Tuesday 8th February 2011

7 Top Tips for Dealing With the Stresses of Moving Overseas

Yesterday we published details of research findings that indicate moving abroad can be as stressful as having your first child. Today we present 7 top tips for dealing with the stresses of moving overseas and enjoying your new life abroad.

1) Talk
According to Marcia De Wolf, a leader expat expert and author of A Practical Guide to a Successful Expat Assignment—a book that describes methods of ensuring that expats get the most from their overseas assignments—one of the best methods of dealing with the transition to life overseas is to talk openly with your partner. Talking to UK Newspaper The Telegraph, she claims it is: "much better to prepare to deal with these problems rather than hoping your family will be an exception". In order to achieve this she encourages expats to talk to one another and ensure that their children are heavily involved throughout the moving process.

2) Prepare as much as you can in advance
One of the best things you can do before you move overseas is prepare as much as you can in advance. This will assist your arrival in the new country to get off to the best possible start and will give you more time to explore when you arrive, as opposed to dealing with administrative and organizational tasks. Take a look at our free moving checklist template, it contains a comprehensive list of all the key activities you will need to complete and gives you an insight into how to complete them in an efficient manner.

3) Make a list of the good elements of the new country and the bad elements of the old
One great method of ensuring that you remain positive throughout the relocation process is to continually remind yourself of why you are moving and what you hope to achieve from your life overseas. In the run up to the move itself, create a list of everything that you are looking forward to experiencing in your host country together with a further list of the things in your home country that you are looking forward to leaving behind. When engaged in a stressful situation it can be very tempting to run home at the first sign of trouble, but if you are able to remind yourself of your reasons for relocating and recall that your home country wasn’t perfect, you are more likely to remain positive and motivated to keep trying.

4) Don’t put yourself under pressure
One of the best methods of preventing the stress of moving abroad from becoming a real issue is to continually remind yourself that you don’t HAVE to stay. Many expats feel that once they have made the move, they have to remain in order to avoid losing face or dealing with the embarrassment of returning home with their tails between their legs. The most successful expatriates are the ones who enter into the move with an open mind, more than prepared to return home in the event that they do not enjoy their new life overseas. There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving something a try and then admitting that it isn’t quite for you; better to have tried and failed then to have never tried at all. In the run up to moving overseas try and avoid making grand claims that you are going for good, never to return. Instead, tell your friends and family that you are going to give it a try and will stay for as long as it makes you happy- that may be two weeks, two months of two years. By doing this you leave the gates to return open and do not set yourself up for a fall.

5) Consider the trailing spouse BEFORE you go
As we revealed yesterday, one of the biggest causes of stress for couples when they move overseas is caused by the lack of direction faced by the trailing spouse, or trailing spouse syndrome, as it is often known. Don’t wait for this syndrome to hit you and passively become depressed and lonely. Take active steps to avoid it; enroll on a course or degree, start your own business, complete voluntary work… anything as long as it gets you out and about and making friends of your own. See free guides to businesses that many expat trailing spouses start in order to make a life for themselves: 5 Great Ways Trailing Spouses can Earn Their Keep.(http://www.expatinfodesk.com/news/2011/01/18/5-great-ways-trailing-spouses-can-earn-their-keep/).

6) Find a transferable outlet for stress
There is no doubt that moving overseas will be stressful and a successful relocation is as much about how you deal with this stress as it is about avoiding it in the first place. Find something to do that will take your mind off the stress and pressure you are under. This could be exercising, listening to music, enjoying the scenery or going for a massage. If you can find an outlet for your stress or a vehicle through which you can escape it for a short time you will be much better equipped to deal with the emotions you are undergoing.

7) Share the load
If you are moving overseas with your partner and children you should ensure that you all take an active role in assisting the transition. Give each member of the family unit their own roles and responsibilities for certain areas of the move and regularly consult one another to review the progress. This stops a situation where one family member has the weight of the entire move on their shoulders and allows the family to fully face the challenges of the move together.

Are you relocating?

If you are looking to relocate with the minimum stress then you may wish to consult our international relocation guides. Each guide contains comprehensive insights into expat cities throughout the world and they can be an invaluable source of information when you arrive in a new country for the first time.

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