A mining partner's advice on moving overseas

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Back before they were married with kids, MiningFM creator Alicia Ranford and her mining engineer husband Joe headed to South Africa. Here she offers advice to other couples (and in particular the partners of miners) who are contemplating a move overseas for work...


First, let me say that moving to South Africa for two years was the best thing we ever did. We travelled and really made the most of it.

Having said that, I certainly felt apprehensive initially about moving overseas as the 'partner'. For one, South Africa has so many cultural differences to Australia, and I knew that security would be a big issue. I also worried initially about being lonely while Joe was away at work.

So yes, it can be hard to know what to expect. At the outset you need to have a good honest chat about your concerns, weigh up the pros and cons of moving, and sort out some strategies to alleviate pressures before they arise.

We bought a little car when we first arrived in South Africa to ensure I had the freedom to move around and go exploring. I would highly recommend this – I know it can seem like a big cash outlay, but it will save your sanity. Even if it’s just to have the freedom to go to the shops.

I also volunteered (I'm a nurse) at a little alternative health clinic.  It was such a great way to meet people and I had so much fun. You will find that people are so friendly and you won't believe how quickly you make friends.  As an expat you are a bit of a novelty and generally everyone is so interested to hear what life is like for you at home.

You really need to give it six months before it feels anything like home. And make sure you use Skype etc to stay in close contact with loved ones back in Australia. 

As with most things, expat life is what you make of it.  Get out and enjoy discovering your new surroundings.  I am actually looking forward to our next adventure overseas – it will be great for our two children to experience a new place and different culture.

Here are a few tips to help your family make the most of living and working overseas:

  1. Be very clear about why you're relocating, what you want to get out of it and what the biggest challenges are going to be
  2. While away, take a strong interest in how your other half is going.  It will be a challenge for both of you.
  3. Tackle issues as a united couple
  4. Don't let sad/lonely feelings become negative thoughts. This includes not dwelling on being far away from family and friends. Remember why you're doing it and stay positive
  5. Use Skype, the internet and pre-paid calling cards to stay in touch with loved ones. It’s never been so easy!
  6. If relocating with children, always maintain a united front as parents. (For more information on moving with kids visit www.miningfm.com.au)
  7. Help your kids to cope with separation from loved ones/friends by talking openly and honestly about their worries
  8. Be smart about money. Financially there can be big benefits in working overseas, but you need to use it wisely so you’ve got something to show for it all at the end of your expat stint.
  9. Make big events special, even when you're away from family and friends
  10. Take the time to create some family rules from the outset - involve the kids so they feel like they've got some control. 
  11. Enjoy your time away! It will be the experience of a life time!

I've you've worked overseas, we'd love to hear about your experiences. Click here and tell all!