I thought that moving abroad on my own was challenging. I had to sell my car, get rid of most of my stuff, and say “see ya in a year” to my friends. As a solo expat, I had the challenges of being alone in a foreign country, facing an expat community that was largely composed of married couples, dating culture shock, and did I mention being alone in a foreign country? Think that’s hard?
Families that move abroad don’t have it any easier. I recently read a book from the folks over at GringosAbroad, about the unique challenges of expatriating with kids in tow. If you’re thinking about it as a family, these are some of the things you’ll be tasked with…
Issues for expat families
- Deciding if it is best for your family to move abroad
- Where the kids go to school
- How the kids get medical care
- Language immersion
- Planning a scouting trip for the whole family
- Will your family think you’re crazy?
The best parts of the book are the interviews with other expat families. I always find something inspirational about people who take charge of their lives and make enormous changes. I moved to Ecuador – somewhere which was relatively known on the expat trail. There were expats who moved to the more common expat countries as well as exotic locations like Uganda, Indonesia, and Georgia (the country, not the state!). Regardless of country, they shared common experiences and challenges…
What expat families (might) deal with…
These were some of the funny or inspirational stories I enjoyed reading….
- The mundane things like not being able to find peanut butter (haven’t we all been there?)
- Not being able to work for 3 years due to visa issues (yikes!!)
- Learning languages like Spanish, Chinese, or even Croatian and Thai
- Selling all the kids toys!
- What the parents do for work to support their families (can’t exactly just teach English like the 20-somethings that move abroad
My 2 cents
It’s not a country-specific book, so if you’re looking for information about expatriating in Ecuador or another specific country, look elsewhere. But if you want to start thinking about the unique challenges for moving abroad as a family, it’s very specific. I enjoyed reading what everyone has experienced, even with no kids of my own. I would have loved to grow up abroad!
The book – the Happy Expat Family
You can find the book on Amazon.com