What Global Assignees Want To Know

Talent mobility is a win-win scenario. Organisations enjoy the flexibility of diverting skills to where theyre needed. Assignees relish an opportunity to explore a new culture and add an overseas role to their CV.


The key to a successful internal relocation is great planning. This ensures that the move itself is as stress-free as possible. It also helps the assignees (and their families) receive the support they need before, during and especially after their move.

At BTR International, we work hard to ensure that each move we manage is tailored to the individual involved and their destination. Feedback from assignees helps us to adjust the information and service provided for maximum support.

With this in mind, it’s interesting to note the findings of research conducted by ECA International, who asked expatriates: “What do you wish you had known before going on an international assignment?”

The results reveal the top five things that assignees wish they had known before they relocated abroad.

Top Five Things Assignees Want to Know:

1.     How much it would cost to live here…

In particular, assignees are often shocked at how much it costs to buy the products they used to buy at home. It takes time to adjust to local shops and brands, which often leads to more cost-effective shopping. There is also the shock factor of the comparative pricing of certain items such as petrol, cheese (if you’re in Hong Kong) or painkillers (in Italy) for example. The lower cost of other items is not always recognised.

2.     That I wouldn’t be able to find…

The second most popular ‘hindsight’ request was knowing that certain items – especially some food types – would be unavailable or scarce. Participants cited specific clothing/shoe sizes, good quality furniture and birthday cards as examples.

3.     How long I’d take to settle in…  

The administration involved with establishing ‘everyday life’ within a new country was frustrating to many expatriates. The time needed to obtain a driving licence, open a bank account and pay bills were amongst the examples of frustration.

4.     The type of housing I could expect…

Budgets stretch differently in various countries’ housing markets and assignees’ expectations should be managed accordingly. The size and style of accommodation that they can afford may differ from what they have been used to. In addition, they should be made aware of any service charges, legal fees and taxes involved. This is a major part of managing expectations before the relocation takes place.

5.     The best way to get around…

ECA International explains: “The traffic jams and dangerous standards of driving that are commonplace in many parts of the world can be incredibly frustrating and isolating for those used to driving themselves from A to B at home. Similarly, those used to travelling around their home city using an efficient public transport system can find it hard to adjust to a culture where driving is the only way to get around.”

“It’s essential that assignees and their families are fully informed before they move to their new country a start a new role,” says Louise Chilcott, Global Move Specialist with BTR International. “Flexibility is key and we’ve developed an extensive range of destination services to ensure that we can meet every requirement.”

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