Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Family Matters survey

Robin Pascoe of ExpatExpert.com has asked me to let everyone know about a survey she's carrying out called "Family Matters". Here's some info from Robin's site:

In honour of the 10th anniversary of ExpatExpert.com being on the Internet and available to moveable families; and, in recognition of the five years of support from the Canadian moving company AMJ Campbell International, we decided it was time to hear what moveable families feel about the kind of relocation support they are receiving, whether they are moving around the world or around the corner.

Our mission is to find answers to this question: Are you getting the relocation support you need in order to succeed as a moveable family?

There are numerous relocation surveys that examine the challenges of relocation in order to help companies and sponsoring organizations to better develop relocation policies. But, with very few exceptions, they neglect to go straight to the source—the family—for input.

Family Matters! will fill this gap by sampling only the accompanying spouse, the working partner in his/her capacity as spouse or parent, and any high school children in the family. The entire family can do this survey with lots of room provided to give us your opinions. As we are only offering one survey (instead of multiple surveys depending on where you fit in the family) do keep in mind that some questions may not apply to you. Just skip them.

In recognition of your contribution to this important exercise, after we have collected all the responses, we will be making a donation of $2.00 CDN for each survey to a very well-respected Canadian organization which helps families in Africa called The Stephen Lewis Foundation

It sounds like a very worthwhile exercise and I look forward to reading the results. For further details, and to complete the survey itself, please head over to the survey page at Robin's site!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Who would you like to see interviewed?

Something I'd like to do this year is to start interviewing people with something interesting or useful to say about life as an expat. That could mean expats themselves, relocation professionals or indeed anyone else with a view on the trials and tribulations of moving abroad. I've already started to contact a few industry experts but if you'd like to suggest someone please don't hesitate to get in touch! The interviews would be carried out by email and I'd estimate would take about half an hour to complete.

I look forward to hearing some suggestions and publishing some thought provoking responses both at the Expat Focus website and in our monthly newsletter.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The expat life - trouble and strife?

There's an excellent article in last week's Wall Street Journal titled "The Marital Strain of a Life Abroad". It does a great job of highlighting the potential positive effect of a move abroad on a relationship:
A move abroad can strengthen a marriage if both partners are on the same page. We are about to celebrate our fifteenth anniversary during our third year in China. I believe that coming here shook us out of our routine, precluding any hint of the boredom that can infect any long-term relationship. Becoming expats has provided us an opportunity to share a long-running, intense, life-changing experience.
but also discusses the potential pitfalls:
Of course, the same forces can crack a fragile union, and many marriages hit the rocks on foreign assignments. It can be a time of great stress, major dislocation and morphing marital roles. Couples confront these issues while dealing with new resentments that can surface if both partners aren't equally enthusiastic about their new life. They often must do so while living in cultures that seem to have a more benign attitude towards adultery than we generally do in America. If there are cracks in a relationship, the foundation can crumble under these new pressures.
In amongst the time we spend preparing for a move overseas (sorting out visas, shipping our belongings, vaccinating the cat etc.) few people have the time left to look inwards at themselves and their relationships. However, whether we're the breadwinner taking up a new job, a trailing spouse or one half of a retired couple it makes good sense to think seriously about how the stress of moving is likely to impact on our relationship. Like all forms of forward planning when moving overseas, the ability to identify challenges ahead gives us time to formulate our best response. In this case it could mean the difference between building a future together or drifting irreversibly apart.

How did becoming an expat affect your relationship? Are you concerned about the stresses of moving abroad? Please feel free to comment!

Monday, February 04, 2008

The At Home Abroad (AHA) generation

More details have emerged of the NatWest-commissioned report discussed in the previous blog post. 37 per cent of the expats surveyed said that the main reason behind moving abroad was the search for a better quality of life, 26 percent were looking for a better standard of living (to be honest I'm not really sure how that differs from "quality of life"!) and 20 percent were motivated by concerns about the cost of living.

Whatever the reason, it looks as though the vast majority were happy to have left the UK. 87 per cent said their expectations had been surpassed, while 91 per claimed to be happier than when living in the UK. Surprisingly (to me, at least) 63 per cent felt more at home when abroad and have no plans to return.

The survey also included a term I hadn't heard before - the "At Home Abroad (AHA) generation". I wonder what that really means though - have these expats created British ghettos in their adopted countries or have they settled in to their new homes and "gone native"? I suspect the truth is a little of both in most cases!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Would you be cut out for the expat life?

Would you be cut out for the expat life? That's the question asked in a news article posted this morning on the BBC news website. According to the responses the reporter received - from Brits living in Spain - most expats have found their move abroad suits them very nicely. This comes hot on the heels of a survey carried out by the Centre of Future Studies for NatWest international personal banking which suggests that more than nine out of 10 British expats think they have a better quality of life now than they did in the UK. Canada came out as the top country to emigrate to, followed by New Zealand and Portugal. Further details of the survey's results can be found here - see what you think!