What Your Mobile Employees Should Know When Relocating Internationally with Children 09.27.2019 | Morgan E. Wiedmann

When you are relocating talent with children, advance planning is key and this is where the power of working with an RMC comes into play. Along with all the hustle and bustle through visa and immigration, the debate between selling and buying or renting, and all the other moving parts (no pun attended) to a relocation…schooling is often something expats wait to think about until they arrive in their host country.

Devon Kors, Team Lead – Relocation in our Newport Beach office suggests otherwise. “Most schools do their registration early in the year or spring at the latest, so at this point it’s really too late if they’re trying to get into a specific, highly-competitive school,” says Devon.

This is even more important during the summer months, Clare Owens, Relocation Consultant in our UK office explains because schools are closed.

So where do your mobile employees begin, who do they talk to?

Carly Fliegler, Senior Workforce Mobility Counselor in our Newport Beach office suggests having them talk with their Destination Service Provider (DSP) to gather as much information as they can in their first conversation.  An experienced DSP will understand the unique schooling challenges in the area, and will appreciate an early and open discussion with the relocating family about their needs.

Schooling challenges face families moving into the United States as well those moving from the U.S. overseas.

“The U.S. school system is generally different, so as a counselor, we want to ensure that they get that process started and get them prepared early,” says Carly.

Another reason to plan ahead of time is seen with what Clare calls, “catchment areas.” –say what?

In certain areas, relocating employees would need to have permanent residence within the catchment area of a school before they can even apply for the school. This can be incredible stressful for families and can often present a dilemma for families – if they move to a specific area in hopes of getting into a specific school, what happens if they don’t get into the school?

“This definitely a challenge for families: just because they are in a catchment area doesn’t guarantee them that specific school, so they also need to have a second and third choice,” says Clare.

Bonnie Tuen, Client Services Director in our Hong Kong office emphasizes the importance of this in Hong Kong, where living near school is a plus and something important to consider when finding a home.

We make sure our providers do a thorough review of the school places available in the area to help guide them as best, and as early, as possible, so waiting lists are in place for the best availability of good schools.
Bonnie Tuen Client Services Director, Hong Kong

Bonnie talks about how schooling is the top concern for employees relocating with their children and something that they think about even before accepting their offer. Bonnie explains that in Hong Kong and Singapore regions there are two key locations with relatively more reputable International Schools for expats to consider.

“Getting to know the quality of the schooling in the host countries is crucial,” says Bonnie.

As you can see globally, the requirements and challenges can vary significantly by country from catchment areas to knowing key locations. Here are some other recommendations and reminders from our Workforce Mobility Counselors around the world when relocating employees with children.

  • Have the relocating family connect early with the right DSP and include them in the home finding trip.
  • Know the admission criteria, as this various between schools, i.e. priority is given to debenture holders, siblings of current students; etc.
  • If your policy covers school fees, review the amount/limit regularly to ensure it is reasonable for the city/country.
  • Help set realistic expectations for the application process; applications for entry are typically submitted 12 months before admission, sometimes in the summer.
  • Depending on the children’s nationality they may get priority to certain schools.
  • In some countries, there may be faith-based schools which may not be obvious. Ensure the family is aware and comfortable with that.
  • Consider the curriculum to ensure the children’s educational goals are met. For example, if they would like to go to the U.S. for post-secondary education, choose a school that offers SATS or in the UK, IB or GCE A-Levels.
  • Make sure to ask about transportation options (e.g. bus routes/ bus stops).
  • Check language requirements; ensure the child is well-equipped for success in the main teaching language.
Ensuring your mobile employees relocating with children have the tools they (and their families) need to succeed in the new location will help in the overall success of the relocation.

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Written by Morgan E. Wiedmann


Morgan Wiedmann is the Content Specialist in Weichert’s Marketing group. Leveraging over six years of experience in writing and marketing, she develops content for the company’s website and social media channels as well as for client and colleague communications. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Journalism from Suffolk University in Boston. Morgan serves as an active member of Worldwide ERC’s YP40 committee and has been named a Marketing Champion by Salesforce.

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