Relocating for an International Assignment: A few things to consider

Maybe you’re just getting a foot in the door, or maybe you’re taking a big step up the company ladder. Either way, relocating for an International Assignment can be one of the biggest career moves in your life, quite literally.

Moving to another country will not only open new possibilities for your career, but it will also provide you an invaluable education in cultural diversity and international affairs. You’ll be discovering new customs, new cuisine, possibly a new language or two, in addition to a bit of adventure, and yes, the possibility of romance. (I should know, it was on an intercontinental vision quest that I met my wife in a little city in the north of Germany.)

But keep in mind, relocating overseas is not entirely a bed of roses. There are bound to be difficulties, hurdles, and complications. Culture shock, language barriers, and homesickness are realities that you may have to face. Not to mention the risk of losing your luggage, or simply getting lost yourself. But of course, no one ever accomplished anything great by staying home and not taking any chances, so don’t let these hazards deter your.

At the same time however, you will want embark on this move with eyes wide open, fully aware of what you’re getting yourself into. With that in mind, here are a few things to consider.

  • Move and store your belongings. Figure out what’s coming with you and how you’re going to bring it. At the same time, decide what’s staying and where you’re going to store it. If you’re fresh out of school, maybe you can move overseas with just your backpack and a laptop. On the other hand, you may have enough to fill a whole shipping container. The rest of your things might fit in your mom’s attic, or you may need to rent a storage unit. And finally, don’t forget to throw a going-away party. Who knows when you’ll be back!
  • Get your passports, visas and documents organized, for you and your family. You won’t get far without these. Check with your consulate to make sure you have everything you need. Also make photocopies of your passport(s) and visa(s), and store copies on your laptop or other digital device. It’s just an extra security measure that could save you a lot of time and trouble later on, if your things got lost.
  • Arrange temporary and long term housing in your new destination. Of course, you’ll need a place to live, and while you’re looking for a good place to live, you’re still going to need a decent place to stay. For starters, you could look into renting a hotel room for a monthly rate, or see what’s available on Airbnb, or some other comparable website. Then you can get comfortable and not feel rushed while you look for something more long-term, where you can really get settled.
  • Find the right neighborhood. Some parts of town may be better for students, other parts will be nice for families, and certain neighborhoods might not be nice at all. Do your homework, spend some time driving and walking around town, and be sure to check at different times of day. Some areas that look great during the business hours may turn out to be a bit shady at night, or vice versa.
  • Find schools and childcare. For parents, this will be one of your top priorities, if not THE top priority. Again, do your homework, check out the various school districts, and talk to local parents whenever possible.
  • Prepare your spouse, if you’re married, because s/he will probably be joining you, and s/he will be in for a big change too. Make sure you’re both prepared for the good times and the bad. Moving, especially overseas, can be one of life’s number one sources of stress, so brace yourself. And just remember, once you get through it, your relationship will be all the stronger.
  • Register for residency, healthcare, and driver’s license if necessary. Every country and most states have their own healthcare systems and rules for driving. Get informed and get legal, it’s a bureaucratic necessity.
  • Connect your utilities. Before you even get a house or an apartment, you’ll probably need to get your phone set up. And once you’ve moved, you’ll need to figure out your internet connection, water, electricity, etc. These days, it’s hard to tell what’s more important, clean drinking water of the wi-fi!
  • Get settled. Finally, here comes the fun part, where you make friends and begin to discover your new favorite restaurants, hang-outs, gyms, yoga centers, and so on. Again, some things in your new country may take a little getting used to, because every culture has its own customs for eating, drinking, and socializing. So don’t be in too big of a hurry, and don’t be surprised if you make an occasional faux pas here or there. It’s all part of the learning process.

If this list sounds a little overwhelming, then yes, you’re starting to get the idea. An International Assignment and Relocation is no small feat. And this is only a very simple overview.

Luckily, if you’re planning on moving to Canada, ARIANNE has been helping to relocate families, students, immigrants and professionals for more than 20 years. Thousands of of individuals have made successful moves thanks to the knowledge and dedication that make up ARIANNE’s relocation services.

And as of this year, we’ve found a way to make relocating easier and less expensive than ever. Our Online Relocation Guides for several Canadian cities cover all these topics listed above in exhaustive but easy-to-follow detail, full of practical, useful advice, including hundreds of links to local businesses, valuable resources and government pages and forms. And because the guides are online, we are able to correct and update them continuously.

The exceedingly thorough and easy-to-use guides enable you to do it yourself, but if your situation is more complicated, or you’d just feel more comfortable with someone to hold your hand and walk you through the whole process, we still offer those services as well. You can always schedule a one-on-one Tele-consultation or arrange for In-Person Services to show you around your new city and help find sousing, schools, doctors, and more.

The International Assignment could be the most exciting move of your life, so let’s work together and see that it goes smoothly and successfully.

About the Author:

Fred Hornaday took a road trip from California to Wisconsin for his first birthday party. Since then, his itch to travel has led him on numerous cross country and transcontinental adventures throughout North America and Europe. He met his wife in Germany, got married in Denmark, and honeymooned in Colombia. He knows a thing or two about international travel and relocation.

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