So your partner has just gotten a great new job opportunity located in an exciting destination, now what? For many, this can be a daunting process more so, if both parties are active in the workforce. It can seem impossible for one partner to leave a good job on the whim of a new adventure while feeling torn to have the other parent reduced to a Skype relation with their children. However, it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. As a mother, entrepreneur, wife and avid traveller I can tell you after living in over seven countries in the last fifteen years travelling with two kids and our family dog Ruby -there is a way.
Every family is different, the goal is to make the best decisions based on what's best for your unit.
Expat-life is a wonderful journey. It offers a diverse perspective into the ways and life of another that fundamentally shapes our understanding and appreciation for the world we live. So much so, in ways, we may not have otherwise recognised as a tourist over a shorter time frame.
Having these experiences as a family is deeply enriching and creates unique building blocks children stand to learn the most from in their developing years while sharing positive travel experiences as a family unit. Their minds are exposed to the beauty and nature of language, food, music, art and local customs that allow them to strengthen their human characteristics.
However, getting the ball moving on Expat Life as a family isn’t always as simple and can be a rather touchy subject for many couples. This is particularly true if a tradeoff of one parent leaving a job to hold down the fort is necessary to maintain the family unit while the other parent needs to succeed in the new job opportunity. These are big decisions and can test the limits of the best of relationships . It is essential to put things into perspective, talk openly as parents and identify the basic living quirks since these are the things if not well thought out can become frustrating over time in a new destination.
One of the top mistakes many new couples make in the move as a family is to think of it as a vacation rather than an entire lifestyle change. The idea becomes romanticised and in the process builds up expectations without proper research. Thinking of the nice sights to see and places to dine will mean very little if you hadn’t realised how expensive the cost of living is or limited after-school activities are for your young ones.
Remembering that you’re all in it as a family is key to expat travel as a family.
In this respect, you’d want to set up a checklist to place critical factors in order of priority that allows your smooth transition. By doing this, you’ll accommodate the comfort of the most vulnerable members - the children. As busy parents knowing your kids are secure, happy and engaged will allow you to better focus on the business side of your personal developments and fully connect with your new surroundings in a meaningful way.
Essential Information When Travelling With Kids - Phase 1
HOME - WHERE WILL YOU LIVE
If a partner has been offered a great opportunity and you can keep your current living conditions it is better to first secure the living space before moving with children.
It is not uncommon for a spouse to travel for a new job opportunity and have his or her family follow in the proceeding months. It is particularly smart to exercise this in solidifying new career timelines and allow the flow into new arrangements.
LEGAL STATUS - UNDERSTAND YOUR IMMIGRATION STATUS AND THAT OF YOUR SPOUSE IF HE/SHE INTENDS TO WORK LATER
Here are some tips in gathering information :
Country Immigration Websites
Understand the do’s and don’ts in countries that can have controversial gender rights.
Know the prerequisites of obtaining a work permit, process and requirements if you will already be under spousal sponsorship. Understand your Passport and the legal requirements for port of entry.
The Hiring Company
The HR Department of the company your partner will be joining can also serve to advise on the potential information for spousal work permits and country regulations and restrictions.
ADJUSTMENT - GETTING TO KNOW YOUR NEW ENVIRONMENT
Plan a trip with the family to explore the new location. Planning an exploratory visit is an excellent opportunity to get a feel of the environment, places of interest or even see potential homes before a final decision. Looping kids in on the decision can make them feel important and appreciated if they are at an age where it means a lot to them. Here are a few pointers to consider in adapting to your new destination:
The Supermarket - Remember you are moving to this destination and you’ll need to eat. Knowing the basics will help you feel more in control once you’ve moved permanently. Check out prices to understand what you’re in for to better estimate your costs.
Family Doctors - Get proactive and understand the Medical System, Insurance planning and necessary point of access for ease of medical assistance. Plan in advance to meet any potential family doctors to ensure you have a strong point of contact in the event of a family member needing medical care on short notice.
Transportation - If you plan on driving ensure your license is recognised in the upcoming country and learn of any documentation you may need or additional testing required by local authorities. Get to know the local transport systems available that service your area to make moving around the least of your concerns.
Financial Institutions - A simple google search will be able to advise you on the banking institutions available in your new environment and the necessary information required to open a new account. Many companies will also guide, recommend and even through banking agreements initiative the set-up process for expatriate accounts.
CHILD CARE - SCHOOLING/ DAY CARE SERVICES / NANNY
This is particularly important if both parents intend to work in the long-run. More than often, families with young children will result in one parent holding the fort at home to ensure a smooth adjustment period into the new environment.
It is essential to approach this with an honest mindset and to be fully aware of any limitations such as spousal work permits. The process can be lengthy for some countries, so it is essential to recognise these things in the beginning when formulating your ideas and plan.
Research schools, after-school activities, sports, recreational activities in the zoning area you’ll live. Make appointments to meet with School heads or Child Care Providers if you’ve planned a trip to visit before moving. This is a good opportunity to manage enrollment issues since many top facilities have lengthy waitlists. Take the opportunity to visit sites for extra recreational activities if you have a high energy family schedule.
DOCUMENTATION - CREATE A LEGAL BINDER FOR SAFE KEEPING
A critical point to remember about moving to a new country is that you will always need to have handy legal documentations for creating new accounts and providing proof of identity. Government processes in particular can require anything from your Marriage Certificate, Employment Contract, Birth Certificate, Vaccination Cards and Passport Size Photos. Creating a legal binder to have in a safe space on your travels will allow you to always be ready for any last minute requests. Consider having extra passport size photos for the entire family in the event a last minute form is to be filled.
Essential Information To Settle and Refocus Your Career Objectives - Phase 2
In this phase, you can be more at ease in the focus of your personal needs knowing your family transition is organised. That isn’t to say, all is perfect and cannot change. The bottom line of having a plan is to have a path. If something changes which in most cases it will, at the very least, you won’t feel stranded or completely overwhelmed all at once.
Moving to a new destination is a time of learning and reinvention. It becomes an even bigger learning curve if the culture is greatly contrasting to that of your own. It’s a good time to keep an open mind, call up recruiters, reach out to business associates and get serious in curating your career brand.
In today's technological climate, it is easier than ever to connect within and throughout a wider audience from Brazil to Thailand. This makes influencing your next job opportunity something you can do from the comfort of your smartphone.
Here are a few essential tips in building momentum to attract your next job opportunity in a new destination : -
Look Inwards - Consider opportunities within your existing company if an office or branch is located in the destination you and your family are about to move.
Many people utterly blindside the potential opportunities for growth within their current organisation and instead run into a panic of starting fresh. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you are confident you will be making a move, you will need to talk with your current employer at some point. The best course of action is, to be honest.
Let them know of your decision and at the same time, the potential of transferring to another branch if there is an office where you are headed. If there isn’t another office in your new location, being honest is still essential and allowing your existing company a decent period to find, fill and train a replacement is a sign of good faith. Leave the bridge open so that revisiting will not be an awkward encounter.
Update Your Resume - This is no longer a matter of maybe but a necessity in the current hiring market. Competition is greater, talent is easier to source due to technological advancements and your years of experience can fall through the cracks if you are not in tune with essential next-generation language that allows you to be easily understood.
For many professionals, the need for an updated resume may not have presented itself until years later, but it is nonetheless important to recognise these changes. Critical technological shifts and hungrier competition significantly influence decision makers as well as your ability to get seen. <<Consider the career building resources offered here to tailor your resume and cover letter to uniquely identify your personal brand.>>
Seek Out Business Resources - Make contact with recruiters, career counsellors, business associates and social business connections and let them know you’re open for new opportunities.
Take the opportunity to update your credentials with recruiters and open conversations so they can better understand the level you’ve grown and the opportunities that are interesting to you. For instance, you may be an HR Manager for a prestigious Hotel company but your background of experience also timelines over ten years of expertise in the Aviation or Luxury Goods Industry. You have to recognise dual industry experience as a strength in your communication approach for new business negotiations and conversation.
Make appointments to visit influential recruiters and Business Leaders to build relations in the social context of your upcoming move to the neighbourhood.
Expand Your Network - This is one of the best parts of moving to a new destination. Check out social events, trade shows and membership societies within your field of interest.
Get involved in community events and build your social presence. Some of the best opportunities stem from avocation and are built through human engagement.This is the time to reinvent and take control of who you are and what you do.
Engage On LinkedIn - Use your LinkedIn platform to recognise key people and movements within your demographic and industry.
Join in conversations, post consistently and become involved by leveraging your expertise to provide insightful and tasteful content that is relevant to your career industry, demographic, goals and of significant use to your target audience. This helps to solidify your position as a trusted voice in what you do and have to offer.
Offer To Consult/ Volunteer Or Guest Speak At Different Platforms - Finding your next opportunity may not always happen in the time frame you'd like to, but owning your strengths will allow you to build your confidence in your new environment.
Offering to guest speak or volunteer at a platform of interest and significance to your career brand opens up your personality and talent to potential opportunities. It's a genuine way to engage while creating positive use of your time in transition. Use the momentum to inquire of new business developments, projects and spearheading launches that can be an excellent fit for you.
Article Written by: Nerissa J. Persaud I Business Strategist in Career Branding, Company Culture and Hospitality Recruitment. Need Advise in a Career Direction or Recruitment Project? Contact me via: firstname.lastname@example.org