How to Move Abroad With Children—Internationalliving.com

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Not only are retirees moving abroad—so are families with children. Rather than relocate as corporate employees, this new generation of expat families is flying solo, figuring things out on their own and networking with families who’ve gone before them. International Living’s correspondent Jason Holland is among these pioneers and shares his experience and guidance in a new report.

Plaza Grande Merida Mexico

Plaza Grande Merida Mexico

"Some are moving temporarily, taking a sabbatical from their careers for a year or two to give their kids exposure to the wider world."

There’s no one-size-fits-all blueprint for expats moving abroad with children, according to Jason Holland, long-time correspondent for International Living and author of a new report on the topic.

“Some are moving temporarily,” says Jason, “taking a sabbatical from their careers for a year or two to give their kids exposure to the wider world. Some are full-on emigrating, leaving life in their home country behind. Some are traveling regularly, not having a home-base and traversing the world, a month here, a month there. Some are living in RVs, traveling Latin America or Europe by road.”

Whatever mode they choose, Jason says it’s never been easier for families to make a move abroad — though the transition is different than that which expat retirees experience.

“I moved abroad with my wife (who was pregnant at the time), four-year-old son, and two dogs to Costa Rica in 2012,” says Jason. “In our case, we were looking to have an adventure—along with affordable and good quality healthcare. Since then, we’ve traveled all over Latin America—to places we never dreamed of when we had a typical suburban existence in our home state of Florida. We now live in Mexico and continue to enjoy our expat experience.”

In a new report for International Living, Jason shares the strategies for making a move with children easier and more affordable.

Jason’s #1 Piece of Advice: Test drive first.
“By this I mean, don’t sell your home and car and all your possessions and make the move,” Jason says. “First, try it out. If you can, spend several months in your desired location. Try a few different spots in the same country to see which you like better. You might even travel to a few different countries to see which one is the best fit.”

Easing the Transition
According to Jason, there are some things that can ease the transition, especially for children, who, after all, are along for the ride. Often they feel uprooted from the comforts of their “old life”—school, friends, sports, after-school activities, and more.

The transition process should begin well before boarding the plane, Jason advises. Involve children in the planning process. Let them have a say in what they bring and what they leave behind. Show them picture and videos of the destination. Explain the benefits they’ll enjoy there. Talk to them about the school they’ll attend.

Also, make contacts in the new location before a move. With Facebook and other social media apps, it’s easy to connect with people. Most expat communities have a Facebook group; some even have groups especially for families. Most of these groups are friendly and more than willing to help.

School and Education
One of the biggest concerns for parents is what to do about school. In many countries, there will be several options.

The quality of public schools will depend on the country. In some places, they are good quality. In others, it’s bare bones. It is probably the best way to pick up the local language as there are no accommodations made for foreign students.

Usually designed for locals with means and expats, Jason says private schools often offer U.S. level education, sometimes even a curriculum accredited by a U.S. state. The downside is that the language is often English and the costs can be high.

Jason says that many expats with families are now taking advantage of online schools and home schooling. Many U.S. states and private companies offer online schooling for K-12. And homeschooling allows parents to structure education the way they see fit and let children pursue their own interests.

Next Steps
“Moving abroad with your children can be very rewarding…the experience of a lifetime,” says Jason. “It takes some preparation to make sure you have things set up in your new location and that the whole family is mentally ready for life in a new country and culture. In many ways, no matter how much you prepare it will still be a leap of faith because you won’t really know until you’re there. But that’s part of the fun.”

Jason shares much more details and advice in International Living’s new report on moving abroad with children. Find the complete report at: Moving Abroad With Your Kids.

Editor's Note: Members of the media have permission to republish the article linked above once credit is given to Internationalliving.com.

Further information, as well as interviews with expert authors for radio, TV or print, is available on request. Photos are also available.

For information about InternationalLiving.com content republishing, source material or to book an interview with one of our experts, contact PR Managing Editor, Marita Kelly, +001 667 312 3532, mkelly@internationalliving.com.

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About International Living
Since 1979, Internationaliving.com has been the leading authority for anyone looking for global retirement or relocation opportunities. Through its monthly magazine and related e-letters, extensive website, podcasts, online bookstore, and events held around the world, InternationalLiving.com provides information and services to help its readers live better, travel farther, have more fun, save more money, and find better business opportunities when they expand their world beyond their own shores. InternationalLiving.com has more than 200 correspondents traveling the globe, investigating the best opportunities for travel, retirement, real estate, and investment.

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