We step into this story, not at the beginning, but after several days of ups and downs. This evening as planned, Jim and Elaine sit down after dinner to do some online research. Feeling excited and a little overwhelmed, Elaine is finding it difficult to concentrate. Jim pats Elaine's hand and gently reassures her. “Every day families like ours move overseas” he says.
Jim’s employer has been talking about an opportunity to develop new markets for some time, but when the offer finally came through, to his surprise Jim felt awkwardly unprepared. The Company quickly stepped in and began organising all aspects of the relocation. Jim and Elaine were put in touch with representatives from appropriate agencies, and soon their life began to take on a new shape.
Sam and Sally have already started to pack their belongings. This evening however, they are caught up in the moment and enjoying just being kids. Leaving their schools and friends behind is a big deal, but they aren’t afraid of what the future holds, not as long as Striker is with them.
What does the future hold for Jim, Elaine, Sam and Sally?
We can guess that moving overseas is likely to be an exciting and life-changing experience. That doesn’t mean that it's going to happen on its own. Guaranteeing a positive experience for the whole family while living overseas will take more than just the right documents and a set of flight tickets. This type of change requires a lot of prior planning and a lot of research.
Have a plan
You will need a plan because you will have to organise a lot of things and jump quite a few bureaucratic hurdles. Paperwork and finances have to be in order, personal items sold or put in storage, luggage packed and shipped, etc. At your destination you will do everything again in reverse - receive your shipment, unpack, find your way around and shop for essentials.
It’s important to do your research before moving overseas. Picking up your life and moving abroad can expose you to experiences and opportunities that would never have been achievable if you stayed put. You should conduct in-depth research about how to move abroad, the country, and city you want to settle down in. You will also want to discover schools and what they offer. Search for a local community of Expats and use them for help and advice; they will become an invaluable source of support, now and in the future.
Even if everything is taken care of and your new city is not too challenging; even if you made a perfect plan, you will need one more thing - the right attitude. Approaching this journey, with a positive frame of mind can become the stuff that that builds lifelong memories.
Knowledge and understanding
Wherever you move to, the amount of knowledge and real-world experiences you’ll gain will be priceless. Locals will become your teachers, merely taking a walk to the nearest market and engaging in meaningful conversation will teach you something useful about your new environment.
Language and culture
Moving to a new country isn’t exactly the same as moving down the street. As you struggle to learn another language, adapt to a different culture and be guided by a different set of rules, you will realise that these are the lessons that stay with you, that shape you, that change you.
Living overseas will also give you chances to travel and slowly and get to know the country like a local. No more cramming in lots of sightseeing in a few days like a tourist. Now you can spend weekends exploring at your leisure museums, historical sights and natural wonders and revisit them time and time again.
When you first arrive in a new country, you may experience culture shock causing great waves of homesickness. Culture shock can be triggered by anything, but the usual culprits are the differences in living situations, food, transportation, and social mannerisms. Usually culture shock is only temporary, so try your best to adjust and keep an open mind and heart when you find yourself in situations that seem “bizarre” to you.
It’s entirely normal to feel out of place for a while as you adjust. If you’ve lived in the same city all your life, among relatives and friends you’ve grown up with, moving overseas can be a cause of anxiety. Once you’ve settled in, sign up for activities where you can meet like-minded people. Nurture those relationships - these people will be your support group and second family.
Travel does change you, for better or worse. When you go overseas and really live the life, the person that returns will be a different version of you. You’ll experience immense personal and emotional growth, which may have been lacking in your current living situation.
Anyone moving to a new country will expand their social circle, friendships, and relationships immeasurably. You never know who you’ll meet abroad. You’ll be expanding your business network in addition to creating personal friendships. These coveted international connections can be your key to future career success, and look great on your CV!
When faced with challenges on a daily basis - resilience will slowly develop. There will be moments when you will wish you were back home, but in the end it will be down to you to pick yourself up and keep going, because you will realise that this is home!
Looking back and realising that you have not only dealt with the stress of moving abroad, but managed to make a home and helped your dreams come true in a foreign country, the sense of achievement will be extremely rewarding.
People often fear big changes that come into their lives but some of the best experiences and adventures come from plunging into the unknown. Do not let fear deprive you of the opportunity to explore, learn, and grow personally and professionally. Your future self will thank you for it. Moving will teach you more about life, love and fear than any education or self-help book ever could.
Location and timing
If you feel apprehensive about moving overseas to a new country, don’t worry - you are not alone. In reality if you are facing a move, the timing will never be 100% perfect. You should know that making a success of relocating means letting go of romantic ideas and coping with the new reality that will face you wherever you end up.
To build a new existence far away from everything you know and believe in is the most powerful feeling in the world. People who have moved abroad will nod their heads in agreement. They will tell you that traveling has broadened their horizons, made them more open-minded and shown them what truly matters in life.
Remember, the best way to prepare yourself and your family for the ups and downs of moving to a new country is to plan ahead of time. Research your destination city and direct your questions to the people who have already “Been there,” “Done that.”
Do you have what it takes to live in a foreign country? Have you ever lived abroad? What advice would you give to a family moving overseas?