Relocating overseas can be a huge deal for expats and their families.
Where the target country encompasses a similar culture, for example, a move from the USA to the UK, then the expat might be a little less concerned about the move.
However, where the culture is very different, this difference usually trumps concerns relating to more practical differences, such as climate.
The concerns are typically the same regardless of the target country.
1. In country healthcare provision and medical expertise
Typical concerns include whether the provision is ‘up to standard’, whether the staff have sufficient training and whether facilities exist in the new target location. Hygiene is also a common concern.
2. Leaving ageing parents behind
Most expats have attained a degree of seniority and expertise within their role, meaning that that they are also just that little bit older. Inherent in this, is the likelihood that the expat’s parents will require a little more help and assistance. Leaving older parents behind can be a significant source of worry.
3. Ability to navigate the local culture without causing offense
For expats with minimal cultural awareness, cultural competence, or, lacking any cultural training, the prospect of blindly navigating a new culture can be extremely worrying. The media abounds with stories of expats who have fallen foul of local laws or traditions and found themselves in trouble. There are also plenty of cases describing expats who have inadvertently caused issues in the workplace due to a poor understanding of the local business culture.
4. Standards of living and ease of access to facilities
Some places are far harder than others to live in. Although concerns related to standards of living can impact any international move, relocating to a large city rarely causes concern over the ease of access to facilities. For expats moving to rural areas in a poorer country however, the realities of a reduced standard of living and limited access to poor facilities can greatly impact the expats commitment to remaining in the role.
5. Adaptation to the new culture for trailing spouse and children
Although globally minded, experienced expats may not worry about their own personal adaptation to the culture, it can certainly be a concern if a spouse and children are moving too. Retention of expats returning each day to an unhappy, unsettled and homesick family can be difficult and the failure of the family to adapt is a key reason for assignment failure.
6. Integrating into the culture and language of the new workplace
Integrating into the new business culture without an understanding of the local language, building a network and developing relationships with colleagues is a common concern. The inability to understand the language can cause the expatriate to feel even more isolated in the new cultural setting.
7. Making friends and loneliness
When expats relocate, they leave behind a network of family, friends and colleagues. Many expats (particularly those relocating on their own), are concerned that the experience will be lonely and isolating and that it will be difficult to make new friends.
So how should expats manage these concerns?
The key is in preparation; the greater the preparation, the greater the changes of assignment success.
Most of the concerns outlined above can be addressed through country specific expatriate relocation training. This training is typically carried out by a trainer with lengthy experience of living in the target location.
Their insights help prepare expats and their families to positively navigate and manage the changes, challenges and cultural differences they will be facing in their new home. Most expat relocation training also includes advice and support to manage concerns over aging parents and other related challenges.
With an understanding of the social setting, the trainer will also go a long way to helping expatriates make the most of their social time, establish friendships and networks and avoid culture shock.
For expats unable to take part in face to face training or live webinar training, country specific, online / e-learning programmes are an invaluable way of gaining an essential understanding of the new location and culture.
However, where this isn’t possible, then intercultural websites abound with useful, detailed information, providing at least a cursory insight into country specific cross-cultural information, tips for building intercultural relationships and country specific data.
Whatever our expat relocation needs, contact our team to discuss your needs further.