Have you just been offered a job overseas? Ask yourself, and your employer, the right questions.

1. Just because you have been offered the job, should you still accept it? The job may not be right for you, or your spouse. Unfamiliar surroundings, culture shock and the move away from family and friends are not right for everyone. Ask yourself how you will manage the move and the accompanying stress. Your relationships will be put under strain and you will have to rely upon each other more than you do in your home town. The reality is that divorce is a common side effect of many expatriate postings - you need to think about whether you want to put your relationship to the test.

2. Think about whether you both can work, or whether one of you will have to be a trailing spouse. Just because you have been offered a posting overseas does not mean that you spouse will be able to work. Visa restrictions, employment barriers, favouritism toward hiring local staff and the possible negative impact on the career of the trailing spouse must be considered.

3. If you have any doubts at this point in time, decline the offer. Without the right mental attitude to the new role, problems can quickly appear. Many postings fail because of:
· Work problems - for example, the job is not quite what it was envisaged. Problems adapting to the local culture, language problems, difficulties with established business practices can all impact adversely on your working environment.
· Family problems - unhappy spouses and children can place enormous pressure on your ability to manage the move. Regardless of how well you do at work, if you are returning home at the end of the day to an unhappy situation, this failure to settle and re-establish can force you to relocate back home.
· Change - problems managing change and an inflexible attitude towards new ways of doing things can exacerbate the stresses of an international move. You will be losing an entire network of family and friends and, if you or your partner fails to recreate new networks, you may be forced to rethink your stay overseas. Think about whether you are open to new experiences and ideas. Do you prefer the comfort of the familiar? Do new experiences, tastes, ideas seem threatening or make you uncomfortable? Do you tend to holiday and do the same things each year? If so, an overseas posting may not be right for you and your family

4. Think about your job package. The salary is only one side of the employment picture and you need to take into account the cost of living in your new post as well as whether you could still afford to stay there if you were localised. Many employers offer accommodation, schooling, hardship, medical insurance, superannuation or company pension contributions, language classes, removal costs to and from the posting, repatriation allowances, end of contract bonuses, accompanying spouse allowances and so on. Will your employer pay for language classes for your family? Yearly trips back to your home country? These are all considerations that you did not have to negotiate in your old job but you need to think about them in an expatriate move. You may also need to consider specific local issues such as the culture of the place that you will be posted to. Clothing allowances if you are moving to a very hot or very cold climate or one that requires cultural sensitivity. Perhaps you are moving to an Asian country where domestic staff are standard benefits. Will you or your employer pay their salary, allowances, insurance? Would you feel comfortable having domestic staff? Would they live in?

5. Ask questions about the visa and work permit arrangements including the cost of any lodgement fees and medical immunisations.

6. Check what currency you will be paid in and the implications for this on your own personal financial situation. Being paid in different countries with different tax rates, allowances and rebates may complicate your own financial situation. Contact a reputable expatriate type bank or international accountant in order to make sure that you understand the financial ramifications of your move and that you do end up in a better financial situation at the end of your posting.

Remember, a bit of forward planning can help to ensure that the move is profitable - in terms of your career, your family, your lifestyle and your financial future.

Dr Amanda O

Fine dining. Just one of the things you can experience while living overseas. Contact HSBC Bank International at www.offshore.hsbc.com or
www.offshore.hsbc.com/1/2/international/how-can-we-help-you for information about the financial opportunities that you can also experience whilst living and working abroad.

Posted 15Sep2005