By Nick Young
Moving to a new country with children is an endeavor that is sure to come with a lot of challenges for the entire family. Not only is there much to do for the parents in terms of preparing for a job reassignment, finding a new home to live in, choosing the right moving company, and managing all the steps associated with a household goods move, but the biggest concern above all else is making sure that their kids are prepared and feeling positive about the new chapter in their life in an entirely new location.
As a relocation consultant who has assisted hundreds of families settle in to new countries, I’ve spoken with many parents about their experiences and collected a lot of useful information about what it takes to have a successful and happy transition in their new location.
Below, I’m sharing a collection of five helpful tips for families preparing for a relocation.
Tip 1) Have an open conversation with your children about their feelings on the move
While most parents anticipate challenges and concerns for their children when relocating, many have told me that they were surprised to hear exactly what their children’s thoughts were after speaking to them about the move.
Some kids are excited about the new opportunity to live in a new place, some younger children don’t understand that they are moving to an entirely new country and think they are just moving to a new house, some are sad about having to make new friends or anxious about finding the activities they love to do in their new location. It really varies from child to child and the complexity of their thoughts can be astounding.
The information you gain from hearing what your child thinks about the move allows you to better reassure them and encourage them about the positives of the move. This conversation will help make the process much easier for them as they envision life in their new home.
Tip 2) Take your family on a fun trip to the location before the move
A fun focused vacation to your new location allows your family to get to know their future home in a super positive way.
What better way to get started on the right foot than by visiting beautiful and interesting sights in the region, getting acquainted with the local neighborhoods you might be moving to, showing them activities they can look forward to, and just having a great time together in this new environment?
This experience will help give your family a great first impression of their new home and will help them feel more excited about the relocation.
As part of this trip, you can also set up an Area Orientation Tour with your relocation consultant in order to see the important places connected to your life in your new city. This can include a visit to potential homes, a visit to different neighborhoods popular with expats, a visit to shopping centers, and more.
Tip 3) Do an in-person school search before arrival
Picking the right school for your children is perhaps the most important decision you face as you relocate to a new country. The school is the place your kids will be shaping their lives, making friends, and growing as people, so it’s important to know which school offers the qualities, education style, environment, and values that matches the needs of your kids.
A school search visit is best done with your children present to see the schools for themselves, as it allows them to experience the school firsthand and then give their feedback on what they liked and perhaps didn’t like about each school, as well as ask questions that are important to them. Being involved in this process is sure to give them more confidence as they prepare for life in their new location.
In addition, once you’ve chosen a school before the move, it will allow you to focus on an area to live in which is convenient for commuting to school and work, and is closely connected to the families that attend the school. This will help to simplify your home search and really zero in on properties you would like to potentially move into.
Communicating with your relocation company consultant and utilizing the school search service support offered by your relocation company is highly recommended.
Tip 4) Get advice from other expat families that live in your new location
There’s nothing more helpful than being able to speak with another expat family that has already experienced a relocation to your new location. Having a conversation with this family will allow you to ask any questions you might have related to the location and will help you learn about the specific challenges they’ve faced and how they overcame them.
Ask your Human Resources department if they can put you in touch with people in your company that have been relocated to your new location or ask an administrator at the school you’ve chosen if they are willing to connect you with a family that is open to speak with you. Relocating families are usually very open and helpful to other families moving and are happy to make a new connection.
Tip 5) Get advice and assistance from a local relocation consultant
A relocation consultant is a local expert who understands the typical needs of a family moving to a new location and someone who can anticipate the issues that families might face as part of their move. They are able to provide objective advice and organize all of the essential relocation services – from school search, to home search, to answering your questions and providing great local advice that will help your family feel prepared for the relocation.
Having a relocation consultant there to guide you through the process is an invaluable tool to successfully transition you and your family to your new home, as they will help you feel familiar with the city, connect you with expat organizations, and show you how to find the activities you and your kids are interested in.
The process of relocating with your family may feel like a challenge, but with the right preparation it can also be an amazing experience for you and your loved ones. Hopefully this information will help you make a happy and enjoyable transition to your new home.