Moving overseas can be a difficult decision for many. Whether one is moving for studies, employment or simply a lifestyle change, they will have a few things to consider. These factors include the cost of living, family, the level of security in the foreign land, and expected benefits of the relocation.
Why Employees Avoid Moving Overseas
Workers that have not lived abroad before can be especially skeptical of their first major relocation. Overseas moves can be expensive and stressful, not to mention a potentially drastic culture shock in their new home country.
The employer should take care of any logistical concerns, as well as, prepare them emotionally for their new destination. There is a rise of “relocation counseling,” counseling specializing in the treatment of those who have recently been hired, transferred, or transitioned to an unfamiliar city or environment, in overseas relocations. (Relocation counselors make a decent living if you’re thinking of a career change.)
The employer must also ensure the worker maintains a comparable standard of living in the new country. Typically, this is done with increased financial incentives or bonuses and monitored through satisfaction surveys. And let’s not forget about the children. Employees with kids want reassurance that their children will attend quality schools and their education won’t be compromised. Without the above, the employee is unlikely to take seriously or accept an offer to move abroad.
How Technology is Helping
1. Virtual Tours
Nowadays, companies like Google and My360 are giving the average person access to more places in the world than ever thought possible. My360 is a company that allows homeowners to take 360-degree photos of their property and stitches them together creating a virtual experience of their home accessible to anyone with an internet connection. This allows an employee to go online and take a virtual tour of their new home and walk around their prospective neighborhood to see what the area has to offer before ever setting foot in the new country. Virtual tours help the mover familiarize themselves with an area and alleviate of the fears associated with living in a new location.
2. Mobile Apps and Software
There are many benefits from mobile apps and software, but one of the most influential is the ability to track and monitor your items in real-time. International relocation often involves air, road, rail and sea transportation. If a company is not careful, they can easily lose items during the multiple loading and unloading stages. Suddath is an example of a company that has developed their own proprietary technology call “Tracker” that is a digital dashboard that monitors move progress, inventory control, and quality. With Tracker technology, you can watch your move take place real time, directly through any smartphone, tablet or computer device. Simplifying the entire process and providing peace of mind to the customer regardless of where they are in the move.
Let’s not forget one of the main challenges facing anyone living in a new country; getting around. Many of us are guilty of taking GPS for granted. But many places do not have as strong broadband as you are used to. Fortunately, apps like CityMaps2Go has a solution. They provide offline maps to most major cities, and while it can take up a fair amount of memory, what price can you put on peace of mind. As a plan B, you can always use the WiFi Finder app. It works by connecting to your cell network and “calling” any nearby Wi-Fi networks.
3. E-Visas & Automated Passport Control
It is becoming easier to travel to foreign countries due to innovations like automated passport control (APC) and E-visas. Several countries including the U.S., Canada, Ireland, and India are starting to use APC to streamline the customs process. APC kiosks replace immigration officers in most cases and allow the traveler to answer a few questions and input their passport information efficiently. (Downloading the Mobile Passport Control app can save you even more time by allowing you to fill out these questions while waiting in line.)
Depending on how long you’ll be staying in a foreign country, and the size of the country, E-Visas could be a lifesaver. While many countries offer limited-time access for American citizens, typically around 3 months, some still make you jump through hoops to get in. Fortunately, E-visas are becoming more common in developing countries looking to boost their tourism dollars (India, Turkey, Singapore, Kuwait, and Malaysia just to name a few). E-visas cut out the middleman by taking the visa process online. Eliminating the fear of missing paperwork or being rejected at the airport. Access to E-visas is typically done through the governments’ immigration website.
Staying in touch with friends and family is also a major concern for soon-to-be expats. With the right device, it is easier than ever to make international calls and video chat. Voice Over Internet Protocol or VOIP allows users to communicate with their loved ones from any internet-enabled device. Companies like Skype or WhatsApp have been incredibly successful with this. Adjusting to a new environment happens much quicker since you can chat with their friends and family whenever they feel lonely or homesick.
However, neither of these companies will actually help you communicate with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you. Which is a pretty common issue when moving to a foreign country. How will you order food, get directions, seek medical attention? Introducing Google’s translation headphones! Google now has headphones that can translate 40 different languages (more are on the way) on the fly. While it certainly has limitations, for simple, well-enunciated phrases it works rather well. Time to toss out that hand-me-down Spanish to English dictionary and get with the times.
Moving overseas can be a difficult decision to make. However, advancements in technology are happening every day, allowing for many to move abroad with ease.