Updated: Nov 4
The Challenges of Life as an Expat Family
The life of an expat family can be both exciting and challenging, particularly when trying to integrate into the local community. One of the most stressful decisions you will need to make involves choosing the right schools or universities for your children. Navigating expat life as a family also involves learning the local language, customs and culture.
We will take you through some of key life decisions you will need to take as an expat family.
1. Key Life Decisions for an Expat Family
2. Does the Expat Life Create Third Culture Kids?
3. Choosing the right school
4. Expert Insight on the Right Educational Environment For Your Child
5. Integrating Into The Local Community
Key Life Decisions for an Expat Family
I recently spoke with Catherine Stoker, Founder of the Independent Education Consultants, about expat life, the stress of making these all-important decisions, some of the things to consider when bringing up your family 'abroad', and how to tap into experts for their insight and experience.
You can listen to our chat here, and also enjoy my fabulous backdrop in the Swiss Alps!
Does the Expat Family Life Create Third Culture Kids?
Choosing the right school
Research is key:
Take the time to research schools thoroughly. Consider factors such as curriculum, language of instruction, extracurricular activities and proximity to your home.
Get in touch with other expat parents in your area. They can provide invaluable insights and recommendations based on their experiences.
Visit the school:
Whenever possible, arrange a visit to the school or university to get a feel for the environment and arrange one-to-one meetings with teachers and staff.
Ensure that the school's curriculum meets your child's educational needs and future aspirations.
Boarding School option:
Explore whether boarding school might be a suitable option for your child. Education counsellors can help by providing you with guidance, taking into account factors such as your child's personality, academic goals and available options.
Expert Insight on the Right Educational Environment For Your Child
Consider consulting with experts such as Independent Education Consultants. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience to help you find the right educational environment for your child. They can provide personalised advice tailored to your child's specific needs, preferences and future aspirations.
An effective and efficient way to do your initial research is to attend a boarding school or university fair. Learn more about what a UK boarding school or university education is all about and what to expect. They are a great way to have face-to-face discussions with a range of boarding schools or UK universities without the need for a flight to the UK. Talk to experts and the boarding schools and universities directly in one location, without having to travel for hours from one school or university to the next.
Find out if you can avail of scholarships to assist with school fees and potentially transform your child's education.
Integrating Into The Local Community
Get Involved: Join local clubs, groups or community events to meet new people and build relationships. 🤝 This is a great way for you and your children to make friends.
Explore culture: Embrace the local culture by trying new foods 🍽️, attending festivals and learning about traditions. It's a fantastic way to immerse yourself in your new home.
Learn the language: If the local language is different, consider enrolling in a language course. Not only will it make communication easier, but it will also show your commitment to integration.
As I said in the chat above, don't rely on your children to translate for you when you're out shopping or at the hairdresser. Just because they might be quick at picking up languages, doesn't mean they have to bear the burden of helping you get by with the locals. You all need to make the effort to learn.
Tips To Keep In Mind
Beware of over-commitment: While it's important to get involved in the community, don't overcommit yourself. Balance is the key to avoiding burnout.
Financial Planning: Keep an eye on your finances and budget wisely, as expat life can come with unexpected expenses: moving and settling in, insurance, transport - it all adds up.
Finding a home: Make sure your housing choice is convenient to school and community activities to save time and stress. If you're going to be organising play dates, it is best to live in the vicinity of the school to avoid being an unpaid taxi service!
Remember that as an expat family, your journey is an exciting adventure and full of opportunities for growth. And it's OK to seek advice and support along the way. With help and guidance from professional experts, you can make informed decisions that will help pave the way for your child's success.
If you need more help or guidance on how to navigate the transition from high school to university, check out our website. There you will find useful blogs, resources, and tips on how to help your children survive and thrive on campus.