Family in sunset


Safety tips for expat families

08 October 2020
The unfamiliar can be frightening, particularly when you have your children with you, but by taking some basic family safety precautions you can enjoy the wonderful experience you imagined: 
Sit down with your children before you leave for your new destination, and again when you arrive, to discuss your family’s safety. What safety advice will stay the same? Things like not speaking to strangers or walking alone at night. What safety advice might change? Your children may be safe crossing the road in your home country but if you are moving to a big city or a country where they drive on the other side of the road, you might need to cross with them until you are all used to the new system. 

There are a few ways your family can reduce your chances of becoming victims of petty crime, particularly when you first arrive in your new destination:

  • stay together 
  • watch out for each other
  • dress like a local
  • don’t carry expensive technology (that includes your children...leave the Switch at home!)
  • keep moving in busy areas
  • carry valuables or luggage in front of you
As you explore your new home, getting lost is a real risk for children. It doesn’t take long - just one moment of distraction. Don’t rely on technology, batteries can die or coverage may be poor, instead as soon as you get to a busy place arrange an obvious place to meet. Always keep younger children or toddlers in a stroller or hold their hand in busy areas. 
Prepare your children if you are moving to a country or region that suffers from natural disasters, without frightening them. Reassure them that your family will do all you can to stay safe if there is a natural disaster in your new home and they do not have anything to worry about. The forewarning will help them feel less anxious if they have to participate in safety  drills at school. 
Living in a new country will open a world of opportunity for your children. Local children might be much more independent at a younger age than in your home country. If this is the case, don’t feel like your child must be the same. 

One of the easiest ways to keep your family safe on expat assignment is by getting any required vaccinations in good time. Many vaccinations require several weeks or months to take effect. If you don’t need any specific vaccinations for the destination you are travelling to, it is good to have a checkup with your family physician anyway and for everyone to get a tetanus boost. Also ensure your family has the expat health insurance cover needed to access the best available medical care in your new home. 


While you want to identify potential risks to your children, avoid scaring them. Although media coverage can lead us to believe some countries are less safe than others, don’t let this worry you too much or lull you into a false sense of security when it comes to expat life. Instead, take reasonable safety precautions while also enjoying this wonderful experience with your family.