Advance planning and good communication are crucial when relocating employees with children. This is where the benefits of working with a specialist relocation services provider can be invaluable.
Not only is there the logistical challenge of immigration requirements and managing workplace team needs, there are a myriad other moving parts for the relocating employee and their family to juggle.
In amongst the debate about housing – selling, buying, renting … the tax implications of becoming overseas landlords, the financial implications of becoming expat tenants – packing up life and trying to get the bare bones of normal life in place ahead of arriving, schooling can be something that expats without sufficient support wait to think about when they have arrived in their new location.
Planning ahead for successful relocations
However, it is very important for companies and relocating talent to plan in advance.
Schools tend to look at finalising their registers for the upcoming academic year during the final term of the current academic year. Which means that relocating families seeking school places after the academic cut-off can find themselves unable to gain entry to a specific or highly sought-after school.
This issue can be compounded during the academic summer break, as most schools will be closed for much of the holiday. This is the case for both the northern and southern hemisphere.
Therefore, the timing of a relocation can be crucial not just for the business, but also for the success of the assignment. Businesses must be mindful of the timing needed when relocating employees with families.
Where to start for successful relocations?
It is crucial to have a reliable and well-informed Destination Service Provider (DSP) who can provide as much detailed information and support as possible to the relocating family.
An excellent DSP will gather as much information as possible from their initial contact, to create a full brief of requirements. An excellent DSP will also have a solid and up-to-date understanding of the unique schooling requirements of a location and will be able to have open discussions about the specific needs of the relocating family.
While many of the larger relocation agencies have ‘full service’ DSP packages, in truth many of these fall far short of the information provision that relocating employees with children actually need.
Through our work within the global expatriate diaspora, it is very clear that families’ needs tend to come a very poor second to those of the business.
“It’s always been left to us to do it all….I don’t think I’d know what to do if we had any real assistance.”Expat spouse and parent in SE Asia
“[During] our last move, the expensive relocation agency provided us a google printout of international schools. So helpful 🙄“Expat spouse and parent in Portugal
“Yep. Totally know that feeling. Totally painful relocation to Tokyo. Found kids school, house, had to sort everything. The relocation company was useless.”Expat spouse and parent in Japan
What is the solution?
Having smaller, more flexible and responsive DSPs such as Parental Choice can help to bridge this information and services gap.
With our wide network of EMEA and APAC in-market consultants, who are all currently, or have been expats themselves, together with our long history of bespoke school and childcare searches Parental Choice is uniquely placed to truly assist relocating families.
Top considerations for relocating families
Schooling is a key consideration for relocating employees with children, and it is something that people are increasingly considering as part of their decision to accept an offer.
In APAC, Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok are particularly well-supplied with international schools, but part of the challenge there is gaining enough knowledge of all the different options to be able to make an informed decision.
But there are other locations with fewer options, or with different requirements and challenges. In Australia, Ireland and the UK for example, the state government schools are generally very good, but eligibility relies on catchment areas.
A knowledge of the unique situation for all key locations is important.
How to help relocate an employee with children?
Connect with the relocating family with an excellent DSP early in the process, and include the DSP in the ‘pre-move’ trip.
Through the company’s relationship with the DSP, have a knowledge of schooling options in various locations.
Ensure that company relocation policies or expat contracts include reasonable cover for expenses such as:
- School fees
- Debenture / application and enrolment fees
- Accommodation costs in desired catchment areas
- Set realistic timetables for a relocation
What should your DSP do?
Help set realistic expectations for schooling – especially as regards the application process
Ask all the relevant questions of the relocating family, and provide comprehensive information and ongoing support:
- Information to ensure relocation of ‘everyday life’ is as seamless as possible
- Information regarding SEN or specialist medical services
- Information regarding in-home childcare
- Provide introductions to in-market real estate professionals
- Access to cross-cultural training (if necessary)
- Access to language support (if necessary)