In my first post in this series, I gave you some advice on how to cope emotionally with moving and living overseas. In this post, I'll give you some tips on researching your destination.
The first thing you will want to do is to research the country you'll be moving to, or research several countries to decide which one to choose. An excellent resource for this is Real Post Reports from Tales from a Small Planet (http://www.talesmag.com, it's worth registering for). You can look up each city and read what expats who have lived there thought about it. I'm sure there are loads of other expat resources, websites and blogs.
But take each report with a huge grain of salt, because each person's experience depends on their perspective.
For example, a single man will have a much different experience in Moscow than a married mom of young children.
Additionally, whether a person likes the post or not depends on what they like in general. If someone enjoys the countryside and fresh air, their review of a large urban post is likely to be at least somewhat negative. Keep in mind what you enjoy when considering a post.
And, it's all relative. If someone just moved to a less-developed post after a relatively luxurious one, they are less likely to enjoy it than someone else who considers it a step up from where they were before.
Things to seriously consider: personal safety and crime, health issues and medical care available, cost of living, availability of good schools (if you have school-age children) and availability of good food and products. Everyone has their own comfort level and threshold of tolerance. Talk honestly with your partner about what is acceptable and what absolutely is not. Do you mind taking malaria prevention medicine for two or more years? What about making your kids take it? Are you willing to homeschool if the school is inadequate? Do you feel comfortable with substandard medical care in-country?
When I lived in a country with a severe lack of decent medical care, the constant worry among all the parents was that our children would become ill or injured. One woman summed it up well when she said, "I've chosen this lifestyle, but my children haven't." We were all very aware of subjecting our children to potentially less-than-safe conditions in a situation they did not choose. There were things we enjoyed about living there, but we were grateful to leave safe and healthy.
Also make sure to find things you might enjoy in the country. If you love skiing, the beach, forests or city life, look for places where you can enjoy your hobbies. But don't overlook the chance to try something new. This is your opportunity to try things you've never done, see things you've never seen and go places you've never been. Also consider nearby travel opportunities. Proximity to a region you'd love to explore is a big plus.
So when you are researching posts, keep all this in mind.
Are you surprised I haven't discussed packing and other logistics yet? Honestly they are far less important that what I've covered in these first two posts. But, I will cover that in my next post.
Is there any other aspect of moving internationally that I haven't covered that you would like to know? Just leave a comment and I'd be happy to address it in another post.