A Big Decision
Taking on a foreign assignment should never be done lightly. For those who have never lived abroad, it is easy to
romanticize the experience and get caught up by travel pictures. In reality, for the first time expatriate living in another
country is a major change and hard work. That said, many who have done so successfully have been invigorated by the experience
and would jump at the chance to do it again.
Here are some simple initial questions you should think about prior to considering a foreign assignment:
1. Immediate Family
What are the needs of my family? Are their health issues requiring
special care, and if so, is care available in the place where i will live? Can these needs be met through periodic home visits,
or do i need to be close to a facility that will provide care?
2. Extended Family Needs:
Do I have aging
parents or family members that depend on me for care? Can others fill this role? (Too often these needs can become a huge
distraction and financial burden if they require frequent trips home.)
3. Emotional and Mental Health:
Do I or
my family have any unresolved emotional or mental health issues requiring ongoing care? How emotionally flexible are my family
members and I to take on this challenge and dramatic change? Do we have an adequate family support network to assist?
4. Financial Requirements:
What are my current financial liabilities, and will my foreign assignment allow me to meet my obligations
in my country of origin as well as my new location?
These questions are highly simplified but provide a starting point for you to consider whether a
foreign assignment is right for you. Less than ideal answers to any of these questions do not neccessarily mean you should
say "no" to the assignment. They may simply indicate you need to do find a way to answer the challenges presented.
In some instances you will need to consult professionals such as financial advisors, doctors or mental health professionals
to adequately answer these questions for you and your family.