The allure of an overseas assignment can be very appealing, especially in certain destinations that are very popular, 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 easy, given the language and cultural ties. If US to UK relocations can be challenging, think about when you through 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 done an assignment abroad. What was your experience? Was it easy for you to adapt or did you really find it hard and painful? 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 and to draw on the experience of the local Destination Service Provider in order to get the most information possible.
- 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 the worker getting 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? Many local schools are not willing to enroll children who have linguistic challenging to avoid upsetting the learning process for the local children. This is a very important point and needs to be looked at before relating to avoid major issues with the schooling aspect of things.
- Does your partner want to work in the new destination? Many locations do not offer a vibrant work market for spouses and partners, especially without the local language. Therefore, this will need to be addressed and alternative 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 for these special cases, and if support is available, it may be only 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. Information is to Global Mobility what location is to the Real Estate market. It behooves everyone to make informed decision when possibly 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 possible!