In the late 1990s, numerous US Army, Air Force, and Naval bases throughout Europe and the United Kingdom closed down, often becoming the property of the home militaries of those countries in which they were located. You want depressing? Try this: the children who grew up on some of those bases would be turned away by armed guards if they tried to visit their old home-towns.
The children that grow up in most Army, Air Force, or Naval bases will get turned away by armed guards if they try to visit their old hometowns; you need a current military ID, or an escort with current military ID, and simply being the offspring of an Enlisted individual or Officer won't get you a current military ID past the age of 21.
Many military brats move between bases so frequently while growing up that they don't have a hometown. Asking them where they are from will yield a blank look.
Reversed in cases where the former base is annexed by the surrounding town and added to the local housing stock. Then, the trick becomes figuring out where the gates used to be.
Its not just the military brats – the "Diplobrats" (a.k.a children of diplomats) often have the same feelings. You live in so many homes, but you don't own them; the government does, or you rent. They're not your home, and going back would just emphasize that point.
Many people find themselves displaced from their homes due to political turmoil. One noteworthy case was Mehran Karimi Nasseri, an Iranian national who ended up having to live in an airport terminal lounge for 18 years because his refugee papers were stolen.
At the end of the Second World War the borders of Poland, Germany, and Czechoslovakia were altered by the Soviets. Nearly ten million people were forcibly relocated, many leaving behind villages where their ancestors had lived for generations. Particularly heartbreaking for POWs who were released and suddenly found their homes didn't exist anymore.
Because Poland was now Communist, virtually all of the Polish Army in Exile remained in exile for the rest of their lives.
When the Berlin Wall was built in 1961 to complete the "Iron Curtain", those who found themselves in East Germany had to stay there. Not that it stopped some of the more determined ones.
Some of the Soviet Union soldiers during World War II who were captured as POWs by the Germans risked a few years in prison by returning to the Soviet Union after the war. This was because failure to fight to the death against the Nazis was seen as a potential sign of cowardice (or worse). Many either stayed in Germany living in Displaced Persons camps, or migrated elsewhere.
This frequently happens to victims of natural disasters. These are more cases of No Home To Go Back To. Floods, fires, earthquakes, and other events can destroy whole countries. Even if you can physically return to where you house once stood, your house and neighborhood may no longer be there. This trope is especially the case when there are a lot of fatalities because not only is the physical location gone, but so are the people.
Hurricane Katrina left tens of thousands with no homes (or jobs) to return to. The vast majority of them have managed to make new homes in Texas or further inland in Louisiana. A large number simply returned to New Orleans.
Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of New Jersey and New York. Houses were completely washed away, or irreparably damaged. Even when people moved back in to less damaged houses, the surroundings have changed completely and is no longer truly home.
The Last Days, a film that featured interviews with concentration camp survivors from Hungary who revisit. For one of the women interviewed, it was especially painful coming back to the town where she had lived and seeing her old house. She and the other survivors had moved elsewhere, often to America, after getting out of the camps.
It used to be a common thing in American culture – still is in certain parts of the country – where parents would kick their children (especially boys) out of the house as soon as they turned 18 or graduated High School depending on when in the school year their birthday fell (by law, hitting 18 legally makes you an adult). This is due to the belief that children are supposed to face the world on their own and survive on their own. In areas where this mindset is/was prevalent, children who lived with their parents were often branded as "lazy", "freeloaders", and/or "failures"; while parents who allowed it without preconditions (exorbitant rent, etc) were openly mocked by other parents.
While this mindset is still around, especially in parts of the South, it has become increasingly rare thanks to America's perpetually-sluggish economy and the ever-increasing cost of basic necessities (rent, utilities, food, gas/petrol). This reality has forced many twentysomething Americans to either find roommates or stay home with the family.
This is a good example of entertainment lagging behind reality, since living with your parents past high-school/college age does make you an Acceptable Target for comedians, the media, and at least one major US political party.
Several of the original American colonies were settled by the losers of seventeenth-century religious and political brawls in Europe.note Virginia was the major exception to this, being originally settled by Anglicans looking to make a bit of money. The colonies of course hung on even if a reversal of the fortunes of war meant that they now COULD go home again.
The Jacobites, the White Russians, and many others who have lost a civil war. White Russians had their own neighborhoods in Paris, Istanbul, Shanghai, and other cities. They would often become mercenaries or spies, or similar such things.
In some cases it did mean they finally went home to a place they never knew. Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim was a Finnish Noble with a Swedish name who was in the Russian military for nearly 30 years and forgot how to speak Finnish, due to lack of use.note Baron Mannerheim's native language was Swedish, just like most Finnish nobility of the time. Even after re-learning Finnish upon returning to his homeland, he was known to speak with a heavy accent, to the point that during the Finnish Civil War, he required an interpreter. He became Regent of Finland but found Finland strange. He lost his bid for president after helping to set up a new government. He spent most of the next 20 years semi-retired until World War II when he was Field Marshall and was later elected president.
The foreign volunteers of Waffen-SS after World War Two. Germany had lost the war and they would have faced trial of high treason in their native countries. Many of them found their only solace in French and Spanish Foreign Legions. It is said the majority of the French forces in Vietnam consisted of former Waffen-SS soldiers.
This was averted with Swedish volunteers, as shown in Frostbite. Almost none of the surviving volunteers where jailed. The few who where punished where simply punished for avoiding drafting.
Ever lived in a small town or a rural area that, after you'd left it, went through a sudden round (or two or three) of development? It's freaky, especially when landmarks like entire hills just disappear.
This is more likely to happen in a large city. Compare New York City in 1850, 1900, 1950, and 2000, or compare Shanghai in 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010. You can scale this up to entire countries during times of industrial revolution.
This can occur during severe infestations of pest animals (IE: Rats, cockroaches, etc.). The infestations can be so severe that the families living in said home have no choice but to pack up their things and leave. The Animal Planet series Infested is a documentary that is basically about these situations (Though, fortunately, they are often subverted, but not always).
Some infestations can become so severe that the home is essentially uninhabitable to humans.
In 1958, a Virginia interracial couple-Richard and Mildred Loving-were arrested for leaving the state to get married in Washington D.C. and then returning to Virginia to live as a married couple. The judge sentenced them to a year in prison but suspended the sentence for 25 years on the condition that the Lovings never return to Virginia together or at the same time.
The village of Imber, in the middle of Salisbury Plain, was evacuated in 1943 to allow planning and training for the Normandy landings. The population were not allowed to return even after the conclusion of the war, and their families are still only allowed to return for an annual church service.
Similarly, villages, towns and occasionally cities are wiped off the map for large structural projects or mining pits, ranging from some villages being removed in Germany to facilitate brown coal mining to moving 1.3 million people for the construction of the Three Gorges Dam and Reservoir in China. It means that not only does your home no longer exist, even its location has completely vanished.
One of the more brutal examples of this is the flooding of the Welsh town of Capel Celyn by the Liverpool Coporation in 1960. The town was a center for Welsh culture, and one of the last towns where the entire population could speak welsh fluently. Capel Celyn, Wales, was flooded to provide Liverpool, England, with water. The action was brought to parliament by the Liverpool City Council. Every Welsh elected official from every party in Wales voted against the plan, as well as a good handful of Scots, but the plan was pushed through largely on the strength of English votes. It led to mass protests, the rise of the modern Welsh Nationalist movement, and a spate of bombings by a Paramilitary Organization known as Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru. The issue still isn't settled, with the Liverpool City Council issuing an insulting nonapology in 2005, which mentioned all the wonderful things Liverpool has done for Wales. When it isn't, you know, destroying parts of the country.
The Lost Villages in Canada can be included on that list. Most of them were abandoned, the others relocated, to allow for the building of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Building foundations and sidewalks can still sometimes be seen when the water level is low. Other than those brief glimpses, and a memorial park, the villages have disappeared beneath the water.
Another Canadian example was the resettlement of much of coastal Newfoundland; the population of hundreds of tiny and isolated fishing communities were concentrated in more accessible areas. Played with because many families physically removed their houses from the foundations and literally towed them overseas to their new communities. See the song Out From St Leonards.
The inhabitants of Pripyat and towns near the Fukushima nuclear power plant won't be able to go back to their homes for a very long time due to catastrophic nuclear meltdowns.
Americans who renounce their citizenship often find their ability to stay in their country of origin severly limited. For example, Terry Gilliam, an American who became a British citizen, is only allowed to visit the U.S. for 29 days a year.