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Getting your Family to the UAE - 4 Steps

Teaching Abroad in the UAE, Camel Spotting

You've interviewed, been offered, and accepted a position to teach in the UAE. The nervousness of the interview has worn off. The excitement of the offer has lightened. Reality is now setting in. You have to move your family half-way around the world! How are you going to do that? Do I bring them with me initially? Do I go on my own and have them come over later? What are the pros and cons of each option? Do I even have an option? These (and other) questions are valid and should be evaluated on a family by family basis. My best advice? Do your research and talk with your family. Make a plan based on the needs of your family. Also, hope for the best and plan for the worst.

Step 1:  Find out from your employer or recruiting agency what their recommendations are. Our employer prefers that teachers come first and families come later but, it is not a requirement. I am not sure all the reasons for this but from our experience I would say that it is because the teacher will be in meetings/trainings almost immediately after arrival and that leaves families to fend for themselves in a hotel in a foreign country.

Step 2: Talk to other families who have been in your situation. Be sure to talk to those who brought their families over with them AND those who brought them over later. Ask lots of questions. What challenges did they face? Do they regret their decision? What about the spouse and children, would they do it differently if they had to do it again? Was it hard for the spouse to travel alone with the children? Was it hard to live in a hotel for a month (or 2) with the children? Was it hard for the family to be apart for 2-3 months? And so on.

Step 3: Talk to YOUR family. Does your spouse have help if they stay and come over later? Does your spouse feel like they can travel with the kids alone? How will your family do in a hotel for 1-2 months? or without you for 2-3 months? Be sure to consider the ages of your children!

Step 4: Make your decision and plan for changes and save more money than you think you will need. Nothing here goes as planned. You (and your family) must be patient and flexible.

Our Story (the short version):

We are a family of 5. At the time of travel our children were ages 13, 7, and 5.

After talking to other families and weighing our pros and cons, we decided that it would be best for our family to go over all together. We spent 6 nights in a hotel in Abu Dhabi. The hotel was VERY far from food and entertainment so taxies were expensive (as was the food in the hotel). This was VERY difficult on the children. Especially, since one was sick!

Then we were moved to Al Ain and placed in a very nice hotel that was not far from a mall and food. The hotel also had a pool and a little park. We were in this hotel for 6 weeks! After about 3 weeks we started to feel the strain of not having our place. Especially, when one of our children had her birthday in the hotel.

As difficult as it was this was the right decision for our family. We were able to support each other and get everything done together. Your family may have different needs but if you follow the steps outlined above you will be less likely to regret your decision.