The decision to live abroad.

Let’s talk about the choice to live abroad and its impact? Having the opportunity or choosing to go abroad with your family is exciting, and believe me, it can also be stressful.

There are a few variables that need to be taken into consideration before embarking on this move, and there are a number of things that need to be done to help make the transition go more smoothly. From the logistics that need to be planned and organized to more subjective aspects like figuring out how to find a work/life balance and of course taking into consideration your children, relationship, and learning a new culture.

This move will provide unique experiences and opportunities for growth and the ability to gain more meaning and purpose in life, i.e. to have deeper appreciation of the world and themselves. I have known many families who have gone through this experience and so far none of them have told me that they regretted it… on the contrary, they relate experiences and anecdotes that were difficult and also fun.

Here are some tips for considerations that can help you make the most of this life experience.

Why are you moving abroad? Hummm… several factors can lead to making this decision. It is important to understand and identify why you are choosing to take this leap. What do you hope to gain from this opportunity? What do you hope your family will gain from this opportunity? Big moves like this can be stressful and sticking to the “why” can help you in this transition. What are your short- and long-term goals and your personal, family, and professional objectives. These thoughts can help you adjust the lens through which you view your life.

Thinking further about family… How do you envision the change for yourself? For your children? For your partner? What are the unique challenges for each member and how will you face and overcome them individually and as a family? How can you support each other during this change? A good practice is to talk periodically with your family to address any challenges or concerns that are happening to make sure everyone is on the same page to come up with solutions. Take a happy, relaxed moment like a walk or a picnic to address these issues… Making sure that everyone feels heard and that their concerns are taken into consideration is important for keeping the family together. So finding solutions and making compromises will also be important during this transition.

Remain open and flexible. We often put expectations on our experiences, decide how they “should” be and if they don’t turn out that way we get upset. We can get stuck in our heads with the idea of how things “should” be and resist accepting what is. This can cause a lot of suffering. I once read that happiness is the distance between our reality and the expectations we place on ourselves… maybe this is it… the bigger and more distant my expectations of what I want to achieve in the new culture, the greater the distance to achieve it. When moving abroad or entering into any new adventure, it is important to remain open and flexible and go enjoy what is in front of us. Meet other families through social media groups or attend different events offered around you. It may take courage to step out of your comfort zone, but work to create a social support network wherever you are, for you and your family. Making new friends will be an important factor in your happiness and well-being abroad. I once heard that you can tell you are adapted to a new culture when you have native friends…. can be a way to measure….

While learning a new culture can be difficult and you may experience some culture shock, it is important to find ways to participate and get to know the new culture. When you allow yourself to explore and connect with your “new home,” it will help you develop a greater sense of well-being. Try new foods, go to different events and ceremonies, and have fun!!! Many cultures really appreciate it when you try to speak their language or participate in their traditions, it’s a great form of respect.

The choice to move abroad creates a very colorful chapter for you and your family history. It opens you up to great growth and development. Remember to keep an eye on your “why” you chose to take this leap of faith. Remain flexible, open, and curious as you develop new relationships and create family memories that will last a lifetime.

Author: Mabel Vidal