Excitement at the thought of new beginnings, sadness at the thought of those who will be left behind, concern for children and their reaction to change, fascination at the prospect of discovering a new country and culture. These are just some of the reactions people generally state when the opportunity of relocating abroad arises.
For many partners there is also the open ended and often unanswered question:
My reactions to our relocation opportunities over the years have been mixed:
Madrid Spain, 1997 – No you go alone, we’ll commute at weekends, my career is also important – held out for one year and then succumbed to the attraction of Madrid and of course my husband!
Lisbon, Portugal, 1999 – Great, a location by the sea! A wonderful environment in which to pursue my post graduate studies.
Possible move back to the UK 2000 – HORROR! The weather and we’d only just got the new curtains up! We stayed in Lisbon.
UK, 2002 – Now pregnant not so horrified, family support was welcome and I intended returning to my career in the UK.
Dallas, USA, 2004 – Not keen, distance from supportive family and work permit would be a battle, how would I fill my time? We stayed home. Still feel guilty about the impact that decision had on my husband’s career.
Madeira, Portugal, 2005 – Better, closer, pretty, career a challenge but I had a business idea which could be run online.
Lisbon, Portugal, 2010 – Good, time for a move, broaden our horizons, bad timing from an economic perspective…!
I’m sure that I am not alone in these varied responses, it really can be very difficult to balance both partner’ career options and family priorities. Certainly one theme running through ALL our relocation discussions over the years has been how we balance our dual career aspirations.
After pursuing a number of different career and study options I found a solution and set up my coaching business which I am now developing as an online business. My aim is to create a portable business that is flexible and negates the need to trade-off my career versus my husbands.
For me, career has always been important and as I read The Permits Foundation Report of 2008, I realised that I was not alone in valuing my career as an accompanying partner. Three thousand partners participated in this survey and although 90% worked prior to relocation only 35% were working in their host location.
Time for a career break, a chance to enjoy a bit of “me time”? Well for some yes, but 75% of the non-working partners reported that if they could they would love to pick up their careers abroad.
If these partners are not working, but would like to be doing so, what impact is this having on their sense of fulfilment and life satisfaction abroad? What are the obstacles to finding employment? What impact does this have on their adaptation to their new life abroad, their willingness to stay for the agreed contract term, to renew or to take on further assignments?
These are all questions that I, Louise Wiles (Success Abroad Coaching) and Evelyn Simpson (The Smart Expat) are keen to investigate. The survey, Career Choices and the Accompanying Partner will help us to understand the partner’s perspective in relation to career and life fulfilment abroad.
If you are currently living abroad as an accompanying partner, either working or not working we would really appreciate your support in completing this anonymous survey.
Simply click on this link and you will be taken to the survey. It will take you no more than 15 minutes to complete. If you would like to receive a summary of the final report due to be published in Spring 2012 then please click Done on the thank-you page. You will be taken to a new page where you can leave your name and email address. We will then send the report to you and also enter you into the prize draw.
If you are able to forward this article and link on to other accompanying partners we would be very grateful. The greater the number of participants the more reliable and representative the results will be.
Thank you for your help.
Here is the LINK to the Survey again.
Link to the Permits Foundation Report 2008 is HERE.