How To Achieve A Great Move Abroad

Katia Vlachos, born of Greek parents in Cameroon, has lived as an expat in Paris, LA, the Netherlands, Vienna and Zurich and so is well placed to write on living the expat life.
At the London book launch of her new book, A Great Move, she outlined her top seven tips for a successful expatriate assignment.

Having spent a period as an expat in Vienna, struggling to settle whilst surrounded by people enjoying the expat life, she questioned why some people thrive and others do not.  She spoke to many fellow expats to gather their experiences and views and these formed the foundation of her new book, A Great Move, which was chosen as one of the FT Business Books of the Month. At the London book launch sponsored by Santa Fe Relocation, Katia gave her top seven tips on how to have a great move:

 

1. Look before you leap

Lack of planning, hasty decision makin,g and lack of information can be fatal when moving to a new country and culture.  Getting your partner on board – and having a clear idea of their own ‘why’ for the move – ensures that they are invested in the move and reduces the probability of failure.

 

2. Know what to expect

A move abroad impacts so many different aspects of your life, including family, friends, lifestyle and career.  It is important to know what the implications are for all of these areas and to ensure that there are no deal breakers.

 

3. Prioritise your family

It is well established that one of the major reasons for the failure of international assignments is where the family has problems settling in.  The family can make or break the assignment and it is vital that the impact on their lives is considered and prioritised.

 

4. Identify what you need to feel at home.

If you are clear on what is important to you and your family in getting the best out of this opportunity, then you will be more targeted in the transition to your new life.  This is likely to include things like the level of routine you are comfortable with, your need to be surrounded by a wide or close group of friends.  Routine can be established quite quickly, but building a new circle of friends, especially close friendships, can take time to achieve.

 

5. Do not do it alone

Moving to a new country, culture and lifestyle is always going to be challenging and getting the support of others helps to ease the burden.  Your own personal and business networks can be a great source of help: you need to find your ‘tribe’ and not be afraid to lean on the wider community.

 

6. Anticipate the adjustment process

If you go into such a major disruption of your life thinking it will all be easy, then you are likely to face greater difficulties as you adjust to the change.  As in all major changes, even if you are lucky enough to have an initial honeymoon period when you first arrive, there are likely to be periods of crisis before you begin to adjust to the new lifestyle.  If you are expecting the changes and see them as a natural part of the process, you are more likely to be able to navigate your way through them quickly and successfully.

 

7. Take care of yourself

It is easy to get carried away with the challenges of settling in to a new country, job, home and lifestyle and forget to sleep, eat and relax.  It is important to look after yourself even while dealing with your own and your family’s challenges.

 

Katia Vlachos’ book , A Great Move, is available now and over the next few months we will be featuring a series of articles sharing her experiences and advice.