Many people make the move to a different country on their own; it’s something of a luxury that single people can afford, the freedom to move wherever they desire. However, others come with spouses and children in tow, which makes the transition to a new country slightly different and just a little more complicated.
Moving to a new country is like anything, it doesn’t come without its flaws, but like anything worth having it can be tough to get there but once the hard work is over, it’s worth it, if it’s what you want. There are bureaucracy and paperwork to contend with, new customs, laws, languages and cultural differences to adapt to. There are days when you battle with yourself and language barriers as you legalize your residency, open a local bank account and get your first SIM card. For some, this is all part of the fun, and for others, it’s a source of stress, but for nearly everyone, it’s an emotional transition which takes time to adjust to.
Whether you’re a seasoned expat in search of your latest overseas fix, a first timer, or a reluctant employee who is being transferred to set up a new office, everyone, including the family who is going with you, must navigate the relocation maze, and finding the right place to live is the key to succeeding.
Research and preparation before setting off are vital if any paperwork can be done before you go, then do it! Hearing about and learning from other expats about their experiences can be helpful when you need a bit of clarity or have some immediate concerns.
Whether you know where you’re going, or you haven’t decided yet, have a look at the annual Quality of Living report, ranking cities around the world which looks at quality of life (and, by implication, ease of transition), economic environment, schools and education, public services and transportation, recreation, housing and the natural environment.
Think about what matters to you most, for example, the cost of living in Indonesia is low in comparison to the UK, but expenses also vary depending on location, with rural areas being less expensive than cities. Have a look at apartemen Indonesia to get an idea. However, if you land a job with an international company, you will likely receive a good wage with allowances for things like healthcare, schooling for your kids, and accommodation.
Austria is a beautiful country but with childcare and education options in abundance. Austria is the country currently at the top of the Family Life Index as the quality in education, and overall family well-being scores have improved dramatically from the eleventh to the second place for both childcare and education in just one year.
Children’s education and kids’ well-being in New Zealand topped the list with 91% of expats saying they are generally satisfied with the friendliness of the locals towards families with children in New Zealand. Expats in New Zealand say they don’t find it hard to get used to the local culture, with 77% agreeing that they feel at home there. New Zealand’s schooling system is similar to the UK’s.
Do your homework as prior research can cover a massive list of things to think about so that you can hit the ground running when you arrive in your new home. You can already have sussed out the affordability of your new destination (such as cost of housing, utilities, household expenses, salaries, transport, taxes, and schooling), finding a job that is you can easily commute to and can fit into balanced family life, and locating essential services.
If you’re moving to a new country with children, in the 2018 Expat Explorer survey, it said that expat parents who had children attending international schools believed their children were more open to new experiences and cultures as a result of the family’s move abroad. It does make sense that if a positive expat family relocation should take into account proximity to an excellent international school, then finding a great place to live is a priority.
While it might be a classic cliché, the advice about “location, location, location,” is true. For you, it could mean living close to work, or useful transport links, a hospital or even your favorite café. Long commutes eat into quality time with your family, and it is far more convenient to live close to the local amenities.
If recreational activities are essential to you and your family, then consider an out-of-town location which is close to the countryside. If you want to meet new people and make new friends, find a place to live that is close to social clubs and activities so that you can maximize yours and your family’s, free time. One of the reasons many people move to a new country with their family to immerse themselves and their children into new cultural experiences and those experiences could be right on your doorstep or a ride away depending entirely on location and budget.
Safety and security is also a vital consideration for families. Out-of-town and more affluent areas tend to have lower crime rates, but that usually comes at a price, so finding a place to live in the right neighborhood is an investment in time and an exercise in patience that many people do not have when they first arrive. But it doesn’t need to be a minefield; gather all the data together and make a comparison of the best available residential properties in your chosen city, based on the exact criteria you want, right there on your laptop.
With the right preparations, and with the proper support from relocation agents, housing services and your employer, most expats settle in well in their first year and go on to enjoy an enriching experience.