Expat spouses: make the best of your new life
Going abroad and start a new life can be stressful, especially when the decision does not come from you at first!
If you’ve decided to follow your partner in this adventure and feel lost: breathe in, breathe out, and take a look at our few pieces of advice.
You've been enjoying your daily life with your partner for years. You may even have a good situation, or at least a job you enjoy everyday. Friends and family are also a part of the picture.
Coming out of the blue, your loved one drops the bomb: they’re offered a huge career enhancing assignement overseas.
Your first reaction is thinking about the semi-loss of your family and friends, and then realizing that planes and trains do exist, and that every holiday will be an excuse for them to come and visit you (although the joy of having your mother-in-law for 3weeks in a row during Christmas break can be questionable….).
But professionally speaking…. What if your job can't offer an overseas assignment for you? What if you have to leave your career behind to follow your partner?
Leaving a job behind does not necessarily mean that you’ll remain at home all day long all by yourself, turning in circles. Living abroad can also be an extraordinary opportunity for you to enhance your skills.
Don't freak out! Lots of people have been, are or will be in the same situation.
Did you know that in 2019, 63% of expats were in a relationship and 21% with dependent children, and 42% of expats couple have been relocated together? Not to mention that those figures tend to rise with the global pandemic and the emergence of digital nomads.
Immigration and relocation, whether it’s a personal choice or a common decision, is a matter of organization from a to z.
Sit back, relax and define your priorities
First of all, draw a list of your priorities even before leaving.
As the expat spouse, you'll have a key role in the whole process of relocation, if it’s not supported by your partner’s company. And even though you benefit from an immigration and relocation assistance package, you’ll remain the shoulder to lean on, the rock of the nomad family, so to speak.
Do you need to find a house? A school for your children? The whole process is so time-consuming that your working partner may not have the time to handle on their own; and that's where you'll make the difference. If the process is not handled by your partner’s company, you can contact some relocation experts to help you. They can be on-site, and some companies even have offices throughout the world (and yes, at Cooptalis, we do provide global relocation and immigration services…. just saying).
Get prepared for the unexpected! You’ll be living in a new country and, of course, you may not be aware of all the costs and procedures in place when speaking about health coverage, or housing insurance… The best would be to leave with a bit of savings. In addition, take your time to compare all the different providers and choose the best one to fulfill your needs.
Depending on the work permit/visa your partner will have, you may be allowed to work. In that case, you can continue your current occupation abroad thanks to the remote working, which is becoming not only a trend, but a whole new philosophy regarding talent retention. You can also decide to find a new job, or start from scratch and why not, set up your own business!
Keep in mind that, if you plan to find a new job, you may not find the exact ideal job you could have in mind before leaving your country of origin. Job markets and salary ranges are different from one country to another, and the key to success in your case will be your ability to be remain flexible: good surprises may appear around the corner!
Get a social life
The 21st century in the one of limitless communication. Although you may feel lonely in the very first weeks of your expatriation, you can find numerous ways to make some friends and connections!
Here are a few examples, so get off that couch and go meet some people:
- Your new neighbors! it can’t be simpler than that;
- Your partner's colleagues: your loved one will be making connections from day 1 at work, and some of their coworkers may be expats as well! Let’s invite them for dinner sometimes;
- Your own new colleagues: if you are allowed to work you’ll get in touch with a lot of people in your daily life, some of the best friendships start at the office! And if you take your shot to get back into studies, you can make new friends among the students (I guess student parties are international);
- Social networks' groups: in any country you'll live in, you'll be able to find groups of expats, or of expats partners. You can't imagine how helpful it is to meet people who have been in the same shoes before! Don't under estimate the power of communities, especially if you're not allowed to work: making friends will certainly be the key to get you ouf of your house.
Enjoy the opportunity to the fullest
Seize the chance you have to be living abroad and make the best out of it.
According to Graebel’s study on mobility of workers (2021), 84% of workers would relocate post pandemic, with 46% willing to relocate internationally, and nearly 3 in 5 workers say they are more likely to relocate now than they were prior the pandemic.
Lots of people are dreaming of having an international experience but they may not have the occasion, the funds, or a partner willing to follow them in this adventure. Listen to your inner child and give it a go. Enjoy the culture, the monuments, the national habits and traditions!
Are people speaking another language? Go and take some lessons. You may find it hard but once you’ll start, your life will become so much easier. That’s also another way to meet new people.
Are people cooking national dishes? Give it a try! Food is an entire part of a whole people’s culture (in France or Italy, food is a national treasure: don’t you dare compare their food with another one!)
Is your new country providing a good transportation offer? Take a ride in and out of town, visit your new environment and make it your own. Open your eyes and let yourself be surprised by the wonders surrounding you.
The most important thing is to get some support from your partner. You've followed them in this adventure: if any doubt or question comes to your mind, do share them! Communication is the key. This is a family project, and adjustments may take some time. If you ever come back in your home country, you’ll have a ton of souvenirs, experiences et new skills unlocked!
Do your partner’s company handle the whole immigration and relocation process? If not, our team of experts can assist them in both fields !