There are many reasons expats choose to up sticks and move to pastures new. For the majority a work opportunity is the major pull factor, offering an opportunity for advancement or an offer too good to refuse.
Whether it’s work, play or pace of life that draws you overseas, you’ll have to consider the impact a move abroad will have on your nearest and dearest. While isn’t unheard of for an expat parent to strike out on their own, returning to visit partners and children, it’s far from the norm. When an expat goes abroad, they usually take the whole tribe with them.Suddenly, that too-good-to-refuse offer needs to be balanced with the needs of every family member. A generous pay packet will be rapidly eked away by the cost of education for the kids and health insurance for the whole family, and you might be doing it all without a second income if your partner is not able to work.
And money won’t be the only thing you have to consider. You’ll also need to think about what schools the kids are going to and if that meets their needs. Your partner’s own ambitions may need to be put on hold if your new home doesn’t suit their aspirations.
On the other hand, you may well find that you get to enjoy a raft of benefits. You may experience a shift of gear, going from a go-go-go society where work comes first, to a more relaxed culture where the work-life balance skews more toward family time.
We’ve taken a look at the best expat destinations for raising a family. These are countries which offer generous amounts of leave, financial support and services to support parents and kids. European countries feature heavily in the list, limiting working hours and encouraging parents to spend as much time as possible with their youngsters, but Asian nations with a strong emphasis on education also appear, as do Latin American countries with their strong family traditions.
So if you are ready to take your globe-trotting tribe to a new home, check out our list the best family-friendly destinations.
South Korea consistently scores near the top of the class for quality of education, turning out some the world’s best young maths wizards and budding scientists.
Sadly, though, the country is not the best place to spend quality time with your offspring as employers can legally demand you work a 52-hour week.
Mexico has a child-friendly culture. Expect youngsters to be included at all major events and to be welcome at restaurants. Family values are important to Mexicans, with weekends and holidays reserved for quality time with nearest and dearest.
Sadly, though, much of Mexico is affected by poverty and poor infrastructure. The provision of services and education in particular can be hit and miss through the country.
France has one of the most generous welfare states in the world, making it easy for working parents to juggle their schedules and the care of little ones.
Expats might not have access to all the same perks as their French colleagues, but they can look forward to some of the most generous leave allowances in Europe.
Education is highly rated in France, with the Baccalaureate scheme being recognized worldwide. The only drawback is that French is the language of education and business, and few concessions are made to non-native speakers.
Expats in Germany recognise the country has a great education system, but only 7% of parents send their kids there.
Germany is, however, a great place to have a baby and raise it for the first few years. All expectant mothers are given compulsory, maternity leave at full pay that could last for a full year. That’s backed up with midwife care and a well-planned childcare scheme.
Taiwan ranks highly for safety and boasts a family-friendly society that celebrates children.
The island nation’s countryside lends itself to family holidays and the working day allows for plenty of quality time.
Expats do report that the challenge of picking up the local language makes life a little more difficult.
Sports-mad Australia is a great place to raise an active, healthy family. Scoring well for education, healthcare and future job opportunities, the Aussies are big on family time.
Unlikely many booming economies, it’s still expected that workers will leave the office bang on 5pm in order to go pursue leisure time with the family.
Austria is a wealthy nation, boasting great infrastructure and a stable political life. Education, healthcare and work-life balance are all rated highly.
Unfortunately, Austrians are not rated as the most welcoming to youngsters, making it sometimes difficult to enjoy a grand day out as a family.
The Czech Republic is rapidly becoming a hot destination for expats, where the quality of life is quickly accelerating, without compromising on the low cost of living.
Whilst education will require financial contributions, it is easy to afford, although quality can be an issue.
Israel’s turbulent political and security situation may put many expats off heading to the country, but the nation scores highly for childcare options and education.
The Swedish school system is innovative and has been a world leader for decades. Youngsters don’t start formal study until later, and there’s more emphasis on learning through play rather than lectures and testing.
Childcare options are generous and there’s an emphasis on keeping working hours as low as possible across all industries.
Finland comes out as the top performer for families. One survey showed that expat parents had nothing bad to say about the Scandinavian country.
Excellent education, safety and a high standard of living make the country a great place to settle down, especially when considering that education is deemed as excellent at all levels.
Article by Andy Scofield, Expat Focus International Features Writer