For some people, myoving to a new country is just part of life’s rich adventures, but for many others it is a source of stress. Expats agree that regardless of what your motives are to move to another country, moving is nearly always an emotional roller coaster both for you and your family. For that reason, many parents are right when they are concerned about how moving abroad will affect their children; however, psychologists point out that it is not the degree of cultural or social change that causes a problem, but the frequency of the change. Thus, moving abroad can expose children to new and exciting experiences and cultures and a chance to see the world from a broader and different perspective. Moreover, it will offer the entire family new opportunities and unique lifestyles.
Since we understand how stressful a change alone can be, especially an experience like moving, in this article, we have summed up all you need to consider when moving your family abroad. Follow our advice, and this experience can be hugely positive for everyone.
Planning is everything
A lot of preparation and effort goes before the plane takes off. The process of getting everything ready is equally exhausting and emotional, as the actual moving. That is why planning is crucial. First, you need to understand the full financial implications and to review insurance, pension, and savings arrangements as early as possible.
Second, categorize what to sell, store, and bring. Having a designated space in your home devoted to sorting out stuff will make your preparations and final move run much smoother. Third, start packing as soon as you can.
Packing early enough will enable you to identify things that you can sell or give away instead of keeping and help you save money on moving or storage. Moreover, it will remove some of the stress of packing last minute.
Fourth, keeping a sense of the familiar is important. So, decide what from your belongings is worth shipping and what would be better to buy when you arrive. Most importantly, work with your spouse or partner as a team. If the whole process is too overwhelming, do not hesitate to hire mobility specialists. If you are moving to the United States, there are a lot of moving companies you can choose from. For example, if you move to Washington, look for reviews and different options to make sure you hire the best moving company in DC.
Additional advice: Include your children in the planning process. Let them know of your plans, encourage them to learn more about the host country, language, and culture. Give them the chance to make decisions (for example, what toys to take with them) and let them participate in the packing process. Keep it real and don’t raise expectations. This way, they will be better prepared, and the transition won’t come as an unsettling shock.
Research on your new home
Before you arrive in your new country, do a bit of research on the neighborhood where you’ll be living. See where you can do your food shopping, where your closest doctor, dentist, and hospital are, as well as schools and parks. If you have time, investigate where you can participate in activities you enjoy, like sports or book clubs. Getting in touch before you arrive will help you adjust as soon as possible. Also, make sure you have Internet, phone, and utilities as soon as you can. It is good to be prepared in advance, avoid as much stress as possible, and have your accounts set up quickly. Visit some travel forums or social media expat communities for further advice.
Additional advice: Finding a suitable school for your children is a top priority. Make sure you choose a school as early as possible. Think more on aspects that might make a difference to your children and family—do you like your child to have a curriculum similar to the one back home? Does the school have a waiting list? Where is it located? How far is your home and your place of work? What about school hours? Most of this information is available online, so do the research beforehand, and if possible, involve your children.
Know the culture
Before moving abroad, most people are busy preparing for the practical matters of making a move. Language and intercultural communication are often overlooked. To accommodate rapidly and enjoy your new home, familiarize yourself with the local language, cuisine, forms of address and greeting, dress codes, attitudes toward smoking, alcohol or drugs, gift-giving, sociability, gestures, body language, and punctuality. Give your best to figure out cultural differences so that you are not too overwhelmed when you arrive.
If you have chosen a country where your language is not widely spoken, make sure you know essential words and phrases before you leave. Being able to communicate, even on a basic level, will decrease the stress you feel when you arrive. Invest time, and we guarantee you that your first impression will be positive.
Additional advice: Integrating into a new culture or community requires a lot of patience and work. However, your family will have a more fulfilling experience if you make an effort. Remember, it is vital that your children see that you and your spouse or partner are doing the same. Also, facilitate your children’s integration by taking the time to explain to them why things are done differently.
You may be looking forward to forging new relationships with people in your new home (and that is amazing!), but never forget to nurture important family and friends networks back home. They are essential for your overall physical and emotional health. Thankfully, the world has become a much smaller place over the last few years, with numerous technological advances and communication options now available—meaning that loved ones can now keep in touch at the click of a mouse. Make use of online options such as social media, video calling, or blogging. Research telephone and broadband deals so you can stay connected with elderly relatives, who are not online.
Additional advice: It is harder for children to understand what the future brings. So prepare them for the inevitable change when the time to go back home is approaching. Encouraging your child to maintain links with family members and friends back home during your time away can make a real difference.
Enjoy the process
Moving to a new country can be extremely beneficial for the entire family. It can give your family indispensable new experiences, a broader perspective of the world, and exposure to different languages and cultures. It is a fantastic life experience, and all of you should ENJOY IT! Remember, your enthusiasm is contagious; if you enjoy the process leading up to the actual move, it is likely that your children will be excited and positive about it too.