Moving abroad for the first time is far from easy. Here are ten top tips for making sure your relocation is a roaring success.
1) Open communication
Make sure that you take every opportunity available to discuss the move openly with your spouse, children or any other close friends and family who will be impacted by your move abroad. Encourage all involved parties to be completely open about their feelings and ensure that you deal with as many problems and issues as you can before you go. Don’t make any decisions on behalf of others; involve those affected in the decision-making process and listen to their opinions and concerns. People will feel much happier if they feel that they have a say in the events that lie ahead.
2) Plan ahead for the trailing spouse
One of the single biggest factors that often contributes to a failed overseas move is the trailing spouse. Partners who had a life at home that they were happy with, may suddenly find themselves in a strange country with no real purpose in life and no friends and family to help them through the tough times. The best way to prevent this from becoming an issue is to plan what the spouse will do in advance of the move. If challenges are already lined up in advance of the relocation, they will have something to occupy themselves as soon as they arrive and will be less likely to feel out of place and lonely.
3) Choose a school for your children carefully
Take your time to choose a school that will meet your children’s needs. Visit all the schools in person that you are considering and make sure you have plenty of opportunity to meet the teaching staff and explore the facilities. If your children are happy at school this will give you one less thing to worry about when you do relocate and you will feel more comfortable that your child’s education is not suffering because of your relocation.
4) Be realistic
There are no two ways about it: moving abroad will be difficult and you will face some challenges that make you want to pack your suitcases and immediately return home. Make sure you enter into the move with your eyes wide open and plan in advance how you will deal with difficult situations. Again, communication is key. Ensure that you discuss your feelings openly with your partner and listen to how they feel.
5) Be willing to return home
The most successful expatriates are the ones who enter into a move abroad openly stating that, if they find it doesn’t work out for them, they will return home. Keeping this option open will help you to feel more comfortable that you don’t have to endure a living situation that you really can’t handle and that there are always alternative choices open to you. Don’t be concerned about losing face if you do decide to go back home; at least you gave it a try.
6) Make an effort to integrate
It is the expats who make an effort to fit into the local culture who generally find life overseas that little bit easier. Learn about the customs, traditions and beliefs of the local people and try and learn as much of the local language as you can. If you try your best to embrace your host country, make friends with the locals and participate in the local activities and events, you are much more likely to enjoy it for what it is.
7) Don’t make comparisons
Try to avoid comparing everything you come across with how it would be at home. You are not at home anymore; you are living in a different country and yes, things are different. The sooner you accept this, the better you will feel.
8) Research the destination in advance
Read as much as you can about the realities of life in your intended host country as you can before you relocate. Travel guides will give you a great overview of all the things there are to do and see in the area. However, it’s important that you are realistic about life overseas, not as a tourist but as an expat. What you really need is a good expat guide that will provide you with a comprehensive view of the realities of everyday life in the destination. Check out our expat destination guides for more information.