Many people grow up wanting to live in another country. Often they are exposed to a particular country or countries from family or friends with stories or wonderful vacation experiences. This article is not for those people.
Who Are We Talking About Here?
I want to talk to those people who have never seriously thought of doing it, but are presented with an opportunity to work in another country. This was the case with us. We had always loved to travel out of the country and found it to be a particularly enriching experience. But actually, living and working in another country was not on the radar. Then one day our executive Vice-President asked us if we would like to go and “fix” Europe as our next promotion opportunity.
Being career minded people, interested in advancement and more lucrative earnings, it seemed at first to be an intriguing opportunity. After all, we would be stationed in Europe, which was our favorite place to visit and it would give us an opportunity to travel extensively on weekends and holidays. We immediately said we would consider it.
The Flip Side
After thinking about actually living in a place where we did not speak the language well, and were not intimately familiar with the peculiarities of their country or their lifestyles, we were given pause. After all, we had a nice lifestyle going in the United States. We had family and friends close by, we had a nice new home, and a vacation home on the water in Florida, with a lovely yacht to cruise the waterways. Moving to Europe would seriously interrupt our existing way of life. Did we really want to do that?
As we started to talk ourselves out of it, our Executive Vice-President sat us down and told us of his experience with IBM. They sent him to Hong Kong several years ago on a work assignment. He and his wife felt like it was the most life-changing experience they had ever enjoyed. Unlike us, who would both be working in Europe, only he was working there. That is another top consideration when evaluating a move. Will your spouse be able to work in that country, and if not, what kind of life will they experience? What about children? Will you be taking them over as well? How will your assignment affect them. We had just become empty nesters so this was not important to us.
After hearing this experience and having no other dependents to consider, we decided to take a more serious look. A big consideration was the cost versus savings associated with the move. A corporate move, as opposed to a move on your own, is so much more economical, flexible, and headache free on the immigration issues. Many of these topics will be covered in another article on negotiating your Expat Contract.
Needless to say, after taking everything in consideration we embarked on what turned out to be the most exciting adventure of our lifetime. And while there were many ups and downs, we would most definitely not hesitate to do it again.