So your husband or significant other arrives home from work one day overjoyed with good news. He is bouncing off the ceiling and eager to share some great news with you. “Sit down,” he tells you as he explains that his promotion has come through and that he will be the next CEO of his multinational company.
Like any supportive wife and partner, you are thrilled for him and proceed to sit still for the details. He informs you that his promotion will take the family from Australia to live in Kingston, Jamaica. You are excited as you think. “Sun, fun and beaches!” You call both children in and share the good news that the entire family will be moving to the Caribbean in three months because Dad has received a promotion.
Now let’s fast forward to a month later. After researching numerous websites, you realize that given the time frame at hand, you are lacking the type of details you will need to make this move to Jamaica a success. Questions unanswered at this time are:
• What schools are available in Kingston or outside Kingston?
• Where will the family live?
• Where do most expats in Jamaica currently live?
• Should you live in an expat community or find a community where there is a mixture of local and expat families?
• Do you send the husband ahead to set up house while you and the children follow at a later date?
You therefore have more questions than answers at this time.
In an attempt to receive the desired answers, you ask your husband to provide you with the relocation package from his company as well as the contact information for a relocation service or an expat specialist.
This is your first international move and you are unsure about what questions to ask the expat specialist who has been assigned to your case. You are aware that the children’s schooling will be first priority while living arrangements may be the second priority on your list.
Here are my ideas of what to focus on initially when considering a move to Jamaica:
1. Will you be able to get a work permit from you husband’s company if you are interested in working? If not, will you be able to do volunteer work in your chosen field of interest and passion?
2. Will temporary housing or a corporate apartment be available for your family? If not, will you stay in a hotel? If so, for how long?
3. Will there be Realtor available who will have your best interest at heart? Will they tell you about issues that you may not even be thinking about such as water leaks from the windows and roof, screens on windows if you have very small children, grills for doors or windows, and security companies you will need to call in should your husbands job entail a great deal of travel ?
4. How will the sharing of cars work? Will you retain a driver until you are settled and more aware of your new surroundings, and how will the children get to school?
5. Does the company have access to an Expat Specialist who will work with assisting you with the settling process? If so, for how long?
6. Will you and your spouse’s current driver’s licenses allow you to drive in the new home country?
7. What is the procedure for insuring your vehicles or does the company manage such details?
8. What are the procedures to apply for health insurance? How will you find doctors and a dentist for your family, especially if you have children who may suffer from asthma or allergies?
9. Are there other expats in this new city from your country? If so, what is the quickest and most effective way to meet them for networking and support?
10. Does your home Embassy have any representation in Jamaica? If so, does the embassy provide resources such as newsletters, medical service referrals or volunteer group references to assist with your relocation?
11. Is the crime rate as high as you have read about in The Economist?
12. Will your husband’s company pay for any home visits? If so, how many per year?
Although this list is not conclusive, it includes some of the more essential ideas that I wanted to share with a person who may be moving from a more developed country than Jamaica. If you are moving from India, Nigeria, Cuba or even Trinidad, your questions and needs may vary vastly then a woman moving from Holland or the US.