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Relocation

The range of services on offer to assist in international relocations is extensive, but not all of the services will be applicable to, or suitable for, every expatriate.

There are full-service relocation agencies with offices worldwide that offer pre-departure services, assistance with visa and work-permit applications, packing and shipping of your household goods and arrival (destination) services.

However, there are other companies that offer a less comprehensive range of services, or who concentrate on providing certain specialist services - visa and work permit applications, international shipping, home search, school search, etc. Additionally, some companies will provide comprehensive services but limit those services to a city, region or country - or even a specific nationality of expatriate.

Choosing the right relocation agency, as with choosing other services, depends on your needs. Therefore, it is important to be clear on what you want the agency to provide. Though many agencies will tailor their packages to suit the requirements of each expatriate and any accompanying family members, they have to know what is needed before they can do so. For any expatriate - whether a first-timer or one experienced at relocation - knowing exactly what services are on offer, and which of them to accept, can be a challenge.

What is on Offer?


These can cover a variety of aspects relating to an international move and can range from the purely logistical to the practicalities of day-to-day life in the foreign country. Below is an outline of some of the more common services on offer.

Pre-departure Services

These can cover a variety of aspects relating to an international move and can range from the purely logistical to the practicalities of day-to-day life in the foreign country. Below is an outline of some of the more common services on offer.

Pre-departure Destination Briefings

These can cover living and/or working in the new country and look at social, political and economic conditions, the country's history, social etiquette, as well as the cultural differences between the destination country and the expatriate's home. Such briefings should also include advice and information on what paperwork should be taken with you.

"Look-see" Visit

Also known as look-sees and pre-relocation familiarization trips, these are intended to give potential expatriates the chance to see the destination first hand, look for accommodation, visit schools, etc. Such visits can be particularly helpful in preparing expats for a move to a country that is very different from what they have encountered before.

School Visits and Advice

Some destination cities have a large array of schools for expats to choose from and impartial advice on what are likely to be the best schools can go a long way in helping children be happy at the destination. Information on the academic and extra-curricular aspects of each school, as well as inside knowledge about their good and bad points, can be helpful in reading between the lines of the schools' glossy brochures.

Family-Friendly Services

These involve information and practical services designed to smooth the relocation experience as much as possible for children. Information can be general in nature or focus on more specific issues such as schools, or family/children's sports and activities.
Practical services are often related to the moving experience, such as relocation board games, special packing boxes, a packer designated to help the children pack their belongings and even special trucks that allow the family to travel with their belongings - which can relax the children because they know where their special possessions are and which add an extra sense of adventure to the move by allowing them to ride in a big truck.

Packing

Packing options vary from self-packing to unsupervised packing by the shipping company. Self-packing is often a much cheaper option than the professional packer option, but it can be difficult to arrange insurance for shipments with the designation PBO (packed by owner).

Home Finding

Finding suitable housing in a new city can be time-consuming and frustrating. The problems of language and a lack of knowledge on the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords are difficult to overcome alone, but a good home-finding service can make the process almost enjoyable. The time frame for finding a home will almost certainly be short, so it is essential that the home-finding service begins the process of setting up appointments for you before you arrive.
Some home-finding services are run by estate agents, which can have pros and cons. On the positive side, they should have a good range of properties on their books, but on the negative side you will be restricted to what they have available and not be able to use their help with property advertised elsewhere.

Welcome Packs
With the massive amount of information that you receive on arrival in a new city, much of it is likely to go in one ear and out the other. So having it written down and collated for easy reference is always useful. Such packs should include contact details of doctors and dentists who speak your language, hospitals, ambulance service, your embassy and other essential services.

Guided Tour
A guided tour of your new city to help you get your bearings can reduce much of the fear of getting lost that is common to newly-arrived expatriates and their children.

Networking Assistance
Setting up a new circle of friends is an important aspect of settling successfully into an expatriate posting. Agency-arranged invitations to cocktail parties, expat spouse associations, clubs and other places where you can meet people can ease the initial difficulties of breaking into established social circles and making friends and business contacts. Some agencies organize such events for their clients, so that newly arrived expatriates can meet longer established ones.

Departure Assistance
Leaving a destination can be just as complicated as arriving, what with vacating accommodation, discontinuing utilities, deregistering with government agencies and other formalities. Arranging for one agency to look after your move out of the old location and into the new one should mean getting things done properly.

Our Featured Event

On Monday 6 November the International Stammtisch will be hosted by the International Family Center (Internationales Familienzentrum IFZ) in Frankfurt. The IFZ is a provider of social and educational programmes, enabling people from different cultures to come together in education and integration. Important: we meet at 6:30 pm at the IFZ in the Wiesenh√ľttenplatz 33, 60329 Frankfurt.

 

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