Expatriates abroad: Is it time to return home?

January 17, 2010

With unemployment hovering above 10% in the USA and even higher in many parts of Europe, the prospects for unemployed foreign professionals to find work in the West are looking bleak. In fact, the Wall Street Journal recently noted that foreign based companies, especially those in Asia, are using the bleak employment picture in the USA to lure their country’s citizens back home.

Just how many foreign professionals are considering returning home? The Wall Street Journal quoted HSBC Bank International’s Expat Explorer Survey’s 2009 findings that 23% of US-based expats are actively considering returning home, compared with 15% of expats based elsewhere in the world. Moreover and given that salary and promotion freezes have now become the norm in the USA, increasingly limited career prospects were cited as the primary reason to consider returning home.

However, Indians working in the USA have another reason to consider returning home: It may be the only way for them to marry. With the USA economy weakening, the Wall Street Journal reported back in April that Indian parents were “balking” at the idea of sending their daughters to the USA to marry Indian professionals working in finance or IT there. In fact, the founder of the matrimonial Web site Bharatmatrimony.com was quoted as saying that favorable responses to overseas Indian grooms registered on his site have declined by 20% over the past nine months.

returnHome1 Expatriates abroad: Is it time to return home?
Moreover, India, like many other developing countries with growing economies and especially growing outsourcing industries, has become more livable in recent years while women are increasingly entering the workforce and have careers of their own. Hence, the Wall Street Journal article cited the fears of career orientated Indian women as to what their employment prospects and standard of living would be if they were to relocate to the USA.

Meanwhile and in the Philippines, ABS-CBN reported back in March that Filipino managers and executives abroad are also increasingly open to at least considering the idea of returning home (although many more are still open to or are leaving the country). However, many of those who moved abroad may have difficulty actually returning home due to the accumulation of debt and mortgages abroad and the lack of jobs back in the Philippines that pay enough to cover personal debt payments abroad. Nevertheless, it was noted that the cost of living in the Philippines was lower and that returnees with savings could stretch them much further there than in the USA.

Ironically though, its not just expats from developing countries who could save money by returning home. The New York Times reported back in March that the weakening British economy has accomplished something the French have been unable to do for 100s of years: rout the British. Apparently, the sinking British pound along with the sinking British housing market is forcing British professionals who moved to France in order to stretch their incomes or to enjoy a better quality of life to now return home or to hunker down in the hopes that things will improve soon. 

Hence, we would like to ask our readers: Are you a foreign born professional working outside of your home country and are you open to or actively looking to return home? If so, what are your primary reasons and considerations?


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