For anyone considering moving abroad with children, you can’t go wrong with Central America. The whole region is a tropical wonderland for kids of all ages. But to ensure a smooth transition, more preparation is needed than if you were relocating alone or as a couple. In this article, Luigi Wewege from Caye International Bank in Belize offers a few pointers to consider.
If you’ve decided to move down south to Central America and you have children, you must select a location that works for everyone. Here are some more important aspects to consider before packing the bags, loading the kids up, and heading to the airport.
1. Language barriers
Younger kids tend to pick up on things with greater ease than adults. Language is one of them. Wherever you go, there’s a good chance your child will begin picking up local languages and dialects before you. Even so, it’s nice when you and your child can communicate easily with other people from the very first day.
For this reason, consider offshore locations where people understand your native tongue. It doesn’t have to be the national language, although that helps. It also doesn’t have to be the only official language.
There are some great places to live in Central America, where most of the population uses English and Spanish. Along with learning a second language, your child may also begin to learn phrases and words associated with indigenous languages.
Learning Spanish in Central America is essential for knowing the region, and not enough expats and tourists bother to try. New languages are hard to learn but the payoff is worth the hardship.https://t.co/AurMW4dlKp
— Central America Living (@VidaAmerica) December 7, 2022
It’s worth the time and effort to learn more about the educational system in the area where you want to live. Find out what’s offered in the way of public and private educational opportunities. Determine if the system allows for continuous learning so your child can enter post-secondary education if they choose.
There are offshore locations that offer a quality education. Best of all, you may find that the cost of education is lower than what you would pay at home. If possible, visit the location and arrange to talk with local educators. That will provide more insight into if this would be a good move for your child.
It might also be worth considering homeschooling. This is quite common among expat families in Central America.
3. Housing costs
You want your family to be comfortable in a new country. Whether the plan is to rent or to buy, you need enough space for everyone to have some privacy. Your child needs that as much as you do.
Check out apartments, condos, and houses that ensure your children have their own bedrooms if possible. Plenty of common spaces for everyone to use is a good idea too. In some countries, it would be nice to live within walking or biking distance of schools, shops, and local family entertainment.
You may find that a place with enough square footage is more affordable than expected. Compared to what you would pay at home, housing in the nation of your choice may be a bargain.
We always recommend caution when buying real estate in Central America. Rent first, and learn about the market before diving in. But what if you’re ready? Here are six financing tips for buying property abroad by @luigiwewege from @CayeIntBank.https://t.co/cnP45Ptfxv
— Central America Living (@VidaAmerica) April 6, 2022
4. The political climate
Unstable political conditions affect children as well as adults. You don’t want to select a new international home where your child could be in danger. Find out as much as you can about the political scene.
It’s not only about he way things look today. Pay attention to the political history of the area. How long has there been political stability in the nation? Are there any looming concerns about that stability? If you feel comfortable on this front, you will likely find this is the right offshore location for your family.
5. Internet availability
Internet usage has become so common that most people don’t question its availability. Remember that options for stable internet connections can be few and far between, even in nations like the United States and Canada. This is true in other nations as well.
If you’re planning to live in a city or a well-populated town, the odds are high that you will have access to reliable internet service. There may be fewer options if you live in a smaller or rural town. Since your child is likely to need the internet for schoolwork, communicating with friends, and entertainment, check this out before deciding where to live.
Which Country has the Fastest Internet in Central America?
Chart from @VidaAmerica pic.twitter.com/wI6a6Pl6sg
— My Latin Life 🌴 (@MyLatinLife) November 9, 2022
It’s important to understand and be respectful of the local culture wherever you decide to move your family. What’s acceptable in your home country may not in your new country. Knowing this in advance makes it all the easier to begin adapting before the move.
Your children will find it easier to make local friends if they understand more about the culture and accepted behavior. From getting along at school to using the offshore bank account you set up for your child to begin learning how to manage money, learning to know and appreciate the local culture will make life easier.
7. Health and Dental Care
Access to healthcare and dental care is essential for your kids. You’re likely to find a greater range of healthcare services in larger cities. Even so, you may be surprised to find a dentist who can care for the entire family in less populated areas.
You also want to determine if insurance coverage is available and the payment options. Even if you anticipate needing nothing more than basic care like checkups and an annual exam, ensure you know the range of dental services available.
With its less-than-stellar reputation, the state of healthcare in Guatemala is a major concern for many expats. But with preparation, figuring out what’s best for you should make things simple.https://t.co/8UEsfZ2hUf
— Central America Living (@VidaAmerica) August 24, 2022
Choosing an offshore location for the family involves considering the climate. If everyone enjoys warmer weather and likes the idea of living near larger bodies of water, consider that. Weather that everyone enjoys makes the transition to offshore living easier.
Remember it’s important to discuss the climate as a family before deciding where to live. Your child should understand that while the weather may be nice much of the year, there may be a rainy season or a period when the temperature drops. Setting reasonable expectations will help your children know what to expect from one season to the next.
Moving abroad with children can be a great adventure!
Parents considering the expat life want the entire family to be happy with the new living arrangement. The good news is kids can often adapt to new situations faster than adults.
From a comfortable home to an inviting local culture, it’s up to you to ensure your children are ready for the transition. All your hard work in advance will go a long way toward making the move a successful one for the whole family.
Luigi Wewege is the President of Caye International Bank, headquartered on the island of Ambergris Caye, Belize. He is also the published author of The Digital Banking Revolution, now in its third edition.