I’m considering relocating my family for a great career opportunity. Do you have any advice or recommendations for things to avoid?
Answer from Dana:
Relocating — domestically or internationally — for a great career opportunity is a big step. I’ve made several moves with my husband and kids to take advantages of opportunities, too. I could go into each move separately, which would be a long story, so I’ll summarize my career relocation tips for going across the country or around the globe.
Things that went well:
- The company that moved our family to Charlotte, N.C., and to Hong Kong had a lot of experience relocating people around the world and domestically. They developed a relocation program that really helped us understand what we could expect, secure help when we had questions, and ensure assistance was there on the “other side.”
- My husband had moved a lot when he was a child and young adult, so he was very helpful in handling the logistics on both ends of the move. He took care of the children’s schools, the movers and home sales (when needed) so I could be successful diving into my job, traveling, and spending quality time with the kids when I was home.
- Our attitudes: We looked forward to every move as an adventure. We were not high-maintenance, did not complain, and we taught our kids to be flexible, too. We researched the new places, explored and enjoyed the new environments, and more. As an example, people thought we were nuts to move to Rochester, N.Y., but we enjoyed it! We joined a small, affordable ski club where our kids could get lessons and I could sit by the fire with my laptop!
Things we learned:
- I could not have done it alone (or if I had tried, I surely would have done it poorly). I would have had to take time off from my job or been stressed out juggling the logistics of a move and the pressures of a new position. Yes, relocations generally imply a new job either within your current company or with a new company.
- The importance of making friends. The onus is on the new (or visiting) family to make the effort to socialize, invite people to go out, or have houseguests. Remember, they have a social life already — you need to put in the effort to introduce yourself and your family.
- In an international move, language barriers can be overcome! It takes work on the part of the new employee and his or her family. In Hong Kong, while our kids learned a small amount of Chinese in school, we chose not to invest the time in the local language. The locals spoke plenty of English, and we learned enough to get around.
- Get the kids involved in some extracurricular activities like sports or music. Our kids played soccer, took karate classes, joined swimming teams, and more.