What to consider before you move abroad to study when you have a family

It won't all come together in one evening, but you can do it. Source: Shutterstock.com

Studying abroad can seem like an overwhelming and sometimes unachievable dream, but millions of people do it every year and there is no reason you cannot join them.

Ah, you may be thinking, but I bet none of those people has husbands, wives or children. But many of them do.

Here is what you need to know to turn your international study dream into a reality while taking your family along for the adventure.

Sort your visas

The big one, the mothership of moving abroad: Visas are going to be one of the trickiest hurdles to tackle. But once they are sorted you will have time to organise the rest of your exciting adventure.

Sorting your visas is one of the main hurdles to overcome. Source: Shutterstock

The good news is if you are married, bringing your significant other along for the ride shouldn’t be too difficult… If you are yet to marry, do we hear wedding bells?

Visa requirements vary from country to country so it will depend on where you are planning on studying, which country you are coming from, and your legal relationship to your family.

A quick search of your chosen country’s government website should provide you with the answers you need.

Find schools for your children

The last thing you need is a major worry waiting for you when you arrive. Granted, minor (and major) hiccups are bound to occur along the way – you’re not just moving down the road – but your children’s needs are just as important as yours.

Speaking to expats in the area can help you find the right school for your children. Source: Shutterstock

Finding yourself in a new country, all your belongings in a few suitcases, and your family there ready to start this adventure, you don’t want to be scrambling around trying to organise where your children are going to turn up on Monday morning.

Speak to expats in the area if you can through online forums to hear where they sent their children. Read up about the schools, decide where would be the best fit for your children and send off any details you need to for their application before you land on foreign soil.

Research, research, research

What it really comes down to is simply research. Buy books, dissect our site, speak to anyone and everyone you can about your new country, the course, moving away, and all the other worries flitting around your mind.

Read up as much as you can about the everyday things: the country’s cost of living, laws, public transport system, weather, anything you can find out about your new country will better prepare you for the big move.

What will your partner do for work?

Unless you have a healthy bank of savings, you are unlikely to be able to support your whole family on your student loan alone. Can your partner work remotely or freelance in their job? Are they going to be able to stop work? How do they feel about leaving? Can they find a job in your new country? Will he/she be allowed to work through your student visa?

There are hundreds of things to consider when it comes to your husband or wife. The most important thing? Communication.

Work out what is best for them – and the children – and what they would like to do about working and go from there.

Make sure everyone has an up-to-date passport

With a million and one things to think about, make sure this crucial factor isn’t forgotten. You will all need passports no matter where you’re going or where you’re coming from – most likely ones valid for your entire planned stay or at least six months.

Check with your university or on the government website if in doubt about passport requirements and no doubt there will be people on-hand to help.

Prepare your children

This is likely to be a shock to the system for your kids. While it will help develop them as people and advance their knowledge and understanding of the world, it is also important to remember it’s likely to be pretty scary for them.

Make sure to have open and honest conversations about how they are feeling about the move and do your best to reassure them you will be there to support them.

Do the maintenance work

Redirect your mail, organise health insurance, and decide what to do with your car and belongings too large, delicate or heavy to go in a suitcase.

And then? Get ready for this exciting next step in your and your family’s lives.

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