Tips for settling into life abroad for families, split families and Millennials
May 6, 2016
Whether you’ve relocated for the first time, or as an experienced expat, settling-in doesn’t happen in one day. We share a few top tips to help you settle in as soon as possible for different types of expats. Because every relocation is different.
1. Emphasis on what can be experienced, not what will be missed. Missing family and friends will be a
Reality for all family members. Children focus on the fabric of their daily lives and leaving all that behind can be overwhelming. Investigating what activities you can do together in your new home (that you wouldn’t be able to do at home) can give them something to look forward to.
2. Make sure that family traditions are held onto – including certain family meals, holiday rituals and birthday celebrations. Incorporate a few new traditions, too. When you return home, the new traditions
can return with you.
3. Don’t forget that your spouse has the most difficult role in a family move. If you’re moving
as a result of a job transfer or a new job opportunity, you will go to work, the children will go to school, but your spouse has to build new routines and relationships by herself.
1. It’s inevitably that you’ll find it harder to adjust to the new location when your partner and/or family are far away and back home. You’ll need to make a real effort to create a routine, and not default to longer working hours.
2. Remember that your spouse will now be responsible for taking care of everything on their own that used to be shared. Make sure that you demonstrate an interest in the day-to-day activities that may
have been challenging for them (for example, dealing alone with children, bad grades at school, loneliness).
3. Find ways to include your family back home. Bring them to your new location and share your new
experiences with them (new foods, the local culture, interesting places etc.). Some companies will give families intercultural training on the new location as a way of including them in the experience.
1. While an assignment is definitely the adventure of your life, take the opportunity to build professional relationships in the new location and make sure you keep in touch with a mentor back home. Let people know about your experiences and growth on the assignment, so that when repatriation happens, key people are aware of where you are now versus when you left.
2. The new location may not have a formal “welcome” or on-boarding program when you arrive, so go
out of your way to invite people to lunch/dinner. Ask for one-on-one meetings when you arrive to learn
what others do and introduce yourself formally – don’t wait for them to initiate introductions.
3. Your new location may have cultural nuances about communication, hierarchy and formalities that may impact things such as meeting participation, giving and getting feedback and other workplace interactions. Take a step back and observe how things are done and get some cultural insight to help you gain self-awareness around your style and the local culture. Don’t assume that there is only one way to do things – ask for feedback and look for non-verbal feedback, too!