved there in the first place. The truth is that even the most accommodating country in the world will not suit the requirements of each and every expat and many will move back home simply because they should never have moved in the first place. We will now give you some idea of countries which seemed to see more than their fair share of expats returning to their former homelands.


If there is one country in the world which attracts the most attention from the expat community it has to be Dubai. This is a country which is full of contradictions and a country which is very difficult to live in without first doing your research. Prior to the recent economic boom in Dubai, which was purely and simply fuelled by the property sector, there was very little interest in this area and very few expats were looking to move to the region. However, once the Dubai property market began to move and skilled expat workers were required by local contractors we saw a major shift in the sands.

Nobody could have guessed the massive rise and fall of the Dubai property market, and the Dubai economy as a whole, which literally left many thousands of businesses, business people and expats struggling to survive. Despite the fact that the massive influx of expats was required to fill gaps in the local skilled workforce, as soon as the economy began to fall and problems began to emerge we saw more and more expats leaving the region. So while Dubai has offered more than its fair share of expats returning to their former homeland this may well be a short-term situation which will be rectified in due course.

Even though the Dubai economy and the Dubai property sector in particular are still under substantial pressure there is no doubt that many people believe the economy will rise again from the ashes. Whether we will see such a great influx of expat workers to the region, assuming that the economy does recover in due course, is a bone of contention. However, those who have called the death of Dubai and the Dubai economy may well have to think again in due course. Expats may have been leaving in large numbers over the last couple of years but many are prepared to return as and when the economy recovers.

What should there be on my “To Do list” before I leave Dubai, other than paying the final DEWA bill, closing my back account and cancelling my visa?


Only a few months ago it is highly unlikely that Greece would have registered on the list of countries which see more than their fair share of expats returning home. However, as the financial headlines have made abundantly clear the financial situation in Greece has reach breaking point and despite two financial bailouts from the European Union many believe the country will eventually default on its national debt. This has led to a massive reduction in public-sector spending which has caused strikes and infighting across the country and many people believe this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Greece was for many years a very popular holiday destination with UK expats, and indeed many expats from around the world, but under the surface many believe that the debt situation has slowly but surely been worsening. Indeed many now believe that the Greek economy and the Greek “national balance sheet” has been in constant decline for many years now with official statistics often misleading and lacking in detail. Whether or not this is the case remains to be seen, but the fact that the Greek economy is in a major downturn and unlikely to recover in the short to medium term has led to growth in nationalistic views and activities. As a consequence, more and more expats are now looking to leave the country, despite the fact that property prices have collapsed, and reposition themselves back in the bosom of their former homeland.

While many could argue that the Greek economy will recover in due course, the truth is that the debt situation regarding the country is as severe as any seen before and the country is more than likely to default on servicing its national debt. There is also the fact that the European Union bailouts will be expensive and effectively put Greece under the control of the European Union for many years to come. Against this backdrop there are unlikely to be many plus points for expats looking to move to pastures new and Greece is likely to be an area of the world which will be avoided for many years to come.

Quite frankly, I cannot see why this has taken so long. There is not other option for the Greek Government. If they continue with the cuts and rising taxes there will be more riots or worse and will eventually have to leave the EU..


The UK has for many years now been one of the more prominent countries in the world with regards to immigration and immigrant numbers. The number of expats in the UK continues to grow although unfortunately due to the rise and fall of the UK economy, a growing budget deficit and increased taxes, there are more people than ever before moving away from the UK and back to their former homeland. This is a situation which would have been unheard of just a decade ago but the truth is that the financial strength of the UK has been severely weakened over the last 10 years or so.

While the Polish community tend to grab the headlines with regards to immigration in the UK, there is no doubt that a vast array of other Europeans and non-Europeans have also ventured over to the United Kingdom. Indeed, as the UK economy began to waver and the signs were that the economy would slow down and move into recession we saw a great number of the Polish expats decided to up sticks and move back home. It would appear that the balance between the strength of the UK economy and the strength of the Polish economy has narrowed somewhat and amazingly many people believe that there is more potential for employment and a potentially better standard of living back in Poland!

It will surprise many people to see the UK in the top five list of countries which have seen more than their fair share of expats returning home, but the truth is that the UK we see today is very different to that of 10 years ago or even 20 years ago. We are now seeing massive cuts in public sector expenditure which will impact upon a whole variety of public services, many of which initially attracted the attention of expats. There is even talk that the UK government will clamp down on the number of immigrants moving to the UK and introduce a whole host of questionnaires and tests. While in reality there is little the UK government can do with regards to movement within Europe, there is no doubt that those looking to move to the UK from outside of Europe will face a tougher test in the future.

Despite the doom and gloom in the UK at the moment there is no doubt that in time the UK economy will recover, once the public sector budget is under control. Indeed, while the likes of the US, Greece, Spain, Italy and Ireland struggles to maintain their credit ratings with the credit rating agencies, the UK remains fairly robust at the moment. There is potential for the future but a recovery in the UK economy, like so many others around the world, may well be some way off.

I’m just interested to find out why so many brits leave the UK? I just wants your views on the country itself. Any comments would be great.


There are many areas of the world which have potential for massive economic growth in the future and China is one which appears on many top 10 lists. Indeed the Chinese economy has grown significantly over the last 20 years and many believe that China will eventually overtake the US as the worldwide economic powerhouse. Even those pessimistic about growth in the Chinese economy have to admit that the country has remained relatively strong despite the ongoing worldwide economic difficulties. So how could China even remotely appear in the list of countries which have seen expats return home?

There are many different sides to China, many different areas of the country and many different standards of living. While this is most certainly true in each and every country around the world, the divergence between those who have and those who have not has never been more visible than in some areas of China. This is a country which is still dominated and controlled by the government, has an economy which is controlled by a very small group of very rich people and a country which does not look after all of its population. While we tend to see the “rose tinted glasses” side of the Chinese population there are many who still live in poverty in shanty towns with very little hope for the future. Indeed, during the recent Olympic Games many of these were hidden away from the worldwide press and the worldwide media to give an impression that China is far more buoyant than it actually is.

As a consequence, over the last few years we have seen more and more expats moving to the region to try and piggyback onto the ever-growing economic strength highlighted in the press. However, the situation on the ground is very different to that seen in popular press and many people have encountered uncomfortable situations after moving to the country. As a consequence, more and more people are repatriating to their formal homelands having had their dreams dashed and their hopes for the future severely dented.

Expat bankers and finance workers are leaving Tokyo in the aftermath of the severe earthquake and the on-going nuclear crisis


There are many countries in the world similar in stature, strength and standing to Nigeria and there are many expats who fall for the talk of recovery and a changing the culture. However, Nigeria is a country which is still associated with crime, fraud and indeed the vast majority of Internet scams seem in some way, shape or form to emanate from Nigeria. While this may be a little harsh on Nigeria, and there is no doubt that the country has moved forward, there is also no doubt that many people are still struggling to survive on a pittance.

Many political experts believed that Nigeria would be rescued by the significant oil resources in the region but in reality there has been much conflict, which infighting and a vast array of problems with the oil industry. Indeed a number of overseas oil companies are now refusing to deal with the Nigerian government because they have reneged on former promises and can in some circumstances be difficult to deal with. It was the oil industry which attracted many expats to the region, in the hope that employment would be fairly easy to obtain and for those not in the oil industry there were hopes that the economy would prosper and new industries and sectors would appear.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case and again many people on the ground have highlighted the massive difference in income across the population. A massive number of the Nigerian population still live in absolute poverty while a small number appear to be taking the lion share of the country’s wealth both from oil and other areas. As a consequence, due to the difficult nature of life in Nigeria, relatively expensive cost of living, relatively low standard of living and the often volatile political nature of the country, more and more expats are now returning home. The dream may well be over in the short term but many still believe that Nigeria will eventually recover.

There are also new risks with travel as we heard last week in the news as there were several people who were kidnapped in Nigeria. Someone can actually buy kidnap and ransom insurance where if you are kidnapped you could have up to $40 million worth of negotiating money to help with someones release.


There are many different reasons why people look to move back to their former homeland, some of them based upon the country they chose to move to and others based on personal lives. We have highlighted a number of countries, for various reasons, which would appear to have lost more than their fair share of expats. There is every chance that some of these countries will “turnaround” in due course but in the meantime it seems that more and more expats are more than happy to move back to their formal homelands and the relative security of their family and friends.

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