The New Year is often a time of change. Perhaps the challenge of a new role at work, an exciting move abroad or the combination of both challenges. If you have been asked to relocate by your company, or have decided to move overseas under your own steam, there are several ways to prepare before you set off.
Starting a new job is always exciting and even if you’ve already identified a country you plan to work remotely from, it can still be a daunting experience. With little notice, and only a short time to prepare for the trip, planning an international move takes thought, organization and plenty of research. This article shares some key tips to make this transition overseas go as smoothly as possible.
Accepting your exciting position abroad
Before you get swamped down fretting about all the practicalities of your move, take time to celebrate this as the exciting chapter it is. Securing a position abroad, taking your own business to a different place or deciding to go somewhere else in the name of a career are all great achievements and brave decisions to make.
Once you formally accept the role, speak to your prospective employer, get in contact with any colleagues who are already there, and ask if there is any specific relocation help available for employees. Many companies offer financial support, removal and immigration services to help their staff relocate to countries across the world. Think about any questions you’ll want to ask your company, what assistance they offer, and what you’ll need to arrange yourself.
Researching the country you’re moving to
Whether you’ve been to your new country on a flying visit for the role already or never set foot there, the fun part of any relocation is discovering everything about your next location. This applies whether you are moving to a remote location or a destination popular with English-speaking expats, so be sure to ask about the traditional customs of that country.
One of the most important challenges will be to find somewhere suitable to love. You’ll need to think about how long your relocation is for, and if you’re looking to rent or buy. If you are single or a family with children, finding the best neighborhoods to suit your needs and fit your lifestyle can be tricky, especially if you are traveling there for the first time. Before your final move, explore property listings online, and if possible, consider planning a visit in advance. If you’re looking for a specific area within a country, such as a family home in a particular part of Spain, you may also want to consult with a local property expert.
If you can, spend some time reading or looking at expat sites online to find out more about living and working in the country and city you’ll be living in. Here are some other key points to research:
- Healthcare – find out how the public healthcare system works, if you need private insurance, English-speaking doctors etc.
- Banking – research your options and confirm if you can transfer your accounts or need to open new ones locally.
- Transport – gain an understanding of the public transport system. Will you buy a car? What are the rules for international licenses?
Preparing your family for their overseas move
Relocating abroad impacts the whole family. Even if you are a seasoned international business traveler, it doesn’t mean that the move abroad will be stress-free for your partner and children. Talk to your partner and children about expectations and concerns and do your research together to build enthusiasm. Your children will love being involved, so encourage them to look in more detail at the area you’re moving to. Hopefully, once they see all the activities, nearby sports and leisure opportunities and their new school, they’ll be keen to start packing!
If you or your family don’t speak the local language of the country you’re relocating to, it might be good to organize a few language lessons before you leave, or for when you first arrive. There are lots of online language courses you can do and resources to signpost you to a wide choice of bilingual schools and foreign-language teachers.
Depending on where you are planning to move to, consider linking up with expat groups on dedicated sites that can help you and your family to settle in and build up some welcoming contacts. If you have never worked as an expat in another country, most places have well-established groups and communities to help you find everything from local supermarkets, rental firms, to setting up an internet connection or joining a sports club.
Organizing the essentials for your relocation
With so much to arrange, organization is key but there are travel planning experts who can advise you personally if you haven’t met your new colleagues yet. If you are a notes person, make a detailed to-do list, and add plans and arrangements to your mobile phone or desk calendar. Here are some essentials to be mindful of:
- Visas – research requirements and application timelines for yourself and family
- International moving – get quotes, consider air vs sea freight, and schedule movers
- Flights – book tickets for you and family
- Accommodation – arrange short-term rentals until you find a home
- Education – apply to schools and arrange records transfers for kids
- Banking – open accounts and transfer finances
- Insurance – arrange health insurance and any required policies
- Documents – gather visas, bank/medical/education records, birth certificates, passports
- Utilities – organize the setup of electricity, internet and phone
- Pets – research regulations on transferring pets and make arrangements
You might have already found out whether you can buy certain items in the country you’re moving to. If you use specific medications, it’s important to check you can pick up any prescriptions there. However, for any important documents, it’s sensible to make digital copies and to safeguard all your online and personal data or electronic devices when you travel.
Embracing your international adventure
While an international move requires planning, this is an exciting new adventure to embrace and soak up. Even if you have done your due diligence and pre-planned for all the eventualities, there will always be some unknowns when you relocate abroad. With that in mind, it’s important to be open and make new friends, talk to your colleagues and ask them to recommend local real estate agents, relocation services and immigration specialists.
More importantly, be kind to yourself and allow yourself some time for you and your family to settle in, explore your new work setting before you start to panic about finding the right home to live in or school to enroll your kids at. Don’t be shy about consulting professionals about visas and formal documents such as a driving license or opening a local bank account. Your fellow expats are there to help you learn the ropes and provide tips about the local area, while you can lean on co-workers for support finding your way in a new working environment abroad.