Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Seasoned Expat

An image of a juicy piece of sirloin comes to mind that is ever so lightly seasoned and seared lightly on the outside but still rare inside and so it should be for the seasoned expat, moving from one country to another should be like a trip to your favorite restaurant with the finest meal placed before you without having to be in the kitchen to cook it.

However, as any expat can tell you from the outset becoming a nomad takes a considerable amount of expertise, experience and well earned years on the road.  Our travels as proficient expats still needs much to be desired, but we have encountered those that have been down this path many times and for many years. They divulge information regarding their travels with the knowledge that us novices wish we had when we first set out on our adventures.

Generally our conversations with other expats goes along the following lines: How long have you been here for?  Eliciting remarks of “Oooohhhhh, shame you will get used to it, it takes a bit of time”.  Little smiles of understanding lilt other expats lips as we all know what the new recruits are going through and just how they are feeling. 
Everyone takes their own time to settle and in their own way.

I know we would have made several different choices knowing what we know now from leaving our home to where we would stay on our arrival. Here are some of the questions that I have come across over the years, that can perhaps help those that endeavor to go on this voyage of expatriation.

I have broken this blog up into a series of questions that you need to ask yourself each step of the way, I will post each section of questions throughout the week.

Before you accept the assignment and are at home ask yourself the following:

1. Why do I want to become an expat, what is making me make this move?
Is this due to a career advancement, career move, or to move from a personal situation or country politics.  Make sure you are moving for the right reasons.

2. Will this be a good move for me and my family?
3. Will my marriage survive this move?
4. Will the family be happy?
5. Have I discussed all the details with them and what their needs are?
6. Have I included the children in the conversations?
7. Who is this going to benefit?

Initially, we discussed every detail about the move between ourselves, we went through the pros and cons, both financially and emotionally for the family.  Then included the children in our discussions and found a way for them to feel that they had made the decision, a smart move on my husband’s part. (If the children are too small then they cannot be part of this decision but if they understand how their lives will change then they should be included in the discussions).

Once each member of the family is in agreement with the move, then start asking the following questions:

Is the assignment an open one or a specific contract that will last for 2 or 3 years? 

This will help answer questions the following questions -
1. Should I sell my home or rent it out?
2. Can the animals come with, what are the laws regarding this?
3. What relocation company is the best to use for international assignments?
4. What furniture, clothes, personal belongings should we take with us?
5. Where is the country and city we are moving to, i.e. on a map? 
6. What do we know about this country?
7. What is the population, culture, religion, political situation and economy?
8. Is there a dress requirement e.g. having to wear an Abaya in Saudi Arabia, suite to work, etc?
9. What is the weather like?
10. What are the local people like?
11. How many hours will it take to get home (back to our own country) if we need to?
12. Is there a consulate for my country there?
13. How safe is it?
14. How many other expatriates live there and which countries do they come from?

Then consider your next plan of action, set dates for each of your objectives.
1. Selling / Renting house out
2. Finding a relocation / removal company
3. Finding an animal relocation company, if you are taking the animals with
4. Buying airline tickets
5. Settling any debts that may arise while you are away
6. Setting up a way to pay for any debts that may arise
7. Saying goodbye to family and friends
8. Selecting a family member or friend to deal with any business / banking issues that may arise


Answer these and I will post more for you to consider tomorrow.