Dublin: 9 °C Monday 26 February, 2024
dear fifi

Dear Fifi: How do I return to Ireland after 10 years abroad?

Let’s resident agony aunt Dear Fifi solve all your problems.


Big, little, serious, silly – I want to hear all of your problems and help you feel better if I can. Or tell you to cop on if necessary. I do enjoy that too.

Email me, DM me on Twitter or use this entirely secure and anonymous account to submit questions privately.


Dear Fifi,

I’m about to move back to Dublin after 10 years of living abroad. I’m terrified. Do you have any advice about how to re-acclimatise to life at home after being an expat for so long? Also – how do you make friends as an adult?!

For a frankly unconscionable number of years now, I have been repeating the mantra “Well, as the Buddha said, expectation is the root of all unhappiness”. I googled it recently, and it turns out the Buddha never bloody said that. It’s actually mostly misattributed to Shakespeare, who didn’t say it either, so I didn’t even have my wrong quote right. Colour me let down. But of course, the only reason I was disappointed was because I had set out with these foolish, cumbersome expectations of mine.

Moving back to Dublin after 10 years will be a challenge, but it’s important not to go into it with too many expectations on what it might be like hanging over your head. Some things will be different, some things will be the same. You won’t be able to guess in advance which is which, so give your racing mind a break and try – as much as you can – to go with the flow.

There are many reasons to return home, but you don’t mention yours specifically. It could be a job, family, children, financial, or simply where you want to put down permanent roots. Usually people return (or leave) for one key reason, with the rest slotting in around it. All of these elements carry the possibility of our own expectations – what job we’ll get, what home we’ll have, how our family or love life or children or social life will be like once we’re back. Don’t let these get on top of you.

Even though it’s home, you will take time to settle in. Don’t be disappointed by setbacks. Not all of the above pieces will fit at the same time. Don’t be too hard on yourself or those around you if it sometimes seems overwhelming. Those feelings will abate, but it will take time.

The crux of what I’m saying is don’t smother yourself by considering this decision a closed door or having preconceived notions about what could or should happen when you move back. You have two places with roots now. Allow yourself to experience and enjoy being back in Ireland, but don’t feel guilty if you miss the place you lived in for 10 years and feel the need to mourn the life you’re leaving behind too.

You made this decision for a reason. You’re in control of this. Keep that in mind.

And now on to making friends… Honestly, the internet is great for this. Go online and research hobbies, groups, interests and clubs (and dating if you’re single). Set yourself a simple but effective goal: say yes to every invitation you’re given for six months and issue lots of your own. Make an effort and don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen overnight.

And if you’re moving back from a city with better this or more efficient that, do us all a favour and don’t bang on about it in the pub, please.


Want to talk?

Confess a story, ask for help or just shout into the void for a bit and see if that helps. All welcome. Anonymity totally guaranteed always. 

Check out previous advice>

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel