The Expats Of The Future

Monday, 24 April 2017

The following blog post is from the FIDI-FAIM blog. Starline Overseas Moving is proud to be a member of FIDI and the only FAIM accredited moving company in the Province of Alberta, Canada.

The Expats Of The Future

Stereotypes are useful, but dangerous. They give us a nice easy, familiar way to categorize people and roles, but they are usually based on earlier experiences, which stick with us – which often make them outdated and inaccurate.

And so it is with expats. A few years ago, they were predominantly of a certain type. Usually male, often white and quite senior, they would spend 3-4 years overseas, with their family in tow. And because that was how they once were, it is a stereotype that stays with us.

But the world of global mobility is fast-moving and perceptions born in previous decades don’t serve us well. Driven by trends for equality and multi-culturalism, and the increasing specialism of global mobility professionals, expats are changing. We would like to introduce you to some of the new kinds of people who are taking on global assignments, which themselves are changing in scope and duration. Meet the expats of the future.

The Businesswoman

In the interests of gender equality, we should point out that females are no more or less ambitious than their male counterparts. But the last few decades have shown a marked increase in the selection of female employees to go on global assignments, and this is largely down to a changing, more open-minded business environment. Comparing figures compiled by Selmer (2003) and Brookfield GPRS in 2015, the proportion of female global assignees rose from a mere 5% in 1980 to a slightly more representative 25% in 2010.

Perceptions that women are less suited to overseas roles are far less prevalent these days. Even the most chauvinistic societies, who tolerate gender inequality within their own culture, have equal respect for work colleagues from overseas, whether men or women.

The Young Hopeful

Whereas expats were once sent overseas to lend their experience to a situation – or more specifically to help instil the values and practices of global HQ on geographical outposts – the ‘learning exchange’ now works both ways. Instead of the expat being a conduit of knowledge, the expat is now often the student rather than the teacher. Organizations recognize that overseas deployment is a key role to play in not only in the development of future leaders, but also in retaining that key talent. Global assignments are both a learning experience and loyalty-building exercise.

As a result, the expat profile is becoming younger and much more diverse. The pool of hungry young talent, full of potential and ripe for development is inevitably larger than that of senior, proven executives, so the proportion of younger expats is increasing all the time.

The big difference, from the perspective of the global mobility department, is that younger employees will probably have fewer commitments. This not only makes them more likely to want to travel, but it is also obviously far cheaper to move a single person than a whole family.

The Multi-Cultural Citizen

Increasing globalization has also meant that global mobility is no longer dominated by European or North American companies dispatching their European or North American executives to the rest of the globe. The return trade is every bit as prevalent, a trend driven not just by the growth of BRIC and other economies, but also by the realization that a multi-cultural outlook is a must for senior management recruitment. Industry leaders need to look outwards, not inwards, and companies are increasingly tempted to hire non-nationals for senior roles. In the UK, for example, 40% of the leadership of FTSE 250 companies were born outside the UK.

The Short-Termer

The duration of assignments is changing too. While 3- or 4-year assignments are still the most popular, shorter-term assignments are on the increase. Between 2008 and 2017, according to statistics from ECA, long-term assignments have reduced from 63% to 45% of the total, while short-term assignments now account for 22% – up from 14%.

This makes a significant difference to the kind of person who does the assignment, and the way they go about it. It will affect decisions on relocating families, schooling, renting or buying, and of course will make a difference to the degree of assimilation into the local culture.

The Day-Tripper

Another significant change over the last nine years has been the increase in international commuting. In 2008, 23% of all overseas workers ‘commuted’; this figure has now risen to 33%. Driven largely by ever-improving transport links, this trend may see weekly or even daily travel from the home country to the host country.

Crucially, it is simpler to organize and manage – they need no more documentation than a passport and typically make all their own travel arrangements. On the other hand, these travelers are sometimes called “stealth expats” because they are not classified as assignees, nor do they fit into any existing corporate expat policy. As a result, day-trippers can fly under the radar, with serious risks regarding tax liability, social security, and immigration procedures.

Celebrating The Diversity Of Future Expats

What about our 45-year-old, white male, with his trailing spouse and 2 children on a long-term assignment? Although his stereotype may have become redundant – the role he plays is far from redundant. As companies seek to standardize work practices, and cross-pollinate by global interactions, the overseas deployment of skilled, experienced, senior execs is critical.

But now, by working with the other emerging groups of expats he is now part of a wider and more diverse global workforce, which is collectively able to serve the company far more effectively than it did a decade ago.

6 Strategies For Picking The Right International Moving Company

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The following blog post is from the FIDI-FAIM blog. Starline Overseas Moving is proud to be a member of FIDI and the only FAIM accredited moving company in the Province of Alberta, Canada.

How do you choose a moving company to help you with your (or your employee’s) relocation? Recent developments, such as the dramatic skills shortage in qualified, experienced truck drivers has made life harder for companies trying to plan relocations. It has become more important than ever to select the right moving company.

We have put together 6 key strategies to help mobility professionals to ensure a successful outcome.

1. Spread the Load

Ensure access to capacity by using a number of quality-oriented movers. The driver shortage is just one factor that has reduced overall capacity – so it makes sense to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket by building relationships with multiple, reputable partners. This is especially important during the peak summer moving period.

2. Expect Fair but Realistic Pricing

Resist the temptation to cut costs at every stage. It is far better to pay a little extra and be sure of better service.

3. Explore Small Shipment Programs

Some relocations may not require the typical ‘full load’, so many movers offer small shipment programs which may offer better value.

4. Plan Ahead and be Flexible

You are more likely to secure the capacity you need if you can give your mover plenty of notice of what you will need and when you will need it. If you can also offer a degree of flexibility this will also help.

5. Cut Out the Middle Men

Reduce reliance on third-party movers. For example, work with a relocation company that owns its own vehicles, and is therefore in better control of the availability of both vehicles and drivers.

6. Look for Independent Seals of Quality

International moving can be a sensitive business. With possibly your whole life’s assets on the move, you want to be as sure as possible that your mover is reputable, qualitative and solvent. Some moving companies are independently audited and rated, making them easier to gauge than others. FAIM, which you can read more about here, is such a seal of quality.

Bearing these tips in mind will help companies to ensure they are best placed to make a success of their relocation projects.

Returning Expats: How To Ensure A Soft Landing

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The following blog post is from the FIDI-FAIM blog. Starline Overseas Moving is proud to be a member of FIDI and the only FAIM accredited moving company in the Province of Alberta, Canada.

Returning Expats: How To Ensure A Soft Landing

Repatriation can be a troubling time both for expats and employers. While the expat is likely to find it harder than expected to get back into the swing of things, the employer faces a more business-like problem: a high proportion of returning expats leave their jobs. Expats are typically highly valued employees – which is why they were chosen for the expat assignment in the first place – and expat retention is therefore a key part of every large organization’s talent strategy.

Why Does This Happen?

Repatriation Is Not Strategic

Whilst the need to start the global assignment was almost certainly driven by a strategic imperative (to transfer skills, start up an overseas division, deal with a specific one-off project) there is little strategic need for the returning expat. They come home because their task is complete, not because they are necessarily needed.

Repatriation Is Not Easy

It is understandable that people see the outgoing journey as more complex, and therefore more worthy of the HR or global mobility department’s time and attention. The return journey involves no house search, no schooling problems, no language barrier – surely just a glorious homecoming? The truth is that the ‘reverse culture shock’ can be every bit as difficult, since many expats expect life to be as it was, but the world has often moved on without them – leaving them feeling out of place. The disillusionment that follows is often the catalyst for changing jobs.

No Demand For Freshly Obtained Skills

Expats gain and refine skills when they are overseas. But since there is rarely a strategic need for their skills (even though they are arguably more employable now) it can be hard to find a truly appropriate role on their return.

Raised Expectations

Expats can live a privileged life during their time abroad. This happens at home and in the workplace where they are often seen as being unusually skilled and often something of an exotic celebrity. Even the most balanced people will have raised expectations after such an experience.

How Do I Promote Expat Retention?

When you look into the factors, it’s easy to see why returning expats struggle. But what can HR departments do about it? After all, they’re the ones who will shoulder the blame for poor retention statistics.

The solution to the problem can be broadly divided into steps taken during the assignment, and what can be done after repatriation. A little thought in both areas will help HR managers to help returning expats – and ease the expat retention problem.

Pre-Repatriation

It is wise to remember that repatriation is not just a simple movement of people and possessions from the host country to the home country. It is the process of changing from living and working in one place to a similar situation in another. That change is gradual: it therefore starts long before they actually board the flight to return home. In fact, if you want to really prepare assignees for repatriation, you start the moment they fly out…

Post-Repatriation

Even the best-prepared expats will face challenges as they struggle to re-assimilate themselves with their former workplace and social lives. But there is a lot that the employer can do to make sure that the homecoming is a happy one.

Stay In Touch…

One of the most important ways to avoid the repatriation blues – and the talent drain associated with it – is to ensure communications channels remain open with the expat during their time abroad. It is up to the company to ensure expats stay aware of business activities and priorities back at the “home office”. A regular dialogue with expats will remind the expat that their assignment is a temporary state of affairs and they are still very much part of the global organization, and not just the location where they spend their assignment.

Plan The Next Role

Many employers are guilty of failing to prepare for repatriation. The returning expat will be armed with new skills and greater confidence yet according to a 2016 survey only 23% of companies talk to people from day one about the roles that might be open to them when they return. This should be a key part of the ongoing dialogue.

Help Them Integrate

A softer side of the HR department’s job is to offer encouragement and help returning expats to get involved. The sooner they are back into a routine – both professionally and socially – the more likely they are to thrive once more. Look to include them whenever possible, and to ensure managers and co-workers are not only aware they are coming back, but that they may bring skills and qualities that are much in demand.

So, what can you do about the retention conundrum? It boils down to planning and patience – on both sides. HR departments have a responsibility to support expats – both on their return and throughout the time overseas. For their part, expats also need to prepare themselves for repatriation. Arguably, the HR department’s biggest challenge may be to make it clear just how important this can be.

How FAIM Certified Companies Help You Relocate

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The following international relocation tips are from the FIDI-FAIM blog. Starline Overseas Moving is proud to be a member of FIDI and the only FAIM accredited moving company in the Province of Alberta, Canada.

How FAIM Certified Companies Help You Relocate

The best approach to an international relocation project requires strategic planning and a trustworthy partner. These two elements will eventually determine your return-on-investment. To help you create a comprehensive plan of action—and manage all the elements that come with an international relocation project—FIDI has created a video presentation that covers all the bases: from a pre-move survey to the benefits of using a FAIM certified company.

Our 49” introduction video outlines the main subjects of the complete presentation.

The full-length video presentation on the benefits of using a FAIM certified company is divided into multiple chapters—each outlining one of your challenges, and presenting our solutions.

Avoiding Culture Shock

Wednesday, 08 March 2017

The following international relocation tips are from the FIDI-FAIM blog. Starline Overseas Moving is proud to be a member of FIDI and the only FAIM accredited moving company in the Province of Alberta, Canada. 

Avoiding Culture Shock: 4 Tips For Coping With A New Culture

If you are planning to live or work overseas, you will no doubt have heard the term ‘culture shock’. Defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes”, it is a common experience for expats.

You will of course expect things to be different in your new host country. (If not, our post The Top 5 Expat Surprises will help you get ready.) The experience of adapting to a new culture and society in all its glorious strangeness is part of the appeal, but culture shock can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Know What To Expect

No expat will travel without at least a little research into the country – and the more you do, the better placed you are to understand the country you are moving to and its people. Whether you start by talking to friends or visiting Wikipedia, Tripadvisor or any other online community, take time to learn a little before you go. Check out the history, the weather, the religions, the cuisine, the politics (and make sure the national holidays don’t catch you by surprise!). Alongside your pre-trip preparation, here are a few of FIDI’s own tips to help you make the most of your time abroad:

1. Learn The Local Language

You may have a little school learning behind you, or you may be travelling to a place where even the alphabet is baffling. The principle is the same – the more effort you make, the richer the reward since a country’s culture is inextricably linked to its language. Why limit yourself to information that has been translated for the benefit of non-native speakers? To experience the real country, aim to get at least a basic grasp of its language.

Expats tend to be adept at foreign languages. A 2015 survey by Internations found that 89% of expats spoke at least a little of the local language, but these statistics vary widely depending on the location. Also, natives of certain countries are also more multi-lingual than others: for example, 37% of Danes speak five or more foreign languages, while native speakers of English are far less likely to learn foreign languages because the need is less pressing.

There are online lessons that will help you, or you may consider private tutoring – which of course can be done before you leave or when you get there – and these will be a huge help. More practically, the trick is exposing yourself to the language as much as possible. Watch the local news, listen to people in the street, buy a local paper: whatever your level, you will find that a little of the language will gradually sink in by a process of osmosis.

2. Build Your Network

If you are travelling for professional reasons, you may have a ready-made network of colleagues waiting for you. Use this to the full, since they have a vested interest in your welfare and will be pleased to help you integrate and learn about the local culture.

If you’re moving independently for the long run, there is also of course the expat network – but this is a double-edged sword. You will find plenty of communities online (start with Facebook) that will give you introductions to fellow compatriots who have relocated in the same way you have. These fellow expats will be able to relate to you and your situation and will give you valuable advice. But there is also a danger of getting too comfortable in this cosy ‘home-from-home’, and missing out on the experiences that your new host country has to offer. After all, your aim is to avoid culture shock – not to avoid culture itself!

Personal connections with locals is also essential. In fact, psychologists suggest that culture shock is more easily accepted if you see your experience in terms of interactions with individuals, as opposed to your relationship with a culture per se.

3. Remember You’re Not On Holiday

You may already have vacation experience of your host country. But don’t assume that living there – paying the taxes, dealing with local paperwork, using medical services, and dealing with rush-hour traffic – will be the same. It simply won’t and culture shock can be most dramatic to those who fall into this trap – even though they are not new to the culture.

It is equally dangerous to treat your time there as a holiday. Apart from the fact that you may have professional obligations, expats may find it easy to spend money freely as if it were a vacation. Money worries will only add to the problem of culture shock. Go carefully and be realistic.

4. Don’t Overstretch Yourself

While this is not the same as a holiday, there is also a risk of over-committing professionally. You will be keen to get going and make an impression, but allow time for simply experiencing the place. Spending too long staring at the four walls of your office, shop or studio will alienate you from your new surroundings. Allow yourself enough time to get out there and experience it first-hand.

Vive La Difference!

Brace yourself. Your time overseas – whether temporary or for the long term – will no doubt be a fascinating and memorable experience. But don’t fool yourself into thinking it will all be plain sailing. In extreme circumstances, expats can suffer from depression but if you make the effort – by following some of the tips in this post, for example – you will be better placed to overcome any problems and enjoy your expat life to the full.

International Relocation: How to Avoid Unexpected Costs

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The following international relocation tips are from the FIDI-FAIM blog. Starline Overseas Moving is proud to be a member of FIDI and the only FAIM accredited moving company in the Province of Alberta, Canada.

International Relocation: How to Avoid Unexpected Costs

So – you’ve planned your move carefully, you’ve done your research and you’re ready to leave. But as you stand in the check-in queue for your flight, nervously checking your passport for the umpteenth time, do you still wonder what could possibly go wrong?

One of the benefits of planning ahead, and of partnering with an experienced relocation specialist is that they will know what to do when problems occur – and help sort it out. But to help you prepare for the unexpected, here are a few tips:

Pack the Right Things

Take a few essential items in your own luggage, particularly the things you need during the first few weeks. This includes clothes, bed sheets, towels, shoes and other similar items of daily use, as well as a good supply of your favorite toiletries and, of course, any essential medication. This will avoid the need to source essentials at short notice and high expense in a strange country. (And of course, the shops will be shut for a national holiday.)

Also, particularly if you are travelling with children, remember a few mementos and personal items, eg soft toys, favorite blankets, photos, pictures to help them feel at home when they arrive.

Pack Things Right

An experienced international moving company will not only advise you on what to pack, but will also help you with the job of packing it. They are experts at making awkward shapes (like chairs) fit into oblong boxes, thus minimizing the volume of your load, and keeping your shipping costs down. Get them involved early to minimize your costs.

Prepare Properly for Customs and Clearance

Don’t make the mistake of forgetting the documents you need for customs clearance. Different countries can mean different rules. Some of the most expensive expat problems come down to local bureaucracy or failing to observe regulations. For example, some countries prohibit the import of alcohol or firearms, for example, and it is generally not allowed to ship any perishables.

Port storage charges may also be incurred if your belongings arrive before you do, or indeed if pets do not have customs clearance and need to go into kennels.

Don’t Forget the Ride Can Be A Rough One

The nature of the container shipping process means that damage can occur. The sea can be rough, and the cranes are not always gentle with their loading…

If your goods are packed correctly, they are more likely to withstand the rough and tumble of the voyage – another big reason for using experienced international movers. But also bear in mind the value of a fully insured, expert international moving company if problems do occur. They will be able to not only compensate you for the loss, but also to help speed through the inevitable paperwork – the last thing you need to be thinking about as you start your new job…

Make Sure You Have A Home To Go To…

Your property may not be ready, forcing you into unexpected interim stays in a hotel (which brings unexpected costs of course). And have you (or a trusted local colleague) actually seen the property? An online walk-through is usually available, and it gives you the reassurance of seeing everything – and ensuring there are no problems with cleanliness or maintenance…

It is also essential to have utilities set up before you move in to your new house. If there is ever a time that you need hot showers and reliable broadband, it is when you have just arrived…

Get Peace of Mind With A FAIM-Certified Specialist

You can never be 100% certain that things will go without a hitch. But if you have the support of an expert relocation partner, such as those accredited by the FAIM label, you will not go far wrong. If you want to know more about the FAIM program and its distinct qualities, head over its webpage.

Can You Trust Your Mover?

Friday, 20 January 2017

CBC recently had a special on moving on their Marketplace segment titled “Moving Company Nightmares – Can You Trust Your Mover?”

The special focused on several moving scams and went into detail on how rogue moving companies are taking advantage of their customers. To watch the segment, click here.

Using A FAIM Certified Mover Can Save You Money

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The following international relocation tips are from the FIDI-FAIM blog. Starline Overseas Moving is proud to be a member of FIDI and the only FAIM accredited moving company in the Province of Alberta, Canada.

5 Reasons Why Using A FAIM Certified Mover Can Save You Money

We all love a bargain. But if you’re in the purchasing department of global mobility, the temptation to chase the lowest cost when selecting a relocation company can be a false economy. Here are 5 reasons why using a FAIM-certified, reputable moving partner can pay dividends:

1. Reduced Cost Of Risk

The main reason is that there is a cost attached to risk. International moves are complex, involving multiple logistical steps and a host of 3rd party providers. Under these circumstances, things may sometimes go wrong. However, by using experienced partners and applying proper processes you can minimize the chances of expensive mistakes.

A simple example might involve the cost of unexpected, additional storage at the port of arrival if something goes wrong with the timings of a relocation. It doesn’t happen very often, but there is a measurable probability and that needs to be multiplied by the cost to provide an average – or the cost of risk that should be factored into every budget.

We can calculate this cost of risk quite precisely. Consider two examples, where we compare a reputable partner with one that follows less rigorous processes, and therefore has a greater risk of incurring extra costs:

EXAMPLE IS MEANT FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES AND DOES NOT REFLECT ACTUAL COST

Mover A:
FAIM processes strictly observed.
Probability of delay: approx 5%.
Typical cost of delay in additional storage costs: 5 days @$100/day

The average cost of risk = $500 x 0.05 = $25

Mover B:
Less rigorous processes followed
Probability of delay: approx 20%
Typical cost of delay in additional storage: 10 days @$100/day

The average cost of risk = £1,000 x 0.2 = $200

Mobility professionals oversee a large number of relocations, and need to deal in averages. The example above indicates that FAIM processes save an average of $175 – on the issue of additional storage alone. The figures are purely illustrative, but given the multiple areas where errors may occur, the total cost of risk quickly mounts up.

Beyond the principle of the cost of risk, there are 4 other specific ways in which using a FAIM-certified, reputable moving partner can pay dividends.

2. Accurate Assessment Of Cargo

Container space is one of the key drivers of cost, so making an accurate assessment of what needs to be shipped is essential. Under-estimating means some items will not be shipped – so an inexpert mover will be tempted to over-estimate in order to make sure, which means you often pay for extra, unused container space. The experience of FAIM-certified movers means they will be more accurate than most, and therefore keep your costs to a necessary minimum.

3. Knowing What To Ship, And What To Leave Behind

Making the right decision on exactly what you need to ship will also have a significant effect on the total cost. For example, it may be more cost-effective to store some items locally, and either rent or buy new in the host country. A FAIM-certified mover will have the knowledge to advise you, thus identifying a number of opportunities to save on shipping costs. Their knowledge will also help you avoid problems with customs clearance in your host country, which can result in either fines or more storage costs, not to mention the sheer inconvenience.

4. Thorough Pricing Structure Negotiation

The way in which shipping charges are priced is also key, but it is a complex job to accurately assess which volume or weight bands you should choose. A FAIM-certified mover is able to help you find the option that suits you and makes best use of your budget.

5. Helping You Make A Better Choice, Fast

Global mobility departments will also be aware of the time (and therefore expense) of choosing a moving partner. The FAIM framework suggests key performance indicators, helping corporate buyers and global mobility professionals to make a fast and meaningful comparison between prospective suppliers.  Whether or not you ultimately choose to work with a FAIM-certified relocation company, the efforts of FIDI to standardize and formalize the relocation process saves you time and money – whilst also ensuring you end up with a supplier that suits your budget.

FAIM Partners Allow You To Win Twice

A FAIM certified partner will never be the cheapest option on the market, nor should it be. By choosing for a high quality partner, you warrant yourself both a high value service and tangible financial benefits in the long run. In the words of Alan Bryce, President of Passages Relocation of Canada, and a long-time user of FIDI-affiliated partners: “We cannot afford a failure of service”.

International Relocation Package

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The following blog post is from the FIDI-FAIM blog. Starline Overseas Moving is proud to be a member of FIDI and the only FAIM accredited moving company in the Province of Alberta, Canada.

4 Things Every International Relocation Package Should Include

Relocation packages can be very complex, and are not limited to the issue of how much an assignee gets paid. The whole relocation package needs to cover legal details, job specification and a detailed breakdown of how remuneration will work, and specifically how variations in cost of living and housing will be managed. Packages vary by host country, by assignee level, by company, and can be affected by many other reasons, but a starting point is to consider the following four elements:

1. Employment Contract

At the heart of each package should be a legally-binding contract that details conditions of employment. This will be similar in structure to the employment contract offered to domestic employees, but will of course vary depending on the host country and the legal environment in which it will be applied. The contract will set out the legal relationship between the employer and the assignee, and set out details of the assignment, such as the duration and agreed location. Assignees will, for example, be keen to ensure that an assignment abroad should not constitute a break in employment with an employer, and should therefore not compromise their rights in this regard. Similarly, the contract should specify which benefits of employment will continue to be available upon the employees return.

2. Roles And Responsibilities

A relocation package should specify the roles that the assignee will fulfill and any responsibilities they have during their assignment. Any expatriate contract should clearly detail the employee’s job title (always an emotive issue), reporting structure and a description of the roles and responsibilities expected of that employee. In addition, the package should include an agreement of performance expectations, including commercial targets and KPIs if required.

3. Salary And Tax

International assignees can be compensated in a number of ways. Typically, they are either kept on the home payroll, or transitioned for the duration of the assignment, to the host country payroll, or in some instances, split between the two. Tax implications will of course be considered in advance, along with adjustments for cost of living in the new country, and possible currency fluctuations. In addition to the payroll issue, the package should take into account other potential forms of remuneration, including expenses.

4. Benefits

Benefits are a key part of every relocation package, and companies strive to make the deal attractive to the assignee, whilst also maximizing efficiencies for the company. Benefits cover a number of areas:

  • Accommodation: the most important benefit given to an assignee, this depends on many factors including the dramatic variation in housing costs around the world.
  • Healthcare: full medical insurance is often included. This is also a benefit that is particularly important for families.
  • Travel: relocation travel to and from the host country, including a pre-agreed number of ‘trips back home’ during the assignment are expected. Local travel is also a potential benefit; this can vary from covering train fares to providing cars and drivers.
  • Education: schooling of an equivalent and appropriate level is sometimes included, depending on the availability and suitability of local schools.

Creating The Perfect Relocation Package

Whereas the contractual and professional aspects of an international assignment are often reasonably straightforward, creating a combination of salary and benefits that suits both company and assignee is more problematic.

The way this problem is typically solved is referred to as the ‘balance sheet approach’, where the aim is to provide the same net package to expats as they had at home, once the many variables of housing, cost of living etc are taken into account. A variant of this is the ‘reduced balance sheet approach’, which factors in both the demand for assignments and the seniority of the assignee. For example, younger employees may be much keener to take on an assignment for career development reasons that do not apply to more senior staff.

There are of course other considerations for assignments, but these four elements – broadly summarized as legal, professional, financial and personal – are the core elements of every relocation package.

A Parents’ Guide To Moving Abroad With Kids

Friday, 02 December 2016

The following blog post is from the FIDI-FAIM blog. Starline Overseas Moving is proud to be a member of FIDI and the only FAIM accredited moving company in the Province of Alberta, Canada.

A Parents’ Guide To Moving Abroad With Kids

If you have a young family and are thinking of relocating, one of the worst things you can do is to Google it. Type in search terms about the effect the move may have on your children, and a number of high-profile reports will appear, noting the correlation between the number of house moves a child experiences, and difficulties in later life, which range from ill health and anxiety to difficulty in forming long-term relationships.

But it’s not as it seems. In fact, look beyond the headlines and a clearer picture emerges. It is the frequency of the change that causes problems, not the degree of cultural or social change. Moving to a new country can of course be extremely beneficial, giving your young family valuable new experiences, a broader perspective of the world, and exposure to different languages and cultures – preparing them for life in a way no classroom ever could.

The psychological effect of moving on children is clearly nuanced, and it is not the job of this article to go into academic detail. But our experience of helping families relocate has armed us with some key tips for young families. Follow our advice the experience of moving abroad can be hugely positive for everyone.

Before You Go

You know how much preparation and effort goes into your move. Long before the plane takes off, you will start the process of getting ready. Along with your spouse or partner – and, in some cases, the HR/mobility specialists at the company – you will be working to ensure the success of your time abroad.

Yet the temptation is often to relieve the children of this burden – which instead means they are less prepared and the transition can come as an unsettling shock. You’ve had months to prepare yourself mentally, while they may have been largely insulated from what was going on.

Instead, it can be much more beneficial to involve them as much as possible:

  • Let them know of your plans sooner rather than later
  • Encourage them to learn about the host country, language and cultures
  • Ask them to make decisions (eg. what items/toys to take with you)
  • Talk about the forthcoming time as an exciting new chapter
  • Let them help in the packing process itself
  • One caveat, however, is to avoid the mistake of raising expectations too far. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

Education Is Everything

Make finding a suitable school a priority. Begin researching, choosing and talking to international schools as early as possible, and bear in mind the following points:

  • If your move is not permanent, you may prefer schools with a curriculumsimilar to the one back home. This will help minimize the disruption when your children switch back at the end of your assignment. Qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate may be a flexible option since they are consistently taught across a number of different countries.
  • Older childrenare less flexible than younger children, both in terms of language and in their progress through the curriculum.
  • The best schools often have the biggest waiting lists– don’t assume that all will be available, but give yourself the best chance by acting early.
  • Think carefully about the school locationand the distance to home (and your place of work). It is important for your children to make friends, which is easier if they live near others in their classes.
  • School hoursvary in different countries, and may not fit neatly with your working hours. This emphasizes the need to choose a school that does not involve a long commute or complex bus journey, if you will not be accompanying your child.

Most research can be done online: you can find information directly from prospective schools, and can also gain invaluable first-hand advice from other parents who share their experiences on social networks.

New Home, Sweet Home

For children – especially younger children – the presence of a few familiar items can be hugely important. If you involved your children in decisions of which furnishings, pictures, soft toys, etc to bring, it’s a good idea to have a few key items with you, rather than shipped separately, so the new accommodation instantly has a sense of familiarity about it.

Set The Right Example

It’s hard work integrating into a new culture or community – but both you and your children will have a more fulfilling experience if you make the effort. So it’s important that your children see that you and your spouse or partner are doing the same.

Also bear in mind that you will not only be more sensitive to the different culture and ways of life than your children are – but you will also understand why it is different. It will help your children to adapt and integrate if you explain why things are done differently.

Back Down To Earth

It is harder for children to understand and to prepare themselves for the future. So it’s important to get them ready for the inevitable change when you approach time to go back home. (This will be easier if you have encouraged your child to maintain links with family members and friends back home during your time away.) Particularly, you may wish to remind them:

  • The ex-pat lifestyle can be a privileged one – these privileges may not be available back home.
  • The world they left a few years ago will have changed: friendships may have to be rekindled.
  • Fitting back into the home country school curriculum may not be seamless: they may excel in some areas, but struggle in others

Take time to explain why these points are important, and you will have the best chance of a pain-free repatriation at the end of the assignment.

Enjoy It

Your enthusiasm is contagious; if you enjoy the process leading up to your international assignment, it is likely that your children will be positive about it too. The years spent overseas should be an invaluable and fulfilling experience for all family members, and this is more likely to happen if you communicate well, plan ahead and make the effort together.

We service all of Alberta including Ft. McMurray, Red Deer and Lethbridge!

Our Affiliates

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Edmonton International Movers
14490-157 Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB
T6V 0K8

Tel: (780) 447-4242

edmonton@starlineoverseas.com

Calgary International Movers
320 28 St N.E.
Calgary, AB
T2A 5R2

Tel: (403) 720-3244

calgary@starlineoverseas.com

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