The fundamental issue for an expat partner is to find a lifestyle that will allow them to enjoy their time abroad and gain a sense of fulfilment. This may be an occupation, a role or a lifestyle that fulfills the partner. There is no single prescription for this, as for one person it will be a matter of being a full-time parent and homemaker meeting new friends via the school gate or expat clubs, for another it can be achieved by taking it as an opportunity for re-training or taking an academic course and for others it can only be achieved by continuing with their career.
There are a number of ways that can help to avoid problems:
- Build contacts before arriving using any available network through the company you are relocating with, friends you know in your planned new home country or through social networks, including the World of Expats Community. Expat clubs are a great source of friends and contacts and it is well worth identifying the options before you arrive in your new home.
- Find out as much about your new destination as possible before you arrive and the try to ensure that you both get a few days to explore together and familiarise yourselves with your new home so that you know where the key facilities are and how to get around town before work and business takes over.
- Settling in to a new culture on the other side of the world can be difficult and dealing with emotions caused by separation from friends and family can make this more difficult. Once you have established a new network of friends these issues will be left behind. It is therefore important to use your home network in this transitional phase with regular contact via social media, skype and so on.
- Visa restrictions for accompanying partners can define what is possible. It is vital to ensure that this is understood in detail so that you can ensure that you obtain the best visa to allow your partner to meet their aspirations and, if unable to do so, to plan what activities, roles or other lifestyle choices are viable.
- Whatever the career that the accompanying partner gives up to make the move possible, it is important that they take the opportunity to take up an opportunity that had not been possible previously. A degree or other study, voluntary work (administration, fundraising or operations), taking a role at your children’s school or using the internet to establish a business.