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ASK TBE: How can I care well for my future baby?/How long does it take to plan a move?

Disclaimer: You asked for advice. We’re providing it. But as with anything else, make sure you check with the actual professionals to make the right decision, especially when it comes to immigration.

Q: ASK TBE: How can I care well for my future baby? In a few months, she will be the only member of our 3 person family to be born in abroad?

A: Congratulations on the little one. I am sure life is an adventure right now, especially embarking on parenthood.

I don’t know how long you’ve been abroad or if you intend on remaining abroad — but it sounds like you will be raising at. the very least, a cross-cultural child and possibly a Third Culture Kid.
TCKs are essentially kids raised outside of their passport culture. Meaning she might be a U.S. passport holder but raised in Spain or Italy or Ghana. CCKs are kids who are raised across multiple cultures. Meaning the two parents may be of different cultural backgrounds (even if the child is in their passport culture) or living in an environment where the dominant surrounding culture is different then the home culture. That’s a very simplistic take, but generally it can be some version of the above.
We have a few articles that focus on raising TCKS/CCKs. You may want to read the following:
You may also want to check out our bookstore that has been books related to the TCK/CCK experience. There are some great resources related to raising kids abroad (especially from a multicultural perspective).
If you want to listen to parents who have raised kids cross culturally and/or abroad, you may want to listen to the following Global Chatter Podcast episodes. (There are more, but these are good starters).
These are the Apple Podcast links but feel free to listen to where you get your podcasts.
I hope these resources help.
Good luck!

Q:ASK TBE: Ideally, how much advance planning should you have before making the move? L.H.

A: Great question! I have seen people all over the spectrum. I know expats who visited a location on vacation, decided then that country was for them, and moved within 6 months or less. I know others have upwards of a 5 year plan in place, especially those considering retiring overseas.

It really depends on your personal circumstances and situation.  


The process tends to be shorter (under the 1 year) in the following cases:

  • You know what country you’re moving to and have a working familiarity with it (or a least on-ground/local trusted support)

  • Your finances are set

  • You are being moved by an employer, have a job offer in the new country already or have an established business that is easily transferable/accessible

  • Your personal affairs are already in order (such as housing/logistics)

  • You are moving solo or with a partner (who can make the move quickly)

  • You are moving with the least amount of “stuff”

  • The process of obtaining legal status in that country is not complicated for those with your national passport (i.e. U.S., Canadian, etc).

What can make the process longer?

  • You don’t know where you want to go.

  • Moving partners, children and/or other dependents. The more people, the more needs to consider.

  • The complexity of obtaining legal status. You’d be surprised and how not straightforward it can be, depending on the country.

  • Your financial situation. 

  • Your career options. If you need to work while abroad, finding opportunities might be difficult depending on your skillset and country of choice. 

  • You are doing a self-initiated move and not one sponsored by an employer

When I moved to Doha, Qatar, the process was roughly a year for me but I had an ideal situation. I was moving solo by an employer, who handled much of the logistics in my destination country, such as the legal paperwork, housing and transportation. I also am an U.S. passport holder.  In addition, since I was moving for an American employer, my financial needs were far more stable and less of a concern than if I was moving as a self-employed individual. 

If you want to hear some great stories about different types of moves abroad, let me recommend the following episodes from my podcast, The Global Chatter, of women who moved abroad. 

Juanita Ingram –  Juanita and her family have lived in three countries and moved abroad because of her husband’s work. 

Chi Gordon – Chi and her husband moved abroad with a young daughter and have been a digital nomad family in multiple countries. 

Roshida Dowe – Roshida is a solo expat who left her corporate job and made the move to Mexico.

That said, take as much time as YOU need to make the right decision for your situation. Better to take awhile and be comfortable with your choice, then to jump on a whim and have it not work out. 

Good luck!

Need advice? Ask away. Questions may be edited for length and clarity.

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