Moving house is generally a stressful process. Moving to another part of the country is hard enough, relocating to another country is even harder. Often, people need to relocate when new job opportunities are presented.
Though this can be an exciting time for the person and their family, there are many things to consider before making the move. Not only will family members need to be considered (remembering that the levels of adjustment may be different) but there will be financial, educational, cultural and practical issues to be thought of, to ensure that the entire family is well prepared for the move.
Here are 10 top issues and tips to consider when faced with an international relocation:
Tip 1 Cost of Living
Whenever you make the final decision to move, consider the possible changes in living costs in the new area. Costs such as: housing, transport, utilities, groceries, and local taxes. These can all take a big bite out of a new salary, so you need to ensure that your new job will pay you accordingly.
Tip 2 Get Yourself in Order
After you've made the decision, make a check list with a calendar (as accurate as possible) of all the things you need to do. For example:
*assemble all important documents; warranties, tax records, receipts, medical and educational records. These items should be kept in one place that is safe and accessible.
* try to get recommendations from your current doctor and dentist on professionals at the destination country.
*establish a bank account at the new location before the move.
* check the electrical supply available at the destination country, checking if your electrical appliances will function with the use of adapters and/or transformers.
Tip 3 Your Current and Future Accommodation
If currently renting, you may want to hold off on cancelling your existing lease until as late as possible. Build in some contingency to your moving plans as your travel date may be postponed, or some other unplanned incident may occur.
If you own a home, make the relocation first and then put your house up for sale or rent. Your Real Estate Agent will be able to organise the sale.
In the new location find an experienced Relocations Specialist who knows the area. This person will be able to answer any questions you have about the area, help you find the neighbourhood that suits your needs, and find you either temporary (fully furnished if your own is late in arriving) or permanent accommodation. Write out your questions before speaking to them on the phone.
Once you have ensured competency, pick the one you relate to best. Interview three, and if they come up short, find three more (the internet is great for this). Alternatively you can contact a number of Real Estate Agents and they can tell you what properties they have listed that may match your requirements.
What do you enjoy most about having your own business?
Tip 4 Career and Transition for the Accompanying Partner
For an accompanying partner, the challenges of adjustment may be harder simply because they don't have the support of their office and colleagues. If the accompanying partner needs to find a job in the destination country, check for visa restrictions before you leave.
Also, although de facto status is recognised in Australia, it may not be in some other countries, so check with the destination country.
Tip 5 Educating Yourself about the Destination Country
Attending assimilation and integration classes may help families have a good chance of adjusting in a foreign country more quickly. Try to learn about the new culture as well as the language beforehand. Also, familiarise yourself with the new currency, and start learning about the new country by surfing on the internet.
Travel guides and some expatriate websites that will tell you about your new country are helpful.
Tip 6 Find Out About Immigration Tax
Work out from a tax perspective which country should pay you. Which country has the lowest tax? Which country should be the employer? There may be some employee and employer obligations which vary from your home country. Check with your accountant.
Tip 7 Health
You can find the latest information for travellers including vaccination requirements, healthcare structure and locations of health facilities and hospitals on the internet. Take out international health insurance, which is able to cover you and your family in any incident.
Don't forget that some vaccines need be given several weeks before leaving, so speak to your GP about this.
Also, make sure to renew all your prescriptions so that you can continue your treatments abroad. This includes speaking to your GP, dentist, and eye care doctor.
Tip 8 Children and Education
Searching for a school for your children can be difficult. There is help available, including some international organisations that give accreditation to local schools offering the same curriculum and educational levels as schools in your country of origin.
There may also be government or community websites that provide information on schools including location, number of students, specialities and testing results. Remember, it can be quite challenging for the children going to a new school in a foreign country, and there may be a transition period where the child will require extra help. Please talk to the school for assistance during this time.
Tip 9 Pets
No one wants to leave the family pet behind, but you must ensure it is brought into your new country in accordance with local laws and regulations, which can be quite complicated. Your cat or dog must be shipped in an approved Air Pet Travel Kennel of the correct size.
You need to have an Import Permit from the country of destination should it be required, and ensure that your pet complies with the relevant vaccination and veterinary requirements of the country of destination. Check that you have the relevant Export Health Certificate or Fitness to Fly Certificate. Don't forget to make sure that cargo space has been reserved with the airline and that this date correlates with all the other documentation.
All animals being imported to Australia, whether it is for the first time or returning, must meet the standard Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) import conditions.
The length of time your pet will spend in quarantine can vary depending on the country of import and export and the pre-entry preparations involved. You can check the AQIS site here for further information on cats and dogs: http://www.daff.gov.au/aqis/cat-dogs
Tip 10 Culture
One of the barriers that confront people relocating abroad is their ability to adapt. The challenge of adapting into a new location and culture can be difficult, even if the destination country has many similarities to your home country.
If the cultures are vastly different, it can come as a shock to many people who are not prepared. A Cross-Cultural program can be useful for you and your family. There are seminars available to prepare for international relocation, designed to help expatriates communicate effectively and do business successfully.
Secret to Success is in the Preparation
International relocations can be exciting but require a lot of preparation. It can be a great help for the family to go through the preparation and planning together, prior to the actual move abroad.
Thankfully it is easier these days to be prepared with the help of the internet and local specialists available in your destination.