Game Changer

Transitioning Back to the US: A Guide for Returning Expats

Tonya Towles

Considering a move back to the US after living abroad? This expert guide can assist in making the transition as smooth and stress-free as possible. From locating the ideal home to constructing a support network, you will find all the necessary tips and tricks to thrive in your new location. Don’t let the move back home cause undue stress – let this guide help you plan for success.

If you’ve been living abroad and are considering returning to the US, keeping a few key things in mind is important. The process of repatriation can be challenging, but proper preparation makes it a rewarding experience. Whether you’re a civilian or military personnel returning from a long-term stay in another country or you’ve been working abroad for years, here’s a comprehensive list of tips to help you transition easier and less stressful:

  1. Plan ahead
    The earlier you plan for a move, the better. Create a list of tasks to complete and start working on them immediately. This will help reduce stress and make sure everything goes according to plan.
  2. Research the community
    Before moving, take some time to research your new community and learn what it offers. This can help you find good neighborhoods for families and learn about schools, fun things to do, and other amenities.
  3. Build a support network
    Resettling in the United States after living abroad can be challenging. But establishing a support network of friends, family, and other military families can offer guidance and help you during this transition.
  4.  Maintain your overseas network
    While it is important to establish a new support network in your new community, it is also important to stay in touch with the people you met while living abroad. This will help you feel connected and part of a group as you get used to your new home.
  5. Update your documents
    Keep current official documents like passports, driver’s licenses, and military ID cards. This can help you access the resources and services you need when you move to a new community.
  6. Consider your finances
    You must make some financial preparations before returning to the United States. This means having a good credit score, covering the moving costs, ensuring all bills are paid and updated, and getting multiple quotes for different moving services. It is advisable to save some extra money each month to cover unforeseen expenses. With careful planning, you can be financially prepared to return to the US after living abroad.
  7. Research the local real estate market
    Before you buy or rent a house, familiarize yourself with the local real estate market. Remember that real estate markets can differ significantly depending on the location, so it’s important to research ahead of time. Research real estate laws in your state and county, too. Every area of the US has different laws regarding property ownership, financing, and taxation. Knowing local regulations helps avoid potential complications when buying or renting a home.
  8. Find housing ahead of time
    To avoid scrambling for housing at the last minute, start looking for a place to live as soon as you know you’re moving. An experienced real estate agent can help you find the ideal neighborhood for your lifestyle, whether you are a civilian or a military personnel. This applies whether you intend to buy or rent a property. Military families or service members should seek the help of a professional real estate agent, such as Eglin AFB Real Estate Agent, who specializes in military relocation. They can help you find listings and offer discounts on your rent or mortgage.
  9. Look at mortgage pre-approval
    If you plan to buy a property in the United States, get pre-approval for a mortgage to know how much you can spend on a home. This will help you focus on finding the right property as soon as you return to the country. Additionally, having a pre-approval for a mortgage gives buyers and sellers more confidence that the sale will go through once negotiations start.
  10. Research schools
    Research different schools in your new community and decide which ones would be the best fit for your children. Consider location, academic programs, extracurricular activities, and ratings and reviews while picking the right one.
  11. Update your insurance
    You must have the right and updated insurance that covers you and your family’s needs in case of an unforeseen event. This may include different insurance such as health, car, and homeowners’ or renters’ insurance.
  12. Set up your utilities
    Before moving into your new home, set up the utilities, such as electricity, gas, and internet. To do this, you must contact the right service providers and set up accounts.
  13. Transfer your medical record
    Transfer your medical records to a new healthcare provider in your new community so you can continue receiving the care you need. This process may involve reaching out to your current provider and requesting copies of your records.
  14. Look into vehicle registration
    If you plan on bringing a car with you, you must register it under your state’s laws. Your vehicle may need to be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles and you may need a new driver’s license.
  15. Plan long-term
    When determining whether to purchase or lease a property, consider the length of your intended stay in the area. If you’re only moving back for a few years, renting might be a better option. Otherwise, buying a home can be more cost-effective.
  16. Get adequate help while moving back
    If you are a military family or service member searching for a new residence, the PCS Pro Team has a wealth of experience assisting military families with their moves. If you are interested in finding a single-family home or a condo, Eglin AFB real estate agents have the resources and expertise to help military families locate the ideal home during a PCS. 

Breathe a Sigh of Relief, You Can Do It!

Resettling in the United States after living abroad can be challenging. But when done right, it can be a rewarding experience. With some planning and preparation, you can transition back to life in the US smoother. Use the tips and resources mentioned above to help you.


Written by Tonya Towles.
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Tonya Towles
Tonya Towles is the Expansion Network Owner at PCS Pro. PCS Pro is comprised of military spouses and veterans who are passionate about helping fellow military families and service members find their next home. With their expertise, you will have an endless amount of resources that have all the permanent change of military station information that you could ever need. Having done it themselves, they are familiar with the PCS military process and strive to help their clients navigate it with as little stress as possible.


Tonya Towles is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with her through LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website.