Alastair Thompson - relocation coach

What is a relocation coach?

I met Gary at one of the many ex-pat parties that my wife and I attended soon after we moved to Brazil. Gary was independently wealthy and had moved to Brazil with his family to try something new. He’d handed over the daily running of his company to his business partner, but was still hoping to generate some business in Brazil. But Gary’s move had been a nightmare.

Moving is one of the most stressful life events we can experience, right after the death of a loved one and divorce. It’s more stressful than losing our jobs or suffering an accident or a serious illness. Moving abroad, with its many complications and additional challenges of language, culture, and separation from our support network of friends and family, is an immensely challenging experience.

A relocation coach is someone who can help us deal with these stresses and the challenges of moving abroad.

How can a relocation coach help us with our decision to move abroad?

Moving abroad starts with an idea. It might be a childhood dream, an opportunity at work, or a chance to study abroad. Maybe we’ve retired and are looking for a new challenge. But however it starts, the first step, and the hardest step, is deciding to make the move. A coach can be a very useful resource when we are making that decision. Our family and friends may not have the objectivity necessary to guide us through the difficult process of making one of the biggest decisions of our lives.

How can a relocation coach help us prepare to move abroad?

A relocation coach can be extremely useful, too, after we have decided that we are going to move to another country. The preparation phase for the move can be daunting. Research, savings, documentation, housing, storage, and many other issues need to be taken care of before we can start packing our bags. A good relocation coach will have practical experience with numerous moves and will help make sure we are as prepared as possible before we embark. A coach can help us choose other professionals we might need to prepare for our move and put us in touch with immigration specialists, financial advisors, and other expats in the country we are moving to.

How can a relocation coach help us during the move itself?

The next step in the relocation process is the actual move itself. For some, this is a simple matter of walking out the door with a suitcase. For others, it might involve moving a household, a family, pets, and even cars. A move can take days, or it can take weeks as we wait for our furniture to arrive and we set up a new home in a strange country. Our coach will have prepared us for this moment and now more than ever our coach becomes our firm anchor in reality as we deal with the unforeseen challenges that arise. The container with our possessions might be held up in customs. The house we had imagined waiting for us might be different from what we had imagined. Our coach can work with us through this very intense moment as we physically relocate.

How can relocation coach help us adapt to our new life and new community?

The final step of the relocation process is also often the longest and is also a phase where a relocation coach can be very useful. In the transition phase, we start our integration into our new community and start to build our new life. Our coach can help us and other family members to negotiate the complexities of a new culture, make the most of the opportunities that may arise, and also avoid any potential pitfalls that appear on our path.

But maybe the most important reason to get coaching here is that at this crossroads as we transition into a new culture, we also have an amazing opportunity to create a new life free from the patterns and people that dominated our previous life. A good coach doesn’t hold our hands, a good coach shows us the way and gives us the confidence we need to start our journey to be the best possible version of ourselves that we can be. A good coach inspires us to our own version of greatness, and helps us to develop the knowledge and skills we need to achieve our life goals. Every great athlete can look back to a coach who believed in him or her. I like to think that we will be able to, too.

How do I know if I need a relocation coach?

In closing, I’d like to come back to my friend Gary. Gary’s move had been a nightmare. Almost anything you could imagine going wrong had gone wrong. The container with his things was stuck in customs for three months. The house he’d rented flooded during the seasonal rains. The extra cash that he’d bought over was stolen. If ever there was a move that was doomed, it was Gary’s.

But Gary stayed. His furniture, stuck in the container in customs, was saved from the floods and arrived just in time to furnish the new house he rented after moving out of the one that had flooded. He never found the money he lost, but the loss drove him to close a deal with the real estate company from whom he rented his new house (they luckily spoke perfect English), and this first deal was the source of further contracts in the following months and years.

Gary didn’t have a relocation coach. There weren’t relocation coaches back then. And Gary and I still joke about it today, how the things he thought were the worst things that could happen to him actually worked out to be much better than he could have planned.

Not everybody needs a coach, but a coach is an excellent resource to have. So maybe we shouldn’t be asking ourselves if we need a coach, rather, we should be asking ourselves if we want to make our move smoother, stress-free, more productive, and more rewarding for ourselves and for our family. If the answer to our question is yes, then maybe we should think about hiring a relocation coach.


  • Alastair Thompson

    I’ve led teams on 5 continents and worked with large companies and individual entrepreneurs to launch their products, their businesses, and their dreams. I have twenty years of deep, practical experience in data-based digital marketing. I have an undergraduate degree in process engineering, a master's degree in education, and a project management certification from HarvardX. I am a mentor to other leaders and an advisor for technology startups. I have founded two successful businesses. I coach groups and individuals.

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