5 Key Challenges of International Relocation in 2024

For global companies, international relocation is a fact of life—a proven way to grow their brand presence and build market share. But global relocation has never been easy, and that isn’t changing anytime soon.  

All corporate relocations—global and domestic—are complicated undertakings. However, with international moves, the stakes (and costs) are higher and the logistics much more complex.    

So, what should employers expect, global relocation-wise, in the year ahead? Let’s review the five key challenges they’re most likely to face—and the most direct solutions for overcoming them.

 1. Tightening Immigration Rules & Regulations  

Obtaining foreign work visas and permits has always been challenging, but in the last few years, a number of countries have doubled down, further tightening their immigration policies and requirements.
Immigration compliance remains a moving target. Staying on top of it all —not to mention the complexities of international tax law—is no simple thing. 

Unless you’re lucky enough to have an in-house expert, the most efficient solution is to outsource these functions to a trusted authority, starting with your relocation partner.

2. Language and Cultural Barriers

Culture shock remains a major hurdle for employees who accept global assignments. When you don’t speak the language or understand the customs of those around you, it’s challenging to feel comfortable in your new environment, let alone be effective at work.  

For this reason, these employees and their families need extensive pre-relocation support—aka, destination services benefits—which includes language and cross-cultural training, as well as orientations and guidance on the ground at their new location.  

How do you find a quality destination services provider? This is also something your relocation partner can help navigate with you, either directly or through a trusted affiliate. 

3. Tough Housing Markets

The more thoroughly you introduce relocating employees and their families to their new location, the faster and more fully they’re likely to adjust. 

While housing markets vary by geographic area, many countries—especially in the US—are currently in the throes of an intense housing crisis. As a result, it’s become increasingly difficult to find safe, quality housing. And of course, rents are skyrocketing, too.

For many employers, the answer is to lift this off their employees’ shoulders entirely by either providing corporate housing or a trusted and local real estate company to guide employees through this process. 

This way, employers can ensure that their employees live in desirable neighborhoods where expats are welcome, freeing their people to focus on bigger things. 

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4. Failure to Acclimate  

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 42% of international assignments fail. The primary reason: failure to acclimate to the new location. Often, it is not the employee who is struggling, but their partner and/or children.

Yes, it’s human to be homesick and stressed when new to a faraway, foreign environment, but ideally, this should ease with time. Employers can help families acclimate better by offering pre-relocation support, providing access to mental health and wellness benefits, and insisting on work-life balance for employees on global assignments. 


5.  Higher Global Relocation Costs

It’s a given: international relocations cost more than domestic ones. Airfare costs more. Household goods services cost more. Plus, there are the added costs of visa and customs fees on the front end and repatriation fees on the back end.

And of course, there are more variables, such as high inflation, currency differences, and tax implications. 

However, there are many ways employers can control relocation costs—and most start with their choice of relocation partner. For example, a relocation partner that leverages technology, like UrbanBound, can cut operating costs and pass those savings back to their clients, negotiate discounted rates with preferred suppliers, and provide employers with access to detailed analytics, allowing them to monitor their relocation spend in real-time.  

Yes, international relocation presents unique challenges for employers—but there are solutions. For more information, read our companion blog, 5 Differences between Domestic and International Relocation—or learn more about UrbanBound.  

Human Resources Today