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

Relocation Affects the Whole Family

1st in a Series | Voice of the Experts


Relocation entails changes in all aspects of everyday living, reorganization of priorities, and rethinking plans for the future. Even though the focus of an employer-sponsored relocation is the employee, the impact of relocation transcends to the entire family and each member experiences it in a different way. In this blog series, we will talk about the effects of relocations on families. We will also share specific ways to handle those effects whether you are a partner, a family member, or someone who is supporting a family undergoing such a transition.

Today, multiple types of families exist.

Some examples are dual parent, single parent, same-sex, elder care, adoptive, blended families, patchwork families, split families, young adults at home, adult children returning home, grandparents raising children, and re-marriages combined with blended families with wide age differences, among others. With so many possible family compositions, addressing the needs of each member can seem daunting. However, it is easier to do so after we identify internal and external factors that play a role in how each family member responds to relocating.

Let’s look at some internal factors.

Family members’ ages, previous experiences with relocation, attitudes towards relocation, tolerance for change, expectations about relocation, participation in the decision, anticipated impact on school and career, familiarity with the new location, knowledge of language and culture, and perceived levels of uncertainty will affect each family member’s response to the relocation.


Now let’s see some external factors.

Time of the year, time available to prepare for the move, similarities and differences between current and new communities, access to family/acquaintances in the new community, healthcare support for special needs, requirements for transactions such as utilities, access to transportation, social and cultural events, educational and career opportunities, local economic conditions, and availability of childcare/eldercare will also contribute to those responses to relocation.

Very likely, members of the family’s network will offer advice. However, their advice could be misleading because of the many misconceptions or “myths” about relocations that exist.


Let’s review and debunk some of those myths.


MYTH: Everyone responds the same way.

FACT: Each member of the family responds differently depending on internal and external factors.


MYTH: It’s easier for someone older/younger/teenagers.

FACT: Relocations are not easier or more difficult only because of age. All of us have different levels of tolerance for change.


MYTH: Children make friends easily and forget about change.

FACT: Making friends is easier for some children than others just like it is for adults.


MYTH: It’s easier/more difficult if you have moved before.

FACT: Previous experience with moving allows families to understand the mechanics and logistics of relocating, however, each relocation experience is unique.


MYTH: If they don’t talk about it, don’t worry about it.

FACT: It is important to pay attention to what family members are saying as well as to what they are not saying to see if they need additional assistance during the relocation.


MYTH: You will always have something to do.

FACT: Every community is different in what it has to offer to residents of all ages and not everyone is interested in “always having something to do” when they move.


MYTH: With your experience in X, it will be easy for you to pick up your career as soon as you get there.

FACT: Finding a job in a new location requires more than having experience in a particular field. Every job market is distinctive and not everyone is ready or legally allowed to join the workforce immediately.


What other “myths” have you heard? How did you respond?

Let’s pause. You don’t have to handle the relocation by yourself! A professional career coach can help you in several ways, including:

  • Individual attention to concerns and questions about relocation

  • Listening to the joys and glitches of relocating

  • Job seeking and education guidance for meaningful pursuits after relocation

  • Curated information about resources in the new communities

  • Building networks and connections by focusing on activities of interest to family members

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 to help you get a jumpstart on your path to a successful relocation!


Coming up next in this series, in The Voice of Experts, we will talk about other aspects of the relocation process and their impact on families. Several professional career coaches who work with families in their relocation journeys will share the most common reactions to relocations and their suggestions about how to manage those reactions for a successful relocation.


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