Top Tips For A Stress-Free Family Move (3)

The Relocation Consultancy - Helping Assignees Settle In A New HomeThis week we will be posting a selection of articles to provide advice on what to keep in mind when relocating with children. The third article in this series considers tips that may be useful at the new destination:

1. Make the transition fun. As well as being unsettling and tiring, moving from your home country can be fun! Plan to splurge a little bit on transitioning from one home to another – maybe visit some fun, kid-friendly restaurants, go to the cinema/theatre or visit an indoor play frame. 

2. Where possible, involve the children in the home choice process. If possible, take your older children along on your home search visits. Most Consultants are happy for them to attend and can arrange for the (legally-required) car seats to be available for them. Make it clear at the outset of any home search visit that the final decision is up to the adults, but that their opinions will be considered. 

We would not advise bringing very young children along though – home search days can be very long and can lead to tantrums in even the most angelic of toddlers! If you can’t take them along, you can still keep them involved. Take pictures/video of the houses you’re considering and bring them back to show them. A temporary nanny can be arranged to look after your children if required.

3. Maintain familiar routines. Once you’re in your new home, some things may have to change, but try to maintain the aspects of your life that are most important to your kids. Stick to familiar bedtime routines and continue any other family ‘habits’ that you can.

4. Make their bedroom the top priority. Ensure they have anything with them that will help them settle in quickly e.g. their favourite toy, comfort blanket or duvet cover. Let them pick a couple of new items that will make their new room feel special to them e.g. a new cushion, alarm clock or some posters. Having a place that they feel comfortable in and can call their own will work wonders for their settling in.

5. Unpack the items that make your house a home first. Research has shown that people who unpack items that have emotional significance early on settle quicker. This could include photos of family and friends, pictures/paintings, duvet covers or favourite toys. Let your children decide what is most important for them.

6. Get to know your child’s new school. School is the centre of your child’s universe. They will only be happy if they are happy in school. Inevitably, that means you will only be happy if they are happy in school! Make sure your child visits the prospective schools with you – it is only by visiting the schools that you will get a true feeling of the atmosphere there. Make sure your child knows where their classroom would be, where the toilets are, where the dining room is, and all the other basic information they would need on their first day. Many independent schools run a buddy system for new children – these are absolutely invaluable for helping them to fit in quickly. If they are offered a buddy, it is always wise to accept them. If your child has any particular interests or hobbies, find out if there is a club covering that interest at the school – it will be much easier to make friends with other kids that they have something in common with.

If you can spare the time, try to volunteer for any Parent/Teacher association aligned with the school – this is an invaluable way of making friends and becoming truly integrated to an area.

7. Find something new. Find something new, good and different about the new house or town and play it up. Give this new place something the old one didn’t have. Perhaps it has a duck pond nearby or a rickety old street that you can play hopscotch on? Every place will have something – try delving into your inner child to find it for them!

8. Add some extras. Sign your children up for some extracurricular activities e.g. scouts, guides, clubs, etc. These smaller clubs may provide a welcome group of new friends for them. They’ll feel more a part of their new home once they’re involved in activities. Try to keep one activity that isn’t with the school – this will help them to broaden their friendship base and give them a break from thinking about school all the time.

9. Keep the moving boxes as long as possible. Once you’ve unpacked, keep the moving boxes for your children to play with. With just a little bit of help, they’ll have great fun making, decorating, and playing with their home-made castles, trains, cars, etc…

10. Explore, explore, explore!

Once you arrive in the new place, start exploring. What does your new location have that you’ve never experienced? Start reaping the benefits of your new environment right away. Your kids will feel like they’re on an extended holiday!

 

The Relocation Consultancy are experts in destination services and provide a range of options to support families moving to the UK. For a FREE consultation on the services that may be suitable for you, call +44 (0)118 947 0029 or email info@therelocationconsultancy.com.

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Top Tips For A Stress-Free Family Move (2)

The Relocation Consultancy - Helping Assignees Settle In A New HomeThis week we will be posting a selection of articles to provide advice on what to keep in mind when relocating with children. The second article in this series considers tips that may be useful during the move:

1. Toilet training issues. If your child has recently been potty trained, consider putting them into pull-up nappies for the journey. The need for a potty/toilet can be pretty urgent at this stage, and it will reduce the stress for everyone if you don’t have to worry about it for the day. As long as you return to previous routines after the journey, it shouldn’t have any long-term negative effects.

2. Pack each child their own small rucksack of special toys and activities. Any comfort blanket / toy should be included within this bag, so it stays with the child throughout the journey. These will keep the kids occupied throughout the journey (and at their destination), and also help them to feel more secure. To add to the excitement, you could even wrap some small new toys up and let them pick one to open each hour of the journey.

3. Be prepared for travel sickness. If your child gets sick when travelling, it could be worth a visit to your doctor before leaving to get some medication for the journey. Even if they haven’t been sick before, it is well worth carrying a packet of wet wipes and a portable sick bag – just in case! There’s always a first time for travel sickness and it would be unfortunate if you find out that your child gets sick when you’re in transit without supplies!

4. Keep extra clothes handy. Have at least one full set of clothes on standby for each child. A leaking drinks bottle, spilt food or sickness can all take their toll on a long journey. Wet wipes and ziplock bags can also come in handy!

5. Make sure (you and) the children are well rested before the journey. Travelling is tiring, particularly for little children. They’re likely to get tired and might get grumpy as a result. If you’re already tired and stressed, fireworks could follow! Try to ensure everybody gets a good night’s sleep before you even begin travelling – it could save a lot of trouble later…

The Relocation Consultancy are experts in destination services and provide a range of options to support families moving to the UK. For a FREE consultation on the services that may be suitable for you, call +44 (0)118 947 0029 or email info@therelocationconsultancy.com.

Top Tips For A Stress-Free Family Move (1)

The Relocation Consultancy - Helping Assignees Settle In A New HomeThis week we will be posting a selection of articles to provide advice on what to keep in mind when relocating with children. The first article in this series considers approaches that may be useful prior to the actual move:

1. Keep the children involved. As soon as you know there’s even a possibility of a relocation, include your children in the conversations. Don’t wait until it’s a sure thing and then spring it on them.

 2. Respect their feelings. Listen to their concerns and tell them to come to you with their fears, anxieties and questions. Quite often, children can make assumptions that are quite far from the reality – keeping the lines of communication open with them will help them to adapt. Even if you are unable to accommodate their requests, treat their feelings with respect.

3. Get an age-appropriate book about moving. Younger children may not fully understand what ‘moving’ means. There are a wide variety of age-appropriate books about moving available that could be beneficial to read together.

 4. Explain everything, assume nothing. Assume your children know nothing about what a move entails. For example, young children may be confused about what they can and can’t take. They may need assurance that their toys, clothes and belongings will be put into boxes and taken to the new house. Walk around your house with them and point out the sorts of things that will go with you (e.g. “yes, your teddy is going to the new house; no, that carpet is going to stay here.”). Young children really do need it to be explained to them in very simple terms.

5. Reassure your children that you will remain a constant in their life. When young children lose the security of their family home, they may become insecure about losing other important things in their life. It is well worth reassuring them that, even when homes and friends have to change, you will always be there for them.

6. Make a memory board. If you’re relocating to a new country for work, or preparing for a long-distance move, it’s highly likely that you’ll be leaving family and friends behind. Help your children gather together photos of their favourite people/places and make a memory board with them. When you arrive at your destination, they can hang this memory board in a special place and see their loved ones every day.

7. Let the children help you pack. If they’re old enough, let your children help you pack/sort some of their personal belongings. If some items are being put into storage, ask them what they would like to keep and what they don’t mind parting with for a while.

 8. Take up babysitting offers. It’s hard to accomplish any task quickly with small children under foot, particularly if they enjoy unpacking items as you just put them in the box! Where possible, plan to pack when the kids are asleep, at playgroup or at school, and accept the help of friends and family to look after the kids where possible.

9. Time your move carefully. Sometimes, circumstances dictate when you have to move. However, if you do have a choice, try to time your move so that it occurs at a relatively calm period in your child’s life. Take school schedules into consideration, and avoid moving when other big changes (like potty-training) are happening, too.

10. Make sure you have a ‘contents list’ for each of the children’s boxes. If you’re travelling from overseas, the time between packing the box and opening the box can be weeks or even months! It’s highly unlikely you will be able to remember the detailed contents of each box without a list – knowing where a particular toy is could save a future tantrum!

11. Pack one box of toys last. If you pack all the toys away first, you’ll just be left with bored children who will need you to occupy them! Make sure you keep aside some of the toys and activities that you know will keep the children busy up until the last minute.

12. Plan a nice goodbye to your current home. Before you move, throw a going-away party for your kids with their friends. Make sure they know when they are going, when they will be back and how they can stay in touch with each other. Children love a celebration, and this can be a great way to turn your move into a positive, exciting experience.

If possible, try to help them maintain contact with their friends whilst they are away, perhaps by telephone, email, Skype and the internet.

The Relocation Consultancy are experts in destination services and provide a range of options to support families moving to the UK. For a FREE consultation on the services that may be suitable for you, call +44 (0)118 947 0029 or email info@therelocationconsultancy.com.

Reducing the stress for international corporate moves

The Relocation Consultancy - Reducing the stress for international corporate movesIn this post, you will find out how relocation management services can help to reduce the stress involved in managing an international corporate move.

Organising staff relocations to a range of destinations can be a time-consuming and complicated process. Relocation management services can help to simplify your staff mobilisations, by providing you with your own team to administer much of the work for you.

There are many benefits to outsourcing in this way, including:

  1. Rather than having to pay for staff salaries, office space and training in order for you to have your own global mobility team, you simply pay the qualified staff at your relocation management company to take over the administration of each staff move.
  2. You remain completely in control of your staff moves, but you will be spared much of the more mundane administration.
  3. Other crucial services, such as furniture removals, visas and cultural training can be negotiated on your behalf and integrated fully into the relocation process.
  4. You should only need to deal with one contact at the relocation management company, who will liaise with all the service providers on your behalf, meaning there are no issues with miscommunication or conflicting time zones.
  5. Your company will achieve the best value for money with the minimum stress, inconvenience and disruption for yourself and your assignees.

The Relocation Consultancy recognise the need for global relocation solutions in today’s increasingly international marketplace. As such, we have established relationships with destination service providers worldwide, to ensure that assignees receive consistently high quality services at a wide range of destinations. As an independent company, we have been able to carefully select our partners on the basis of their service quality, company ethos and experience with assignees. Our international relocation management division, Relolink, has been created specifically to meet the requirements of assignees moving from the UK to destinations worldwide, via a network of business alliances. Full details can be found at the Relolink website.

The Relocation Consultancy are experts in destination services and provide a range of options to support assignees. For a FREE consultation on the services that may be suitable for your company, call +44 (0)118 947 0029 or email info@therelocationconsultancy.com. Alternately, you can find out more about our services at http://www.therelocationconsultancy.com/relocation-services.

How You Can Check If Your Foreign Exchange Rate Is Good Or Not

[This week’s guest post is from Peter Lavelle, Pure FX.]

In this post, I want to tell you how you can check if the foreign exchange rate you’ve been offered is good or not.

1. Find the interbank exchange rate.

To find out if your exchange rate is good, the first thing you need to do is find what’s called the interbank exchange rate.

This is the exchange rate at which banks transfer billions to each other every day. It’s therefore as close as you can get to an “official” exchange rate, and it’s what you need to compare your exchange rate against.

To find the interbank exchange rate, go to www.Bloomberg.com, select “Market data” from the navigation menu, and then click “Foreign exchange rates” under currencies.

Here, you’ll be presented with a table listing the most important exchange rates. What you need to do is find the currencies you’re exchanging.

Once you have, the number you see (in blue) will be the existing interbank exchange rate.

2. Work out how close your exchange rate is to the interbank exchange rate.

Once you know the interbank exchange rate, you need to work out how close your exchange rate is by comparison.

This is because, the closer your exchange rate is, the closer you are to the best possible exchange rate at that time.

Now, your exchange rate will always be below the interbank rate.

What that means is, if the pound buys 1.20 euros on the interbank, your exchange rate will always be less than 1.20.

However, the closer it is to 1.20, the better.

This is because, if the interbank exchange rate is 1.20, that’s the best exchange rate there is at that given time. You can’t do better.

In short then, a good exchange rate will be as close to the interbank exchange rate as you can find!

About the author

Peter Lavelle is a currency dealer at foreign exchange broker Pure FX. For more tips about how to get the best exchange rate, pay him a visit!

The Relocation Consultancy are experts in destination services and provide a range of options to support assignees visiting the UK. For a FREE consultation on the services that may be suitable for your company, call +44 (0)118 947 0029 or email info@therelocationconsultancy.com. Alternately, you can find out more about our services at http://www.therelocationconsultancy.com/relocation-services.

Top Tips For Managing Short-term Assignments

The Relocation ConsultancyWhilst the ‘traditional relocation’ will always have an important role in helping companies grow their business and strengthen talent, interest in ‘alternative policies’ continues to increase.

During the last few years there has been a significant increase in the number of employees being sent on short-term international assignments, typically lasting from 3-12 months. Management of these types of assignments has become a challenge for many companies, as different departments and business units frequently initiate them.

The majority of short-term assignments and commuter assignments are still driven by project-based requirements, and they are also increasingly used for leadership development/training and to manage costs/flexibility. The majority of employees on short-term assignments do not bring their families and assistance is generally provided with housing and living costs in the location where they are assigned.

Some of the key areas to consider when arranging short-term assignments include:

  1. Financial incentives for employees e.g. hardship premiums, paying for a certain number of trips home, daily expenses, accommodation costs, etc.
  2. Who administers assignmentsIt can be beneficial (for the company and assignees alike) to select a single point of internal administration, rather than dealing with each project on an ad hoc basis, and administering it via the assignee’s own department. By doing so, costs can be managed more effectively, consistency can be achieved in terms of policy implementation, and, beneficial relationships can be created externally (e.g. with relocation consultants) to support the entire process.
  3. Breadth of the services provided to assignees. Whilst this will differ depending on the individual’s circumstances, all of the following should still be considered in regards to short-term assignments:

i. area orientations (provide a context for the assignee’s living arrangements, informing about shopping, medical facilities, transportation links, etc. – lack of any organised orientation assistance can lead to morale and productivity problems)

ii. accommodation arrangements (it can be far safer and more efficient to have housing arranged by a reputable relocation company than to give employees a lump sum allowance and have them find their own accommodation)

iii. household goods management (air shipment, storage, etc.)

iv. insurance cover (for travel and personal property, as well as health insurance)

v. cultural/language training

vi. visa and immigration coordination

vii. tax compliance advice (tax regulations for short-term assignees vary by country and need to be carefully monitored)

viii. security briefings (especially when employees are sent to locations where there is a high level of crime or political unrest)

ix. government compliance (local permits, police registration, etc.)

4. Time. Remember that short-term assignments require almost as much work as long-term assignments, especially up front in order to get employees settled in quickly, safely and efficiently.

The Relocation Consultancy have a range of services to help with short-term assignments:

  1. ‘Extended Business Trip’ – sourcing and booking short stay, temporary accommodation. This booking service is designed to save the company time and money. Serviced accommodation can be a less expensive alternative to hotel stays for longer business trips. Additional benefits include reduced expense claims in terms of living costs and hotel services, a more homely and spacious environment, and the ability of securing accommodation in a new destination at short notice, with flexible terms.
  2. ‘Short Projects’ – support for assignments of 0-6 months (most suitable for single person or couple). Our ‘Short Projects’ service aims to support assignees visiting the UK for short-notice and ad hoc projects, where the length of stay is not substantial enough to warrant arranging a formal tenancy. As well as covering the booking of temporary accommodation, this service includes an area tour, to help the assignee get to know their local area as quickly as possible.
  3. ‘Commuter Assignment’ – support for assignments of 6 months to 1 year (most suitable for single person or couple). Our ‘Commuter Assignment’ service aims to reduce stress for the assignee, by helping them to efficiently secure a comfortable home whilst staying on a longer, but more transient, short-term assignment in the UK. This fully inclusive service covers all the legal aspects of securing, monitoring and terminating a shorter rental lease, so the assignee can fully concentrate on their new role. Intensive ‘Business English’ and/or ‘Doing Business In The UK’ courses can also be arranged if required, as can furniture rentals, housekeeping and/or gardening services.
  4. ‘Corporate Housing’ (most suitable for house shares or rotational occupiers, for tenancies of 6 months plus). If a company needs to send a group of individuals to the UK and wishes to secure a property for six months or more, we can arrange for suitable rental housing for them to share. Whilst this can help to substantially reduce costs for the company, it has added benefits, such as providing companionship to employees who are being separated from their friends and family, and also giving them the opportunity of living in a higher specification home than their budget might otherwise have allowed. This service is particularly recommended for younger and more junior members of staff, who are likely to be more amenable to the opportunity of sharing. Alternately, if a company has individuals visiting the same location regularly, we can locate and secure a suitable property for the company to rent, in order that their employees can stay there on a rotational basis. This can be an extremely cost effective way of bringing key staff into projects at the specific time they are required.

Additional support, such as ongoing property maintenance, and arranging furniture rental, housekeeping and gardening services can also be included within our support packages.

The Relocation Consultancy are experts in destination services and provide a range of options to support assignees visiting the UK. For a FREE consultation on the services that may be suitable for your company, call +44 (0)118 947 0029 or email info@therelocationconsultancy.com. Alternately, you can find out more about our services at http://www.therelocationconsultancy.com/relocation-services.

Securing A Good School Outside Usual Intake Times

The Relocation Consultancy - securing a good school outside of usual intake timesIf you are being sent on a corporate assignment and are taking your children with you, it is important to begin addressing the issue of schooling prior to your departure, to ensure you and your family settle well at your destination.

The location of your chosen housing will not only need to be determined by the location of your office and commuting times preferred, but also by the school selected for your children. Consequently, starting your planning early can help you to make well-informed choices and give you the best chance of securing places at your preferred school(s).

1. State Schools

  • To secure a place at a state school, you will have to live within their ‘catchment zone’. This leads to a bit of a ‘chicken-and-egg’ situation when you are coming on assignment from outside the UK, as the location of the school is likely to determine the housing, but you cannot apply for the school place until you have secured a home!
  • Additionally, most good state schools are extremely oversubscribed, so you cannot always rely on a place being available, particularly if you are coming to the UK at short notice, or for a shorter assignment. (The National Audit Office (NAO) is warning that a quarter of a million extra school places will be needed in England by autumn 2014 to meet rising demand, so this isn’t a problem that is likely to go away in the near future.)
  • You must apply for state primary school places by 15th January, for your children to start in the following September. For secondary school places, you need to apply even earlier (by 31st October). As such, if you are arriving in the UK outside of these times, it can be even more difficult to secure state school places for your children. If you require your child to start at any other time in the year, you will more than likely be referred to the local authority.
  • Once you have found out which schools have places, your local council can give you a booklet about schools’ criteria and how to apply. Admissions criteria are different for each school. For example, schools may give priority to children who have a brother or sister at the school already, who live close to the school, from a particular religion (for faith schools), who do well in an entrance exam (for selective schools e.g. grammar schools or stage schools), who went to a particular primary school (a ‘feeder school’) or who are in care or being looked after (all schools must have this as a top priority).
  • Before applying for any schools, it is really important to find out more about them. You can find out more about a state school by looking on their websites, visiting the school, reading the school’s most recent Ofsted reports, checking school league tables (which include exam results) and talking to other parents about what they think of the school.

2. Independent (fee-paying) Schools

  • Securing a place for your child at an independent school is often an easier process than for state schools, though be prepared that they do still get full due to their popularity and limits on class sizes.
  • The first stage in your search will be to find out what schools are close to the general location that you are planning to move to. Websites such as Find A School and the Independent Schools website can be helpful to get an initial list together, but from that point onwards, the time consuming process of desk research begins.
  • The school’s own websites can be a great source of information, as are the more objective inspection reports provided by Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate.
  • Once you have decided on the schools that would be suitable for your children, the laborious process of ‘phoning them all begins! Much as this can be time-consuming, it is also an excellent opportunity for asking questions to ensure that you find a school that your children will be happy in.
  • When you have a short-list of schools that match your brief and have spaces, visiting them is incredibly important. It is only by walking around the school, chatting with the Head and their wider team, and meeting some of the current pupils, that you can get a true feeling as to whether your children will be happy there.

As you can see, securing school places in the UK can be an extremely time-consuming and complex process. The Relocation Consultancy provide a range of services to help locate and secure school places for your children. These help to make the school finding process a great deal less stressful for you and your children, and are incredibly efficient in terms of your time.

The Relocation Consultancy are experts in destination services and provide a range of options to support families moving to the UK. For a FREE consultation on the services that may be suitable for you, call +44 (0)118 947 0029 or email info@therelocationconsultancy.com. Alternately, you can find out more about our services at http://www.therelocationconsultancy.com/relocation-services.