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10 Tips for a Successful Expatriation When Living in a Couple

By Internationalcouples @icouples

Hi all, are you a couple that is about to relocate? Here is a list of 10 tips to help you through the process. Enjoy!

1. Allocate tasks to each spouse according to their passions and abilities

Each spouse has different passions and abilities. Upon relocating, it can be very beneficial, since you know each other, to allocate tasks among yourselves according to what you are best at. For example, the organization of the schedule upon arriving to your new location would be best managed by the one spouse that is better at organizing. On the other hand, the packing and the labelling of the boxes should be supervised by the spouse that has the best attention to details. If you are moving to a foreign country, it goes without saying that the spouse that knows that language best should make the phone calls or organize the tasks through the phone.

2. Make a list of priorities

Why do we have priorities? We have priorities so that we can concentrate on the most important things and dedicate less energy to less important things. Typically, the highest items on a priority lists are those things /assumptions/situations that, if they do not occur as planned, can seriously undermine the success of any project. In this instance the project is your relocation.

Try to visualize yourselves arriving to your new place and write down what you see yourselves doing. Take notes of the situations and things that are important to you. Once you have done that, try to understand what are, if any, those pre-conditions necessary for the verifications of those events.

A typical list of priorities would look like this:

a)   Accommodation and car

b)   Personal documents/insurance/medical care/child care

c)   Schooling for the kids

d)   Local language course (if needed)

3. Have someone help you through the process

There are three major ways to help families and couples through the relocation process:

a)   Ask a friend to help;

b)   Use your company’s relocation services;

c)   Use a relocation company.


Friends and acquaintances are a safe way to get the help needed to relocate efficiently. The help of people you know is particularly valuable if they already live where you are going to relocate and, therefore, they can act as your local support. Since they know you and your likings, you can entrust such people for the search of your house/flat, the schools for your children and, of course, they can pick you up at the airport. Having somebody that you know picking you up at the airport can be a great relief for a moving family.


A growing number of companies offer relocation services to their employees asked to relocate. These services are almost always free for employees or considerably cheaper than specialized companies. One of the major pros is that you are acquainted with the company that provides the service.


Relocation companies are probably the easiest solution for those couples that do not need or want the hassle of the entire process. They are part of a number or local networks and their customers greatly benefit from that. If you want a hassle-free experience, you should go for them.

 4. Write everything down and keep track of your progress

Elaborate a schedule, write it down and keep track of your progress. This will help you create a visual sense of your progresses through the relocation. Using different colours, furthermore, will help you better visualize the priorities of the phases and activities coming ahead. It gives a great sense of achievement to see that you are advancing and meeting your goals. Another good idea is to assign different colours to the different members of the family responsible for each activity.   

5. Make a reconnaissance

Depending on the distances at stake, it is usually a good idea to carry out a reconnaissance in the place where you will relocate. From an emotional point of view, a short trip to your future place can reduce the fear of the unknown and help you imagine yourself in the new place. During the initial trip you can scrutinize the available properties on the market with the help of the Relocation Company or service that you have chosen, feel the different areas of the city where to live, speak to the school masters and get a practical grip of what life is going to be. If possible, bring your spouse along. I would suggest that it lasted no more than two weeks since you should carry on with your relocation process.

6. Precede the spouse in order to have things organized

When the relocation time finally comes, it can be fruitful, for one of the spouses, to reach the new place some days or a couple of weeks in advance to get through the last details. The rest of the family will greatly benefit from having you pick them up at the airport when they eventually relocate. During this time the spouse and family that have not relocated yet can wind down knowing that a trusted person will pick them up and is seeing through the last moment details. For the spouse who will relocate later on it is also a great moment to meet relatives and friends since the process has been almost completed and they should have more time on their hands.

7. Plan on paper your first two weeks in the new place

To reduce stress in the first days of relocation, it is a successful idea to write down a schedule of the first couple of weeks. The more detailed the plan, the better. The aim of this is to help the family members visualize the activities and milestones coming ahead so as to know what is coming and have full control over their spare time.

8. What does unwind yourself?

Starting and actually completing a relocation process is a stressful moment for the entire family and particularly for both spouses. Throughout the process and upon arriving to your new location I suggest that you take some time off and indulge in your favorite sport or activity. It does not matter if it is running, dancing, reading or going to museums that unwinds yourself, keep your routine as regular as possible. Keeping the stress levels under control will avoid family rows and will keep you sane during the process.

9. Bring newspapers/movies in your language with you

Especially if you are moving to a different-language country, bring with you lots of books, magazines and movies in your native language. Being suddenly immersed in a different language causes stress and it is one of the most overlooked aspects of international relocations. Bring enough material to keep you going for a month and, as soon as you can, have your cable/satellite TV in place.

10. Get out of the house as soon as you can

Upon relocating it is too easy to shield ourselves from the local culture and spend much time in the flat or the house. This is utterly wrong and should be avoided since the more time you will spend not interacting with the host culture, the more difficult it will be to get accustomed to it later on.

Share with us your experiences, leave us a comment!

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