Making the decision

Preparing an international mobility starts with a good understanding of the stakes it represents for the future expatriate as well as for his spouse and the rest of the family.
The decision might be easy. When, for example, the project has been matured for months: drawbacks and advantages, everything has been reviewed openly and objectively, the experience abroad is definitely considered a great and perfectly manageable idea.
The decision might also well be awkward. There are lots of situations where it is surprise or perplexity that dominates. The future location might not match initial expectations. Local living conditions might be not that exciting. one can be enthusiastic with the idea, and yet being primarily concerned with all the arising uncertainties and constraints to deal with.
Amongst other interrogations, one question that immediately emerges is the spouse professional occupation. Can the spouse afford to leave his/her work? Is he/she likely to find a new job locally? What about the financial impact? Would it be a good opportunity to make a break? Is non working a positive perspective or a matter of worry? Is it envisageable to make a career pause, or would it equate with being ejected from fast career tracks?

A decision engaging the whole family.
Taking the go-nogo decision. Choosing an alternate solution such as leaving the family in the home country while moving alone on expatriation. … Whatever the decision, everyone is concerned.
As experience shows that one of the principal causes for expatriation failure is lack of adaptation from spouse or children, it is essential to allow time considering all facets of the expatriation project with serenity and objectivity.
Examples abound of expatriates starting alone in the new country (until finding the adequate place to live; waiting for children to finish their academic year or for spouse to quit his job,…) and remaining so, because (family) problems that had been originally occulted, eventually surged.
Going on expatriation alone ( and leaving the family behind) can proceed of a deliberate choice. Although much simpler to implement, the formula should not be seen as a panacea. Studies show that local integration conditions are often more complicated and that risks of expatriation failure are significant.

When everything has been taken into consideration, deciding to go on expatriation opens wide doors for a fabulous project to take shape. A project which should be enriching for all family members.
For the expatriate, expatriation is a unique opportunity to develop personal and professional skills. He (or she) will learn how to adapt to a completely new environment . He will brush up or develop his language skills. He will have a chance to step back and consider his career and occupation with more distance. He is likely to be more autonomous and exert more responsibilities. Expatriation frequently works as a key step in a career. In certain companies, it may even be considered a compulsory stage for future higher executives committee positions.
For the spouse, expatriation can take various aspects depending on circumstances. The experience will undoubtedly be different if he can work or chooses not to, if he engages in benevolent activities or dedicate himself to his family or to personal projects. In all cases, living abroad should lead to much enrichment : self awareness, professional and cultural prospects, family satisfaction,…
For children, expatriation constitutes a fabulous experience providing new openings on culture and global awareness. They will discover new places, sometimes radically different from those they were used to, They will be forced to communicate with other chidren from different cultures and languages. They will experience new ways of living, new learning methods, new sports…All those discoveries and experiences will be a precious capital for their own self building, their intellectual awareness and their adaptation capacities.

It might be preferable not to accept an expatriation when there are too many signs that it won’t work. It is the interest of no one, neither the company nor the expatriate, that bad life experiences abroad cause shock or frustration for the family and eventually lead to anticipated repatriation.
Being mobile as a family is not evident. Each family has its history. Each member of the couple has his own professional activity, his own personality, his own networks. Children as well, can be more or less « mobile », depending on various causes. Tension may be very high when making the decision. On one hand there might be a strong and genuine desire for living overseas or for supporting the spouse's career. On the other hand, there can be so many obvious obstacles. One can be tempted to discard difficulties and say “yes” although knowing all too well that he is actually taking maximum risks. In such circumstances, it would be preferable to renounce rather than rushing into a venture that could lead to disaster.
See main expatriation barriers

Find support
Whatever the stage of reflexion, it can be helpful to find coaching support for oneself or for one’s spouse. Intercultural training may also be very helpful preparing oneself to a new way of life and to new experiences in the country of expatriation.

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