Moving your family can always be a challenge, whether you’re moving across town or to another state. But moving to a new country can be a whole new set of problems and challenges that you have to face. Working with your family to help create a positive transition can make the move easier, and can make it easier to get settled once you’re in your new home.

Be open about the reasons for the move

Many international moves are due to job changes. For the person getting the new job, this transition can be incredibly exciting! A new set of responsibilities, the opportunity to open or guide a new or struggling location, and a fresh cultural experience can all make them excited to see what happens next.

Spouses and children, however, may have more mixed feelings.

Listen to concerns from your family and help them find good answers

If the move is optional, it’s a good idea to get feedback from at least your spouse before giving a firm yes or no to your company. If your spouse hates the idea of moving for various reasons, the move may become an incredible strain on your family.

If your kids are opposed to the move, this can be somewhat easier to manage; kids are often more flexible and able to adjust to new surroundings.

If this is a corporate move, ask about local resources in the new country

If your move is corporate based, talk to your employer. If they frequently help employees move to new locations around the world, it’s likely that they have people on the ground in new countries. These people specialize in getting recently moved employees settled, whether they’re finding a new school, finding housing, or just helping you get the lay of the cultural land before you get to your destination.

Do you speak the language?

This seems an obvious question, but you should consider: do you speak the language of the country where you’ll be moving? If not, it’s a good idea to learn at least some of the local language before you go.

Remember that dialects exist; again, ask for help to make sure you’re learning the right dialect of a Chinese language before you go. Manderin and Cantonese are completely separate languages, for example; countries in India speak very different languages in different areas of the country.

Work with movers

While you may be able to pull off a cross-state move with just your friends, international moves require movers. You should make sure your movers are experienced with not just international moves, but moves to the destination country. They should be able to let you know what will and will not be able to be moved, and what will need to be declared at customs. They may be able to handle some of the customs paperwork for you, depending on the moving situation.

Can all of your possessions be moved?

There are many items that won’t be able to be moved by movers or might not be reasonable to move. Many electronics, for example, won’t work with the outlets or power supplies in other countries. Homes outside the United States are often much smaller than American homes, and bringing your living room set may leave you with an awkwardly sized piece you regret.

If you know where you’ll be living in your new country, you can take measurements and see what will be reasonable. If you don’t, it’s best to be conservative and redecorate once you’re settled.

Will your pets be able to come with you?

This can be an incredibly complex question with huge emotional implications. Dogs and cats can often be moved to new countries, but often have to go through a quarantine period. They may need to have special papers or tags listing previous vaccinations.

And in some cases, pets simply may not be able to come with you. If the move is short term, you may be able to find someone to care for your pet while you and your family are gone. If it is long term, you may need to consider rehoming your beloved pet. Make sure to talk to your family about this in detail, and see what you are most comfortable with.

Are your vaccinations up to date?

In the United States, vaccinations are considered somewhat optional, especially for kids, and many adults may forget to keep their vaccinations up to date. In other countries, that simply may not be allowed. Different vaccinations may be required than those needed in the United States as well. Make sure to speak to your family doctor and find out if you will need to get a series of vaccinations before you move.

Ultimately, the key to an international move is preparation and conversation. Your family needs to know what’s going on as soon as possible so that they have a chance to prepare. Kids can share contact information with their friends, your family can start to plan what they will and will not bring, and your family can work together to create a transition plan that works for the entire family.

International moves aren’t ever easy, but they certainly can proceed more smoothly and in ways that benefit everyone.

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