The Look-See Trip – Part Two
Part two of our three part series tackles the planning of Look-See trips.
Planning Your Trip
If you’ve determined that you can benefit from a look-see visit, plan thoroughly before you go to make the most of your short time.
When To Schedule Appointments
If you have never, or only infrequently, been to your host country before, expect to thoroughly lose your bearings as you move around the city and its neighborhoods during the first few days.
For this reason, it is wise to schedule viewings and appointments with houses, schools and your future office at the beginning of the visit. This will give you the greatest possible time to learn their locations relative to each other and the city as a whole. It will also give you the opportunity to schedule follow up visits to homes and schools you may be particularly interested in, before you fly home.
Destination Services Consultant
If your relocation package includes a Destination Services Consultant, schedule to meet them on the first day. They will hopefully be showing you around and helping you find homes and schools. Discussing your wants and needs with them before you go will help them better understand your requirements. Meeting them early on will also allow you to benefit from their local expertise and advice from the get go.
Schedule visits to potential schools so that you can enroll your children as soon as it is practicable. Selecting a school early on will provide your children with certainty. Some schools may also have waiting lists. Most international schools have dedicated admissions offices that you can contact directly.
Your employer, destination consultant, or international schools may have established welcome networks for new expat arrivals. Schedule a time to meet with someone who has been through the same experience and can give you advice about relocating to, and living in, the host country. Their guidance may help you avoid the mistakes and misunderstandings of others.
You will be making many local financial transactions as you begin your relocation, be it for housing, furnishings, connecting utilities or deposits. Having a local bank account and the ability to make transfers and payments locally will make these transactions much easier for you. Some banks offer dedicated expat departments that enable you to open an account before you arrive in the host country. Schedule a meeting with a banker during your look-see visit to finalize any paperwork and collect your new ATM and credit cards.
Whilst there is no replacement for actually being there, the internet provides a lot of tools that can be used to plan a look-see visit.
- Google Maps and its Street View feature lets you explore streets and neighborhoods.
- Whilst you should rely on the experience of a local professional when house hunting, local real estate websites can be a great source of education, to help you learn about average prices, sizes and typical features.
- Most international schools, as well as some local ones, have websites that offer information on the school, its curriculum and admissions process.
- Check out local transportation system websites if you will be relying on public transport to learn the system and its layout. Consider how far from a station or stop you are realistically willing to live.
Photos and Notes
It’s important to take photographs and make copious notes. After visiting twenty houses in a single day, they will all begin to blend together. There is every chance you will forget or confuse details. Kitchens from one home will appear in your memories of another.
- List everything that you liked and disliked about each home.
- Note uncommon attributes. If a particular house was missing a washing machine, whereas all the others had one, note it down.
- Recording aspects about the surroundings is also important. One house may have had a great interior, for which you have many photos and can picture in great detail over the coming days and weeks. But if you fail to make a note of the late night bar down the street, it may be forgotten about when deciding to sign for the lease.
- Observe the teachers, children and their interactions. They may be the deciding factors in your choice between one of two otherwise comparable schools.