Life as an expat
I have been an expat almost my entire life. I usually explain my history as similiar to an ‘army brat’ upbringing.
Exciting, ever changing yet constant. I have learnt more throughout my life traveling then I ever did in the classroom.
There are certain things that books (I LOVE books!) cannot teach you, and their are even more things that a classroom setting are not able to explain.
And even though my life has had it’s ups and downs , over all having had such a ‘none-conforming’ way of growing up meant that I look at the globe and think ‘thats my home’. I don’t see borders and countries in the way many patrotic friends views their homelands, instead I feel I can see the good and the bad in all places I visit/live.
So, yes I am also very passionate about taking care of our planet, it is my home after all! 😛 #ourplanet
Many have asked ‘don’t you wish that you where rooted somewhere, had a childhood home to return too’ etc. My immediate response is ‘ofcourse!’ but that’s not the entire truth.
Because I don’t miss something I have never had, and I would’nt change my experiences of some of the most exotic (and strange) places that I’ve been. Infact the reality is, the thought of being stuck in the same place and the same house seems kind of suffocating to me. This may be a symptom of being a lifelong expat, not feeling like you can really settle for to long in one place without getting itchy feet. Who knows!
So, now as a parent of four wonderful children, here are some things I’d like to share with you that may just save you some time and lessen the stress!
The expat adventure: #Toptips Parenting in a new land
Moving to a new country can be daunting, at the best of times, now add children into the mix and you have a lot more complications to take into account. Depending on how you are relocating will depend on the options avaialble to you.
For example, if you/your partner have a contract that states that you will be provided with accomodations and travel, then thir is a lot less for you to worry about. But let’s pretend you have to do the entire move on your own, in true expat style.
Most expats will have their own inner motivation for moving, wether that be money or curisosity, you will be far richer for the experiences you gain on your travels, as will your children.
Talking about the life of an expat becomes like a romantic tale of wonder and exotic places, and to a great extent: it’s true! However, the day to day of life as an expat is more complicated, sometimes lonely and always a learning experience. So ,let us break it down.
#Top5 things you need to sort out before a move
- Passports, Visas, taxes, and insurance. Every country has their own rules and regulations with regards to taxes, pensions etc. Important to find out before you move are what the country you currently live in expect from you and what the country you are moving to needs from you with regards to important paper work. You can probably find this on your country/council websites and most countries have ‘Expat help’. Also, finding out where the Embassy/Consulate for your country is based is also really important. They have a lot of information not only about formal ducumentation etc but also on other expat groups that may live in the country and can give some good advice, It’s worth giving them a call!
- School. This point all depends on personal choice, but most people who are expats want to keep their kids in school where they can start/continue a curriculumn and language that is familiar. So, again here it is all about research. Once you have found the school that you like the look of I recommend calling and adding your child(ren) to the waiting list (if their is one!) as soon as possible. It is easier to decline a space if your plans change then to not have a place to send your kids come school start. And if you are wanting to home school, make sure you check on the rules in that country first, not all countries ALLOW home schooling!
- Medical. Once you know where your moving, find out where the nearest medical facilities are in that community. Once you have them listed, look more into detail about each one to find out the quality of each establishment. One of my priorities is to find a place that has someone who speaks (one of) my language(s), because getting lost in tarnslation during an medical emergency is not a situation you want to put yourself in. Before you leave your country talk to your GP/Doctor and make sure the children (and yourself) have all the relevant vaccinations up to date and that any prescriptions have been ordered a head of time and in bulk. I have given birth to 4 children in four diffrent countries and the most important thing I have found is to be well informed of how you wish your children to be, for example, vaccinated. I follow the scandinavian vaccination system and am pleased with it.
- Buying houses and cars. Research research research! I’ve noticed that in some countries it’s cheaper to rent and in others it’s cheaper to buy! So, again if you are moving with a package deal from the company then they can probaly help you with this. Howevere, the rest of us have to do uor research. Be wary, buying property in other countries can seem easy at first but their is pain stakingly a lot of paper work and bizzare hoops one must sometimes jump through to get a house. Be aware of those trying to con you out of more money, keep an eye on the market value and keep your purse close to your side.
- Moving companies. Make sure you do lots of research here, sometimes it is actually cheaper to rent a large van and drive yourself then pay the fee’s of some of the removal companies. If your going to be away from your current location for more then a year it may be worth looking into hiring a landlord and renting out your home (or Air BnB!), but if you are thinking of selling my advice is to do it as son as possible so you can keep an eye on all the proceedings. The worst would be that you’ve relocated and your house stands empty and just costs you money, its better that its is sold and you maybe have to live in temporary accomodations for a breif period (like a B&B) then travel back from your new country to sign paper work etc. Compare moving companies to one another too and make sure you read the small print carefully, they don’t always state that you will have to pay an added fee for packing and wrapping!
Extra tip! Find out where the playparks,childfriendly resturants,museums, soft play areas etc are. Knowing where you can go at the drop of a hat will help your children to intograte more quickly and smoothly. And we all know how great kids are at playing with other kids regardless of lingustic barriers, so the more places you can itroduce them to the better.
So, there you have it, a couple of things to think about before you decide to go to a new country. Their are of course SOOOO many more things you need to take into consideration, but for me these are my first batch of concerns as they directly impact my childrens life. As long as they have a school, a home and I have a safe way to take them to and from those things I am quite happy. Also, knowing where to take them incase of emergencies are also key.
Being an expat is wonderful and I do not regret it. The hardest thing I have found is other peoples lack of understanding for my choice to move around and the opinions on my parenting style. It’s very interesting how every country have their own ideals of what is best for your child and how it is a social norm to be in certain ways in some countries.
Like how in some Latin cultures children bedtime is much later then in Northern culture, and the eating habits are complitely diffrent too. In some cultures my parenting stye is to strict and in others to leanient.
I have found though that by sticking to what I know is best for my children using my background and a smidge of common sense I actually have 4 healthy (crazy!) kids, so I’m doing something right. 🙂
Stay true to your beliefs, respect the culture around you and that will be what’s best for you and your kids!