Repatriation Survey Results

By Doreen Cumberford and John Palmer

Survey pic 1

This is a summary of a 2017 survey of over 200 expats who have returned to their home countries.  The purpose of the survey was to explore the range of feelings and coping strategies experienced by different groups of expats including missionaries, corporate, educators, students, military and accompanying spouses on their return from a short or long expatriate experience.

Key Findings:

1. Over 50 emotions reported are best portrayed in this wordle. The most common emotional states are probably conflicted and sad.  The comment we liked the best was “I felt like the unfrozen caveman from SNL.”
2. The most common challenges were grieving and missing my life abroad, feeling a loss of identity, restless, unsettled, and misunderstood.
3. Only 7% of respondents received any support from their employers either before or after the repatriation assignment. 37% sought out support for themselves – mostly other expats and other emotional support service providers.
4. Over half reported they coped with the transition by talking with friends and family and 29% joined online support groups such as I AM A TRIANGLE. Fifteen respondents hired coaches. This red wordle represents the most common coping methods.
5. Most participants wanted more help with processing their complex emotions, articulating the changes in themselves, making new friends, and with their career on returning.
6. The most surprising aspects of return included the difficulty of fitting back in to your old networks, your old town, your old life; the plethora of choices available at home in huge contrast to the foreign assignment; and the self-centered attitude of most people who had not traveled.
7. Perhaps the most telling question was the last one – did you treat your return as an adventure? 23% answered that they did at least some of the time, and their responses generally indicated a better repatriation overall.

To find out more about the survey questions or results, please contact John Palmer or Doreen Cumberford at