Seven golden rules for moving abroad with children
Starting a new life abroad is daunting at any age. And for children, who might not have a say in the big move, there is lots of excitement and anxiety about the new place they will soon call home.
Here’s what you need to know in advance of your move plus some tips to get the kids fired up to pack their bags.
Do your homework
Making a move overseas with your family in tow is a huge commitment. Be sure to know just what you are letting yourself in for by doing your homework. HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey is a good place to start as it ranks countries based on economics, experience and family. The leading European countries ranked are Germany, Sweden and Switzerland.
Discover the benefits for expat families
Another useful survey is the Internations.org Family Life Index, which ranks 45 countries according to childcare and education options. Sweden, Denmark and Norway all feature in the top five for family life. For example, in Sweden, there are 480 days of paid parental leave as well as compensation by the social services system if you need to take a day off work to look after your child if they are ill. The Family Life Index also ranked the three Scandinavian countries, as well as France, Spain and Germany, for having affordable childcare and education.
Look after your health
With so much to sort out when you move, figuring out how the healthcare system works in your newly-adopted home might not be at the top of your list. But if you’ve got children, it’s worth doing your research. The Nordic countries, as well as France, are famed for their state-subsidised health systems where children get treated for free. Communication is vital when your child is ill, but finding a doctor who speaks English may not always be possible. As with most of AXA’s global health plans, you can use the virtual doctor service to speak to a medic in your own language around the clock over the phone or via video call.
Make them feel involved
Whatever your reason for moving abroad, whether it's for a new job or simply for a change of scenery, making your children feel involved in the process is vital. Show them pictures of their new surroundings and emphasise the positives. Take a virtual tour on Google Maps and point out some of the landmarks and fun places to discover.
Learn funny new words
Let’s face it, grasping a new language as an adult is not easy. Fortunately, children are fast learners and numerous scientific studies have shown that children who learn two languages have a higher IQ. Apps such as Babbel and Memrise make language learning enjoyable for the whole family. And of course, there are lots of amusing words to have a chuckle at (like the Swedish word for speed bumps).
Plan new ‘firsts’
Wherever you and your family pitch up, there are going to be lots of new places to check out. Planning activities and new ‘firsts’ like a trip to a football match or concert will help the transition process. And of course there will be lots of restaurants to sample the local cuisine so garner their interest by suggesting a quirky local dish. Anyone for German classic Toast Hawaii?
Children thrive on routines and maintaining them will make it easier for them to adapt to their new country. So carry on with the Friday evening trip to the sweet shop and pick up a few new strange looking local treats, make time for Saturday morning family breakfasts along with movie Sundays. Whilst your surroundings may have been altered, children will respond well to the change if familiar family life is retained.
With AXA's global health cover, you and your family are protected at every stage of expat life. Find out more about how AXA's international health insurance can help you live the expat life you'd always hoped for.
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