The Expert Expatriate by Melissa Brayer Hess and Patricia Linderman

This article was inspired by Melissa Brayer Hess's and Patricia Linderman's The Expert Expatriate . If you enjoy this article then consider purchasing or borrowing the book.


How to Easily Move Abroad

“The more you do to prepare yourself for this challenge and the more you know about cultural differences and strategies for adjusting to your new country, the more positive your experience will be.”

Though leaving your home country temporarily or permanently is never truly easy, you can take several steps to make the transition less painful. If your employer sponsors your relocation, determine the range of assistance your company is willing to provide.

Planning will make your move easier. Consider the eight following aspects of relocation:

  1. Required documentation (passports and visas).
  2. Transportation of personal effects.
  3. Learning a new language and culture.
  4. Necessary details on your workplace’s involvement.
  5. Information on housing.
  6. Living conditions in your new country (Where will your child go to school? Where will your spouse work?)
  7. Insurance and tax details.
  8. Who is your sponsor within the country and how will they help you move in?

Before you move to a different country, find expatriates already living there and get advice. A brief visit to your host country can give you an idea of what the move will be like. Read up on the current conditions of your new home. Both your native country’s embassy and your host country’s embassy can answer your questions. If you need additional information, consultants can help you train for engaging people from a different culture. This will definitely help those without a sponsoring company.

Don’t look at relocation as a vacation. You will need to know more about this new country, since you will be living there, not just going for a visit. Use these five steps to adjust to a different culture:

  1. Understand that a new culture approaches life differently than your own.
  2. Don’t take your own cultural values for granted. Understand what makes people in your country tick.
  3. Know specifically what expectations this new culture has for you.
  4. Decide whether you agree or disagree with the beliefs and values of this new land, and recognize what it takes to get along with foreigners.
  5. Realize that cultural differences won’t necessarily hold sway across the entire country.

The most important aspect of relocation is taking care of your family. Ensure that your children and spouse learn about your host country with you. “Trailing spouses” usually have more trouble adjusting than their transplanted spouse, especially if they didn’t want to leave. Understand the culture shock your spouse is undergoing and do your best to help him or her adjust.

Consider your children’s’ needs. Those who have lived in a host country are often called “third culture kids.” Living abroad can be hard on their perceived identity. Pets can be very important during a move. If you can’t bring your pet overseas, adopting a new one can comfort the family as a whole.

Whether your relocation is permanent or not, you should research the country you are about to enter and get help from experienced expatriates.

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