Neighbors with Borders: International Mindset is Key for Successful Relocation

DwellworksNational Geographic’s research estimates that 75% of Canadians live within 160 km of the US border. Thus, it is often assumed that Canada and the US share many cultural norms because they are so physically close. Surprising data has revealed, however, that employees relocating between these two countries encounter a multitude of challenges, according to the research study Close Neighbors: Understanding the Experience of Moving Between the US and Canada conducted by Dwellworks in collaboration with The Interchange Institute. Proactively addressing these challenges and cultural differences is pivotal for setting expectations and ensuring a successful relocation.

An important finding of the study disproved the perception of a high level of similarity between the US and Canada; this lack of appreciation for cultural differences has fostered a belief that relocation assistance is not needed. However, respondents indicated several areas relating to relocation and settling in – especially healthcare, banking, and education – that were quite challenging and different from their norm.

In addition to the traditional relocation challenges facing families, such as acclimating to a new school or neighborhood or moving from a small town to a large city, many employees are not prepared for an “international” move experience since Canada and the US are perceived as being so close and, therefore, similar. Likewise, service providers often believe that relocating between Canada and the US is relatively easy, when in reality a move presents the same challenges as other cross-border moves.

How can global mobility organizations best support US-to-Canada and Canada-to-US transferees? The solution is to set expectations from the start that no matter how close in proximity, a move across country borders is an “international” move. Communicating this message to everyone within the relocation channel is key – from the corporate client to the suppliers to the relocating employee. Once this is expectation set, the opportunity for negative perceptions is reduced.

For more information about this study, visit: http://blog.dwellworks.com/2013/12/28/close-neighbors-understanding-the-experience-of-moving-between-the-us-and-canada/

By: Sandra Cairns, VP Canada, Dwellworks