As an approved Transportation Service Provider through the GSA’s Centralized Household Goods Traffic Management Program (CHAMP), DeWitt Move Worldwide works closely with several government agencies to move their employees overseas. We have years of experience helping people relocate for U.S. government jobs – all over the world.
If your company is also an approved TSP—or planning to get involved with government moves—we wanted to share some trends in the marketplace when it comes to U.S. government jobs overseas. By recognizing these trends early, you can be extra prepared for future projects that might cross your desk.
First, federal hiring is up overall. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported in January 2020 that the federal government added 19,000 jobs. 5,000 of those jobs were related to the 2020 census, which kicked off early in the year.
Additionally, the current count of federal civilian employees abroad is on the rise, according to statistics from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). OPM’s numbers don’t include foreign service personnel at the State Department, who represent a large number of overseas moves. To give you a sense of the size of the overall market, the American Foreign Service Association reported around 9,306 foreign and civil service members living abroad as of 12/31/2019.
To get a handle on where many of these moves might be taking place, let’s look at the top five foreign countries where U.S. government jobs and employees are most likely to be found. If you’re planning to get involved in moving U.S. government employees, we’ll show you what your customers can expect and include a couple of tips for creating a smooth move to these foreign destinations.
Germany can be an attractive country for many Americans. As with many European countries, Germany operates in a way that’s pretty familiar to U.S. citizens. Additionally, many Germans speak English, so it can be easy for an American to navigate the country while they brush up on their German.
Perks for Your Customers Moving to Germany:
- Families will enjoy the free, high-quality education system.
- Excellent public transportation that runs with German precision may mean that your customers could leave their cars at home, depending on the location of their posts.
- Germany’s central location within Europe makes it simple to explore the surrounding countries, all on a quick weekend trip.
Alcohol doesn’t qualify as a household good for import. As such, it’s subject to significant and complicated duties. Make sure your customers understand this so they can make their choices accordingly.
Cultural tidbit for your customers: Many have reported that the stereotype is true; Germans love their rules. This is especially evident when it comes to jaywalking. Although Americans, especially those from larger cities, may see walking against the light as no big deal, it’s a big no-no in Germany.
The uniqueness of Japanese culture holds a lot of appeal for many Americans. There are a number of things you’ll find only in Japan, such as sumo wrestling, capsule hotels, quirky vending machines and more. The Japanese culture also places a lot of emphasis on politeness, so Americans who are used to orderliness—such as waiting your turn in line as opposed to simply pushing your way to the front—will find it easier to adjust to life in Japan.
Perks for Your Customers Moving to Japan:
- Japan has an extensive public transportation system, supported by nearly 17,000 miles of rail tracks. As with Germany, depending on where your customers set up their homes, they may decide they don’t need a car. They’ll also find it easy to explore the country via rail.
- You’ll find fast, inexpensive Internet available in many places in Japan, making it simple to get online as needed.
- With cheap flights available to the rest of Asia, it’s simple to spend a few days exploring the countries surrounding Japan.
Depending on what area of Japan your customers find themselves in, their home may be smaller than what they’re used to in the U.S. As such, they may be looking for temporary storage solutions if, for example, they plan to rent out their stateside home while living abroad for their U.S. government jobs.
Additionally, Japan has strict quarantine procedures your customers will need to follow if they plan on bringing their pets. The procedure is outlined here on the APHIS website.
#3: Republic of Korea
Many Americans who move to the Republic of Korea enjoy the social nature of the country. In Seoul, Americans will find plenty of ex-pat groups to give them a little taste of home, as well as a start on building a circle of new friends. Additionally, the Korean culture encourages socializing with your coworkers, often fueled by a healthy dose of beer and soju. Americans looking to connect with others during their stay in Korea will find no shortage of opportunities.
Perks for Your Customers Moving to Korea:
- Americans may find the daily cost of living lower in Korea, allowing them to put away some savings.
- Korean culture is focused on speed. Americans, especially those used to fast-paced city life, may enjoy this emphasis and find it easier to get more accomplished in their day-to-day life.
- As a major hub for international travel—and a pleasant airport with many comfort facilities for travelers—Seoul’s Incheon International Airport is the gateway to many international destinations, including Asia and beyond.
Accommodations in Seoul are often considered small by American standards. Your customers may need storage solutions for any of their household items that won’t fit in their overseas accommodations.
Additionally, plants and plant materials are subject to inspection and approval. Make sure to let your customers know about these rules when choosing what items will come with them overseas.
As with Korea, Americans looking to enjoy the social life of an overseas assignment will enjoy their stay in Italy. Italian culture revolves around socializing over food, drink and more—at all hours. Additionally, Italy offers plenty of diverse landscapes to enjoy, from the Italian Alps to the hustle-bustle of Rome to the legendary colors of Tuscany and the breathtaking towns along the Mediterranean coast. And don’t forget about the food! Living in Italy means easy access to all the pizza, carbonara, focaccia and gelato you can eat.
Perks for Your Customers Moving to Italy:
- Families will enjoy Italy’s high-quality free public education system, where Kindergarten (scuola dell’infanzia) starts at age three.
- The public healthcare system was ranked #2 in overall system performance by the World Health Organization, so Americans can expect top-quality care if they get sick in Italy.
- It can be fairly easy to open a non-resident bank account in Italy, which may make day-to-day life a little simpler for Americans.
Italy can be a tough place to find storage solutions for people moving here for U.S. government jobs. If you anticipate you or your customers needing storage solutions in Italy, start making inquiries sooner rather than later.
Cultural tidbit for your customers: Many restaurants in Italy close after lunch (around 3:00 pm) and don’t open again until dinner (7:00-8:00 pm). If you want to eat between lunch and dinner, a pizza place or a fast food restaurant will be your best bet.
#5: The United Kingdom
We’ll start with the obvious: Americans may find it easy to transition to the United Kingdom, where the language and culture will be most similar (but not an exact replica by any means!) of what they’ll find in their home country. Additionally, rumor has it that cases of homesickness can be easily assuaged by tucking into some British comfort food, like a shepherd’s pie or a Sunday Roast.
Perks for Your Customers Relocating to the UK:
- The country offers plenty of world-class educational opportunities for children of all ages, so families won’t have to worry about their options. Additionally, the rich arts and theater scene in London offers every member of the family an opportunity for a unique cultural education.
- Amazon does offer a Prime program in the UK, so if you’re missing two-day delivery, there’s a simple solution available through amazon.co.uk.
- With five airports in London alone, Americans are perfectly positioned to explore Europe and beyond during their vacation time.
If it’s been a while since you moved a customer to the UK, you’ll want to know that the paperwork has changed. Your customers will need to complete a Transfer of Residence Form (ToR) online, which has replaced a number of the old customs forms. Make sure you double-check the paperwork requirements so you can present the correct ones to your customers.
Cultural tidbit for your customers: Moving to the UK means getting acquainted with a whole different type of “football,” which Americans probably know as “soccer.” A little interest will go a long way in bonding with new overseas colleagues.
Making International Moves Easy
Whether you’re moving U.S. government employees, doing a corporate relocation or helping a family establish a new home abroad, international moves come with an extra layer of responsibility. How quickly and easily you can get your customers set up in their new country will set the tone for the rest of their stay. A stress-free move can give them the certainty and confidence they need to start to feel at home, even when they’re abroad.
Looking for help with your next international move? We’ve handled thousands of GSA moves, military moves and individual moves abroad. We’d be happy to help you create a simple, seamless move for your next international customer, whether they’re coming home or headed overseas. Just get in touch with us for a free consultation.