The trailing expat spouse experience – vital tips and advice!

The term “trailing spouse” is refer to a person who follows his or her partner overseas because of work arrangement. In fact, the term ‘trailing spouse’ was described in 1981 by Mary Bralove as the concept of sacrificing your career plans to follow your life partner. Being an expat wife or an expat husband can be exiting, however, you are making a life changing decision: moving overseas.

You have to leave behind your home country, your family, your friends and your job. It can be a very challenging move. What are trailing spouse experiencing? Let’s find out the tips on how to avoid common issues about trailing spouses and live happily abroad as an expat family.

Relocation Issues 

Most expat spouses are accidental global citizens due to partners received job offer in another country. To many working spouses, moving overseas means sacrificing their career goals as employment opportunities may be limited or restricted.

Due to a recent survey of more than 14,000 overseas expats, the 84% of trailing spouses are female and most of them are highly educated. However, according to the survey, only 24% of them have jobs. Others are staying at home and not working. This mainly because of work visa restrictions or family needs, i.g. taking care of children, etc. Even though they are highly educated, they could often not find any adequate job assignments with an appropriate payment range.

It is very important for expat trailing spouses to realize that moving overseas is a big decision. When you move abroad and leave behind you career, your life is entering a new stage. Don’t loose your sense of self-worth. Rather, take some time and allow yourself to redefine your identity in the new country.

Work And Life Challenges Overseas

After relocating overseas, many trailing spouses not only have to support kids and their working partner, but also often assume dual roles as father and mother. Just because of the other half’s long working hours. This can be very difficult when adapting an international move. By losing financial independence, trailing spouses may experience frustration by lacking social recognition and freedom.

For many expat couples, these issues may raise an imbalance in their relationship. With changing social expectations it is increasingly hard for an expat spouse to forgo their own professional success; On the other hand, staying at home means a lack of social interactions. And these conflicts might cause marital problems overseas.

Research your partner’s company which provides relocation support and spousal support for their employees. Try to abandon loneliness by integrating local activities and community events. On the other hand, not to feel badly about wanting to stay inside and feeling overwhelmed. There are lots of web sites that appeal to expat spouses and some jobs will allow you to work remotely – such is the beauty of the internet.

Find Your Support Group

For many trailing spouses, moving abroad to a new place where they have no history may force them to face a series communication barriers such as language differences, culture shock, etc. For some lucky trailing spouses with jobs, the continuation of work in a different country provides a continuation of a sense of belonging.

It is important that trailing spouses find a way to counteract frustration. Go out and join interest groups, participate in volunteer groups, sports classes or language lessons. This will eliminate doubts, negative thoughts and uncertainty.

What if the Expat Spouse Stays Home? 

Many expat spouses will remain back in the home country because of work and family commitments. The expat employee may be relocating to a country that is too dangerous or uncomfortable for the expat spouse to reside in. In fact, many expat assignments for those working in the resource sector will involve work in very remote and hostile regions where expat partners are not able or allowed to live.

Third Culture Kids

Third culture kids are often referred to children who were raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture for a considerable portion of their development years. For trailing spouses, never underestimate the difficulty for children adjusting to their new environment abroad. Unlike adults, children haven’t developed self-identities and culture values firmly in place. These will make them more open to cultural influences and more vulnerable to social interactions.

However, scientific research has been proved that children are excellent communicators. Thanks to the exposure to different religions and traditions, they also have more opportunities for communicating as they will learn different cultures and values.

Expat parents should encourage children to develop an expanded worldview. Though being raised in a foreign culture brings in diverse expectations and behaviours, the open-mindedness and adaptability are the positives when growing up overseas.

Bring International Health Insurance With You

You already have a lot to worry about: accompanying partner in a new country, finding schools for your children, adapting new environment, purchasing all the necessities, etc. But don’t forget to obtain adequate medical care. The peace of mind of knowing that you and your family access to the best healthcare is very important. Therefore, you need to create a tailored expatriate health insurance that meets your unique requirements as your expat spouse’s employer may or may not provide global healthcare. You should also consider life and disability coverage. In fact, it is often the expat employee’s spouse who contacts our firm about arranging the insurance coverage!

Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates of any nationality across the world. We also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form. Having excellent global medical coverage will not only give you peace of mind, but will help you maintain your family members’ health.

Six tips for finding quality expat child care

For many expat families, moving abroad with children can be very challenging. More importantly, choosing quality child care in destination country is another difficult decision. As parents, you want to make sure the child care has a safe, happy environment that supports both intellectual and emotional development of your expat child.

Here are some tips of finding quality administered child care for expats:

1. Know the types of child care services

There can be many types of child care services providers all over your destination country. In the US and Canada, child care usually referred to nannies, babysitters, day care centers, kindergartens, and preschools. All these are strictly administered under government’s supervision. Each of these child care services provides different service to different age groups.

2. Assess reality 

It is up to you to send your toddler to government administered day care center or you take care of him by yourself at home. As expat parents, mothers and fathers are usually on expat assignments and they usually work full-time. If one of you choose to stay at home to look after your child during transition period, this can be unrealistic when you are employed.

3. Know the cost

Consult your destination country’s child care information online before you depart. Find the average cost for a child in care center per month by different age groups. So that you can use this as comparison of your new country and neighbourhood while searching for child care.

4. Choose your place of living wisely 

In some countries, the costs of child care can also depend on locations. Price may vary from cities to cities. And can be quite different for residents who live outside of cities or towns. In some major cities or capitals the child care fee can be very expansive for middle class expat families.

5. Nannies 

If you only need a specific time slot for child care, it is a good idea to have a nanny. You can usually find nannies who have worked with expat families before and it a good idea to fine one through a reputable agency. Make sure that references have been checked and someone has conducted a criminal background check.

6. Ask for Employer Support

Many expat employers will provide some information and even financial assistance for expatriates who are moving abroad with their children. Expat employers are making a huge investment in your success and assisting you in sourcing expat childcare is often available.

There are lots of excellent expatriate web sites and blogs that will provide information for expat families a wealth of information. For information on the right global health insurance for you and your young family, check out Expat Financial’s long list of expat medical providers, including our premier insurer Cigna International.