Last weeks before a relocation with kids - do your research!
Following our relocation series (see the previous post on preparing kids for a relocation), I decided to put together a list of things, which I like to research before moving to another country. These would be specifically relevant for those moving with kids, so I won't mention the general issues, which you would have to deal with anyways, like house hunting, legal documents, etc.
Arranging as much as possible in advance would save you time and could also help you feel less lost and disoriented during the first days upon arrival.
1. Find points of reference
There's wealth of information to be found on internet these days. I always found that the most helpful points of reference for relocation with kids are forums and groups by local mothers and by expat mothers. These ladies will have the same problems to deal with and the same questions in mind.
Local mothers forums and groups are great as they have more knowledge of the area and would be able to recommend a tried and tested place. It is possible that you don't speak the local language before the move, but you can always google translate the pages.
Expat mothers websites are really helpful as well. You will be able to find people you could potentially hang out with, arrange play dates and ask for an advice. Such website was a life saviour for me, when we moved to Shanghai. I found which areas were best to live in, found expats with kids the same age as mine and got contacts of a trusted domestic help agency - all that before even setting a foot in China.
I would presume that you already found out whether you need an insurance and, if yes, which one would work the best for you.
Find contacts of a paediatrician and an emergency hospital before you actually move. This would give you a piece of mind, as emergencies are known for happening at the most unstable times.
Another doctor I usually look up is a dentist. You could already research if there're any recommendations from local mothers on which one would be the best for you.
A relocation company can help you out with this, but you'll still have to deal with a lot by yourself. State or private? Decision is yours. In any case, there will be deadlines for submitting applications (and, usually, not a lot of free places in expat schools). Find out what kind of rating is available for schools. Are there any online reviews from the parents? Check out locations, maybe you would want to find a house nearby one of the schools or kindergartens of your choice. If you already have a place to live, fill in the forms and apply for a place - it will take some time to process in any case.
4. Extra clubs
If your child is already into some sport or other extra curricular activity, why not find out what your new home town has on offer. Is there a football club or a dance studio, which could be suitable for you? Research what people say about them online and call them up to find out, if they have a free place and what are the deadlines for enrolment. You don't have to sing up straight away, but you will have that info on hand for when you need it.
5. Parks, playgrounds, indoor play centres
Ask your relocation company or find by yourself online (don't forget about those mom forums!) where you could take your kids to run and play. No matter how busy you will be unpacking and sorting out an enormous to-do list right after the relocation, your kids will need to let their steam out and it's nice to know where you can take them to.
6. Domestic help/ nannies/ babysitters
Even if you never employed anyone before, it might be that the country you're moving to has very affordable domestic help options. For example, China or Philippines - you can get a great deal of help by employing someone for a fraction of a cost you would usually pay at home.
It is important to make sure that you're hiring a trustworthy person. Check out for recommendations from other expats online.
7. Child friendly cafes and restaurants
It might take you some time to get used to new products sold in supermarkets, buy some items for the kitchen or you might even find yourself too tired to cook during those crazy first days. Having contacts of one or two child friendly restaurants in your pocket can come in very handy.
If you have a baby, you're probably used to some certain products, like nappies, formulas, cremes, etc. Check out whether you can find those in your new home town. If not - are there any alternatives? Sometimes, you can find an expat shop or an online shop that would be able to arrange an international delivery for you.
9. Places of interest
Are there any child friendly mueseums, aquariums, adventure parks nearby? It always helps to get your kids thinking about your new home in a positive light, if you find something fun and interesting for them to do on weekends.
10. Local events
Usually, you can find a list of events coming up in your new home town, posted online by a tourist board or expat community. Are there're any interesting festivals or funfairs coming up that could be of interest to your kids?Attending local events will be a great opportunity to experience the culture and traditions of a community you will be living in.
Of course, all of the things listed above could be researched and arranged after you arrive, but there will be soo many other things to do as well! Save yourself some time and energy by doing some prep work.
Yuliya, author of Expat Kids blog on Easy Expat, is also the author of TinyExpats.com, writing about expat life and travels of their nomadic family, sharing their journey with two tiny expats.