Moving abroad for work is getting ordinary than ever, more and more families choose to make this decision. But if the choice to change life is something desired or an obligatory one, in any case it is a change that must be managed, especially when it involves a family. Moving abroad with children means changing home, environment, friends, leaving known places, changing a routine. It’s a challenging step for adults, and even more for our children, who may not fully understand what will happen to them.
When we moved to London, my son was sixteen months old. We face it together, but he was too small to understand what a big change it was for all our family. But when you are facing such a choice with older children, how can you best cope with it?
In this post you will find practical pre-relocation tips, the result of my personal experience and the contribution of my expat friend, who has already dealt with several moves with her family and her children.
If you want more information on what to do before moving to London with a family, then in this post you will find all the answers.
HOW TO MOVE ABROAD WITH CHILDREN: WHAT TO DO BEFORE DEPARTURE
MAKE RESEARCH OF THE CITY
I had visited London several times before coming to live, but there is a big difference between visiting a city and living in. Get information on the web, read and search for as much information as possible about the city where you want or you will have to move. Make a budget of how much it will cost for you to live in that city based on:
- education – childcare
It would be better to visit the city before moving, and when you come, do it with some decisions already made:
- a selection of areas where you would like to live in (based on what you read and budgeted)
- verified how access to schools works and consequently evaluate in which area to take home (for example, if it is important to live in the catchment area to access them)
- rent: choose an area and visit it to have an idea whether it’s safe for a family, look at supermarkets and parks in the area
- make an appointment with some agencies and start visit some houses, because there is a big difference on what you see on the web and in the reality.
If you are not married and have children, it is useful to have a document that identifies mother and father. You might have to travel alone and it is necessary to have in any case. Check the expiration date of both ID and passport.
Check on the website of the local health authorities for the documents required for the control of vaccinations (if you have young children). For what concerns us, it was enough to have the authentic print of the ASL to validate the vaccinations already made. However, there are other countries that have different requests or need a translated document.
I would add one last thing. Try to understand in which area the other expats of your country live. It does not necessarily mean that in this way you will not integrate, but at the beginning having some face that speaks your own language and with which you also have many habits in common, will make everything lighter. Look for ways to network with other mothers, go to the park, follow courses .. In this post I will tell you some tips to network with other mothers.
HOW TO MOVE ABROAD WITH CHILDREN: SOME ADVICE FROM AN EXPAT MUM
We parents are the first to transmit our anxieties and certainties. If we are ready to face such a choice, remove the specter of anxiety from you, because you will transmit it to your children too.
As I wrote at the beginning of this post, we moved when my children were still small and I did not have to manage their setting and preparing them for breaking certain ties.
So I asked Nadia, expat like me, but for a lot more time, and with many removals and countries where she lived, how better do it for our children.
Here’s what she told me:
I’m Nadia, expat for more than 12 years and expat mom from 8 with two small travelers who follow us around the world! We work for construction companies and we travel for passion but above all for work. At the beginning of our adventure no problem whatsoever. A year here, two there and five from another.
Then our first daughter was born. Even no problem, she is small and the fact of having taken more planes than cars does not change her life!
We arrive in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), and she is 2 and a half years old. She speaks Italian well, but she does not know anything about English, apart from some little songs. The British nursery begins in a multicultural compound. Her best friends are a Venezuelan and an Italian Iranian whose common language is English. They live in symbiosis for almost 3 years.
We had to go away.
Next destination: Peru. Tragedy. New language, girlfriends lost and a new brother of pat that is born a few months after the arrival. It was very hard I admit it. I have cried a lot, much more for hormones than for difficulties.
I made her strong. Calls with friends, mornings at the park despite the tiredness of sleepless nights with a newborn baby and lots of goodwill! I found groups of English-speaking mothers and immediately we entered a group of expat children. From there everything was easier. Then the beginning of the school and she starts to speak a new language with no difficulties, playdates and sports did the rest.
I admit that my daughter has great adaptability and is also very outgoing, but moving every few years is very hard now. In fact, when everything went well and she (them, because in the meantime the baby grew up and the park had his gang), we moved again. Cry and despair volume 55366473.
What to do? Embrace her, tell her that everything would be fine, that her friends have often heard and that we will be able to see again, that we will have found a beautiful school with many new people to meet and new adventures to do together. For now we are here for 8 months and everything is going well, still regrets her friends and her Peruvian life, but has new friends here and has fun.
The little one? Sometimes he asks me when we will return to Peru, but they identify their home with Sardinia, fortunately! We have our firm points there. Friends, little cousins, family. They know that they will be there forever, and every time we come back it is as if they never left. I have no big advice, I often have doubts, but one thing is certain. Be their firm point. Let them understand that you are there and you will help them in everything. They will always have you by their side with a smile and a hug. Expat is not an easy life, let alone their children. But it is a gift that you are doing so do it with your heart and with all the strength you have!
What did I tell you? Nadia, who has a fantastic blog, Abaya and Heals, where she tells the story with irony and brings us with her in all the countries where she lived, transmits energy and positivity. Did not you suddenly want to leave? You can also find her on Instagram!
I hope this post will help you to deal with a moving. I am an expat but until now, despite the difficulties, the benefits of this life have always had a positive sign. Should the balance change, we will be the first to consider a return.
See you soon!