So… you know where you’re going, and made a good start. You have your offer and the employer confirmed that they want you to join them in this new location next month. What do you need to do? What questions should you be asking to make sure everything is taken care of?
I work with many expats who are moving into London, but have never lived here before. They do have similar questions and I thought it would be useful to put them together in one list for you. These are questions you could ask to make sure you’re not missing anything.
Bear in mind this will go slightly beyond the typical logistics, which are usually covered in the support provided by employers. Often this support does not go beyond the shipping of household goods or arranging work permits. You would usually however have one key contact, for example an assignment or mobility coordinator, who will be helping with your move. Chances are they won’t be able to answer all of your questions or the employer won’t be able to cover the costs of everything related to your move, but they will likely direct you to some useful websites and resources to learn more. At least you won’t have to find out the hard way that some resources are simply not reliable enough!
You don’t ask – you don’t get!
- Do I need a work permit to work in this country? Can my family come with me?
- Can my partner work on a spousal visa?
- Will the company support my/my family’s visa application?
- What are the tax rates in this country?
- How is the tax residency determined?
- How will my salary be paid, ie. weekly, monthly, which day(s) of the month…?
- Do I need a local bank account? What banks can you recommend?
- What does XYZ in the contract mean? – If you are not sure about something in your new contract – ask!
- What are the documents I will need to provide to local HR when I arrive?
- Is there anything I will need to do to set myself up legally in this country?
- How do people commute to work most often? How much does a monthly ticket cost?
- What are the best ways to move around the city?
- Are there any phone/internet companies you can recommend?
- What are the prices of renting/buying an apartment? Any agencies you could recommend? Anything that I need to pay special attention to?
- How do you sign up for medical care? Is there anything in particular that I should know about the medical care here?
- What are the top three tourist things I need to see in the city when I arrive?
- What are some good restaurants near the office?
- What are some most affordable grocery shops or drugstores?
- Are there any other colleagues in the company who have made a similar move? Could you connect me with them?
- What are the local _______ [eg. British, Italian, Chinese…] people like?
- Will the employer provide any support with shipping of household goods?
- Will there be any support in searching for accommodation?
- Is there any cash allowance that I can expect?
- I don’t know the local language. Will the employer provide any lessons? If not, are there any language schools you could recommend?
- Does the employer have any discounts on the flight rates that I could use? If not, would (part of) the travel costs be reimbursed?
- Can you provide some advice on where the best schools are?
- Are there any international schools in this city?
- What will I need to do right after arrival to the new country?
Employers can offer so much to their employees who are moving locations! The thing is… they are not always capable of providing so much financial support, especially if the move is dictated by personal reasons and your choice.
Even if there is no financial support from your employer, getting insiders’ advice and guidance can be super helpful. Especially when you already have so much on your plate anyway! Usually the people you interact with during the move are willing to share more information with you. They can share their experience and refer you to other sources that you might find useful.
What did your employers offer you when you were moving abroad? What in your opinion would be most useful things to receive as support?