Five tips to prepare before your relocation overseas
Don’t underestimate the importance of being prepared when you move abroad.
If you’re very lucky, you may be moving abroad on a relocation package if you’re transferring for work. Hopefully you’re receiving lots of great advice. You’re probably researching like crazy, but it still won’t hurt to find out as much information as you can about your prospective country. But often you don’t really know what you need to know until you get there.
Here are five points to help you prepare, as it’s easy to overlook the importance of some of them:
1. What are the requirements?
Too many expat partners move abroad expecting to step straight into a similar job they had at home, and then express surprise when they can’t.Find out about the requirements of your prospective country. Some of this you will get through the relocation package, if applicable, but not all. It’s your life and you should take charge of the research on your own behalf.
If you want to work, find out what the visa requirements are for working, before you even accept the relocation, if possible. What visa do you need and how many hoops do you have to jump through to get one? Are you even allowed to get a working visa? Too many expat partners move abroad expecting to step straight into a similar job they had at home and then express surprise when they can’t. In reality many are unable to work due to visa restrictions, which makes for a depressing start to your expat life. And these expectations could have been dealt with by a little proactive research. Also, are your professional qualifications even valid in that country?
And what about the requirements for driving? For schools? Do your children need study visas? What about any travel restrictions? Sometimes depending on your visa, you might have restrictions on where and when you are permitted to travel.
Don’t fall into the oft-seen trap of expecting life in another country to mirror that in your home country.
2. Keep your documents safe
One of the most important things when relocating is to have access to all your important documents. Whether they’re hard copies in a Relocation Journal, in the cloud, or on a USB stick, you need to make sure you have access to them easily and quickly. If anything does happen, or even just for everyday purposes, you need to be able to get hold of them in a heartbeat.
These documents include your dental records, your medical records, your wills, school records, your no-claims bonus, your self-assessment tax details, your security passwords – all that kind of official data which you may or may not need. But if you do need it then you want to be able to access it quickly and easily. Avoid the headache of being disorganised and creating even more stress on top of a move which will undoubtedly be stressful anyway.
3. Save your contacts
Make sure you get set up with all the right contacts at your destination. Find out, before any kind of emergency, the names and phone numbers of the doctor, the dentist, the vet, the car mechanic, the plumber etc.
Also, ensure you get the right contacts for your children’s school so you can contact them in a hurry if needs be. There is nothing worse than something happening or going wrong and you panicking trying to find the right number – especially in a foreign country!
It might sound like common sense, but also make sure you have a contact at your partner’s company. I know a couple who moved abroad and one of them had to travel away on business shortly after their arrival. There was some unrest in the place where he had gone and his partner couldn’t contact him. She didn’t have a contact at his place of work to find out what on earth was going on, either. That was a very difficult and stressful situation, which I am sure you’d want to avoid.
4. Talk to others
Sift through the information you’re given and reserve your own judgement, but they may have some very useful tips.It’s a great idea to get some first-hand experience of the country you are going to so find out and chat to other people in the company who have been before. Look at blogs, search online, read the travel guides and ask around. Most people are very happy to share their expat experiences especially because people who haven’t been expats don’t really ‘get it’ – so they’re usually willing to open up and share.
If they’re particularly negative, and yes, there are many who don’t gel with expat life or a specific destination – that’s normal. Sift through the information you’re given and reserve your own judgement, but they may have some very useful tips.
5. Phone and internet
One of the first things to do when you arrive in your new home is to make sure you’re set up with your phone and internet as soon as possible – preferably before you arrive. These connections to the outside world are going to be your lifelines, especially in the first few days and weeks and even more so if your partner is at work and you are at home alone.
Even if you can’t get it set-up straight away, make sure that you know where the nearest internet café is and you know how to get set-up with a mobile phone as fast as possible. In the beginning when you’re trying to find out a whole load of stuff, or just feel homesick and want to call home, there is nothing worse than not having able to pick up the phone. It’s also very isolating in today’s internet age when you are disconnected it can make you feel even further away than you actually are.
I hope you begin to realise just how important it is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible before making your move abroad. It will make your life much easier and keep your sanity levels much more even!
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