Moving the Family
Moving the family is a stressful process. Rather than considering the needs of a single assignee, there could be a spouse, children, pets and even elderly relatives. So what else does a relocations consultant now need to consider?
The assignee’s first consideration may simply be: is it worth it? Uprooting a family, particularly if the family is being relocated internationally, can be physically and emotionally exhausting for everyone involved. Children are taken away from friends and schools, spouses might have to reconsider their own employment and other family may now be distant. This especially needs to be considered if any relative is dependant on the assignee. But, if the assignee has decided the relocation is best for their family then it comes down to the relocation consultant to ensure the transition is smooth.
Spousal employment can have a big impact on international relocation. Often, spouses can struggle to achieve employment during and after the assignment. The family need to take this into consideration; can they maintain their lifestyle with just one source of income and is this a sacrifice they are willing to make? Work permits and work visas need to be obtained, but for some countries this can be difficult, especially if there is not a job already waiting for them. Then there is the issue of language: whilst the assignee may be multilingual, the spouse may not. Language courses are advisable, but become paramount when seeking employment.
Children can often suffer the most in an international family relocation. Often they feel like the move is beyond their control and they are not a part of the big decision. Small children can struggle leaving behind the home they’ve always known as the biggest part of their world, while older children can be very reluctant to leave friends, teachers, schools and their daily routine. By making sure children are included in every step of the process, stress can be reduced. Talking to them, giving them books to read, encouraging them to research their new environment for things to do and places to go can all be effective.
Ultimately a relocation consultant is there to make sure that the family’s new life is settled and secure, as opposed to shocking and alien. Finding a school is a big responsibility. Research will be required into the type of school (international, private fee-paying, state funded) and whether the school of preference has a ‘catchment area’ which the family must live in. Often it is better to find the school before the house. Transport is another important issue; are the home, school and workplace within reasonable distance of one another? Will the family have their own transport or will they use public transport? The family might require a place of worship nearby, or a nursery or a hospital. The children might want to be involved in a scout group, a youth club, a music group or even a sports team. These are the considerations a relocation consultant must anticipate.
The biggest challenge in relocating a family is maintaining a sense of normality, but researching and preparing for as many aspects of the move as possible can reduce the stress for all involved.