The allure of an overseas assignment can be very appealing to some individuals, especially for certain destinations that are very sought after, such as London. However, it is wise to note, that some of the most unsuccessful relocations from the US, for example, are into the UK – this may seem strange, but many people feel that it will be very easy, given the language and cultural ties. If US to UK relocations can be challenging, think about when you throw into the mix a different language, remote locations, as well as cultural and religious differences. In these cases, it may be well worth your while to ask yourself if you have the right personality to handle an assignment in another country, given the potential challenges that could bring.
While it may seem obvious, the first thing to look at is if you have already completed an assignment abroad. What was your experience? Was it easy for you to adapt or did you really find it hard and a painful experience? If you relocated with your partner and / or family – how did they deal with the experience? Again, was it a fun experience of was it a nightmare not to be repeated?
In addition to these questions, here are some other practical issues that you may need to address:
- Are you relocating to a remote or challenging area with security issues? If you are, how can you prepare for this? In these cases if may be helpful to do a look-see trip first and to draw on the experience of the local Destination Service Provider in order to get the most information possible, so you can make an educated decision.
- Are you relocating to a destination that does not recognize unmarried opposite or same-sex couples? This can be a major issue when trying to get permission for the partner to live in the country and should ideally be looked at beforehand in order to avoid delays in getting the worker up and running.
- How much support will you be given with regards to your relocation program? Each individual is different, therefore if would be very beneficial to ask yourself if you will be ok with a very slim program, or if you will require much more assistance on the ground.
- Will your children be able to attend a local school if there is no international school option available? Local schools are not always willing to enroll children who do not speak the local language to avoid upsetting the learning process for the local children. This is a very important point and needs to be looked at before relocating to avoid major issues with the schooling aspect of things.
- Does your partner want to work in the new destination? Certain locations do not offer a vibrant employment market for spouses and partners, especially without the local language. Therefore, this will need to be addressed and alternatives such as volunteer opportunities may need to be explored.
- Are you relocating with special needs children or older parents? Some locations may not offer a lot of support in these cases, and if support is available, it may only be provided in the local language. Again, to avoid a stressful situation, this should be looked at before accepting an overseas assignment.
To be able to make the most of an assignment in another country, it is always wise to get as much information as possible before making the decision to move. Information is to Global Mobility what location is to the Real Estate market. It behooves everyone involved to make informed decisions when moving halfway around the world – with this in mind, a lot of stress can be avoided, and if one does choose to relocate, it can end up being one of the most valuable life experiences imaginable!
Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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