Moving to live and work in Spain.

Spain remains the most popular destination for British tourists and expats. The climate is a major draw, but the beaches, excellent food and drink, friendly Spanish people, laid back lifestyle, culture and historic cities add to its attractiveness.

Officially there are over 300,000 Brits living in Spain, but as many do not register it is estimated that there are actually 800,000 to 1 million Brits living in Spain.  With this number one of the other options available in Spain is to live in areas where many other British people live and enjoy a community of like-minded expats, if that appeals to you.  You can also opt to live in more Spanish areas either on the coast or inland. 


Spain has a long history with the Romans creating Hispania as a political, legal and administrative unit.  The Moors invaded Spain in 711 and ruled in parts of Southern Spain for 700 years.  These Roman and Moorish influences remain in Spain in the buildings and in the culture.

Following the death of Franco in 1975 King Juan Carlos led the Spanish transition to democracy and after a referendum, a new constitution transformed Spain into a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy.

Spain has a rich heritage in the arts and the country’s architecture is a combination of many historical influences and Spain has the third highest number of World Heritage Sites in the world.

Religion and Beliefs in Spain

Roman Catholicism was the official religion of Spain until 1978 when the new constitution established freedom of religion.  Although religion is not as important as it once was church feast days are marked by fiestas in every village and town throughout the country.


Spain has four official languages. The most prominent of the languages is Spanish (Castilian), spoken by about 99% of Spaniards as a first or second language and is the only official language throughout the country.

English is widely spoken in areas where tourists are seen, but maybe less common in rural areas away from the resorts and major cities. 


Family and the extended family is important in Spain.  You will often see large family groups in restaurants and as children do not have set bed times young children will often be seen with them late into the evening.

Working in Spain

Over recent years it has been challenging for Expats to get a job in Spain with unemployment rates some of the highest in Europe with the all-time high of 26.9% in the first quarter of 2013.  Unemployment has been gradually falling from the 2013 peak, although the rate rose slightly to 14.7 percent in the first quarter of 2019.  Spain has the second highest unemployment rate in the European Union.

Spain’s economy is currently expanding with growth in GDP rates of over 3%. This is driven mainly by domestic demand and the foreign sector. A more moderate GDP growth of below 3% is expected for the coming years. Employment is expected to continue to rise with the creation of more than 800 000 jobs over the next two years.

Slightly more than two million foreign workers are paying social security contributions in Spain.  This is an increase for the fourth year after seven consecutive years of decline.

Many expats move to Spain and take jobs in the tourist industry, but as the fifth largest economy in the EU there is a wide range of options to find a job in Spain.  Many people working in Spain will transfer with their own company to the Spanish business and there are many opportunities for foreign workers to take up roles, especially if they have specialist skills and the Servicio Publico De Empleo Estatal (Public Employment Service) has a tool that allows you to search for occupations that are difficult to fill.

Citizens of the EU and EEA are free to work in Spain without a work permit, but citizens of all other countries can only work in Spain with a valid work permit (see Passport and Visa Requirements to Enter Spain LINK).  Where working for an employer they will apply for the work permit, but the self-employed have to apply themselves.

It is also necessary to obtain an NIE Number (see Applying for Residence in Spain) and a  Social Security (see Getting a Social Security Number in Spain).

Proficiency in Spanish is a requirement for most jobs in Spain, unless it is a role catering for the English-speaking expats in the cities or in the resort areas along the coast.

It will be necessary to ensure that any qualifications you have from your home country are recognised in Spain and you should also consider getting a Europass, which puts your personal details, qualifications and skills into a standard format.

A university degree can be evaluated by the Ministry of Education in Spain to establish equivalence. The fees payable vary according to the type of degree being evaluated.

Employees are protected by Spanish Labour Laws with working hours restricted to an average of 40 hours a week on an annual basis and nine hours a day unless there is an agreement in place.  If overtime is required it must be specified in the contract prior to commencement with the rate of pay for overtime agreed or the terms of time off in lieu agreed.  Employees can only legally work 80 hours overtime a year.

Full time employees are entitled to a minimum of 22 days of paid holiday plus Spain’s 14 national and local holidays.

Retiring to Spain

Spain is the most popular destination for British citizens moving to Europe and 41% of British citizens resident in Spain are over 65.  Spain offers retirees a life in the sun, great beaches and resorts and lower property and living costs.  You can choose places in Spain where there is a high proportion of other expats, particularly British expats, with the advantages of the community and the clubs and societies that comes with it.  Alternatively you can look for areas with a greater proportion of Spanish residents to allow you to enjoy a more authentically Spanish lifestyle.

While the UK remains a member of the EU there is no visa requirement for British citizens to retire to Spain and access social services and public healthcare.  The Spanish authorities have indicated that UK citizens will be able to remain in Spain even if there is a no-deal Brexit and that they would have until the end of 2020 to apply for permanent residence.

Planning your move to Spain

As you plan your move to Spain there will be many things to arrange.  The Expat Network Moving Abroad Checklist is a comprehensive and useful guide that covers the issues you will need to consider and list the actions needed to arrange a successful move.

You will need to decide whether to Sell, Ship or Store Your Goods depending on whether you are moving long term or for the short term.  Once you have decided what to take with you it will be necessary to arrange to move your household goods and carefully select an international moving company.

If you are planning to take a significant amount of your household and other belongings you should ensure that you use an experienced international removal company that is a member of one of the international bodies that set and monitor professional standards, such as FIDI.   You should also ensure that you get three or more quotes to ensure that you get the best deal.  You can generate five no-obligation quotes by following this link.  You should then ensure you consider all of the factors as carefully evaluate the quotes.  You will also need to understand the Spanish customs requirements.  If you decide to take your vehicle with you there are special issues to consider.

What is involved in renting or buying property

Those moving to Spain to take up a new short term job or contract will generally rent a property.  For many they specifically move to live or retire in Spain and buying a property is seen as an integral part of the move and their vision of the new lifestyle.

The temptation is to buy your dream home as soon as you arrive, but unless you have been studying the local market for many years you should always start by renting a property.  Until you have spent time in the area you will not know enough about the area to avoid buying the wrong property in the wrong place at the wrong price.

Renting long term will give you a greater level of flexibility if you decide to move to a slightly different area or if you need to return home due to unforeseen circumstances.  Your capital will not be tied up in property and you will have fewer inheritance issues to consider.  You will also not be responsible for property maintenance which can involve unexpected costs.

The processes involved in buying a property abroad in different countries varies and you should ensure you understand what is involved in buying a property in Spain and get independent advice from a qualified lawyer experienced in the market and able to speak English.

There are a number of property options when retiring abroad and it is worth thinking about the best option before you make the move.

If you are unable to purchase the property from your own funds you will need to identify options to obtain a mortgage.  There are basically three options to finance the purchase:

  1. Remortgage your home
  2. Borrow from a domestic bank
  3. Arrange an overseas mortgage

What is the healthcare system in Spain?

There are no health requirements to enter Spain. It is recommended that inoculations for the normal childhood diseases of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR vaccine), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DPT), and polio be current for all members of the family.

The Spanish state health service establishes that all people, regardless of their nationality, have the right to health care. The National Health Service (NHS) is available for Spanish nationals as well as foreigners, who work in Spain and are registered and contribute to the Spanish social security system. This also applies to foreigners, who have retired from that system, or for those who work or have worked in an EU country or other country with whom Spain has a social security treaty that covers health care.

An alternative to the state health care system is private medical treatment. Through this system you can select any physician you wish. You can also consult with a specialist without a recommendation from a general practitioner. With private health insurance, you generally pay the physician directly and then apply for reimbursement with your insurance company. It is important to compare prices and offerings of these services.  Some of them charge an additional fee per consultation, in addition to your monthly or annual payments. It is also important to note whether national and international coverage is provided.

As Britain leaves the EU, it may become more necessary for Britons living in Spain to take out private medical cover.

How do you set up your banking in Spain?

When moving to a new country you should take a look at your banking arrangements.  It is generally possible to use your existing bank from your home country for many purposes, but it is worth opening a local Spanish account for most people.

It is possible to open a Spanish bank as a resident or as a non-resident and a number have special services for expats.  Although you can do this before you move to Spain, it may be easiest to do this while you are in Spain and you can generally pick up your debit or credit cards, PIN and cheque book within a week or so of completing your application.

If you spend more than 183 days a year in Spain or are employed or have a business in Spain you become resident in Spain and will need to advise your bank.  You will then be able to open a resident bank account which may have better terms.

There are a large number of businesses providing banking services in Spain.  The main banks are:

It is worth shopping around if you have the time, as the fees can vary significantly.  A monthly maintenance fee is common and, although cash withdrawals from the banks own ATMs is generally free, there will be charges for using other banks’ ATMs.  There are also often special offers available and fees can be waived if you meet different criteria (eg. paying your monthly salary into the account) and so the cost will vary according to when you are opening an account.

How easy is it to settle in to Spain?

Moving to Spain conjures up images of endless sunshine, strolling along the beach, sitting in an open air bar watching the world go by, drink in hand while eating tapas.  This is all part of the dream, but in reality settling in to a very different lifestyle can have its challenges.  Knowing to expect them can help with overcoming them and integrating more easily into your new life in Spain.

The structure of the day in Spain is different from that in many western countries.  Working expats will take their lead from their Spanish colleagues, but retired or self-employed expats will need to decide how to fit in with the local way of life.  Lunch is generally the main meal of the day and the Menú del Día is a popular option with three courses and a drink at a low fixed price.  This fits in with the Spanish siesta and when embraced gives a relaxed lifestyle.

From your first arrival in Spain you will experience the frustrations of Spanish bureaucracy.  Obtaining your NIE number, registering with the Padron, obtaining a social security number and to a lesser extent obtaining a medical card and a Tarjeta Sanitaria can all be very time consuming.  Patience and a good knowledge of Spanish is essential. If you do not have a good command of Spanish or if you need help navigating the system there are Gestors or Gestorias are available to complete the forms for you and help you through the process.

Not being able to speak Spanish leads to practical difficulties as shopping, eating and drinking out and dealing with officialdom is more difficult.  It is also an obstacle to fully engaging with your new life.   There are many ways to learn a language (see Top Ten Tips To Learn A Language), including taking a language course, using an online course or even mobile apps.  It is much easier though  when you interact with native speakers and have specific things you need to learn to say.

It can take a while to adjust to the Spanish lifestyle and culture.  On the one hand they can be very friendly and welcoming and there is a greater level of physical embrace.  On the other hand, it can take a long time to get beyond the superficial level and build close friendships.  It is often easier to spend time with other expats and this is part of the choice that you need to make between living in an expat enclave or integrating with the Spanish.

Whatever your interests getting involved with social, professional, voluntary and sporting groups will pay dividends in helping you to settle down and build a circle of friends with like interests.  Those who have been through the same experience as you are likely to be the best source of advice on how to deal with some of the new experiences of life in Spain.

Where one partner moves for work the other may have to give up or change their career and it is vital that they find something that will fulfil them as well as their partner.  Even where partners move to Spain to retire there are likely to be issues if one has visions of daily trips to the golf course or endless hours on their yacht if the other does not share their interest.  It is not necessary to do the same thing, but it is important that both partners have interests that satisfy them and give their life meaning.

You can read the original article here

Moving Abroad With Your Pet

Deciding whether to take your pet with you can be a difficult decision. As part of the family, many want to take them with them, but there can be issues that should be considered.

Questions to ask include: what is the climate and where will you be living (an apartment or a house)? Are there any restrictions on importing animals into your chosen country? You need to consider the interests of your pet as well as of you and the rest of your family.

Moving abroad with your pet can be a stressful and complicated process for owners, working out what the rules are and deciding on the routes for the special family members can be a very difficult part of relocation. There are, however, specialist companies available to help.

It is important to plan in detail when taking pets abroad. There are often pre-travel veterinary requirements which will need to be followed up to six months before the planned export date and so early research of the requirements for your intended destination is essential.

Each country has its own entry requirements and although there may be information available on the internet, this can be difficult to find for some locations and will often depend on where you are departing from. It is advisable to make contact with a specialist in the country you are planning on departing from to ensure you receive as accurate and up to date information as possible for your pet. Not every country will accept every breed of pet. Australia, for instance, will not allow the importation of rodents, among others.

Shipping Your Pet

If you decide to take your pet with you, you should ensure that it is looked after by professionals and that you are comfortable with your chosen service provider. So how do you choose a reputable pet travel company to suit your requirements?

You should arrange for at least three quotes from different companies and compare levels of service and cost. You need to be sure that you know what is included in each quote and what will be your own responsibility. Wherever possible you should find out what you can about their reputation by talking to others who have used them through friends or colleagues who have used them.

Pets are generally transported as ‘live animal’ cargo when shipped internationally. They will be booked into the specialist cargo hold of the plane by your pet shipping company. This area will be pressurised and heated.

Pets can be shipped with some airlines to certain destinations as ‘accompanied baggage’ if you are on the same flight as your pet. This is charged as excess baggage and is bookable directly with the airlines. You should check if there are any restrictions with the airline that could result in the pet’s flight being cancelled at the last minute. Sometimes this may include temperature restrictions with some airlines.

Transportation should always be arranged well in advance and all travel documentation, vaccination and permit requirements should be fully researched.

Crates For Transporting Pets

Crates must meet the current airline regulations. These regulations can change from time to time and so you may not be able to use the crate that they have flown in previously. Make sure you comply with the current regulations.

The right size crate will reduce stress and ensure comfort and security for the journey.

The pets’ ticket price (airway bill) will be determined by the volume of the crate in which the pets travel and so a slightly longer crate than needed not only means your pet may not feel as snug and safe but it could potentially cost you more.

It may be worth arranging for the crate to be delivered to you before your journey so that you can get your pet used to it. This is not always an advantage, however, and for some pets it is better to introduce them to the crate on the day of departure when they will adopt it as their ‘safe place’ away from home.

Make sure that the carrier provides sufficient water for the journey. Food is, however, not allowed to be provided during the flight as it can be a risk of choking.

Ensure that the crate is marked with all appropriate details and have ‘this way up’ labels clearly visible on all sides.

Pets are not permitted to be sedated during the journey as the changes in altitude can adversely impact the pet’s health. There are natural remedies that can be used to help your pet feel more secure and comfortable for the journey, but you should ensure that this is discussed with your chosen pet shipper as well as your vet.

Paperwork For Moving Pets

There is a significant amount of paperwork and veterinary requirements when shipping pets. More exotic pets often require even more paperwork and checks and in some cases it may be necessary to use a specialist shipper of exotic pets. The rules vary in different destinations and some have more stringent rules than others.

You can read the original article here

Sell, Store Or Ship When Moving Abroad?

There are many questions when you are moving abroad and for many there is no right answer. One of these will be whether to take things with you or buy or rent when you get there. The answer is, of course, it all depends…

The first point is how long you are going to be living abroad. For most short-term stays overseas it will not make sense to take more than a few personal items with you. These can be shipped using excess baggage services. This can generally be done less expensively by using a specialist provider rather than paying for an excess luggage allowance.

Shipping large quantities can be expensive and so it is important to consider all of the options and decide what is worth taking with you:

  • What do you plan to do with your home while you are away? Do you plan to sell it or retain it for your return? If you are holding on to it, do you want to return to your home or merely hold it to retain an interest in your home property market? Based on your answers to this you can decide whether to rent out the house and identify whether there is an option to offer it for rental furnished, which would save you storage costs, but may put your favourite chair at risk of being damaged while you are away. If you would need to put anything you leave behind into storage that gives you the first part of the cost equation.
  • Your planned destination will be another factor. Furniture that is ideal for a northern European or north American environment may not be appropriate for a tropical, Middle Eastern or Asian home. The size of your new home may be different or you may be moving from a house to an apartment, from country to city living etc. All of these factors will determine what is worth taking with you (alongside the cost of doing so). There may also be the option of renting a furnished property.
  • Another issue to consider is whether furniture can be purchased cheaply locally. Are there options like IKEA or local providers that would enable you to furnish more cheaply than paying for your household goods to be shipped there (and back) plus any storage costs at home? Is it an opportunity to buy a lovely new rosewood dining table to replace the tired table you have had for many years?
  • Electrical goods raise other issues:
    • The first thing to establish is whether the voltage in the new country is the same as your home country. The United States and Canada use a 110-120 volt, 60-cycle system whereas Europe and most of the rest of the world use 220-240V, 50 Hertz (cycles). You can obtain transformers, but they are not always appropriate for long-term use and can be difficult to use with items like vacuum cleaners that have to be moved from room to room.
    • There are travel versions of some items, such as hair dryers and irons, but they may not be the best option for long-term use. These smaller items are generally lower cost and can either be left behind in the loft or replaced when you return.
    • White goods will have the same issue with voltage, but you should also consider whether any guarantees or service agreements are international and how you will be able to make a claim in your new location. As these are bulky items, careful evaluation is sensible.
    • Consider whether to sell items on eBay or Gumtree before you leave to give you a fund to contribute towards buying new when you arrive.
    • Computer equipment is generally set up to work with different voltages and an appropriate adapter or a new lead may be all that is required.
  • If you have a car that is almost part of the family, it can be tempting to consider taking it with you. Before you do so, however, you will need to consider the cost of shipping (there and back potentially), whether there are import duties on the type of car you are taking with you and whether there are emission, safety and other standards that it will need to meet.
  • Advice from friends and future colleagues already living as expats, ideally in your planned destination, can be a great source of advice and information and sometimes answer questions you had not thought of. If you do not have access to them, there are many expat forums online where you can get your questions answered. Thinking it through can save you a great deal of money and ensure that you have the right furniture and equipment as you take up your new life abroad.

Once you have decided what you plan to ship abroad you need to choose an appropriate experienced and professional moving company.

You can read the original article here

Moving With Family

Any international move is complicated, but moving with family takes even more planning. The first challenge is to deliver the message to the family. This will require a detailed discussion; they are likely to have a large number of questions but it may not be easy to get them to ask them initially.

Children of different ages will require different levels of support. With support, however, they will adapt, especially if you actively involve them in all aspects of the international move and focus them on the excitement and opportunities.

Once the news has been received, a number of issues have to be addressed. You should get them to understand the country they will be moving to – including the language and culture and the schools that they will be attending. This can build their confidence and will help them to settle in more easily when they arrive. Age-appropriate books and research on the internet will help.

Members of your wider family who will not be coming with you also need to be considered to make sure that you maintain your relationships before, during and after the move. They will need to understand your motivation and you should involve them as much as possible. You will also need to agree how you will stay in touch after the move, using services such as email, Facebook and Skype to ensure you are regularly able to share news, photographs and video calls. Visits can also help to maintain relationships and provide something to look forward to.

Age Groups

The impact of a move on different age groups can vary significantly:

Babies and Toddlers – Although they need constant attention there are no emotional issues for babies and toddlers. As they are too young to understand what is planned, the international move should have little impact on them. The main issues will be to make sure that bottles, toys and any other important items are available throughout the journey and are not packed. Once you have arrived, routines are important in helping them to settle into their new home.

Four to Eight Year Olds – Although younger children will have established school and neighbourhood friendships, they will generally be fairly adaptable. If required, this age group can learn a new language fairly easily provided it is made fun. You will need to be patient in responding to all of the questions they will have and should emphasise the positives and be prepared constantly to reassure them.

Nine to Twelve Year Olds – You should expect greater difficulties when dealing with this age group as they have more established groups of friends and are likely to have more emotional problems with the disruption to their lives. They may direct their anger and confusion at you and you will need to be open and honest in handling their concerns and actively involve them in decisions as far as possible.

You should emphasise the positive and the new things that they can look forward to, such as clubs and activities that have always interested them. You can also help them to make arrangements to stay in touch with their friends via social media, phone and email, and plan return trips.

Early Teens – This group will have very well established groups of friends and this is likely to be a major issue for them. Even with an emphasis on all of the opportunities and positives it may be difficult to get them to be positive. It is important to engage them in the decisions to be made and explain the opportunities available to help get them excited about the move.

Communicating with their friends will be vital and the internet will be central to that, as will looking forward to a return trip at some defined point in the future. The opportunity to spend as much time as possible with their friends before they leave and to hold a leaving party will help them to adjust. If at all possible you should move at the end of the school year and try to enrol them in a school that has the same syllabus to minimise disruption.

Sixteen to Eighteen Year Olds – This group will tend to be more mature and rational but may have just as many concerns about the prospects of leaving their friends and lifestyle. Moving them can also be very disruptive to their education. It is feasible to agree to leave this age group with another family member or at a boarding school. You can potentially get support from them in planning the move and with supporting younger siblings. If it is felt that they can move without disruption to their education they are likely to be excited by the positive opportunities that moving to a new part of the world provides.

A series of positive messages about the move and a willingness to talk through any concerns and issues as they arise will help the transition. A familiarisation trip to see their new home can have a positive impact if it is practical to do so. Putting them in touch via social media with children of their own age already there can also help.

You can read the original article here


Moving Your Home Contents

Before beginning to pack make sure that you have thought through what you should take with you. Make a list!

It is best to reduce the amount of home contents you take with you, as you may be fitting into something much smaller.

First of all, what are you thinking of taking with you?

Furniture – You may be in furnished or unfurnished accommodation, but even if you will be moving into empty accommodation your furniture may be inappropriate for the type of property or for the climate. British and US furniture is often large relative to the size of apartments in many Asian locations. Rental of furniture is an option or you can either buy lower-cost styles appropriate to the location or you can often find secondhand furniture from expats returning home.

If you decide not to take your furniture with you, consider the costs of storage and be realistic about how long may be involved. Will the furniture still meet your needs when you return or would you be better selling some or all of it now?

Electronic equipment – With different voltages and plugs it is often not worth taking your electronic equipment with you.

Motor vehicles – The shipping and other costs make taking your vehicle with you an unattractive option in most cases.

Customs Duty – Many items, including electronics and motor vehicles, may incur significant customs fees. Ensure your shipping company advises you on any duties payable so that you can decide whether to leave them behind or sell them.

Packing For The Move

International moves result in longer shipping and an increased chance of meeting difficult conditions during the journey, so you should ensure goods are packed as well as possible. Using professional packers should ensure that goods are safely and securely packed.

If you do decide to pack yourself, ensure that you are organized and have a clear plan. Identify which items will not be needed and pack them first. Ensure that you pack by room and mark what is in the box immediately after or as you are packing and which room it is to go in when you arrive at the new home. Large colour-coded labels for each room can help to ensure it arrives in the correct location.

You will need to ensure that you have an adequate supply of packaging materials, including boxes, tapes and filling material. Good quality boxes are essential and cheap thin boxes can be a false economy. Ensure you have a good balance of large and small boxes.

Boxes should be secured on all edges along the bottom of the box before you begin packing. Always start with heavier items at the bottom of the box. Boxes need to be protected against sharp items like scissors and knives as well as to ensure the safety of anyone involved in the move. Tea towels or other thick materials can be used. Fragile items such as glass and crockery should be cushioned with appropriate materials and placed in the centre of the box. Paper, bubble-wrap or soft clothing or furnishings can be used.

Use appropriately sized boxes to ensure that they do not become too heavy – make sure you do not exceed around 25kg for small boxes and 40kg for large ones. Use specialist boxes, such as wardrobe boxes for hanging clothes (those that you will not need before the shipment arrives). Seal the top of boxes with plenty of tape.

Make sure that any high-value specialist items, such as grandfather clocks or valuable ornaments are professionally packed.

Customs Regulations

Be sure that you are aware of the importation rules and regulations that you will be subject to at the new destination. Your international removals company should provide advice on requirements and handle documentation and customs clearance.

In some countries there are restrictions on what you may import and some are restricted by carriers from a safety perspective. This may typically include alcohol, perishable foods and hazardous materials, such as barbecue gas bottles, aerosols etc.

In some cases you are not permitted to pack your goods yourself, a detailed inventory and certified documents covering the contents of the container must be provided by the shipping company.

You can read the original article here

Moving Overseas With Teens? Here Are 6 Tips To Help Them Cope

Teenage years are tough enough as they are. They are dealing with plenty of issues – trying to become independent; trying to figure out who they are and what they want out of life; totally tied into their friends and their social lives. It can be a challenging period of years.

Written exclusively for Expat Network by Kristin Savage of Studicus

Re-locating, especially to another country, can be a devastating change, and one that you will have to carefully plan for.

Probably the one group of teens who may be able to cope with constant moves are those who have a parent in the military. They are moved from base to base throughout their growing years and have developed their coping mechanisms along the way.

But what if you have been settled in one place for a long period of time and are suddenly looking at a move overseas? Perhaps your company is sending you; maybe there is a job opportunity that you cannot turn down. Whatever the reason, you are now faced with uprooting your teen from his or her comfortable and secure environment and forcing them into the unknown. It’s not going to be easy. There will be anger, resentment, and some typical “heartbreak,” and you will need to be prepared.

So here are some tips for reducing the issues as much as possible:

1. Empathy is Critical

You may be excited about this new chapter in your life. Do not expect your teen to feel the same way. Put yourself in his or her shoes and see this major change through their eyes. They are giving up all that they have known to be their lives right now. Do not criticize their anger, their sadness, etc. Instead, accept it, tell them you understand, and allow them those feelings.

2. Explain the Reasons for the Move

Your teen is a rational human being. If this move is necessary or if it means many positive results for the family as a whole, you need to explain these clearly and in terms of the benefit for the whole family. While this will not make your teen any happier about the move, it will help them to understand why you are doing this.

3. Have an Exploratory Trip if Possible

If your company is moving you, negotiate an exploratory trip for the family. After all, you have to check out all of the details involved in the move – housing, banking, driving, educational options, educational options, etc. If this is not possible, then at least get online and show your teen the “lay of the land.” With all of the technology for real-time tours, your teen can put himself in the environment and experience it first-hand. You want to show those amazing places and experiences that your teen will be able to see and have in their new “home.”

4. If You Have a Senior

This is a special circumstance. If your teen is a senior in high school, moving him or her right now is truly not a good idea. If you can find a trusted family, truly consider letting your teen stay behind in order to finish his or her high school career. They can always join you after graduation, spend the summer in their new “home,” and then go on to college if that is in their plans. And who knows? You may want to look at international college options they may have in your new home. What a grand experience this could be for your high school grad.

5. Consider Trying to Set Up “Pen Pal” relationships with teens in the new country.

This is so easy to do right now. There are international pen pals available in almost every country in the world. Having personal contact with a peer in the new country and the relationship that could develop, can show your teen that peers all over the world really have the same interests, priorities, and social activities that he or she has. And if that one or more pen pals happen to be in the city to which you are moving, all the better. They can meet up in person once you get there.

6. After the Move – Get Your Teen Involved Quickly

Obviously, the most important involvement will be in schooling. There are public, private and international schools in most major cities overseas. Your teen should have a direct hand in school selection – it is one area of his or her life over which he or she can feel some control. Other elements of this transition may include these things:

Your teen gets to decorate his/her own room. Again, these small areas of control can have a larger psychological impact.
Be certain that all of the technology is in place for your teen to communicate with his or her friends back home, as often as possible, and this includes video access.
If your budget will allow, let your teen have a best friend come and visit or to take a couple of visits back home within that first year. Remember, assimilation into a new environment and a new culture is a process, and that process may take a good amount of time. Over that time, though, if you can be a catalyst for meeting new teens, even Americans who are also expats, that assimilation will gradually occur. In the meantime, be sympathetic, be empathetic, and tell your teen you understand their feelings.

Your teen did not ask to be moved. When it is thrust upon him, he will feel a big sense of powerlessness. And with that powerlessness comes a host of other emotions, many of them not so good. You must anticipate these and plan in advance for how you will help your teen cope. These six tips are certainly worth looking at.

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