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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys. Wondering if I could get your .02. I hope this is the right forum?

I've been living in the UK for a few years now, and I am seriously considering going home to the US.

Long story short:

I have taken a huge pay cut from what I was making in the US, and it doesn't seem like that's ever going to change when I look at what others are making. I'm not feeling like I'll ever have the quality of life I had in the US. And I don't mean piles of stuff -- that was never my thing. I literally just mean a reasonable home with space to breathe where everything works properly, and maybe I have some prospect of owning someday. The UK is so much more expensive no matter where you go, and wages haven't kept pace at all.

I've found it very difficult to make friends here; the culture is a lot more standoffish than where I'm from or the other countries I've lived in, and even after 3 years, I wouldn't say I've met anyone I'd call close. Seems like a lot of immigrants here stick together because they find it difficult too, but of course, then you wind up losing friends every few months because most expats go back eventually. So I've just never wound up feeling like I have any sort of support system here, or that this is likely to change anytime soon.

For a while, the NHS was kept me hanging on, but it's been going seriously downhill in the past couple years and I'm not sure if it's worth it anymore. I could afford American care back when I was making American wages! I mean, yeah, clearly I know the American system has problems, but I never spent 6 months trying to get a sinus problem addressed like I did here. Am I just crazy? Anyone else?

I just haven't been able to find a place for me where I'm happy here. Maybe it's me, I dunno. But I haven't been able to change it.

My visa is going to be on the chopping block for Brexit, which has caused me serious employability problems and reduced my income even more, and honestly I'm just not sure I'm willing to put the effort in to fight for it and re-apply under an entirely new scheme (assuming I even have that option and they don't just kick me out). I'm wondering if I should just cut my loses and go, ya know?

Have any Americans repatriated and regretted it? Been really happy with it? What was the final straw for you? I'm just having a hard time making up my mind -- I don't trust my own decision-making anymore, with how badly this has gone for me.

If it matters, I'm thinking of moving to Charleston, South Carolina. Yeah, big change of pace, I know. But with no surviving family and all these years of an underwhelming social life here, just being in a friendly culture where people don't look at me like I'm crazy when I try to talk to them is really at the top of my list. I'm from Minnesota, which isn't as reserved as here, but can still take a long time to get to know people, and I just don't want to experience those winters ever again! And Charleston is literally the most friendly city in America, along with being on the upswing economically, so that's sort of the consideration. Well, that and beaches. I like beaches. Oh, and space. Space is nice.

So... thoughts? Wonderful experiences? Reprimanding for being a bad expat? Pep talks from someone who's had the first few years totally suck and then somehow it magically stopped sucking? Whatever ya got.

Thanks.
 

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Sorry, I don't understand either the word 'yet', or why it would affect employability. I'm not trying to be argumentative, I really do not understand this.
 

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There is no magic day when a switch is flipped and an expat is part of a community nor will the Brexit change UK weather.

Polish your resume resurrect your network. It may take a while to find the right job in Charleston.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Sorry, I don't understand either the word 'yet', or why it would affect employability. I'm not trying to be argumentative, I really do not understand this.
My entire visa situation is a long explanation, and not very important to understanding my question here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
There is no magic day when a switch is flipped and an expat is part of a community nor will the Brexit change UK weather.

Polish your resume resurrect your network. It may take a while to find the right job in Charleston.
Yeah, I guess I just don't feel like I'm any better integrated into anything than the day I move. What's doubly discouraging is that most expats I've met feel the same. I'm just getting to be done with feeling like my life is on hold.

Yup, I expect it will. A big part of why I'm considering leaving now rather than waiting to see if I can re-apply after Brexit is that if I go now, I still have a nest egg. If I wait 2 years, I probably won't.

I think in a few years though, Charleston will have grown substantially how it's going, and I have a friend there as well, so I'm hoping that will give me a good running start in a city that looks to be getting set to take off.
 

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Obviously, I don't know lilin's visa circumstances, but what I suspect is that s/he is in the UK on a work visa - i.e. employer obtained the visa to enable lilin to work at a particular job and company. Post Brexit (or even before I think), unless there is some sort of status change (based, say, on how long non-EU nationals have lived in Britain), lilin's ability to change jobs would be limited. This happens all the time in other European countries now - usually the tripping point for a residence permit with unlimited work privileges is 4 or 5 years. Otherwise, you work for the employer what brought you to the country. (But you're right - Brexit probably won't change this.)

As for all the other points, just think of the novel titled "You Can't Go Home Again." (I leave it to you to google it if you're interested.)

I lived in the UK for not quite a year and then was forced to return to the US, albeit in the same company and job and location. It very well may not solve your basic problem. (It didn't do anything for me - and it's a big reason I wound up coming back to Europe on my own a couple years later.) The US has changed in the time you've been away. And YOU have changed during that time. Especially where you'll be heading for a very different part of the country where you have (apparently) no ties other than liking the weather (or thinking you do - how do you feel about hurricanes?).

Moving back "home" after 1 or 3 or 5 years away is like picking up and moving to another country all over again. I suspect the health care system you knew has drastically changed, given the current uproar over repeal, replace or reconfigure what they've got. Have you talked to your friend in Charleston about possibly moving there? What are your job prospects in the area? Strangely enough, when looking for a new job in the US (or getting insurance, or a credit rating), the fact that you have been "away" for a few years can actually count against you. And what is it about Charleston that will make it any easier for you to make friends or integrate? The culture of Charleston is likely very different from what you remember about Minnesota.

I'm not trying to talk you out of it. Just advising you to think through what you really want to do and why. Talk to your friend in Charleston and ask her what she likes about the place and what she doesn't. It may be a good move for you - or it may wind up being more of the same if you don't take the time to consider what it is that is really bothering you and what moving to Charleston (or anywhere) will do to resolve your issues for you.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Since this is a British expat forum, then the only Americans you are likely to hear from are those that have returned to the US, not liked it, and returned to the UK or Europe.

Those that are happily ensconced in the States won't be responding.

So, if you feel unhappy about the UK then return home. If that proves unsatisfactory you could always move again.

No other person's experience can ever give you a true vision of what somewhere else is like.

Unless you get health insurance no-one except extremely wealthy people can afford to self insure against major illness in the US .....
 

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Um, while the ExpatForum may have been started by a Brit, it has become an International forum over the years. We have members and moderators from all over. And BTW, the forum is now owned by a Canadian company. There are some specifically British expat forums out there, but we are not one.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Since this is a British expat forum, then the only Americans you are likely to hear from are those that have returned to the US, not liked it, and returned to the UK or Europe.

Those that are happily ensconced in the States won't be responding.

So, if you feel unhappy about the UK then return home. If that proves unsatisfactory you could always move again.

No other person's experience can ever give you a true vision of what somewhere else is like.

Unless you get health insurance no-one except extremely wealthy people can afford to self insure against major illness in the US .....
With all due respect this is hoag wash! I have yet to encounter a company not offering medical insurance and there are plenty option in the markets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
As I mentioned in my OP, I have lived in numerous other countries and states, and I am well aware of the difficulties of repatriation. I'm not expected things to be the same, given that I don't even plan to return to my home state.

Obviously I am not trying to relive anything. I am just starting to doubt the effort of the next couple years will be worth the pay-off, given that I am increasingly unsure that I would even want to continue living here.

I am not wealthy and I afforded healthcare fine, even when I needed surgery, both before and after the passage of the ACA. I don't really understand why someone not from the US wants to tell me what the US is like.

I am rather discouraged that most responses seem to have not read my OP, and I have been told I am somehow not allowed to be in an international expat forum. So far no one has even attempted to respond to my OP apart Bevdeforges. Thank you for that though.

Anyway, Bev, re: Charleston, like I said, I am aware it's a small city/big town economy. But it's growing rapidly economically speaking, and it gives me an opportunity to put my investments in something ahead of the curve.

In the immediate term, I don't have to be overly stressed about work. I'd be landing with a decent-paying freelance gig and a nest egg. The economy for my profession is the same as most places: mediocre. I don't have the sort of skills that tend to undergo major swings of desirability; it's something you have to want, no matter where you go. I've made it in in the South in the recession, so I can make it there in an upswing.

When I reflect on places I have been the most happy, they have tended to be much more outgoing cultures. NZ, Tuscon, etc. I also really like living by the ocean. Charleston is a relatively inexpensive place where I can have both of those things, which is experiencing a lot of growth and has very good mid-term prospects.

I am not looking for a place that's some huge metropolis. I'm honestly over that. The places I've liked best have all been under half a million people. Small city is a good size for me.

That is essentially my thought process.

Like I said in my OP, I am not unfamiliar with repatriation syndrome, as it were. I just don't like it here, and I have very little control over my life. I have a lot more control no matter where I am if I'm in the US, and I've not had any trouble settling logistically in any US state I've lived in. Being an immigrant is a certain cost of control, along with the cost of control that goes with living in a much more bureaucratic nation, and I'm just tired of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
ETA since I don't see an edit button: The reason I'm asking about regrets despite having repatriated before if because I've never done it under these circumstances, which is to say, I feel sort of pushed out rather than just going because my time is up or I never intended to stay permanently, if that makes sense? This time, the intent was to stay, but it's just not working out for me.

Other times I've repatriated, it's been a cleaner break, where I felt like I got more out of it. I sort of feel like this last few years has been kind of a waste for me, for reasons partly outside my control and partly because it's just not clicking with me. And that makes the decision tougher in some ways; I ask myself more questions about what could have gone differently, rather than just being happy with how it was. Should I redouble my efforts? What if in 2 years my nest egg is gone and I'm forced go anyway, or I'm still not happy here?

I've never left feeling bad about it, like I do this time. And it makes me wonder about things more.
 

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With all due respect this is hoag wash! I have yet to encounter a company not offering medical insurance and there are plenty option in the markets.
With the greatest of respect I did not say that one could not get employer medical insurance or that there were no other options.

In his first post the OP said that he "could afford healthcare with his American wages". This, to me, sort of implied that he paid for the healthcare out of his wages i.e not through an employer health plan. Probably was wrong.

My response today was merely to state that without medical insurance (employer, ACA etc) most people could only afford the most basic of medical treatment.

Contrary to your experience I know of two, small companies in my area who do not offer insurance. Luckily their staff have qualified for ACA. (some people have few options)
 

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As I mentioned in my OP, I have lived in numerous other countries and states, and I am well aware of the difficulties of repatriation. I'm not expected things to be the same, given that I don't even plan to return to my home state.

Obviously I am not trying to relive anything. I am just starting to doubt the effort of the next couple years will be worth the pay-off, given that I am increasingly unsure that I would even want to continue living here.

I am not wealthy and I afforded healthcare fine, even when I needed surgery, both before and after the passage of the ACA. I don't really understand why someone not from the US wants to tell me what the US is like.

I am rather discouraged that most responses seem to have not read my OP, and I have been told I am somehow not allowed to be in an international expat forum. So far no one has even attempted to respond to my OP apart Bevdeforges. Thank you for that though.

Anyway, Bev, re: Charleston, like I said, I am aware it's a small city/big town economy. But it's growing rapidly economically speaking, and it gives me an opportunity to put my investments in something ahead of the curve.

In the immediate term, I don't have to be overly stressed about work. I'd be landing with a decent-paying freelance gig and a nest egg. The economy for my profession is the same as most places: mediocre. I don't have the sort of skills that tend to undergo major swings of desirability; it's something you have to want, no matter where you go. I've made it in in the South in the recession, so I can make it there in an upswing.

When I reflect on places I have been the most happy, they have tended to be much more outgoing cultures. NZ, Tuscon, etc. I also really like living by the ocean. Charleston is a relatively inexpensive place where I can have both of those things, which is experiencing a lot of growth and has very good mid-term prospects.

I am not looking for a place that's some huge metropolis. I'm honestly over that. The places I've liked best have all been under half a million people. Small city is a good size for me.

That is essentially my thought process.

Like I said in my OP, I am not unfamiliar with repatriation syndrome, as it were. I just don't like it here, and I have very little control over my life. I have a lot more control no matter where I am if I'm in the US, and I've not had any trouble settling logistically in any US state I've lived in. Being an immigrant is a certain cost of control, along with the cost of control that goes with living in a much more bureaucratic nation, and I'm just tired of it.
I don't see what it is that you want the forum to advise you on - you seem to have looked at the situation pretty carefully, and while you have some doubts, you are not going into this with rose coloured glasses.

As you are a US citizen you don't have visa issues, you have lived in several States so you have experience of different aspects of the States, you are not worried about the financial side if you do move, you believe you can have a more open and free life in the US and living in the UK has just not worked out for you.

You have identified Charleston as an area which might be OK for you. So try it - if you don't like it there, the US is a big place .......

Hopefully a US citizen who has returned to the US and is happy they did so, will respond with more concrete advice.
 

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ETA since I don't see an edit button: The reason I'm asking about regrets despite having repatriated before if because I've never done it under these circumstances, which is to say, I feel sort of pushed out rather than just going because my time is up or I never intended to stay permanently, if that makes sense? This time, the intent was to stay, but it's just not working out for me.

Other times I've repatriated, it's been a cleaner break, where I felt like I got more out of it. I sort of feel like this last few years has been kind of a waste for me, for reasons partly outside my control and partly because it's just not clicking with me. And that makes the decision tougher in some ways; I ask myself more questions about what could have gone differently, rather than just being happy with how it was. Should I redouble my efforts? What if in 2 years my nest egg is gone and I'm forced go anyway, or I'm still not happy here?

I've never left feeling bad about it, like I do this time. And it makes me wonder about things more.
I do not understand what you are trying to find out. You have a portable job, are US citizen, have a location in mind versus UK weather and not finding the right personal circle. Nobody can tell you how long your nest egg will last or if you will ever be happy where you are.
When we move we move. Pack what is necessary, put the house on the market and look forward to what will be next.
If the place is wrong and you can do something about it why not do it?
 

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OK, responsible contrary opinion here. I guess I understand a bit the conundrum here. It sounds as if there are issues you are dealing with, and there is the ever present concern that moving - back or on - may or may not resolve the issues. Obviously, that is the big risk you and only you can decide on.

It may also depend on just what you were hoping for when you moved to the UK. And what you have to gain or lose by going back to the US.

I can only speak for myself. I had to return to the US sooner than originally planned and even in just that short year (or "almost"), I found that things had changed and I had changed enough that I wanted to turn right around and go back. Now, that had quite a bit to do with my experience in the UK, the period (just before the EU happened) and my particular set of ties and circumstances.

Several years later, after settling in Europe, I had a mini-crisis, where I seriously considered whether or not I should go back. It is not an easy decision, and not really one where other people (particularly folks you don't really know except for your online presence) can help you very much. I decided to stay - but that required lots of changes, in expectations, in behaviors and in attitudes. I'm very happy with my decision. But you're the only one who can decide these sorts of things for you and your situation. One big "deciding factor" I know I wrestled with was the idea that, what would I do if I moved back and still had the same issues and disappointments? Where would I go from there?
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
OK, responsible contrary opinion here. I guess I understand a bit the conundrum here. It sounds as if there are issues you are dealing with, and there is the ever present concern that moving - back or on - may or may not resolve the issues. Obviously, that is the big risk you and only you can decide on.

It may also depend on just what you were hoping for when you moved to the UK. And what you have to gain or lose by going back to the US.

I can only speak for myself. I had to return to the US sooner than originally planned and even in just that short year (or "almost"), I found that things had changed and I had changed enough that I wanted to turn right around and go back. Now, that had quite a bit to do with my experience in the UK, the period (just before the EU happened) and my particular set of ties and circumstances.

Several years later, after settling in Europe, I had a mini-crisis, where I seriously considered whether or not I should go back. It is not an easy decision, and not really one where other people (particularly folks you don't really know except for your online presence) can help you very much. I decided to stay - but that required lots of changes, in expectations, in behaviors and in attitudes. I'm very happy with my decision. But you're the only one who can decide these sorts of things for you and your situation. One big "deciding factor" I know I wrestled with was the idea that, what would I do if I moved back and still had the same issues and disappointments? Where would I go from there?
Cheers,
Bev
Thanks for this.

I think the big hurdle for me is that I am not sure I can happily make the changes and compromises I have to make for the UK to be a place I can feel settled. My desires for my life just don't work here as well as they do in the US, and I wonder if I'm just of an age where those things aren't going to change.

There's a lot of examples of that, like the social culture I talked about earlier. I swear I've been getting more socially anxious after so often feeling like I'm being burdensome just trying to talk to people, over the last couple years. That's really worn on me.

But perhaps an easier example to explain is the "life for relaxing" versus "live to work" thing of the UK versus the US. Well, I happen to be someone who loves what I do, and have a hard time finding the sort of culture I like of similar-minded people here. I can understand the latter point of view for someone who perhaps doesn't have a singular passion the way I do, but for me, it's really demoralizing to feel like other people don't care as much, or even resent me for caring so much and wanting us to do more, if that makes sense. It really sucks the joy out of my work.

Is that something I WANT to change? To care less about something that's really shaped my sense of meaning?

That's the sort of thing I'm wrestling with, as far as whether I'm willing to make the necessary adjustments to make life in the UK not feel so stifling, apart from all the visa issues and the general expat burnout/change fatigue I have.

I've long since accepted that I'll never be entirely "American" for being an expat, and that was true long before this latest stint in the UK. And that's part of what's caught me out about how hard it's been for me here -- I've integrated ok in plenty of other places. But man, the UK and I are like nails on chalkboard.

But even it being the case that I've done ok in other countries... maybe I am nonetheless still too American for the UK. Do I DESIRE to change that?

I struggle to think of what I'd rather be, or what I'd rather do instead if I were to give that up. And that makes it hard for me to desire to change it, when I don't really see anything else here that appeals to me equally. I don't want to trade in something that's really carried me through life and given me happiness, for something that doesn't seem to offer as much for me personally.

I can think of so many people, even Americans, who would probably love to make that trade, as they don't get the jolt I do out of anything they do for their roof. But... what if I was just born in the right place for someone wired as high as I am? What if where I come from is just easier for me, as someone with no surviving family and who relies on being able to make friends relatively easily for my network (or indeed, having workmates where we become like family by virtue of that same high-strung hyper-caring)?

Does that make sense?

The struggle is that I'm fairly sure if I do leave, I won't get another shot at it. So if I leave, I'm committed to that decision to a larger degree than I am committed to staying. If I leave, I don't want to wonder what would have happened if I'd stuck it out, at least until I had PR.

I want to make sure I'm not making a permanent decision over a temporary problem. And equally, I don't want to kill myself fighting through Brexit only to find out that this isn't a temporary problem at all, or worse, I just lose my visa anyway.
 
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