Host Country Research

Many established expatriates know from experience that it will take more than a couple of days to get the feel of a foreign country. Even after many years in Southeast Asia you still will not be fully familiar with the region's strange and exciting ways. If you dislike the place in the beginning, realize that this first judgment may not be final.   Most visitors, however, love Southeast Asia at first sight. The outstanding politeness of the people, the beauty of the women, the incredible diverse nature, the everlasting sunshine, the warm climate and unforgettable variety of food, cultures and travel choices - all take their toll on your mood as soon as you enter this world.   Many foreigners scheduled to live here for a couple of years stay forever and are not able to exchange the often lavish and pampered lifestyle with the one they would lead in their home countries. If you are not drawn to the country during your pre-visit, you need to make a special effort to find out why this is so.   Do not return without being able to write down ten counter statements explaining your employer and yourself why a transition is out of the question. Bear in mind that your company and your HR department can address many problems you seem to face at the moment. Your counter statements will be a valuable lead.   Where to Find Answers   The right approach is to inquire and to experience and then exchange results with your partner. More often than not your host (either a colleague or a relocation consultant engaged by your employer) will shield you paradoxically from the realities of daily life and day-to-day working.   This is not always done on purpose, but merely because they are normally well-adapted and well-removed from the jitters of their own early assignment weeks. Over a year's time later you will probably act similarly. Get to the bottom of your anxieties and prejudices and make up your own mind!   • Ask your future expat colleagues. • Speak with other expat parents (PTA) in your future school. • Contact your chat room pals you have met on the Expat web pages. • Contact your relocation company and meet a consultant.   Question Checklist - The following checklist should be regarded as a reminder for various topics you may want to follow up:   Job Related Topics • Immigration laws and procedures. • Employment laws and procedures. • Office environment and your future colleagues/bosses. • Inquire about the perception of expatriate businesswomen.   Health Related Topics • Find out about the impact of the climate on your health. • Ask expatriates about the standard of medical services. • Check if your personal medical requirements can be met. • Contact the relevant help groups for advice.   Education Related Topics • Availability in your choice of school or kindergarten. • Necessary tests to be taken. • Expenses involved. • Availability of transport to and from school. • Ask for the number of the Parent/Teacher Association representative and link up with parents in your children's grades.   Home Related Topics • See the various areas where expatriates live and the distances to shops, schools, and offices. • See the various house types to choose from. • Ask expatriates about household helpers, their salaries and qualifications, etc. • Inquire about the life of pets in the host country and the general attitude of landlords regarding pets.   Safety Related Topics • Dangers from natural disasters, animals, and plants. • Inquire about the political stability of the country. • Ask expatriates about the way they are perceived by locals. • Inquire if you need a security guard for your house. • Inquire if and why you need a driver.   Partner Career Related Topics • Inquire about career or training choices of your partner. • Inquire about the perception of expatriate businesswomen. • Check alternative choices e.g. entrepreneurship, volunteering etc.   Lifestyle Related Topics • Ask expatriates about the social structure among expatriates. • Leisure and travel possibilities. • Ask expatriate teens about their lifestyle. • Can local transport facilities be used by expatriates, is a car necessary. • Inquire about the social life of single expatriates. • Find out about laws and regulations restricting your personal freedom. • Check the local/international press/TV and see what is available. • Visit a typical supermarket and check the choices and prices of food. • See what kind of clothes and shoes are available for your family. • Ask what you should and should not bring along to the host country.     Documents to Collect   If your research is proceeding well and you are keen to take up the assignment, you can embark on the second part of your "Look and See" Trip. The company expects you to prepare as much as possible to facilitate your transfer. Besides starting to look for a home you should collect the following relevant papers or have them sent to your hotel/office: • Immigration • Employment Pass • Schools and Kindergarten • Club Membership • Maid Employment • Driving Licence • Insurance • Bank Account • Credit Card    It is advisable to open a bank account already now to facilitate initial money transfers and payments/deposits. You need your passport and a recommendation letter from your local employer.        Back Next