• Norma Davila, Ph.D., CPRW, CPCC, SHRM-SC

Family Relocation Success Stories

6th in a Series | Voice of Experts


In this blog series, we are talking about the effects of relocations on families. We have already described today’s different types of families, shared specific examples of how families are reacting, and what can make relocations easier. We also introduced some challenges and barriers that families face as well as what they can do to overcome them. Most recently, we discussed how coaches respond to clients’ needs and tailor the overall coaching approach to meet those needs.


What can make relocations easier, what families can do to overcome obstacles, and how coaches adapt to different client needs come together to create favorable relocation outcomes. Peggy Killian, Anke Hoebers, Laura Bidegain, Anikó Lenkei, Suma Koralgundi, Leila Heron, Sally Anne Carroll, and Heidi Ravis, REA coaches who accompany families in their relocation journeys, bring to life what success looks like for families and share additional recommendations for your relocation.


Let’s look at some examples of what success looks like.



Success Stories

Peggy Killian worked with a Korean family who moved to the United States during the height of the COVID pandemic. This family had a child who was on the autism spectrum and the mother was reluctant to speak to others because she was not fluent in English.


Peggy’s previous experience with students who were on the spectrum was a game changer for the child’s mother. They agreed to meet through Skype; the mother practiced her English language skills in a safe environment and Peggy guided her to find resources such as a school that provided the services they needed. Peggy also guided the mother to find an ESL program for Koreans in the family’s community, connect with a Korean organization, and locate Korean-speaking medical professionals.


Anke Hoebers worked with a family who was moving to the Netherlands. Their two children attended an international school and the mother wanted to dedicate her time to doing something meaningful. The mother’s part-time position as a school nurse in the children’s school became the “spinning wheel” for her to feel at home in her new city and country.


Anke also shared her experiences with another family who had relocated previously before moving to the Netherlands. This family’s children were going to school far away and their mother was unenthusiastic about integrating into a new culture. After the mother became a volunteer language teacher, she obtained the satisfaction she was looking for and her outlook changed to continue to build her new life.


As coaches work with clients, they identify patterns and lessons from the process. Suma, Anikó, Leila, and Laura reflected on what they have learned.


Lessons Learned

Suma sees relocation as a blessing in disguise because families have the opportunity to explore a new part of the world and new aspects about themselves. Suma added that successful relocations open channels of effective communication, understanding, and bonding among family members. In Suma’s experience, expats who relocate are very grateful to their spouses and partners for all their support across the relocation journey.


Anikó points out that identifying and being mindful of each family member’s needs, challenges, emotions, and readiness to relocate is as important as preparing for the logistical components of the move. She emphasizes the value of addressing the needs of those family members who cannot relocate.


Leila highlights that spouses and partners whose personal and professional needs are met in a foreign environment tend to feel more confident, proactive, and enthusiastic about exploring life in a host country. According to Leila, the positive energy resulting from their adaptation catalyzes a successful international relocation for the entire family. Self-employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, especially in today’s digital era, may play a key role in this process.


Laura has also witnessed a similar connection between happy spouses and happy families.


Are you wondering about what else families can do for a successful relocation? Laura, Sally, Anikó, and Heidi offered some additional recommendations.


Recommendations

Laura encourages families to “embrace the amateur mode” which she describes as get curious, engage in conversations, ask lots of questions, and try new things. She urges her clients to start cultivating their networks before the move by asking around, using their informal networks and making LinkedIn part of their weekly routine. Laura also motivates clients to reach out to people who have similar and different interests while embracing happenstance and she advises her clients to have a positive attitude.


Sally advises families to be open to new opportunities, flexible with their plans, and willing to accept their emotional experiences since every family member’s experience will be unique. She points out that it is healthy, and expected, to feel a variety of emotions when making a significant move and navigating an unfamiliar environment.


Anikó recommends identifying, addressing, and managing potential relocation risks and challenges, finding tailored approaches to cope with them, and initiating and encouraging open communication and continuous dialogue among family members before the relocation and beyond.


Heidi suggests to families to seek advice and guidance from others who have been through the relocation process, and, if possible, from professionals who assist with relocation and acclimation. She believes that families can benefit from the experience of those professionals, gain valuable insights, and learn about resources that may help to facilitate the process. Sites such as https://www.internations.org/ can be a valuable resource for expatriates according to Heidi.


If you are currently relocating, are you working with a coach? If you are not working with a coach…


Let’s pause. You don’t have to handle the relocation by yourself!


A professional career coach can help you in several ways, including:

  • Acknowledging that each relocation is different even if you relocated previously.

  • Creating a safe space for you to express your emotions.

  • Guiding you to set goals for yourself and strategizing to overcome obstacles with questions that prompt your thinking.

  • Identifying and vetting resources to facilitate cultural and language adaptation.

  • Gauging the right time to start the job exploration and search process with a customized strategy and documents.

  • Celebrating your successes during the transition.

REA’s coaches specialize in assisting professionals and their families to address these issues and many others. You don’t need to navigate your family’s relocation alone -- we’re here to help! Check out REA Flex Coaching services and REA's website to help you get a jumpstart on your path to a successful relocation!