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.

Shipping a Vehicle Internationally

Monday, 14 November 2016

Shipping a vehicle internationally can be one of the most stressful parts of your move. Other than your actual home, your vehicle is often the most expensive thing you own. Having such a high value item in someone else’s hands is hard to deal with without worrying. At Starline Overseas Moving, our team has the training and experience to ship your vehicle stress and worry free.

If your vehicle is travelling with your personal effects it will depend on the size of your shipment and number of vehicles as to whether your automobile will travel in the same container as your goods or by itself. Regardless, your vehicle is properly strapped down, blocked in and padded to protect the vehicle. A detailed report on the condition of the vehicle (i.e. dents, scratches, rubs, paint condition, cracks, etc.) will be completed and signed by you and Starline prior to loading the vehicle.

At Starline we understand international documentation and can manage your export documents or the inbound customs clearance process for your international vehicle shipment.

When shipping a vehicle it will require that you do some preparation in advance. Following are general guidelines on what to do to prepare your vehicle for shipping.

Preparing a Vehicle for Transport

  • Vehicle needs to be operable.
  • Have a complete set of keys available to hand over on shipping day.
  • Deactivate the alarm system.
  • Wash the vehicle thoroughly for an accurate inspection.
  • Remove all personal items from the vehicle, only spare tire and jack should be left in the trunk.
  • Make sure the gas is no more than a 1/4 of the tank.
  • Antennas must be removed or fully retracted.
  • Secure or remove any loose parts, i.e. ground effects, spoilers, wide mirrors, roof racks.
  • Secure any tears or open seams on convertible tops to prevent further damage.
  • Have the vehicle serviced prior to shipping.
  • Vehicle should be free from any fluid leaks.
  • Make sure the radiator has adequate levels of fresh antifreeze.
  • Make sure the battery is secure and has no leaks.

Top 5 Expat Surprises

Friday, 04 November 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.

Well I Wasn’t Expecting That: The Top 5 Expat Surprises

In the weeks leading up to departure, prospective expats always form expectations of the experience that awaits them in their new host country. And they are always wrong.

While the unexpected is the very thing that makes travel so exciting, it still helps to be as prepared as possible. Thorough research on your new host country will help get you ready, but we thought we would list the areas that expats find most surprising. Whether you are a German going to work in the US, or an Irishman embarking on a three-year assignment in Thailand, these are the five key categories that will doubtless hold some fascinating, memorable and possibly terrifying surprises for you during your time abroad.

Local Rules Apply

The variation in local attitudes is a whole subject in its own right. Suffice to say here that many expats have been surprised at the attitudes that prevail in their host country. An obvious example is the less-than-liberal attitude in many Arab states towards women, which most expats have seen well-documented and therefore to be expected. But be aware that you will encounter many subtler attitude differences too.

One expat, for example, recounted how he used to ask London team members for direct and honest feedback as part of weekly one-to-one meetings. When he tried the same approach in Singapore, local staff were more reticent and frequently uncomfortable with the request. Here, it pays to check whether either high context or low context communication is most prevalent in your host country. In high context communication countries such as Japan, you should imply rather than explicitly state. This is especially the case for requests, critique and opinions, and contrasts with low-context cultures (eg Germany) where communications are more direct and explicit.

Don’t Stand So Close To Me

Western expats in Brazil often remark on the way that ‘personal space’ is invaded during one to one conversations. In fact, there’s a famous pair of pictures showing people queuing in both a Latin-American and Western-European country, where people in the former are standing much closer to each other than the latter. This is typical of how physical gestures and actions vary from place to place. What is important is to respond appropriately. Bow when bowed to in Japan. Avoid using your left hand in the UAE. Accept kisses from the Belgians. And don’t back down from the Brazilians – it will show you are weak.

Everyday Habits, But Not Everywhere

To be fair, the novelty of different habits, traditions and customs is one of the aspects of travel that is endlessly fascinating. Those with an appetite for travel will absorb culture shock more readily – but it may be a shock nonetheless to find that Russians often do business in saunas, that the British will often joke about money to hide their nervousness of the subject, and that in Spain a hard deadline is often only considered a rough guideline.

Lost In Translation

It is not until you go to a country that uses not only a different language but a different alphabet that you find out how hopelessly lost you can really be. Everything from street signs to restaurant menus are suddenly baffling, particularly in less cosmopolitan areas and away from the big cities. However, most expats see this coming and make their own preparations (or not). More surprising are the nuanced differences between languages that appear similar. Ask an English expat in New York to talk about braces/suspenders, pants/trousers, jam/jelly or anything involving football and you will see what we mean.

Surprises In Store

You expect to be able to buy/access everything that you could back home. Well perhaps you don’t – but you will no doubt be surprised when you can’t. One blogger loved the bustle and excitement of her new life in Tokyo, but realized how different it really was when she failed at the simple task of buying a wholemeal loaf as she could have done easily back in New York.

Vive La Différence

This article cannot, of course, list every potential surprise that is lurking in wait. But you can be fairly sure that each of these areas has some unusual experiences in store for you. Do your research, and try to prepare yourself. But more importantly, enjoy the difference and go with the flow. Not only will your hosts appreciate your efforts to fit in with their culture, language and customs, but the understanding of those precious differences will help you to grow and develop as a person.

Debunking The ‘Trailing Spouse’ Myth

Wednesday, 26 October 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.

How Debunking The ‘Trailing Spouse’ Myth Helps Avoid Expat Failure

If an assignee is happy and fulfilled in his or her time abroad, they are more likely to be successful. The ROI indicators will show positive results, and the HR department will be applauded for a job well done.

So why do we still see early repatriations? Louise Wiles, Director at Thriving Abroad points out that the link between wellbeing and performance is well known, yet global mobility departments, driven primarily by the need to reduce cost, often fall short in the support they offer expats. They frequently describe the experience as “depersonalized” since it is obviously cheaper to create a one-size-fits-all global assignment policy. She notes that the success of relocations relies upon engaged and motivated assignees – and when their support requirements are effectively ignored, the process is undermined. Poor performance or early repatriation is then a much more likely outcome.

It’s Not Just Work, Work, Work

The main problem is that organizations fail to offer sufficient support to the assignee at a social and domestic level. Carl Redondo, leader of Aon’s global benefits practice noted that “When moves are unsuccessful, it is typically due to an underestimate from the individual or employer about the change in overall environment. There is a lot of focus on the role, but not enough on how the individual will spend their free time, how their family will cope, and the overall social and environmental aspects.”

The truth is that unhappy families and partners are one of the main reasons why international assignees eventually decide to return to their home country – and at the heart of this problem lies the myth of the trailing spouse.

Do Spouses Really Trail?

In fact, the very term “trailing spouse” is unhelpful. The term was invented to describe a spouse who accompanies their partner to another country on their overseas job assignment. In those days the worker was usually a male executive and the trailing spouse was female, and there was a general assumption that the trailing spouse would be occupied as a primary care giver for the rest of the family.

HR departments would do well to recognize that spouses do not ‘trail’ in the wake of a more successful partner, but take an equal part in the decision to accept a global assignment. A couple that moves together, and whose partnership is respected and supported as such by the sponsoring organization will have a much better chance of success.

Spouses are also now far more likely to want to work in the new host country, and it is in the interest of both the assignee’s employer and the host country to offer support to help them do that.

Different Countries, Different Rules

One great example of a country that gives attention to and helps trailing spouses assimilate into the new environment is the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, the local expat center assists in providing accompanying partners with the professional guidance and support necessary to settle them into the city.

Other countries may be less conducive to helping partners, simply because of gender equality rules. Saudi Arabia, for example, strictly enforces gender segregation, and a female spouse is simply not expected to work. Conversely, an assignee’s male partner is expected to be the main breadwinner and may find local support for his desired role thin on the ground.

The point is not to make a statement about the attitudes prevalent in different countries, but to point out that HR departments have a role to provide support because it is not always provided in the host country.

So What Can An Employer Do To Support The Wider Family?

The most obvious areas of support for the wider family are in accommodation and schooling. Getting assignees and their families settled is critical, and compensation packages take this into account. In addition, advice is often given – frequently via previous expats – on appropriate schools and housing arrangements. There are also programs to help with social integration: providing classes to learn and adjust to the local culture and language, as well as providing contacts within the domestic expat networks.

But some employers go further, for example offering professional support to accompanying spouses, such as career counseling (to adjust to or seek out a new occupation) or aiding in necessary paperwork such as obtaining a work permit or setting up medical insurance.

Stop Trailing, Start Leading

Forward-thinking HR departments are putting these measures in place as standard. By moving past the outdated idea of considering families as baggage, and understanding that they are actually a key factor in the well being of every assignee, they will be preventing early repatriation and increasing ROI.

The Ultimate List Of Lists: How To Plan An Overseas Assignment

Wednesday, 12 October 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 global assignment is a large investment in terms of both time and money – so HR departments want to get them right. One way to increase your chances of success is to follow the advice of those who have done it before and who have published their own advice on managing the process. We have brought these together in the ultimate list of lists for anyone planning a global assignment:

Basic Guides

For those new to global mobility, these will get you quickly up to speed.

The Beginner’s Guide To Global Mobility (Abbiss Cadres)

A Beginner’s Guide to Global Mobility (EY)

Global Mobility Guide 2015 (Dentons)

International assignment basics: Planning for successful assignments abroad  (PWC) (webcast)

Global Mobility Back To Basics Series (KPMG)

Assignment Planning

Useful information on why planning is important, and tips to help you do it properly.

The Value of Planning for Short-Term International Assignments (KPMG) (video)

Six critical questions you must answer before you send employees overseas (IPM) (form fill required)

Expatriate Assignment Checklist Part 2 – Assignment Planning (International HR Forum)

Tax, Compensation And Financial Considerations

How to approach the financial aspects of global mobility.

Tax and International Assignments: an overview (Blick Rothenberg)

International Assignments: Tackling the Compensation Issue (Mercer)

Country Guides

A useful link to a series of guides to key global destinations.

Global Mobility Country Guides (PWC)

Policy Development

While strategic policy development is rarely part of the day-to-day job, it may be important to understand how expatriate policies are constructed.

Mapping Success: Expatriate Policy Tips and Best Practices (Mercer)

Global Mobility Solutions: Best Practice Considerations (GMS) (form fill required)

Moving To A New Country: Where To Look For Help

Friday, 30 September 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.

If you’re moving abroad, you’re leaving the world you know and making your way into a new, strange and often baffling environment. It stands to reason, therefore, that the first thing would-be expats ask is “where can I turn for help?” Happily, there is no shortage of advice and support out there, and we have listed the principal sources that you may use as you start the process of moving to a new country.

Ask The Expat Community

Other expats are typically the best source of support, and their direct experience is not only valuable but willingly shared with others. Expat communities are most easily divided into online and offline groups, but the distinction often blurs since few expat communities will exist without an online presence.

Online Communities

Often inspired by the personal experiences of former expats, a number of blogs and online communities are available that contain a lot of information and support. Some focus on specific countries, some are simply personal memoirs of experiences abroad, but they are a rich source of information for expats and well worth a look. A few examples include:







These links will offer a lot of broad advice, but they are also an excellent starting point and will often lead you to very focused groups and communities that deal with your specific destination and circumstances.

As the world’s favorite social media platform, Facebook also has plenty to offer in the form of expat groups. (Although be aware that Facebook is not as ubiquitous as you might think, as Western expats moving to China may realize.) The easiest way to find them is to search within Facebook, or to check out some of the lists of useful groups, such as this one provided by the International Expats Club.

Local ‘Offline’ Expat Communities

Once you arrive in your new host country, you will tend to seek out other expats for support (at least at first), and some of the online research you have done may lead to some useful contacts ‘on the ground’. There are also communities built around schools (especially non-local-language schools), sports and neighborhoods. Your decision on where to live (or where the accommodation agency suggests) will often be based on previous expat experiences, so the chances of living near other expats is high. Also look out for newspapers in your language, commonly available in larger cities; they will include plenty of information on where to find expat communities and other valuable resources.

Another good angle to consider is to seek the advice of expats making the reverse journey, ie people from your future host country staying in your current home country. They clearly have in-depth knowledge of the place you are travelling to, and are in an excellent position to compare the two. Another advantage is that these often tend to organize in groups, online and offline. Making it easier for you to locate them and get in touch. Just be sure to get in touch before you move.

Talk To Colleagues And Customers

Many expats are invited to relocate by their employer, in which case this is an obvious and (hopefully) highly-organized support resource. But those who travel independently will nonetheless often be working – whether this is part-time or in a freelance capacity. The colleagues and customers that you come into contact with can be extremely useful, especially for professional advice.

Check Out Resources In Your New Host Country

There are also resources provided by your new host country. Tourist information services can be extremely useful, and many countries have other services dedicated to helping expats thrive while in their country. It is of course in their interests to be as welcoming as possible to foreign investment, which is in effect what you are. Local business communities and Chambers of Commerce are also often available.

Another source of support that is often misunderstood is your national embassy or consulate. They are there to represent the interests of a country overseas, but strictly from a legal and sometimes political viewpoint. Embassies will be able to help with certain scenarios, particularly involving administration such as lost passports or legal difficulties, but they are not there to ‘bail you out’ if you encounter problems. Since they often comprise just a few staff members serving an expat community that can number in the thousands, they are often overworked and reluctant to get involved in non-urgent matters.

Get Advice From Your Mover

One of the advantages of using an experienced, certified mover is that they are not just there to move your belongings. They can advise in a number of different areas, ranging from how to pack and what to take with you, to managing the first few days in your new home, and dealing with much of the red tape, customs clearance and administration. For FAIM certified movers, this kind of support and advice is all part of the service.

Packing Heavy Items

Wednesday, 07 September 2016

Books, records, weights and other heavy items need to be packed if you plan on making moving them as easy as possible. These items can make a box extremely heavy and hard to carry. Below are some tips we use at Starline Overseas Moving to ensure heavy items are properly and safely packed.

Use Proper Moving Boxes

We highly recommend using proper, strong moving boxes for the packing of heavy items. Heavy items should also be packed into a smaller carton. For example books should be packed into a 2 cube. This goes the same for weights, records or anything else that has significant weight. Packing them in a big box could make it awkward to carry.

Distribute The Weight and Use Lots of Paper/Filling

When you are packing heavy items into a box make sure that you are distributing the weight throughout all 4 corners of the box to make it less awkward to carry. Do not put all the weight on one side. Also, make sure that you use lots of paper or other items such as towels to fill out the box, ensuring the heavy items do not shift around in transport or while being carried.

Label Boxes Properly

On an international move it is very important that all boxes are correctly labeled with their contents and that those contents are recorded on the inventory. Most of the time if you are transporting electronics, you will need to write the model and serial number on the inventories. Please check with your move coordinator to see what is required as different countries have different rules and regulations. If  your mover is packing for you, they will handle this process.

Call Starline!

If you are not comfortable or have questions about packing and moving heavy items, please feel free to call us for a moving quote and/or moving tips.

The Most Expensive Cities for Expats and Why the Results May Surprise You

Tuesday, 30 August 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.

Every year, new lists are published showing the most expensive cities for expats to live in. They change slightly from year to year (mainly due to currency fluctuations) but the same names crop up regularly.

But if you look closely at the list, you will see two types of city – and their reasons for appearing in the list are fascinatingly different. Here’s why.

Hong Kong: A Big City with a Big Cost of Living

 In the list published by Mercer in June 2016, Hong Kong was listed as the most expensive destination for expats. The figure was calculated by taking into account the cost of more than 200 items from housing and transport to food, clothing and entertainment.

Hong Kong’s position as the most expensive place to live will come as no surprise. It is one of the world’s most vibrant business centres, a place that attracts investment from big businesses and wealthy individuals that work for them. It is sophisticated, developed, and desirable. No wonder real estate is so precious, and the cost of living so high.

A similar argument applies for many of the other familiar names in Mercer’s ‘top ten’. The facilities, the infrastructure and the sheer desirability of Zurich, Singapore and Tokyo makes them expensive places to live for expats.

Luanda: A Billion Dollar Shanty Town?

But what of Luanda, Angola? It is a city with creaking infrastructure, unstable government, and increasing levels of gun crime. Over half of its 3 million inhabitants live in poverty. So why is it so expensive for expats to go there?

The economics are fascinating. Angola’s wealth of mineral resources attracts the world’s biggest mining companies, and Luanda is therefore an important destination for their people, brought in from overseas for their essential skills. Yet because the city itself offers so little, the laws of supply and demand make it fabulously expensive. There is very little accommodation of the standard expected by workers from developed countries, which causes prices to skyrocket.

A city surrounded by desperately poor people also presents a security threat – another significant and unavoidable cost to expats. Western goods need to be imported – and are also subject to steep tariffs imposed by a government keen to leverage the presence of overseas workers – making everyday items many times more expensive than they were ‘back home’. The combined effect of these factors is to push the cost of living sky high – and in so doing, to widen the gulf between the haves and have-nots – the gated expat communities and the sprawling shanty towns – in this divided city.

Luanda is not an isolated case either. Among Mercer’s top ten most expensive expat destinations you will also find Kinshasa and N’Djamena, the capitals of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chad respectively. They may not be popular holiday destinations, but working life in these rather unglamorous cities is far more expensive than New York, London or Paris.

Do Your Research…

However, it is unwise to draw sweeping conclusions. The world’s least expensive cities for expats, according to the cost of living survey, is the Namibian capital Windhoek, a city that has much in common (to the untrained eye) with Luanda. The two countries are neighbors, yet the cost of living for an expat differs hugely. The answer is to avoid assumptions – and to prepare carefully. Take advice from people who know – whether from other expats or from an experienced relocation consultant – and find out in advance what costs of living to expect. You may be surprised…

Living the Expat Life: Pocket Survival Guide

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The following survival guide for expats 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.

Ask other expats about their experience and you will get a hundreds of – often conflicting – tips on what to do and what not to do. We’ve been involved with a lot of assignments – and these are the pieces of advice that most will agree on.

1. Choose Your Accommodation Carefully

Do your research before you go and see where other expats in your host country chose to live. In particular, it is a good idea to try to minimize the commuting time. Life will be hectic enough without a draining commute at either end of the working day. Most expats either choose accommodation that is close to their place of work – or wish they had.

2. Learn About Your New Country

It may sound obvious, but do your research in advance to learn about what to expect. Look for contacts within the company, or in your own personal network, with knowledge of that location. And when you arrive, try to get into the local routine quickly, rather than sticking to the habits and timings of your previous life. In some ways you will be forced to adapt (weekends may fall on different days, for examples) but it is also down to you to take note of the way your new neighbours live their lives (eg market days, rush hours, travel tips).

3. Learn a Little Local Language

Even if you only learn one or two key phrases, this not only exposes you to the language but also makes a positive and polite gesture to your hosts, both professionally and socially. They don’t expect you to become fluent in their language: but they will be proud of it, and pleased that you acknowledge it.

4. Make Social Efforts

It’s a new chapter in your life and a chance to do something different. You will also have new opportunities that were not available back home. Whether it’s local cooking classes, surfing or dancing the tango, give it a go. Also make the effort to integrate yourself into the expat community; you’re all in the same boat and the support it offers can be very valuable – both for you and your family.

5. Be Realistic

It won’t all be plain sailing. You know that, and one of the characteristics of the most successful overseas assignees (which means the whole family) is the ability to take the knocks and not give up at the first disappointment. You’ll have bad days; but if you have the right attitude, the good will outnumber them by far. And form your own opinions. You will have read good and bad things about your new country but don’t let the media dictate your experience. It’s your assignment, it’s your life.

6. Be Positive

Many of the expats who fail are the ones who expect it to fail. Your assignment is a wonderful opportunity for you and your family. See it as an adventure and try to enjoy every day.


Beyond the Honeymoon: The 4 Stages of Expat Life

Friday, 22 July 2016

This article was written by Rob Chipman, President of FIDI, and CEO of Asian Tiger Mobility in Hong Kong. Rob is not just a renowned global mobility expert, he has also done his fair share of expat assignments himself – an experience that he draws on here.

When I accepted my first expat assignment, my employer had me watch a video that described what to expect in terms of how I might feel in the days after my arrival.  I remember this quite vividly and after quite a few years, I still recall how accurate it was and how it set clear expectations. One of the points that has stayed with me is how there are four distinct phases of expat life. So if you are planning to do your first assignment, you can expect to experience each of these in turn.

1. The Preparation Phase

This is when you prepare for your new assignment, and share the news with your business colleagues and personal friends. You will find you begin to disengage from your current life as you prepare to take on the new adventure. You arrange for movers to pack up your home, take your kids out of school, and begin to say your goodbyes.

The preparation phase is exciting but hectic. Your departure may seem a long way off, but it will come round quickly and those who plan early are not only more likely to make a success of their assignment, they will also minimize last-minute panics.

2. The New Arrival Phase

Upon arrival at your new post, you will probably feel an equal mix of excitement and trepidation. You will probably be working off a high energy level as everything is new, interesting, curious and intriguing.  Expectations about your future assignment are probably at a high point. There are remarkable parallels with the honeymoon phase of marriage.

3. The Settling In Phase

Once the newness has worn off, there is a natural inclination to settle back to a more sustainable level as routines are established. But there can also be disappointment and even some depression. In this phase, the quirky and quaint idiosyncrasies that you found so charming during your initial phase, may now become tedious and, in some cases, can even be annoying. It is natural and to be expected that you compare your new surroundings with your original home, and your new post my come up lacking. Don’t despair; this is natural and not unexpected.

4. The “In-The-Zone” Phase.

In the final phase, you become more comfortable as you adapt to your regular routines. You may identify a favorite restaurant, discover transportation links, maybe even pick up a few words of the local language. You will also probably begin to pick up on the more nuanced cultural differences.

Professionally, you will have become more settled and reached normal productivity levels – although the risk of becoming professionally disengaged from the home office can become a factor. It is in this phase where the difficult questions regarding your future career path can weigh heavy on your mind.

All too often, when the employee in question has finally reached this phase, the employer may decide this is the time when they need the person in yet another location, or even back to the head office. At this point, the cycle is complete, although a different set of phases describe the equally challenging experience of repatriation – which I hope to explain in a future post.

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

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

Tel: (780) 447-4242


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

Tel: (403) 720-3244