4 Issues Expat Families Commonly Face
By Lina Martinez
The number of expats in the Philippines has increased over the years. According to a survey, migrants find the Philippines as an 'extremely attractive' place to live because of its climate, economy and culture.
No matter how exciting, however, living the expat life has its downsides. It can be relatively easier for an individual since they only have to fend for themselves. With a family, many factors have to be considered, especially if children are involved.
Issue #1. Housing
Many expat families face a problem with housing. Without a local friend to help you, it can be challenging to find a good house to rent in an unfamiliar city. Factors such as proximity to work, shops and hospitals, the safety of the neighborhood and accessibility to transportation networks all contribute to the best location.
Some expats consider the option to buy a house, but this is not recommended in your first year. Renting for a year before buying a house gives time to assess the neighborhood, understand the bureaucracy and adjust to the environment.
Issue #2. Adjusting to the culture and learning the language
Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges in moving to another country is learning the language and embracing the culture.
Forming a relationship with the locals is important to smooth the adjustment to your new life. The most effective way to do that is by learning some local words and phrases. Knowing the local language will make it easier to understand, and ultimately appreciate, the culture.
Making sure that your children know the basics of the language and culture is important. If your kids aren’t familiar with the culture, there is a chance they will feel out of place or worse, be picked on at school.
Issue #3. Your children’s education
Choosing the right school for your children is another obstacle you have to hurdle when living abroad. Unlike buying a house, you cannot afford to delay their education for a year to find the best school for them.
Some expat families enroll their kids in local schools, which are more affordable and can give them a more immersive experience. However, the standard of a local school will be different from the home country, creating new difficulties if transitioning to a new school when moving back or going to another country.
International schools offer junior and senior school curricula that follow international standards. The qualifications your children work towards are internationally recognized and rigorous, such as the International Baccalaureate. So when you have to move your family to another location, your children can catch up with the lessons pretty quickly.
Issue #4. Lack of support network
If you don’t know anyone in your new country, you may be lonely if you don’t look for contacts and friends. Although modern technology allows you to connect with friends and family, it still won’t be the same as having them near. However, most countries have expat networks and events for socializing. These new contacts will be essential to helping settle in, finding a reliable electrician, knowing where to fix the car and where to shop.
Give yourself and your family some time to adjust to the expat life. Treat the experience as something exciting instead of daunting. Motivate your children by telling them the family is going on an adventure, creating new memories and learning about a new culture. Embrace the adjustment and enjoy the difference.