When Wandsworth-based Andrew Newbery - a solicitor with a leading law firm - was offered a work placement in Abu Dhabi, his family were only too happy to be included. As the months of preparation came to a close, the Newberys were ready to relocate.
Commenting on the decision to move, Andrew’s wife Vicky said: “We always knew that an overseas placement was on the cards as Andrew’s work is very much focused on the Middle East. The current economic climate in the UK made it a relatively easy decision to make and thankfully the kids are at a good age to relocate.”
Although they were excited about experiencing a new culture and way of life, the Newbery family had to commit to the relocation before Vicky or the children had even been to Abu Dhabi.
“Andrew had been there before but the rest of us hadn’t so we really had to put our trust in him that we would enjoy living there. We finally managed to travel to Abu Dhabi as a family for a week in the run up to Christmas and it very much secured our desire to move there. The excitement about moving certainly helped us to keep going through the lengthy admin process.”
With two young sons, Tom (aged 9) and James (aged 7), the decision to relocate abroad was not something Vicky and Andrew took lightly, but they needn’t have worried as the boys saw the relocation as a big adventure.
“When we told them about the move they were very excited. The lure of the beach, pools, endless sunshine and shorter school days was obviously too much for them to turn down!”
James did have one concern, however. When Vicky and Andrew told him about the move his first response was: “The tardis is coming isn’t it mummy?”
Vicky explained: “The boys are big Doctor Who fans and my dad has made them a life-size tardis which they play in all the time. At 5ft it was certainly an interesting item to pack up.”
As Andrew’s employers were handling the administrative side of the move, all the Newberys needed to arrange was a company to move their possessions, including the boys’ beloved tardis. The choice was an obvious one for Vicky and Andrew.
“We had heard a lot about Crown Relocations and when we spoke to one of our contacts in Abu Dhabi, the company was thoroughly recommended. The fact that Crown also has an office in Abu Dhabi was the final reassurance for us – we knew that we would get a fully supported door-to-door service.”
A successful businesswoman in her own right, Vicky juggles her role as a mother with running her own HR consultancy from home. Having worked hard to establish her company, Vicky had every intention to continue her work from overseas.
Vicky explained: “Fortunately consultancy life is flexible so it meant I could work from Abu Dhabi; my priority when we arrived though was to settle the family into our new surroundings. I also needed to arrange the correct type of working visa as I wanted to keep my clients and work remotely.”
With the family relocating to a different culture it was important for them to adjust to the new local life. Vicky attended a seminar on United Arab Emirates employment law and she also wanted to learn Arabic to be able to interact with the local community as much as possible.
“It’s really important for us to get stuck into local life. The children will be able to make lots of friends at their new school and this will help Andrew and I to meet other parents in the area. We’ve also been networking with the expat community and they have been a great source of support and information.”
So what advice would the Vicky pass on to other families hoping to relocate?
“As we had a four months to prepare for the move we had a lot of time to think things through, which I know is a luxury. However, I would say that it’s very important to find the right school and secure a place for the kids before you move so there is no last minute panic when you get out there.”
“We’d already arranged a house and this was really useful to help us visualise which items we could and couldn’t take with us. I also can’t stress enough the need to use the local expat community. The most important thing is to not be shy about asking for their help.”