Are you looking to leave the UK and move abroad – perhaps back to your home country? Alternatively, maybe you fancy a change of pace or culture? Maybe even you feel Brexit has created too many uncertainties and wish to leave the UK because of this.
- Take a visit to the new location: This might be always possible, but you should do it if you can because it will give you the chance to have a rough idea of what to expect. Searching through the internet is not bad – since most of your preparation will be done online – but if you have the chance to visit the new town then you should do it; this is a good way of getting to experience the culture, visit new houses and potential schools, know more about the healthcare facilities in the new location and even do a test run before you start school or work.
- Negotiating the relocation package. You should also have a clear understanding of what it completely entails. This is applicable for people who have corporate relocation from their job, in which you will have to talk with the employer so as to provide you with details of the process. You need to find out whether your package includes a budget for things such as rent, school expenses, and health insurance, and also extra add-ons like flights back home in case of an emergency. Ensure you have a full understanding of what is not included to enable you to plan accordingly. If you’re moving within Europe you will often find that things are a lot easier to plan for than if you’re going further afield.
- Join and go through expat forums and blogs: The best person you can talk to is the one who has been able to go through the same process you are about to start. Try joining as many as possible (such as British Expats) and read as many blogs as possible – and this will give you a much more realistic insight into the process and also get the chance to ask questions, make some friends, and receive support. This will ensure you have people to meet up when you get there.
- Preparing for the culture shock: There will be a point where you and your family will have to experience this in one way or another, making it a good idea to prepare for the onset because it will help you cope when it hits. The life you are going to live will be very different from what you are used to – and this is from the food you are going to eat, the language you are going to use, the currency you are going to use, the roads you will be driving in, the people you will be associating with and friends, the job you will be doing, and the neighbourhood that will have a big impact on the background of family life – and the soon you can start seeing it this way, then the better for you. Even if you are excited to moving and looking forward to it, you will still have to deal with culture shock – you might start getting cravings for food that you cannot get and even TV channels that you used to love; you might start missing the old routine and even the smells and sounds that you had gotten used to.
There will also be homesick feelings that will hit you unexpectedly and are usually triggered by small things. You should focus on minimizing the impact of these changes hitting at once; the moment you know you are moving have a chat with your family and start researching – watch as many documentaries as possible, look at the new location on Google Maps, read books, and just try finding as much as possible before you can leave. You should always be positive about moving when in front of the children, and spend more time focusing on how and why the new location will be beneficial to them and answer any questions they might be having.
Once you get there, ensure that Facetime and Skype have been installed so to make home one call away.
- Learn the local language: Unless there is a chance you are fluent in the local language by coincidence or miracle, then you will be forced to invest time and effort in learning as much of the local language as possible. Being able to communicate with the locals, even if it is basic will prove to be good for you because you will feel confident and more settled in the new location. Many countries today use English as their second language, which is good if you are struggling. Try giving the first language a try and see it regularly and you will see it becomes easier with time.
If the country uses English as the first language, it is a good idea to take some time to research and learn the local colloquialism because each city and tow has its own regional dialect that can be confusing if you don’t know about. This will be the best thing to do as you will also be able to relate better to the locals.
- Preparing for life as the ‘trailing spouse’: Relocation to another country will always be tough to members of the family in different ways, and this can be even more difficult if you are the ‘trailing spouse’. This is the spouse who has less control over the move, and they have to make the compromise the most – in most occasions, they are doing it to support their partner, and this can mean having to give up their life and job which they wouldn’t have done if it was under different circumstances.
This is not a bad thing; many trailing spouses will be ready for the changes coming and know that their family will be in a better position because of the greater opportunities or quality of life they are going to get which they couldn’t get in their current location. This can be harder if you have to give up your friends, family, and job in order to go to an unknown place. If you are the trailing spouse, you will need to do what anybody else is doing, and that is preparation. Will you be able to retain the job you had in the new country? Example, does the company that you are currently working in have another branch in the new location where you can transfer to, or can you work as a freelancer? If this is not the case, then is there a chance to get a new job? Do you need to retrain or study for a different role? And if you are not able to work, will the income of your spouse be able to support the family?
- Get to know the local laws and rules: If you are going outside the EU, this becomes even more important because many countries have a different attitude towards public behavior and dress codes are way different. There are some small gestures that you see as normal but are seen as a sign of rudeness in other cultures, which can result in problems with the locals. Take some time to learn more about the customs and local laws of the area so you will not have problems when you are there. Some of the things you need to know more about include road rules, speed limits, the right way of addressing and greeting peers, dress codes when in public, table etiquette, which can seem like an easy thing, but you can easily end up on the wrong side if you break the law or you just end up embarrassing yourself.
- Checking insurance policies: You should do this three time if possible. The two insurance you will need is health and travel insurance – you will need to have health insurance because many other countries usually don’t operate a National Health Service, so you will have to pay for the medical costs. Another thing you will need to consider is getting an insurance for your new home, ensuring that your life insurance cover works in the country you are moving to. If you are going to drive, consider finding more about car insurance. If you are getting a relocation package because you are part of the corporate relocation, then these are some of the things you should consider talking to your employer so you can find out whether these costs and insurance will be included.
- Consider looking into relocation services and removal companies: This is important for people who are not being relocated by the employer, where help is usually provided – there are some that will take over the process. If there is a budget you have been given by the employer to do it on your own or you are doing it on your own and need some help in the process, then you should consider getting a removal company that will be able to help you out. Once you have set the date of moving, start looking at different companies and have at least three or four on your list. There are some that have specialized in international removals and will provide you with other services you might need such as visas and immigration, school and home searches, and also transport your pets. They will also help you when you are shipping your vehicles and other things. These are some of the things you need to be asking when you are talking to these companies. You might be surprised how much burden they are going to help you with.
- Prepare for the unexpected: This is something you need to always have in your mind because no matter how much you prepare and plan, there is a chance of something going wrong. This is normal given the magnitude of your move. Many expatriates will take about six months before they can feel like they have settled in the new place, so you should not be worried when you still have a strange feeling for this. You will need to fully embrace the new life and not the other way – the place you are moving to have their own customs that have been there for hundreds of years, so you must be open-minded and accept the new surroundings. Let go of all expectations so you can become part of the culture of your new environment.