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You are about to accept a job offer in the sunny Caribbean. It sounds exciting and all your friends are extremely envious. After the initial ecstasy is over, the scale of the move ahead starts to dawn on you! You also have a lot of unfinished work to attend to here. You don't seem to have much time. What should you do? You need answers to hundreds of questions about life in that country. Hopefully, as a member of this site, all your questions will be answered either in emails or on the Forum, but we have laid down a few additional thoughts that should be considered before the "big move".

The preparation for the move and information gathering process can be extremely challenging, but it helps considerably if you enter your new assignment well prepared. After all, you will not only be in a new work environment but also in a new country with its own unique culture.

We do not presume that you will be in a position to go for a reconnaissance (look and see) visit before making the move overseas, but if at all possible, we certainly recommend it. The JobintheSun site also has a Relocation Guide, which can be viewed here. This deals with the more "hands-on" aspects of preparing for the move and has tips to guide you through the problems that are often encountered.

Get details of all financial aspects of the new position prior to your departure. What this refers to is details of not only your salary and benefits, but also other relocation expenses such as airfare, housing, children's education etc. Will the employer be helping in respect of this ? - this is important to determine and the limit/entitlement of the relocation package necessary for your financial planning stage.

Regarding details of your salary and benefits package, you need to clarify the following issues:

Salary payment procedure (where you need to open a bank account)

Medical aid entitlements

Health insurance (who will pay)

Your leave entitlements (including home leave/sick leave policies)

System of taxes in the foreign country (if any !!)

Regarding health insurance, you should clarify the details of the coverage of your policy/plan. What does it include? Does it cover routine medical expenses, hospitalisation and emergencies? Does it also cover expenses such as dental care?

How about a situation where medical evacuation may be required e.g. in the event that you get seriously sick or injured and cannot work but need to return to your home country for prolonged treatment? Are these expenses included in your policy? When does your medical coverage come into effect? When you leave your home country or when you arrive abroad? How long is the insurance valid for?

You need to get information on all these aspects prior to your departure for your new assignment.

If you have followed the guidelines in the JobintheSun Career Corner, then you should have already done a basic Financial Plan during the Job-Hunting phase. You should already know the basics - the cost of living in the location you were wanting to relocate to, the additional costs, travel costs etc. You should have based your Job Search Strategy on this information and calculated the salary you would require for you (and your family if appropriate) to live comfartably in that country. You should have read the article relating to Salary Negotiations, and subsequently, only have confirmed your acceptance of the Job Offer once you were satisfied with the details.

Having accepted the Job and determined all the Financial details and benefits provided, it is time to sit down and do a much more detailed financial plan. This may be one of the biggest "Projects" you will perform in your life.... it is time for you to be a Project Manager,.... and a good one !!

The kinds of relocation expenses that you need to check out on are:

Airfare (for self and family)

packing and moving charges (furniture, household goods etc.)

housing ( your rent / new mortgage costs)

installation and regular expenses of telephone and other utilities

schooling / education of children

cost of living

mode and cost of transportation

Of these, some require thorough research and inside knowledge, like cost of living, education and housing. That is why the JobintheSun Forum is a vital source of information. There are people posting regularly on the boards who have been through the exact same process you are about to embark on. You will find that either the Staff here, or the hundreds of members who browse the boards will have answers to any question you could possibly have. This will enable you to plan in advance and make your Caribbean move that much easier.

Ensure that you get all legalities and formalities done like passport, visas, work permit employment contract and an international driving licence. The work permit is an important document which generally your employer has to get for you. They have to approach the government of the country that you are moving to, certifying that you will be working for them and so acquire a legal work permit for you. It is also best to check that your passport is not due to expire within that first year - if it is - get it renewed ahead of time. This will save a lot of time and effort further down the line.

Regarding your employment contract, make sure that all agreements are in writing. These would be issues such as when your contract expires, when it is to be renewed and on what conditions, is there a release clause, when can your services be terminated, who will arrange for the exit visas etc. With most professionally run companies operating overseas, there should be no need to worry on account of false promises where you could be left high and dry in a foreign land. However, such documentation is just a good back-up for you in case anything does go wrong.

To be able to drive overseas, you may initially need an international driving licence, officially known as an international driving permit. This is a recognised document world-wide but it can only be a stop-gap arrangement until you get a national licence issued in the country that you are moving to. The international driving permit has a validity period of one year from the date of issue, it can be obtained from your home country where you already possess a legal national driving licence.

It is also a good idea to have certified / notarised copies of all important paperwork done, e.g. birth certificates, marriage certificates, professional qualifications etc. At the very least ensure you have all these documents and keep them in a safe place during the move. Original personal references and bank references are also documents worth acquiring for the move. To open a bank account in the country you are moving to, the new bank will want to see a reference from your previous bank - it is normal practice for this reference to be addressed to the new bank. It is therefore wise to do research on the potential banks in that Country, and bring a bank reference addressed to the bank you have chosen from that research. It may well be that you decide to change after a period residing in your new location (for whatever reason, eg. location, number of ATM's, lower charges introduced, etc) - but at least this will have got you through those initial months.

Find out about the laws and customs of the foreign country

Information on laws and customs in the foreign country would help you adjust easier to the new living and working conditions there. You would know what to expect. Learn from the experiences of others i.e. friends, colleagues and get some tips on how they worked things out.

Remember to have a medical check-up for you and your family before departure as well as any immunisations/vaccinations required. It almost certain that as part of your Work Permit application you will have had to go through a full medical examination anyway, but ensure all who are accompanying you have the same thorough checks.

An additional tip - in case you are carrying any medicines along that you are taking on a regular basis or are carrying for any emergency, be sure that you carry them in their original containers along with a medical prescription from your doctor. This should avoid any complications or chances of confiscation on arrival.

Talk to members already there or who have visited that country, to give you information on the work environment in the organisation.

Though there are definitely many benefits in working in the Caribbean just be sure you get your homework done before it's time to move!

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