Relocation with a family – a little research goes a long way!
It is no secret that moving is stressful, then if you add moving to another country and bringing a family then the idea can seem exciting but at the same time very daunting. Not only will the person being relocated be starting a new job, which in itself is a big change but there will be a lot of other adjustments on a personal level.
A new country may mean new language, new culture and a completely new place to navigate. It is very important to do your research and have some idea of what will be expecting you when you arrive. This will help you to feel a little more secure and confident in this awesome adventure ahead!
Your first port of call, if you have a chance is to connect with colleagues or perhaps even friends or acquaintances who might be able to give you an insight into your new home city. Talk through some of their experiences and ask lots of questions. There are also many blogs & ex-pat groups on Social Media, make use of these, ask other ‘new Berliners’ your specific questions and get advice on topics which will be important to you in your new home. Lastly, your relocation consultant, make use of this fantastic resource, explain where you are coming from and what your needs will be, especially regarding your spouse and children.
Language – Berlin is very international and most germans speak reasonable English, however, it is very important for your integration to learn some german. It will help with integration in all areas but especially for meeting new people and community – which in turn is crucial to feeling at home longterm in a new place. Spouses and children should also do a german course if possible. Let people you meet know you don’t speak the language but you are willing to learn, this always help break the ice.
Culture – there is no doubt you will experience all kinds of cultural differences. Be open, be willing to learn and you can read about some of those quirky german ways here…. Germans are generally open and interested in people from other places. Berlin is very multi-cultural and there is a good chance you will also have plenty of opportunity to connect with people from your home country if you would like, this often helps to alleviate homesickness.
Weather – this seems like it wouldn’t be important but it is. If you are coming from a much warmer or sunnier climate then you will find that you should make yourself familiar with what to expect in Berlin. Spring is the awakening after what can be a very long, cold and dark Winter. Summer is usually good and it can be very hot at times, up to 35-39 degrees Celcius. Fall is usually mild with a good mix of rain and shine, golden and a very beautiful time of year and then from mid to late October Winter can appear again and last through to March or even April. Winters can be extremely cold, temperatures plummeting to -10 degrees Celcius at times – a good winter wardrobe is required for all the family, especially children, as in Kindergarten and school the children will spend time playing outside no matter what the weather.
Children: Schools/Kindergarten – It is vital that you do your research regarding how your children will be integrated in your new home town. If you have kindergarten or school-age children, it is important to have an idea what is on offer and particularly if your children have any special needs – how/if these can/will be catered to. International schools may offer a familiar environment but if you are thinking of entering the german school system then it is advisable to understand the basics of how the system is set up and what will be required especially if your children are not yet speaking the language.
A move with children is a big upheaval, but the great news is, children especially those attending school and kindergarten tend to integrate the fastest due to their open nature and quick ability to pick up on language.
The success of a relocation with a family is ensuring every family member is well taken care of and happy. Moving to a new place is such a fantastic experience which will teach life long lessons and make precious memories for life.
Some resources below:
About the author
Hi there! I’m Juli, German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.