The Main Barriers to Relocation – And How to Get Around Them (Part One)
According to a recent survey there are five main barriers preventing people from relocating. In this article we’ll take a look at the things stopping would-be expats from taking the plunge and suggest ways of combating the issues.
Of the more than 2000 people surveyed 14 per cent said that an insufficient relocation package was deterring them from a move overseas, 19 per cent felt hindered by difficulties with visas and work permits, 19 per cent were put off by the economic climate, and 22 per cent were against moving because of insufficient job opportunities. But without question, family considerations were the most significant barrier preventing people from relocation with 45 per cent of respondents citing this as the main reason.
Other factors mentioned included fear of culture shock and relationship concerns.
Now, these practical and emotional issues may seem insurmountable, but there are ways of making them easier to overcome. In part one we’ll be looking at ways of getting past the obstacles of insufficient relocation packages and difficulties with visas and work permits.
Insufficient Relocation Package
In years gone by companies would often offer employees attractive relocation packages, including perks like free flights home, free international schooling for children and pre-paid or subsidised housing. But in an increasingly global world and difficult economic times businesses have had to scale back what they’re able to provide. For those people who need a significant incentive to make the transition of moving abroad, an insufficient relocation package can be a deal breaker – but it doesn’t have to be.
If you do some thorough research into the cost of living in your potential destination and put together a realistic breakdown of your likely outgoings you might find that it’s still cheaper for you to live abroad than at home, meaning that you would still be in a position to save and treat yourself despite having to pay out for things like accommodation and school fees.
And if your relocation destination is a short-haul flight away, flights bought at the right time from the right company can be extremely reasonable, allowing you to return home on a regular basis without much personal expense.
So if this is the factor preventing you from relocating you may find it useful to sit down and weigh up the pros and cons. Relocating overseas might not be as financially rewarding as you would like, but would it be personally rewarding? Would it advance your career? Would it increase your appeal to potential future employees? Would your family benefit from the change? If you find yourself answering yes to these questions than an insufficient relocation package might not be as much of a barrier as you first thought.
That being said, you may be able to barter with your bosses and secure a more attractive relocation package. Highlight the areas which are most important to you (perhaps international schooling if you have several children, or flights home if you’re going to be based a long way away) and see if they can be more accommodating to your needs. After all, if you don’t ask you don’t get!
Difficulties with Visas and Work Permits
The process of obtaining visas and work permits for some nations can be so long winded, time consuming and frustrating that people are put off relocating all together. But while it certainly can be a headache, if you’ve got your heart set on relocating it’s a barrier which can be overcome with the right approach.
Firstly, look into the visa requirements of your relocation destination (summarised visa information on a large range of nations can be obtained from our extensive country guides). Some nations require you to have employment lined up before you apply for a visa but in others you may be able to enter on one kind of visa then leave and reapply for the relevant work visa once you have secured a job. Where you will be able to relocate to will be dependent on the nation’s visa requirements and your own employment status.
The application process can seem overwhelming, not to mention confusing, but if you break it down into easy to manage steps you’ll find it much simpler.
And if you have a location in mind but are confused about what visa you should be applying for contact your local embassy or consulate and seek their expert advice. Not only will they be able to help you with selecting the right kind of visa they can tell you what documentation you’ll need to produce and how to navigate the application process.
Certain forms of personal documentation will need to be produced before your application is processed, such as a valid passport, birth certificate, proof of employment, proof of valid health insurance and proof that you can financially support yourself. To make the process easier make copies of all the documents early on and have them organised.
You may also find it useful to talk to other people who have been through the process. Get on expat/emigration forums and talk to people who have been through the same process as you. Once you’ve heard their stories, and hopefully some dos and don’ts, the whole thing may seem less daunting.
The most important thing to remember when applying for your visa is that it may take several weeks, or even several months to come through. Work out your timings and make sure you give yourself enough time for your application to be processed.
In part two we’ll look at the barriers of economic climate, insufficient job opportunities and family considerations.