When looking for a new job opportunity, the thought of moving abroad may be appealing.
Everyone reaches a point in their career whereby they feel like they’re at a crossroads. They may be running their own business and finding it difficult to grow any further. Or, they may have climbed the career ladder, but now wonder whether they’re on the right track. This can often lead people to seek a fresh start and a new adventure. When looking for a new job opportunity, the thought of moving abroad can sometimes be appealing.
However, if you have kids and a spouse, it can be difficult to start over in a new country. So what do you need to think about before you take the leap?
Where do expats move?
It’s difficult to estimate the number of Americans who move overseas to work. It could be as many as 9 million. The most popular places to move include Canada and Mexico. But there are also large populations of American expats in the Philippines, Israel, and the United Kingdom.
In general, the most popular countries where Americans relocate tend to have large English or Spanish speaking populations. The language barrier can be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. Even if you speak a foreign language fluently, your spouse and children may still need to learn it. This will make it difficult to settle.
Jobs and opportunities
It can be difficult to find a job overseas if you’re not already living in the country. Most places won’t give you a work visa unless you have a job lined up or significant savings. Most Americans of working age who move abroad are head-hunted or find a job overseas. They have a skill that’s lacking in a certain country.
For example, places like Australia and New Zealand have long skilled occupations lists, and if you work in one of the roles on this list, it’s much easier to get a working visa. Of course, it’s important to work with local immigration lawyers who’ll be able to tell you your options for working legally in the country.
After finding a job, finding schools for your children is usually the next biggest task on your to-do list. Depending on where you move to, there are usually a number of options. If you speak the local language, then you may simply choose a local school for your children, which can help them get used to the country’s culture and assimilate much faster.
Most countries that are popular with expats will have American or International Schools where the main language is spoken is English. The tuition costs vary by country, and this can be an expensive option, but it means they’ll get the same standard of education you’d expect in the USA. Some employers offer school tuition fees as part of their packages to attract the right candidates, so look out for these sorts of offers.
While you may have been offered a great opportunity to work overseas, what will your spouse be doing? The so-called trailing spouse can often find a move overseas difficult and isolating, as they may not be able to get a work visa. Find out if there are social groups, hobbies or other things they can enjoy in your destination country.
Your lifestyle abroad
While many expats are lured overseas by big salaries, it’s important to think about the average cost of living and the sort of lifestyle you’ll enjoy. Of course, it’s not all about the money, you may be willing to have less money but want to move abroad for the culture, a better work/life balance or a more relaxed, outdoorsy lifestyle. It’s important to do plenty of research and to think long and hard about what your life will be like before you move, so you can make the right decision for your family.