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How to move abroad with children

Updated on June 19, 2013
Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici
Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici

Moving to a different country is never as easy with children as it would be with just grown-ups. However, with a little bit of preparation, they should fit in and relax very easily. Children are very adaptable and there are a few things you can do to make the transition as easy for them as possible. Moving to a new country can turn out to be an amazing and worthwhile experience but the way you prepare will probably be dependent upon the ages of your children.

For little ones, up to 5 years old, they need as much familiarity as possible. Make sure that you travel on the plane with their favorite toy or possession, for example a teddy bear, doll, blanket etc. Something that will not make them think that everything is being left behind. There can be problems when packing up their rooms to ship to the new country. Try to explain that they aren’t losing all their things but it will be sent to their new house for them to use in their new rooms.

For young children, about 5-11 years, they are very nervous about losing their friends and being in unfamiliar surroundings. Show them pictures and brochures of the surrounding areas. Try to focus on activities that will be fun to do, beaches they can visit when they move, play parks near to where you’ll be living or theme parks and zoos. If they are excited about visiting somewhere it will keep their mind off the more negative of their worries. If possible, Google Streetview is great for a virtual walk down the local roads and past parks or shops that will be familiar to them when they arrive.

Courtesy of Phaitoon
Courtesy of Phaitoon

For older children, although the worries will be the same, they can be dealt with in a more adult manner. Talk to them about their feelings and try to explain how their lives will change for the better while acknowledging that their fears are valid ones. They will be leaving family and friends behind but they will be making new friends when they move and start a new school. Just as they (hopefully) made new friends when they started secondary school, they will find it just as easy in their new school. If it helps and is practical, allow them to help with deciding which school they will be going to as well as being part of the process for deciding where to live. Guidebooks and tv programs from where you will be moving are a great way of preparing them as well. Also, if it is possible to get magazines from the new country before you go it may give them an insight into the lives of children there, and to make them realise that they won’t be all that different.

For a child of any age, try and organize for their interests to be continued when you move abroad. If they play a team sport or an instrument, then before you go, try and find out where and how they could get involved in these things after you move. Continuation of familiar things will help settle them in and can be great in helping them find new friends.

For adults and children alike, moving to a new country can be a daunting experience. With a little preparation and patience though, it can be carried out with the minimum of stress and everyone will soon be enjoying their new life to the full. If you are thinking of emigrating, have a look at some of my other Hubs for help.


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