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Homeward Bound
Are you thinking of moving back home after years overseas? Here?s the Guardian Abroad guide to the practical things you?ll need to turn your mind to, as well as some tips to help you come to terms emotionally with a country that may have moved on without you (for instance, did you know George Bush is president? No, not him, the other one). Although much of the information is UK-specific, many of the details are likely to apply globally.

Your Guardian Abroad Checklist for Repatriation

Move Minus 12 Months

  • Check the expiry date on passports for the whole family. It sounds obvious ? hell, it IS obvious ? but ensure that they will not expire before your departure.
  • When you arrive, do you want to move into a property you own that you have been renting out? Check when the lease expires. Notify your managing agent/tenant that the tenant will not be able to renew at the end of the lease, or give notice that you are exercising your break clause to terminate the lease.
  • If you want to buy a property in your home country, arrange a mortgage, appoint a solicitor and start to research areas and properties on the internet, or contact a relocation agent to help. Familiarise yourself with the current housing market through property and financial websites, national and local papers and the Land Registry, www.landreg.gov.uk
  • If you have school-age children, start the process of applying for school places. Check out websites, get prospectuses, read league tables and Ofsted reports. For state schools you will need an address in the area you?re returning to. Check out the application deadlines for the first admission to primary school intake (reception class) and for older children, the transfer to secondary school. If your children don?t fall into these age categories, you?ll have to wait until six to eight weeks before your return to apply for a state school place. For independent (private) schools, check out application deadlines and entrance exam dates, and pay any registration fees. If you don?t have kids, move on to the next paragraph.
  • Remember to check the language teaching available at prospective schools, to help keep up your child?s language skills.
  • Look at International and American schools if you think further international moves are on the cards. Consider taking advice from an education consultant, especially if you might need to go ?to appeal? for your chosen state school place.
  • Find out your tax situation and take into account any key dates and expenditure when planning the move back home.
  • Check out finance and currency implications for the move ? mortgage, rent, pension, savings, insurance, etc.
  • If you or your partner will be job-hunting in your planned country of residence, now is the time to review your career, start work on your CV and find out about potential employers and the local job market. If further education is an option, check out places and application procedures.
  • Find out how to transfer/convert any professional or other qualifications obtained abroad. Familiarise yourself with websites and journals covering your industry sector or profession. Consider working with a career counsellor or career coach, particularly if you are thinking of changing direction.

Move Minus Six Months

  • Check out removal companies and shipment restrictions.
  • Arrange shipment of pets and put them into quarantine (in UK for six months) ahead of your move if you want to be reunited when you arrive home. Alternatively, for a return to Britain, arrange to bring your animals back under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) without quarantine if applicable. Check details on www.defra.gov.uk
  • Confirm independent school places (a term ahead). Your children should sit any entrance exams or assessment tests for independent school places.
  • Check out recruitment websites. Start applying for jobs. Find out about networking opportunities. Research professional associations, business clubs and their local activities in your home area.
  • Get in touch with all your business/professional/career contacts and let them know you?re coming back and what your plans are. Contact businesses/organisations in the country where you are working to learn about job opportunities in their offices in the country to which you are returning.
  • Reconnect with family and friends at home. The nice ones, anyway.

Move Minus Three Months

  • Arrange quotes from removal companies. Schedule the move and arrange storage if necessary.
  • Contact and brief a relocation agent if you are seeking a rented property. Look on websites and register with letting agents. Book temporary accommodation (ie, a serviced apartment) as a stopgap if required.
  • Make application for state school places (usually applications are only allowed six to eight weeks ahead). Pay fees for the first term for independent schools to secure places (usually a half-term ahead).
  • Update your CV and compile references.

Move Minus One Month

  • Compile school records and inoculation records.
  • Check with the managing agent of your property that the tenant will have left the property and that it has been professionally cleaned and the garden tidied, ready for your homecoming.
  • Confirm the packing date, removal schedule and delivery date of your shipment (there can be delays at customs, shipment restrictions, security checks etc) and the unpacking date. Arrange to get any furniture out of storage.
  • If you are returning to an unfurnished property and your stuff is still in transit, book rented furniture, linen and household packs to tide you over ? you can rent practically anything these days!
  • Transfer utilities and council tax back into your name if the tenants have vacated.
  • Compile medical records and register with a GP (if you have a local address).

Fiona Murchie of Re:locate Magazine
Relocate is the UK?s leading magazine for relocation and HR professionals and their employees. See www.relocatemagazine.com for further details

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