So your husband has come home and announced that his company is relocating him to Singapore.  So you’ve been offered a job heading up a team in Dubai and you need to inform your husband and children of your expatriation.  Or perhaps you’re a singleton and have been looking for work abroad and have just landed that perfect career enhancing job posting in Paris?

Whatever your personal job situation, if you’re about to move abroad for the first time I am pretty certain you’re actively wondering what to expect from expatriation!  There are many bonuses to living and working abroad and there are also a few pitfalls that you should really be aware of if you want to thrive on the journey rather than barely survive the move.

If you’re being relocated by a company you really need to enquire immediately about the relocation support levels you can expect.  The best companies offer you orientation classes before you leave, they offer you financial and practical support to move and settle in and they offer ongoing assistance such as spousal support – which is something you mustn’t undervalue.  If you’re moving abroad because of your career and you’re asking your significant other to come along with you, you and your company need to take significant responsibility for that person.

All too often families move abroad because of one person’s career and the other members of the family’s needs are neglected to the detriment of their emotional health and happiness.  This can lead to depression at best and marriage break up at worst.  Sorry to be so heavy on this point – but it is a consideration seldom thought about in depth by the company doing the relocating or the spouse taking the posting.  Work hard to help your spouse settle in, adjust and make friends.  Don’t burden them with the task of sorting every single aspect of the move and the adjustment period – help them and support them too.

The next thing to discuss with regard to a firm which is requesting you relocate abroad is financial remuneration.  You will encounter a lot of heavy costs if you’re moving abroad relating to physical relocation as well as housing in particular.  Find out how much you can expect to gain for the practical inconvenience you will endure.  Then ask about money towards travel back home regularly, towards educating your children and towards your cost of living if this has significantly gone up.

If you are choosing to move abroad to live and work rather than being relocated you will of course have no extra levels of support around you.  However – you will have the internet!  And thanks to the internet, expatriate forums, expat blogs and many websites dedicated to discussing what it’s like living in a particular country, you can actually gather a major support network around yourself before you even move!  You can find groups of like minded people in your new location who you can meet up with the day you arrive, you can find out about schools and housing overseas before you begin looking and you can get a feel for what expatriation will really be like.

Thanks to the internet, expatriation is no longer such a scary, unknown experience to survive, instead it can be a thrilling and exciting journey along which you will make many friends.