Moving abroad is a life-changing decision, especially if you are uprooting a young family, so you will need to carefully consider a range of factors to ensure you select the very best location when it comes to education, lifestyle, culture, and safety. The world is more multicultural than ever before; UN data shows more than 230 million people worked and lived away from their home country in 2016. You may want to take flight to enjoy a warmer climate and a better career or to embrace a new adventure and culture.
Focus on education
Your children will spend most of their time at school. so finding the right education must be a priority. Fortunately, online resources have made it easy to research and select schools in different countries. You should do this immediately because it could have a bearing on the country you choose as your new home. International schools are best if there is any chance that you will move back home before your children finish their education; curriculums will be shared and it will be easier for them to transfer to systems in each country. However, local schools can be better for long-term stays as social groups will make it easier to learn new languages and integrate into a new culture.
To ensure you select the best school for your child, consider these points:
- Think about the distance between your new home, workplace and the school location. Shorter commutes are better, and living near a school will allow your children to walk and socialize with friends in the local area more readily.
- The best schools have longer waiting lists, so it is important to be proactive and act early so you have a chance of getting in.
- School hours vary depending on the country, so you will have to consider how this fits with your daily working schedule.
- Many expat locations and communities have English-language schools, so seamless integration is possible.
When is the best time to relocate?
In addition to location, getting the timing right is also critical when relocating abroad. You need to evaluate whether it is the right time in your children’s life and what time of year is best suited to a new move. Older children will find it more challenging to adopt a new language and different curriculum systems than younger children, but teenagers can also attain a greater understanding of culture and gain more from the experience.
If you have the flexibility to decide when to move, consider factors such as the climate and weather patterns, local traditions, and school term times and enrollment procedures. A move to Spain, for example, will allow you to adopt an exciting outdoor lifestyle, but it still gets chilly in the winter. Therefore, a move in the spring or summer may be best. It could also be difficult if you relocate just before Christmas, as young children are likely to be without the comforts they expect during this period. Finally, children can find it even more difficult if they must move to a new school in a new country after the school year has already started.
Where to move
The Expat Insider Survey recently named its top ten countries for US citizens to consider when moving with a family abroad. Singapore was named as the best location in Asia. It ranks highly in several subcategories, including family well-being and quality of education. It has a wide variety of options, including curriculum-based Singapore schools which offer English speaking pupils a diverse schooling experience. If you are set on an English-speaking country, however, both Australia and New Zealand also featured in the top ten as expats found it easier to adapt to the local culture and feel at home.
Before you go
It is vital that you communicate with your kids so they feel comfortable about the move and know what to expect before you go. It might be tempting to relieve them of the burden by not telling them a great deal about the move, but children generally adapt better when they are more prepared. Try to involve them in the process. Let them know that they will be moving as soon as it is feasible to do so, and encourage them to research your new host country, its language and its culture.
It is important that you talk positively about the move and state that it is an exciting new chapter in their lives. You can also include them in decision-making by allowing them to select the toys, clothes and other items they want to take. Try to get them to take some part in the packing process, too. However, don’t promise the world. Keep their expectations in check and be realistic about the challenges they may face. You’ll want to give them every chance to come to terms with the move and be active participants in its success.