The range of services on offer to assist in international relocations is extensive, but not all of the services will be applicable to every expatriate. There are full-service relocation agencies with offices worldwide that offer pre-departure services, assistance with visa and work-permit applications, packing and shipping of your household goods and arrival (destination) services. However, there are other companies that offer a less comprehensive range of services, or who concentrate on providing certain specialist services – visa and work permit applications, international shipping, home search, school search, etc. Choosing the right relocation agency, as with choosing other services, depends on your needs. Though many agencies will tailor their packages to suit the requirements of each newcomer and any accompanying family members, they have to know what is needed before they can do so.
What is offered?
These can cover a variety of aspects relating to an international move and can range from the purely logistical to the practicalities of day-to-day life in the foreign country. Below is an outline of some of the more common services on offer.
These pre-location familiarization trips are intended to give newcomers a chance to see the destination first-hand, look for accommodation, visit schools, etc. Such “look-see” visits can really help you get your bearings ahead of arrival.
School Visits and Advice
Some destination cities have a large array of schools to choose from and impartial advice on what are likely to be the best schools can go a long way in helping children be happy at the destination. Information on the academic and extra-curricular aspects of each school, as well as inside knowledge about their good and bad points, can be helpful in reading between the lines of the schools’ glossy brochures.
Finding suitable housing in a new city can be time-consuming and frustrating. The problems of language and a lack of knowledge on the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords are difficult to overcome, but a good home-finding service can make the process almost enjoyable. The time you have to find your new home will almost certainly be short, so it is essential that the home-finding service begins setting up appointments for you well before you arrive. Some home-finding services are run by estate agents, which can have pros and cons. On the positive side, they should have a good range of properties on their books, but on the negative side you will be restricted to what they have available.
Keep a Written List
With the massive amount of information that you receive on arrival in a new city, much of it is likely to go in one ear and out the other. So write it down for easy reference. Such lists should include contact details of doctors and dentists who speak your language, hospitals, ambulance service, your consulate and other essential services.
Setting up a new circle of friends is an important aspect of settling successfully into an expatriate posting. Agency-arranged invitations to cocktail parties, expat spouse associations, clubs and other places where you can meet people can ease the initial difficulties of breaking into established social circles and making friends and business contacts.
With the massive amount of information that you receive on arrival in a new city, much of it is likely to go in one ear and out the other. So having it written down and collated for easy reference is always useful. Such packs should include contact details of doctors and dentists who speak your language, hospitals, ambulance service, your embassy and other essential services.
A guided tour of your new city to help you get your bearings can reduce much of the fear of getting lost that is common to newly-arrived expatriates and their children.
Setting up a new circle of friends is an important aspect of settling successfully into an expatriate posting. Agency-arranged invitations to cocktail parties, expat spouse associations, clubs and other places where you can meet people can ease the initial difficulties of breaking into established social circles and making friends and business contacts. Some agencies organize such events for their clients, so that newly arrived expatriates can meet longer established ones.
Leaving a destination can be just as complicated as arriving, what with vacating accommodation, discontinuing utilities, deregistering with government agencies and other formalities. Arranging for one agency to look after your move out of the old location and into the new one should mean getting things done properly.