While you are preparing to make your move, find an expatriate website or bloggers that you can communicate with and help answer your questions about life in the new country and city. These are essential support systems that you may find can help you to settle in when you arrive. Many new expats find that they become good friends with some of the bloggers they come in contact with before arriving in the country.
You may also want to consider finding an expatriate company that can offer to assist you on your arrival, these companies will help you to find schools, accommodation, medical and health facilities, and give you a general idea of the layout of the land. Many of these companies will facilitate you in obtaining Work Permits, Driver’s Licenses, Medical Cards, School applications, Spousal Work Applications, etc. The more questions you ask and requirements you find, the more they can help you. Certain companies offer this as a benefit, and it is worthwhile asking your new company to provide this for you.
We should have asked the following questions:
What extra benefits does the company provide, over and above the contract?
What paperwork should you bring with for official requirements?
Do you need work permits, visas, etc and what paperwork will the family require?
What can you bring into the country, e.g. you would not be allowed to bring alcohol and pork into a Muslim country, or certain foodstuffs or animals into e.g. Australia or the USA.
Accommodation and School
What accommodation is available?
Will the company provide accommodation?
If the company does provide accommodation, can we decide to choose our own instead?
What are the better areas to live in?
What are the rentals in these areas?
How far is work and school from the accommodation?
Which are the best International Schools?
What programs do the schools offer?
What will education cost?
What after school activities are there and does the school provide these?
When are the schools holidays and how long are they?
Does the company have any agreements with any of the schools for their employees?
What are the universities like and can the children go to these?
What is the transport system like in the country, are their buses, trains, trams, etc that you can use to get to and from work and school?
If not is there a transport / car benefit?
Does the company help provide transport to and from work?
Do you require an international driver’s license, or will you have to take a driving test? How does this work?
What is there to do on a weekend?
What social and sport groups can you belong to?
Is there satellite television, and how much will it cost?
Is there hired help, e.g. house maids, gardeners, etc?
How much will it cost to have help at home?
How easy is it to hire help and what are the processes you need to follow?
How easy will it be for your partner to obtain work?
What recruitment agencies are there or websites can be used in the country to obtain work?
What will work provide
Will work help you to open a bank account or will you have to do this on your own, what is required?
Will work provide local medical aid, international medical aid, or managed health care?
How will this system work and what medical benefits are covered?
Will work provide life or other insurance cover?
Will work pay for education for the children and up until what age?
Will the company pay for the accommodation, water, electricity, rates, etc?
Will the accommodation be furnished or unfurnished?
Will work provide a furnishing benefit or loan?
Will the company pay for furniture to be brought over from your home country and if so how much?
Will the company provide a car allowance?
Will the company pay for tickets home once a year?
What is the cost of an air ticket back home?
How many days holiday will you get a year?
When is the best time to actually come over to start the assignment, e.g. starting work during the summer holidays in the northern hemisphere can be frustrating as many people take leave and you are left as the new person at work who needs guidance but there is no one around to provide this. Also the children may find that there is no one to play with as everyone has gone away.
Will you be able to afford the move, will your salary cover the costs that you will incur in the new country?
Will your standard of living be the same as the country you have moved from?
The expats you make contact with before you leave will have the knowledge and experience of the country and will be able to answer most of the above questions. It is good to make sure you are happy with your intended move, company benefits, cost of living and new country.
Denise is an Expat, Mom, Wife and Marketing Manager at http://www.xpatulator.com/ a website that provides cost of living index information and calculates what you need to earn in a different location to compensate for cost of living, hardship, and exchange rate differences. The complete cost of living rank for all 300 locations for all 13 baskets is available here.