Moving to a foreign country is an exciting experience: it can be invigorating and stimulating, but also challenging at times.
When moving within your home country you can usually rely on a lot of resources for information and help; most often family or friends will give their support or you may already even know someone in the new city whom you can ask for advice. But when relocating to a foreign country these resources usually are not available to you.
However being able to make informed decisions and feeling happy with your choices can take a lot of stress out the transition. So as a first step before you start the decision making process it can be very helpful to brainstorm with your family about your needs and what is important to you and your family; then create a list and prioritize.
Here are some suggestions about what to consider when choosing:
- a neighborhood,
- a school for your children
- a home
1. Choosing a neighborhood for you and your family:
Assessing your needs will enable you to gather crucial information and ask the right questions. Knowing what is essential to you and your family, for instance the schools, the commute to work, or the tax burden, will help you feel confident with your choice. Here are some things you might want to consider when choosing a neighborhood:
- What schools are available; public, private schools (ranking compared to other neighborhoods)?
- How high are the taxes?
- How far is the commute to work? (Keep in mind that commuting in the winter can take much longer than usual)
- Are there any programs we would like the schools to offer (IB program – see below 2., English Language Learner classes, certain languages, sports, or music activities)?
- Should our kids be able to walk or ride their bikes to school?
- Is there public transportation?
- Are there shopping centers, restaurants, and museums in close proximity?
- Should there be foreign schools nearby?
- Do we prefer a diverse community?
- Does our family have any special interests or needs that we need to take into consideration when choosing a neighborhood?
2. Choosing a school for your children in the Greater Cleveland area:
One of the questions our international clients ask the most is”: Will the kids be all right and how long does it take for them to feel at home?” Fortunately our personal and professional experience is that the children will adapt much faster and more smoothly than you might expect.
Most probably the American school system is quite different from the school system in your home country, so it is crucial that you gather as much information as you can. For example make sure you seek unbiased information about the public schools in the neighborhood you are looking at or if there are private schools available. Keep in mind that different school districts will probably have different curriculums, so for example the choice of languages, the adoption of the International Baccalaureate program, or certain sports or music programs might not be alike; again it can be very helpful to make a list of what is important to you and your children and prioritize:
- Do you prefer public or private schools?
- What sizes do the classes have?
- What languages are being offered?
- Does the school district have experience with children from other countries?
- Do the schools offer special support for English Language Learners (ELL classes)?
- Has the school district adopted the International Baccalaureate program?
- Are there certain sports, or musical activities your children are interested in?
- Will the kids be able to walk to school?
3. Finding a home for you and your family:
Coming from abroad, especially Europe, your ideas about a spacious home might be very different from the view Americans have on that issue. The Greater Cleveland area has many very beautiful neighborhoods, often with amazingly large houses surrounded by parks or located directly at Lake Erie. In some neighborhoods the majority of houses dates from the 1920 or 1930, in other neighborhoods you will find more modern houses. Before you start house hunting make an assessment of your family’s needs and wishes; below are some points to consider:
- Are you looking for an apartment or house?
- How and where can you find a realtor?
- Are there additional options of finding a home?
- Will you rent or buy a home?
- When buying a home:
- What do you need to know about financing options?
- What are the average house prices in the different neighborhoods you are interested in?
- When renting a home:
- What is the duration of the lease?
- What is included in the rent (e.g. utilities, snow plowing, yard work)?
- Are there furnished homes available?
Knowing your needs and priorities is the first step to making informed decisions. We are happy to answer any questions you might have regarding your relocation to and life in the Greater Cleveland area. Based on our professional and first-hand experiences with international relocations we know how to take the stress out of relocating overseas and assist you with friendly, efficient, and culturally competent support.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we correspond in English, Dutch and German.