Every 3 months? Every 6 months? Or depending where you’ve moved to, maybe even every 18 months? There are of course no written rules but after living abroad just over a year, here’s a bit on how I went about visiting (and not visiting) home and why:
“When are you first going to come back?”
I was asked this quite a lot before I left London and I always replied with “I don’t know.” It wasn’t to be difficult and it wasn’t because I intended not to visit, but with moving abroad, I think it’s better to have the ‘going’ mentality, rather than the ‘coming back’ mentality, before you’ve even touched base. So don’t make plans and just see how it goes.
“When can we come?”
My first visitor came 5 months after I moved abroad. I wanted time to settle properly and knew it would take a while. I needed to socialise a lot, get to grips with my then new job and become familiar with the city. I mean, it’s no use showing people your new home if you don’t even know what to show them and where to go. It was essential that I made Frankfurt my home and I knew that having visitors every couple of weeks within the first few months would prevent me from adjusting properly. Of course, I still kept in touch with everyone, but this really was the right choice for me as it allowed time to fully immerse into my new surroundings.
When is a good time?
My sister came to Germany in December (5 months after I moved) and I flew back to London with her for Christmas. This was the perfect time for my first visit home. Everyone was enjoying the festive season, and I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it. For you, Christmas may be a long way off, but avoid booking flights if you’re feeling homesick or have had a bad day as your thoughts are usually irrational. I personally think it’s better to fight through these times rather than run from them.
How long did you go for?
When you do get round to booking your first flight home, bear in mind that you’ll be busy busy busy. I put dates in the diary with everyone and was pretty organised, but constantly trekking across London for 10 days straight was tiring. So schedule some chill time or prepared to be knackered by then end, either way, it will be worth it.
Only at Christmas!?
I also went home for a long weekend during the summer. I planned two or three events and was more than happy to see everyone who could join me there. I didn’t have time to meet up with people separately, but everyone was very understanding and went above and beyond to come to what I had arranged.
What about in between?
I plan holidays with my friends! I have been on a few trips this year, and the majority of them have been with friends from the UK. Either they come Frankfurt, we meet up in other German cities, or we go abroad. You can still holiday with your friends, even though you no longer live in the same country and the initial meet up once you’ve all arrived is very exciting.
Save some annual leave
This is the first time I have lived abroad whilst working full-time and annual leave has become ever-more precious. I booked my annual leave for Christmas in June so that I don’t have to keep calculating how many holiday days I have left throughout the year. I have also saved a few days just in case there is something I urgently need to fly home for. I would recommend doing this as it keeps your mind at rest.
One more suggestion…
I am planning on living abroad for, well I don’t know, a while, and realised that if everyone visited within the first 12 months, I will hardly see anyone over the next few years. So even though it’s only September, I have already asked some friends to come next spring (after the cold winter), and although it may seem a long way off, in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t really that far at all. Everyone has been understanding of this and I am already looking forward to putting dates in the diary!
I am lucky enough to have moved abroad and easily be able to have visitors and go home when I would like to. I have been back twice in one year and not returning to London too often meant that I could really make Frankfurt my new home. I am not sure what the next 12 months holds, but for my first year of being abroad, this has been the perfect balance and I would definitely recommend that you do the same.