Thursday, November 15, 2007

Research, Evaluation & Planning

Whether you are considering a temporary or permanent move to a different country it is important not to rush the decision making process, especially if you are taking your family with you. Not everyone is suited to expatriate life, although for many it will be a thoroughly enjoyable and life-enriching experience. Find out as much as you can in advance about life in the country you plan to move to, and consider carefully whether it will suit you and your family.

Use the Internet to get as much information as you can about your chosen destination. Most countries have expatriate community websites with personal articles, blogs and lots of practical advice and information to help new expatriates settle in. You may also be able to find travel books, videos or CD-ROMs about the country you are thinking of moving to in your local library. Take the time to watch the videos or browse travel literature together as a family, and discuss the likely benefits of the new destination as well as any concerns that family members may have. If you are thinking of moving to a distant location, find out how easy and affordable it will be to make trips home, or for family and friends to visit you. You’ll need to consider whether there are direct flights or not, and what the overall travelling time is likely to be, as well as the cost. Remember how stressful long-distance travel can be, particularly if you are travelling with young children.

If at all possible, visit the country you are planning to live in before making up your mind, but remember that daily life there will be very different from your experiences as a short-term visitor. Talk to other expatriates about their experiences, and ask them about the best and worst aspects of life there. Even if you don’t have any existing expat contacts in the country, you will often find that expats tend to congregate in particular areas of town, or in favourite coffee bars or restaurants, where it may be easy to strike up a conversation with them. Lessons learned at this stage, before you commit significant time and money, may be extremely valuable.

More tomorrow!

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