After being stationed overseas, the return home might seem overwhelming. There is a lot to think about and some of the transitions may not be as smooth as you would like. We were in Germany for four years and have been back in the US now for a little over a year and a half. As much as we loved being home, we did have some challenges we had to face. Here are a few things you should be aware of when returning home from Germany or any other overseas location.
1) Most of the US military locations do not have COLA (Cost of Living Allowance.) In Germany we received between $400-800 extra a month for COLA just because we were stationed there. When you return to the US you need to learn to live without this extra money. This can be difficult at first. One idea is to start taking that extra money and put it into savings before you leave. That way you will not only have a bigger savings but you also will not be use to using that money for your regular bills.
2) Don’t go crazy with the shopping and restaurants. When you get off that plane and see a Target, Walmart or your favorite restaurants that you have been missing, you may want to visit them all. This can become very expensive. Pick one or two restaurants you have really missed and enjoy them but don’t go crazy visiting them all. They are not going anywhere and you will have years to eat at them.
3) Don’t feel like you have to feel 100% normal right away. Moving to a foreign country is an adjustment and moving back home is as well. Things are different in the US and might be different from what you are use to. It will take time to feel stable again. Honestly for me it took almost a year to feel like I really belonged back in the US. And I was someone who was very happy to return.
What have your experiences been overseas? Have you had any difficulties moving back? What advice would you offer to someone coming home?