Shipping is one of the world’s most international industries, offering a wealth of overseas career opportunities.
Make sure you’ve done your homework and covered the below.
As well as being one of the longest-established commercial sectors in the world, shipping is also one of the most intrinsically international.
The community of global professionals extends to hundreds of countries and an interaction with overseas colleagues, clients and markets is a part of daily life for most people in the shipping industry.
With that global structure come abundant chances for cross-border career moves, and the international market sees large numbers of professional relocations every year.
Moving abroad for work can be a challenging and exciting opportunity – but it also requires detailed preparation to make sure there are no unpleasant surprises once you land in your new home.
If you’re considering a move overseas, keep the below in mind as you do your research.
Costs quickly add up when relocating abroad, so make sure you budget fully before committing. If your employer is contributing, work out your total expenses in full before presenting any estimate or agreeing to a fixed allowance and get multiple quotes from key suppliers.
On top of obvious items like flights, moving services, goods transportation and storage, keep in mind other details like hotel accommodation, car rental and the cost of replacing any domestic items you can’t take with you (such as electronics with incompatible voltages).
When investigating cost of living in your destination country, make sure you’ve thought through all angles. Online comparison sites can be helpful to provide an idea on how basic expenses stack up (i.e. utilities, transport etc.), and ex-pat forums can also offer useful advice, but it can be worth getting professional guidance on more complex issues such as tax. It can be a nasty surprise to learn that your shiny new salary doesn’t look as great when it’s converted to take-home pay!
Having a clear workflow to your move takes away a lot of the stress, and even if you’re not one of nature’s natural planners it helps to ‘project manage’ your relocation as a simple sequence of tasks and phases.
Without enough forethought, problems quickly arise.
If you’re selling your car, for example, you’ll need to time the sale with a rental arrangement to ensure you still have a way to get around in the days before your departure.
Similarly, when you touch down in your new home it can be a life-saver to have an ‘open first’ packing box with all the items you’ll need in the first 48 hours, before your unpacking starts in earnest.
Knowing what’s ahead and thinking it through in advance means you can simply follow the plan when you enter the busy weeks of moving and settling into your new home.
For those relocating with partners and children, it’s important to be confident that they will also have a high quality of life in your new destination and are not just being dragged along for the ride.
With children, schools are the obvious area that needs most thorough research. Together with reputations, costs, term-time calendars and distances from home, it’s vital to investigate syllabus details and ensure that there won’t be any disruption to your children’s learning curve or credentials, particularly with regard to those approaching key exam ages.
For spouses and partners, knowing as early as possible what the career options are helps shape the decision. Speaking with in-country recruiters to understand demand and salary trends should start early, and if the results are promising then it’s always a good idea to start submitting some applications early to line up interviews on arrival.
If your family includes pets, don’t forget to look into vaccination and quarantine requirements, as well as any relevant factors (accommodation, location etc.) which may impact your pet’s new environment.
Ideally, your packing should link back to your overall moving ‘plan’.
This can help you to think through what you can live without in the final few weeks before the move (and what you most need when you land), which in turn lets you deal with most of your boxing and shipping early without the need to do everything in a rush on the final day.
As anyone who has relocated will tell you, labeling boxes is critical! Nothing adds to moving stress as much as not knowing where key things are, and nothing alleviates it as much as a simple list of box numbers and contents.
When searching for moving company quotes, keep in mind the various levels of service offered. Some will simply transport your pre-packed boxes (taking no responsibility for breakages inside), while others will pack your home for you and guarantee the safe delivery of contents.
Lastly, packing can be a great opportunity to ‘declutter’, and many people who move internationally find themselves doing an unexpected inventory of their personal possessions as they work out what they really value and need to take with them, and what they can happily give away or post to eBay.
Once you make it out to your new destination, getting acclimatised is the next challenge.
Based on my experience working with an international candidate community of shipbroking professionals, here are a few things that can help you find your feet:
Where possible, try delaying any big commitments until you’ve had a chance to get familiar with your new surroundings. Often people relocating can be anxious to get established, which can lead to signing accommodation leases in the wrong areas or making major purchases too quickly. Give yourself time to learn your new home, then add in the long-term components once you’re comfortable.
Factor in admin time
Along with the excitement of exploring a new city or country, there are some practical tasks that most relocation involves. Setting up banking, insurance, utilities, registering with doctors… it all takes time, and if you allow for that in your planning then you’ll take it in your stride. If not, the seemingly endless paperwork and appointments will stress you out and get in the way of other plans and activities.
Learn from people, not guidebooks
Lonely Planet might be a great resource for planning holidays and making sure you see the highlights in your new destination, but more important on a day-to-day basis is to network with colleagues and ex-pat communities, find online forums and explore your personal network for contacts with experience of the city or country you’re moving to.
Along with guidebook recommendations, you’ll want first-hand guidance on daily life, customs, business traditions and security do’s and don’ts that will help you adapt safely and quickly
Above all other tactics, many professionals with experience of international relocation recommend active curiosity as the fastest way to get integrated and make connections in a new setting.
That might mean accepting any and all invitations from colleagues or new social acquaintances, taking up new sports and activities or pre-planning weekend trips to keeping yourself busy in your first few months while your network develops.
Whatever the case, taking all opportunities to explore and learn about your new location will help you establish friendships, learn local customs and geography and find your feet in your new surroundings.