It’s not easy to decide whether moving overseas is the right move for you and your family. It’s a big decision with lots of factors to think about, from your career to how it will affect your children, as well as friends and family back home. It could be a short-term move with a definite end date, or it could be something that has the potential to be permanent. But however long you’re planning to go for, you don’t want to make the decision lightly. If it’s something you’re thinking about, there’s a lot to consider to make sure that it’s a great experience for your family that you can all enjoy.
Make Sure It’s the Right Move
Firstly, you need to think long and hard about whether moving to a different country is the right move for your family. It’s tough to think about moving away from family and friends, and the life you currently know. On the other hand, there are plenty of positives and amazing experiences you can have. Although there may be difficult times, you could also create some incredible memories and opportunities.
Before you make your decision, try creating a list of pros and cons. Compare your life now with what it could be like in your potential new home. Will you be better or worse off in terms of finances? What about your quality of life? How will it affect your children? Discussing the move as a family is important too. While your kids won’t necessarily have the final say, it’s still important to get their input if they’re old enough to give it.
Do plenty of research about your intended destination and what it’s like to live there as a foreigner. Try to speak to others who have made the move if you can so that you can understand their experiences. It’s also a good idea to make at least one trip to see what life could be like in your new home. If you can only make one trip, try to make it a long one so you have time to really experience it.
Consider the Logistics
Another key thing to think about is the logistics of making such a move. Moving to a different country can mean traveling a few hundred miles, or even a short hop across a border. But it could also mean moving thousands of miles away from where you currently live. This can be a big feat that takes time and costs a lot of money too. You should think about how you’re going to move, as well as what’s going to come with you. Will you be driving, flying, or using another mode of transport? How much, if any, of your stuff will be moved too? Do you have any pets you need to arrange transport for?
International moves can be costly, especially if you need to have your things moved by ship or plane. One of the best things you can do is get international moving quotes so that you can compare prices. It won’t necessarily be the cheapest quote that you choose, but it’s important to be able to compare prices and what you get for your money. Don’t forget to consider costs such as packing materials or even the delay between your own arrival in your new home and your things, which might be following behind you.
Start Language Lessons Early
Are you moving to a country where you don’t speak the language? This can make your move more challenging, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity for you and especially your children. Even if your move is only temporary, you still have the chance to learn some basics and perhaps get to a conversational level. It’s a smart idea to start language lessons as soon as you can, possibly before you even start your move. If you can’t find classes near you, you can find online resources and lessons, as well as a range of self-taught language courses. Of course, you can find that you start learning a lot faster once you’re completely immersed in the language.
Look at School Options
One of the most important things to think about is your children’s schooling. There are a few options you could have available that could work out for you. One is to send your children to a local school. This is easiest if you’re moving to a country where the main language (or one of the main languages) is English, or if your children are young enough to start learning a new language through immersion. If your children will need to learn the local language, check what support and resources are offered to non-native speakers. In some places, you might find there are bilingual schools available, which can offer the best of both worlds.
Another option might be an international school, which will usually be a private school. This can allow your children to learn in English (or another language), usually with a different curriculum. They might be able to continue in the same education system (e.g. in an American school) or they might have the option of an international system, such as the International Baccalaureate. An international school can often be a good choice for older children, or for temporary moves when you might not want to disrupt their schooling too much. Alternatively, you might consider homeschooling. However, before you do this, make sure that it’s a legal option in your chosen country.
Find the Right Location
Your choice of schooling for your children might be one of the things that influence where exactly you choose to live. But there are other things to consider too, which will help you to find the right location. Some people might want to experience living in a quiet location, but it’s likely you don’t want to be too isolated when moving to somewhere new. If you want to have new experiences, you should be close to the places where you can have those experiences. Another thing to think about is the modes of transport available to you. Some places have incredible public transport or are very walkable, so you’ll never really be cut off from anywhere. Others might make you rely on having a car more, or could perhaps not even have great roads.
Get Involved with the Local Community
Moving to a new country can be tough, especially when it comes to integrating and making friends. But one of the best things you can do is start getting involved with the local community as soon as possible. Getting to know your neighbors is smart, and it can really benefit you if you decide to stay long-term. Plus, if you’re learning a new language, it gives you opportunities to practice your skills.
As a parent, you can have an advantage in that you can get to know people through your children’s new friends and their school. If you or your partner are working, you can get to know coworkers too. As well as the local community, you can often find there’s a community of fellow expats who can be a connection to home and good for sharing the immigrant experience. Another way to connect with others might be to look for groups and activities to join.
Get your children involved in the local community too. They will likely start doing this on their own if they’re going to school. You can even find that they have a lot more independence compared to back home. In addition to school, you can look for activities for them to do, whether it’s after-school clubs or things they can do at the weekend.
Stay in Touch with Home
You can all have a really great time in your new home, but it’s also easy to get homesick. If homesickness is bad enough, it can make you want to return home. Moving away from friends, family, and all that you know is usually the biggest sticking point when thinking about moving abroad. But moving doesn’t mean you have to cut yourself off from home. You can still stay in touch with friends and family, and you can arrange for visits in both directions too.
There are plenty of ways to make sure you stay in touch with home. Use modern technology for video calls and other methods of talking with friends and family. It can also be fun to send things by mail. Letters and postcards are always interesting for people to receive, and you can send packages too. People back home could send care packages of your favorite things, while you can send them fun new things to try or anything interesting that you can’t get at home.
It’s not always easy to arrange visits, especially if you’re far away from home. But making sure you have something planned can give you something to look forward to and help to ease homesickness.
Living abroad can be an amazing experience for the whole family. If you aim to make the most of it, you could build a new life that everyone loves.