Repatriation 2021: your guide to moving back home during a pandemic

It may seem like a difficult task, but it's not impossible. Here's your complete guide to moving back home in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Xe Consumer

December 18, 2020 8 min read

Repatriating back home

Singapore is a country loved by expats. But many returned to their home countries this year because of business-related uncertainties linked to COVID-19. 

In Hong Kong, the political unrest created an unstable environment, causing many schools and businesses to shut down. Then came the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic that led to many job losses and reduced donor funding. 

Many expats lost their jobs as there was stiff competition, increasing anti-foreigner feelings. Government bodies and companies preferred to hire locals, and many expats found themselves without jobs. 

Indian expats had their lives turned upside down by COVID-19. Many were stranded in the US, the UK, and other countries. India made a great repatriation of its citizens—the government helped hundreds of thousands of people to get back home. Most went back home after lockdowns were lifted.

Many people have found themselves in this situation this year. Some have opted to move back home to spend the pandemic with their families rather than quarantine alone. Others, unhappy with conditions in their countries of residence, looked to move back home for better circumstances.

If you're one of the expats moving back home during the coronavirus pandemic, you’re not alone. Whether repatriation is elective or unwanted, it can be a tough experience. But it’s not as hard as you think. 

This is how you can easily move back home during a pandemic. 

1. Prepare yourself mentally

Even though change is necessary, it’s not always easy. After you’ve lived somewhere for a long time, it becomes your home. Having to move suddenly can be exhausting to your mind and body. You may experience feelings of fear, sadness, anxiety, and shock. 

Here’s what you should do.

Remind yourself that feelings are temporary and that you will get through this. Minimize stress by identifying healthy ways to deal with negative emotions. You can talk to loved ones about the upcoming move and ask for their support during this period. Also, prepare to start your new life and expect what that might involve. 

Find activities you enjoy and do them often to pass time as you wait to travel. Exercise, spend time outdoors, visit historical landmarks, or volunteer at an animal shelter or a youth shelter (safety permitting). Additionally, don’t listen to news about the pandemic all the time as this can increase your anxiety levels. If you must stay updated, watch the news for 15 to 20 minutes a day. 

2. Organize your finances

One of the most important things to do before moving back home is putting your finances in order. It’s even more important if you don't have a job waiting back home. Find out the cost of living and plan your budget for several months. 

You may not have lived in your home country for a while and many things changed while you were away. Find out how much the basic things cost so you can create a realistic budget. Consider utility bills, transportation, grocery shopping, and rent. Will you live in a motel as you look for a house to rent, or will you be staying with family? Know how much money you’ll spend per month and factor it in your budget. 

Don’t wait until you’ve stepped foot on home soil to think about getting the local currency. It’ll be quicker and easier (not to mention safer) to take care of it electronically, and you’ll get a much better rate if you avoid airport kiosks and local transfer storefronts.

To send money to your bank account at home, use Xe. Xe money transfer allows you to make international payments directly to your bank account in over 130 countries. We make international money transfers affordable, straightforward, and convenient. Once you create an account, you can start sending and receiving money right away, so you’ll be prepared once it’s time to make your move. 

3. Identify your transportation options

Traveling during a pandemic is not business as usual. There may be more people going back home and the airfares may be higher. Make copies of all your important documents and keep your travel documents in one place. 

In some countries, social distancing rules are still in place and mandatory self-quarantine upon arrival is necessary. Other countries are still on lockdown, so you won’t be able to move however you want. Find out the transport options available in your home country so you can plan your movements. 

In some countries, cabs are affordable and will help you to move around easily without getting close to other people. You can also rent a car if you’ll be moving around a lot. But you’ll have to know the driving regulations, the best routes, and parking spots. If you'll be using public transport, find out the peak and off-peak times. 

4. Be optimistic

Staying optimistic despite the current situation may be too much to ask, but it's necessary. Focus on the things you can control and not those you can't. This will help prevent unnecessary disappointments that may affect your state of mind.

Remain calm and don't let your emotions take over, no matter how hard it is. Your aim is to transition easily. Also, don’t try to do everything yourself. Ask for help from friends, otherwise, you’ll get overwhelmed. 

Find ways to keep your brain in the best possible shape. Get enough sleep and exercise, This will mitigate stress, and help you to think more rationally and creatively.

Understand that you have to embrace a different lifestyle than the one you're used to, and that’s okay. Accept help from family and friends to settle in. Give yourself time--everything will fall into place.

5. Plan ahead

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, some airlines have reduced their airfares so much it seems like they might have posted them by mistake. But the incredibly low fares are seen as cruel irony; very few people will dare take advantage of them for fear of contracting COVID-19. This is a good time for you to go back home because many people are still wary of traveling.

Start looking at rentals online so you can have somewhere to stay once you get back. You can even tell a friend to go and check out apartments or properties you’re interested in. And if you’re moving back with your family, start searching for good schools for your kids.

If you have a pay-as-you-go phone or a prepaid one, buy some credit. You will need to call your friends and loved ones when you get back home, especially if you’ll be self-quarantining for an extended period.  

Begin your job search early if you don't have a job waiting for you back home. Use job portals or freelancing platforms and let people know you're actively looking for a job. By the time you get back home, you may have one lined up. 

A few final tips for moving back home during a pandemic

  • Pack the essential items. You may have to leave in a hurry, so you may not be able to carry everything you need. Pack the most essential items and leave the rest in storage or with a friend. If you’re sending your belongings back home, find out whether it's cheaper to ship them by sea or air. Alternatively, you can organize a yard sale and sell all the non-essential items. You can buy others once you get back home.

  • Get global health insurance. Global health insurance covers people who travel to different countries and need medical coverage for long periods of time. It provides access to the best healthcare wherever you are in the world. If you ever need to move to another country, you’ll still be covered.

  • Stay safe. Follow the recommended health measures to stay safe. Wear a mask, maintain social distancing, wash your hands often, and use hand sanitizer. In addition, exercise often, eat healthy, and drink plenty of water to keep your health up.

  • Get enough sleep. You may be tempted to stay up late preparing and putting things in order. This is important, but don't sacrifice your sleep. Your health will be affected and you’ll increase your risk of certain diseases. Sleep for at least 7 hours each night. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up around the same time every morning.

  • Stay busy. This will help you to focus on what’s happening now and avoid dwelling on the unpredictable life ahead. Yes, it may take a while to find another job, but be optimistic. You need to be hopeful as you prepare to move back home.

Send money home with Xe and avoid high fees

Moving back home can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.

When you use Xe, you get to keep more of your money. Unlike banks, we don’t give unfavorable rates for international transfers or charge any hidden fees. We want to make sure that you’ll get more for your money, so you can live your best international life.

Use Xe to send money to your bank account back home. It will be waiting for you once you get there. Signing up is quick and easy, and sending money is just as easy.

Reverse culture shock is bad enough. Let money be the least of your worries.