Relocating to Foreign Lands with the Family: A Practical Guide .

Relocating with the family to the new lands is not an easy process hence it needs thorough preparations. This article is a practical guide to those aspiring or planning to relocate with the family to the diaspora either permanently or for a specific period of time, and it is based on my practical experience as someone who recently relocated to Palma de Mallorca, Spain. My migration from Zimbabwe to Spain was not an easy one due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Below is my practical advice:

  1. Migration with a Family is different from travelling abroad for Conferences or Education.

When we got the opportunity to migrate to Spain for a three year mission, we thought our previous travelling experience for holidays, conferences and education was enough for us to prepare , travel and settle in Spain. Personally, i had travelled to South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Uganda, Nigeria, Indonesia, Germany, India, United Arab Emirates and USA for conferences and education. My wife Caroline has been involved in bussiness travels to Uganda and United Arab Emirates. On the trip to UAE we travelled as a family with our two children; Isheanesu Jr and Tarumbidzwa Theophilus. Theodore Mukudzei was not yet born. We thought that the travel experience and exposure was sufficient to prepare us for the migration to Spain. The truth of the matter is that, that travel experience is not enough becuase relocating with the family for a long stay is different. It demands more.

2. Making a Collective Decision.

The Second point is that the decision to migrate to foreign lands need collective decision especially between husband and wife. When children are old they need to be involved in the conversation to relocate to the foreign lands. Why so? This is because the whole family is affected hence their imput is needed. In relocating to foreign lands we lose so many things we have gathered for years. These includes our social relationships, assets and professions. For example, when we moved to Spain I had to resign from two prestigious jobs; Dean of the Cathedral and Senior Lecturer of the country’s oldest univeristy (University of Zimbabwe). Caroline had to sell all her household assets and especially the catering assets she had acquired over the years. A collective decision is therefore important as it protects the Individual from being blamed for the move when things do not go according to plan or when the settling get tougher.

3. Get Ready for A long and Stressful Paperwork

The paperwork for migrating to foreign land with family for long stays is not easy. The process can take between six months and one year depending from the country of origins and the intended destination. Please make sure you have valid passports, marriage certificate and all the birth certificates for the children In other countries like Spain where English is not the official bussiness langauge, you will then be required to have all your documents to be translated by certified translators that are offered by the embassy. For example, in our case we were give a long list of certified translators and all of them were based in Spain. Therefore, one has to be prepared to write them an email asking for their charges and get into a rigorous process of transferring money to international banks. In our case with a disfunctional economy, transferring money abroad is not easy, we had to get assistance from our brother Tapiwa Huggins and his wife Jean who are based in Winnipeg, Canada. They will require you to translate all your documents that will be submitted to the embassy for the application of the visa and the relevant entry permits. You will also be required to get police clearance for yourself and wife and it should be translated into Spanish as well. The medical examination certificate for the couple is also needed and it should be translated as well. Then relevant documents from the employer of your intended destination are needed and they should be translated. Lastly, all these documents should be certified by the ministry of Foreign Affairs. In Zimbabwe, that ministry is housed at the president’s office at Mkwati Building. To go there its strictly by appointments through emails and to get an appointment is not easy because of the huge numbers of people seeking their services and especially with Covid 19 restrictions. That process should be done early to avoid dissapointments because the offices of Foreign Affairs ministry will not be pushed by anyone to speed up the process. This paperwork took us seven months without including further paperwork required after entering your destination. The process needs some mental strengths and some finances as well.

4. Packing Relevant Items for Travel for the First few days of your Arrival.

Packing is another hectic thing as you have much things to carry but with limited space in terms of the allowed laggauge allowance by airline. For example, for the five of us we need to carry ten bags of 22 kg each and one hand lagguage for each. Therefore we needed about nearly 260kg of total laggauge. How do you prioritize what to carry and what not to take. Here are some of the things that we think are essential for such a travel. Few clothes and carry some money to buy some clothes on your arrival. Do not take all the space with clothes since they can be purchased on your arrival. Pack more locally made food items that you are familiar with especially for the children. We had to carry our locally made juices (Mazoe), peanut butter, flours, mealie meal, soups, rice, dried vegetables, lotions, soaps and porridges. You are not yet sure with the locally made brands, their taste and how they work. Caroline is a champion of baking cakes but it took her three months to learn to use locally made ingredients. Children need to take new flavours slowly to avoid some stomach pains or upset. Sometimes they will totally refuse locally made brands but it is easy when you take them gradually. I have a sensitive skin and it took me some couple of months to know where to buy my prescribed soap, thanks to Nice Price in Portals Nous. Pack some basic medicines as well. These includes some pain killers and some antibiotics. The change of the environment can have some health complications hence the need of some basic over counter drugs.

5. Acquire an International Driver’s Permit

Many countries permit new immigrants to use their driver’s licence for a specified period of time, for example six months before they acquire the local driver’s licence. Since we were coming from Non-EU countries, we were required to have an International Driver’s Permit and we made a big mistake by not acquiring one before our travel. Therefore, i had to work with people from back home to apply for one and have it shipped to Spain. Thanks to Rev Alwyne Nyamangodo for the immense help. To avoid such expenses when in Harare, just go to AA Zimbabwe in Newlands and apply for one. To apply for it one needs to pay the prescribed fee and produce the licence of his/her own country. Be careful of online scams that advertise cheap and fast International Driver’s Permit while they are not genuine. Deligent care is needed in applying for one. Ultimately, take time to study the driving rules and road signs of the country you are intending to go since this is about your life and that of the family as well their safety. Coming from Zimbabwe where driving is on the left side was not easy in terms of adjusting to the driving on the right side.

6. Medical Insurance

In many ocassions we take the medical insurance for granted but it is crucial especially when one is travelling with the family. Children easily get sick after long travels as well as the change of environment. When we arrived in Palma, Caroline was the first to get sick within two days of our arrival and next were the children. The medical insurance is important in order to get required health services. Accidents happen anytime and the medical insurance is therefore of great importance. Death is something that can happen at anytime and hence the health insurance is important for the repatriation of the body back home for burial. Therefore, one should be prepared for a better preminium that covers aspects such as getting health services without a waiting period as well as immediate repatriation of bodies.

7. Learning Basics of Local Language and Culture.

It is also important for one to learn some basics of language to avoid communication blackout. Learn some few greeting vocabulary as well as terms for public services such as taxi, bus, shop, supermarket, toilet, resturant, police and bank. These are some of the things one needs soon after arrival. Learning some basic features of the cultures of the communities you are going is also important to avoid culture shock. I was not shocked when I saw people completely naked at one of the beeaches beacuse I have ready about it earlier one. Otherwise I was going to collapse. What are the eating and dressing habbits of the people? What are their driving habbits? What is their music? All these help in settling in your new destination.

8 Study about the Local Climate

Knowing the climate of where one is going is very important. This helps in making right decision of clothes to take and the right time to migrate. It is not comfortable to migrate from hot regions like West Africa during the peak of winter in the northern hemisphere. Just imagine leaving a region of 40 degrees maximum and arrive in a region where the maximum is minus ten degrees celcius. That will like cause serious health problems and worse off without proper clothing and mental readiness. In conclusion this is not an exhaustive catalogue of the things one needs to know before migrating to foreign lands with the family but these are the things I consider important from my experience. In the next article I will look at things that one needs to know about settling in the foreign land after arriving with the family.

3 responses to “Relocating to Foreign Lands with the Family: A Practical Guide .”

  1. Good article. Thanks Dr

  2. Thanks for advise Dr

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