WORKING ABROAD / NOV. 27, 2014
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5 Questions to Answer Before Committing to Relocate For Work

If you’re yearning for a change, and looking for opportunities to move overseas or elsewhere in your home country with your current employer, getting an offer of relocation can seem like the happy end of the process. However, before you sign on the dotted line, there are a few crucially important, but less obvious questions to think about to make sure you make a sound decision.

1. What will happen if you leave? Will you be dismissed or made redundant?

No doubt, these questions will be the last thing on your mind - but that is precisely why you should take a little time to review the small print regarding what might happen if you leave. Supporting the movement of employees, even if it is not across national borders, costs employers a huge sum - and most relocations will include a clause clawing back all or some of this cost in the event that you leave the business.

Make sure you’re clear on the penalties should you leave, and how long after the completion of your relocated role these apply. You may well find that you would be liable to repay some or all of the costs incurred even if you choose to leave some years after returning from your placement overseas. Check also the terms if you leave based on the company’s decision - for example in the event of being laid off or dismissed through ill health. Whilst these clauses are likely to be more favourable - and may be subject to negotiation should you find yourself in the position to need them - knowing before you go is wise.

2. What about school entry requirements?

If you are relocating with your family, don’t underestimate the potential differences in school systems between schools in your home country and those in the international system. Whilst in many locations, you will have a choice of schools to enroll your kids in, and entry requirements may well be flexible, there are differences such as the age requirements for different grades which may be drastically different to the system you’re used to. If you intend your kids to reintegrate into the local school system at a later stage, some advance planning may be necessary to ensure that they get the best from the experience at no cost to their future success.

3. How different are the costs for utilities and services?

The bulk of the negotiation around relocation is likely to include fixed costs such as the physical move and any new rental costs you incur whilst away. Don’t forget, though, flexible costs such as utilities. Depending on the climate and typical system for heating or cooling properties, bills can be significantly higher than in more mild climates such as the UK. Also check out how other essential services such as refuse collection are billed - although you may be used to such things being covered as part of your tax payment, this is not necessarily the case in your destination country. Depending on the landlord, you may also be required to take on additional services which you may not consider necessary at home, such as contracted security or additional insurance.

4. What exactly can your relocation agency move for you?

Once your move is well underway, you will start to think about the details of physically getting your possessions to your new location. Each policy will cover different specifics - so you need to check how much is included in the policy you agree. Not only might there be a cap on volume or value, there may be items excluded from the move due to customs and duty restrictions, such as alcohol, foodstuffs and anything that might count as a weapon.

5. How to keep in touch with your ’home country’ during your relocated role?

The final point you need to bear in mind relates to your eventual return to your home country after your relocated role ends. If you are intending on relocating on a permanent basis then this is less relevant, but if you wish to slot back into your home business in a year or two then you should have a clear and agreed plan to maintain contact during this time. Schedule regular conversations and meetings if possible, agree what changes in the business you would want to be informed of, and get a mentor in your home business if you can to keep a natural link.

In the heat of the moment, when offered what may be your dream role overseas, the temptation can be to simply sign and get going. But with such a big decision, investing sometime in the small print can be the unglamorous secret to ensuring your ultimate success in the role, and in your career thereafter.

Image: Suitcases via Flickr

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