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Returning to Ireland may be coming home to a familiar place and people. But it is important to remember that returning does also involve moving your entire life from one country to another.

You may have changed since you left – for instance, you could have left Ireland in your carefree twenties and be coming back in your forties with children and a totally different set of responsibilities. Your family and friends may have changed too – moving away themselves, or having a life that does not feature you in it on a regular basis. The country will also almost certainly be different to when you left.

Think back to when you first moved abroad, and how long it took you to settle into life in a new country. Now consider that you may face a similar situation on return. We know that some people can experience a reverse culture shock on their return to Ireland, and it is quite common for it to take some time to readjust to life back in Ireland.

So what can you do to prepare yourself?

Manage Your Expectations

Well before you return, take some time to consider whether this is the right choice for you. Speak to others who have made the move back, and to your friends and family in Ireland – but ultimately do what is best for you.

Once you have made the decision, commit to it by doing your research and being as prepared as possible. Draft a plan that will work for you, and but be flexible. Ideally, start saving early on in the process, looking at accommodation options, and seeking employment in your chosen field if you plan on working.

Of course, not everyone can return in a planned way. There are support services for those needing to make an urgent or emergency return (more on crisis returns here), including us here at Crosscare Irish Diaspora Support Project and our partners Safe Home Ireland.

Accept that it Takes Time to Adjust

No matter where you are returning from or how long you have been away, it is likely that it will take some time for you to feel at home in Ireland again. Try to take things one step at a time and accept that this is a normal part of moving between countries.

Some people find that planning a short trip back to the country they returned from can help, while for others reconnecting with family and friends or indeed making new connections is key. There is no one-size-fits-all approach that works for everyone, but acknowledging that you are in a period of transition can help.

Embrace Change

See your return as a new start, and enjoy getting to know the country again by visiting places you have never been to or making new memories in places you know well.

If you can, try something new – join a club, take up a hobby, or sign up for a course. This can help you build up a new network of contacts in Ireland based on shared interests. You could also sign up to MeetUp (a social network for hosting and organizing events and activities with people who have similar interests) and find you events near you.

It can sometimes help to know that you are not the only one going through this change, and there are a number of groups, like I’ve Returned Home – Expat Meetup ☘️ and Irish Expats Returning to Ireland, where you can connect with other returned Irish citizens and share your experiences.

Consider Challenges

Talking to others who have already made the move back to Ireland can give you an idea of some of the challenges people face upon return. Make a list of what might not work out exactly as you hoped, and a counter list with how you might respond in this event.

Reach Out for Support

Even if things go exactly as you expected them to, you might find yourself feeling nostalgic or even a little homesick for your old life abroad. Talking to someone about how you are feeling can help.

Helplink Mental Health provides culturally sensitive counselling support nationwide and internationally for Irish citizens living abroad and returning home. Visit helplink.ie to find out more or email helplinksupport@helplink.ie or call 091 759887.

See Yourmentalhealth.ie for good tips on the little things you can do to look after your mental health.

Want to find out more about returning to Ireland? Find out what you need to know.

Page last updated on 12 February, 2024

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