Top Expat Relocation Concerns

Post-Brexit, Relocation of Resources is Top Priority

Price Waterhouse Cooper predicts that as many as 70,000 British employees will relocate to alternative European locations between now and 2020 following the vite to Brexit vote. This is not counting the thousands of non-British that could also leave.

We are already seeing signs and it is slowly becoming a reality for a number of employees. As a number of companies seek to retain access to European skills, initiatives and pan EU licensing & tax arrangements, relocation of key staff has become central to their contingency planning.

Overseas relocation can be a huge prospect for even the most intrepid employees, making it overtly overwhelming for those who have not previously considered an international move.

Working with expats relocating across the globe, has given us great insight into the most common expat relocation concerns. These concerns are generally consistent; whether someone is relocating to Afghanistan, Zambia, Australia or Zimbabwe.

Healthcare

For many, healthcare is one of the first things that will be considered when assessing a potential move. If something happens, will I receive adequate care?  Are the in-country healthcare standards acceptable?  How will potential chronic healthcare needs be managed?

expat kid hospital

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Leaving Aging Parents

This is often a concern for older expats as many are leaving behind elderly parents. It can be particularly difficult to move away knowing that future visits home might be sporadic and this difficulty is often coupled with a fear of how parents who may become beset by potential illness / age related difficulties might be best supported.

oap sign

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Cultural Differences

Expat concerns of this nature usually centre around ‘What if I find it hard to adapt to the local culture?’ and ‘What if I cause offense through a misunderstanding of the local working culture?’

We have found that relocation assignments between target and host countries with more pronounced cultural differences are likely to have greater concerns.  This includes, for example, expats relocating between the Middle East and Europe, Europe and Asia or Africa and Asia.

cultural difference loo

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Standards of Living

Most companies will identify cost of living gaps between a home and host country prior to relocating staff. Where necessary, potential differences will be bridged and expats relocating to countries which are more expensive will be compensated in some way.  For some individuals however, their concerns are more centred on moves to countries with a poorer standard of living, where facilities are basic and below those of the home country.

african city scene

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Adaptation of Children and Trailing Spouse

Family is a considerable concern for those who may be bringing a spouse and children as part of the relocation assignment. The issue becomes pronounced for couples in which the trailing spouse is giving up a successful career in the home country and will become – to some extent – dependent on their partner both financially and in terms of access to new networks and friends. The adaptation of children may also cause concerns for expats, particularly if they are leaving behind a close family network, family based childcare arrangements and a good school.

Never underestimate the importance of adaptation as failure to adapt is one of the key reasons why relocation assignments fail and expats return home. The financial and non-financial impacts of relocation assignment failure are also significant.  A company with a full relocation package may lose anywhere in excess of £100,000 GBP and non-financial impacts include loss of confidence for the employee concerned (and ultimately a loss of job if the job they left behind has been filled by another employee), an unsettled workforce and loss of productivity to name but a few.

kids airport

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Language Barriers

Language is typically a significant concern for those relocating to a target country in which they have a limited understanding of the local language.  Although English is spoken in most target destinations, experiences in the broader target areas and beyond the ‘cities’ / working environment will be limited in the absence of at least a basic working knowledge of the local language. Many expats preparing to relocate have concerns that limited language understand will impact making friends and delivering effectively within the workplace.

language bookshop

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Making Friends

When leaving their home country, individuals are often leaving behind social groups which have been years in the building.  Starting again and making new friends therefore is a challenge; particularly if new friendships must be made with a new cultural network.

making friends

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