What do you wish for our industry?

With 2020 now behind us, I asked some esteemed members of the global mobility community what they wish for our industry in 2021. Here’s what they had to say:

Lynn Shotwell, GMS, SHRM-SCP, Worldwide ERC® President & CEO

I see two silver linings in the pandemic for the mobility community: It raised the profile of mobility professionals who have deep experience managing non-traditional assignments.  Our insights are being applied to the new world of remote work.  It also pushed all of us to embrace technology and adopt new ways of doing things at a pace that would not have been possible a year ago.  This can be exciting and energizing.  My goals for Worldwide ERC in 2021 are to provide mobility professionals with the tools they need to be strategic leaders in their own organizations and to advance the interests of the mobility industry by highlighting our unique expertise with business leaders and policymakers.

Patricia Tavares, formerly Americas Global Mobility Head, Unilever.  Currently Co-founder, Brazil Talks

2021!  What to expect of this year?  After all we went through in 2020, adaptation to new ways of working, fast changes to policies, creating or re-thinking processes! This all had to happen and with an incredible speed, meaning that Global Mobility grew and matured in 2020 what it would normally take at least 5 years to mature!

I see and believe that all we learned this past year has to come along with us to 2021. We cannot lose the speed we gained, the flexibility we learned to apply, and most of all, we need to continue showing to our stakeholders that we are ready for any situation that comes along! We all worked from home/virtually and we never worked so hard and so much and this proves that Global Mobility is here to stay! Global mobility professionals are getting better and better at what they do!

Hurray for a brilliant 2021! I am sure it will be absolutely amazing!

Brian Friedman, Host of The View from the Top & Strategy Director, Benivo

The View from The Top is as old as the pandemic. What started 2 years ago as a podcast, converted to a live show in March.  We launched the LinkedIn Live shows at about the same time as borders closed around the world. We recognised early on that there was a genuine need for thought leaders to share knowledge and hopefully spread some optimism in dark times. Our aim in 2021 is to continue our weekly shows focusing on technology.

On a personal perspective, my family is very much on the front-line. My stepson is a doctor who has been working on the COVID wards during the peaks of the pandemic and my wife has been trained to be a COVID vaccinator. There is light at the end of the tunnel and that makes me hugely optimistic for 2021.

Vini Valverde, Lead Talent Mobility Consultant, NIKE

We all know that this past year has challenged us in many ways. The stress of COVID-19, lost jobs, financial struggles, social distancing, many companies and its employees are feeling agitated, overwhelmed, or disconnected. While some of these forces are beyond our control, we have the power and capabilities to make some changes to ensure a healthy and thriving Global Mobility industry.

My wish for 2021 is that everyone makes the time to do whatever activities feel restorative to you and also help others. It can be calling a friend, take on a new hobby, build new relationships, being a reference for a colleague that lost his/her job, reading a book, just sitting in silence or being available. This will help you bring the best version of yourself (while helping others) so we can win as a team and empower our organizations to grow into the future. 

With so much positivity, how can 2021 be anything but better than 2020?  Wishing all our colleagues an innovative, successful and healthy new year – a new beginning for us all!

Arranged by Cathy Heyne, GMS -T, Managing Director


The Night before New Year

‘Twas the night before Year End and all through the land
Applause for the New Year: “Let’s give it a hand!”

“We’re done with 2020. We’re rife with fatigue.”
And yet. We all stepped up, performed out of our league.

We dealt with shutdowns, in place for everyone’s sake
As the world struggled through the pandemic outbreak.

Moves ground to a halt, in the East and the West.
We located our people, made sure they could rest,

Secure in the knowledge that we would be there
To ease their concerns, provide duty of care.

Our offices closed to limit the damage
The virus could cause, and to help healers manage

The terrible toll, as we all got a grip
On the possible treatments: a Remdesivir drip?

Meanwhile, home desks became mini command centers.
Aiding others at their homes, whether owners or renters.

Not one among us has had time to be lax.
We got up to speed quickly on immigration and tax,

On which borders opened, and which had just closed,
And watched as the number of Zoom invites rose!

All our homes have been like an open book.
On video, pets and kids on display for a look

By curious colleagues and friends from afar
Who we might see, during normal times, at a bar.

But did all of this break us? Oh no, it did not!
For we all are much stronger than ever we thought.

You could say we’re better, more creative, and kinder.
“We’re all in this together” was a constant reminder

That throughout the whole world as the year was unfolding
There were people in need, whose hands needed holding.

In stripping away entertainment and travel
You might guess our psyches would completely unravel.

And while it’s true that a life boiled down to essentials
Might seem to be lacking in certain potential

It also is true that this challenging year
Has tended to spotlight that which we hold dear.

And so, at the end of this year that’s so flawed
Wishes for peace and joy come from Living Abroad!

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, Product Manager, Content Group


‘Tis the season to be grateful…

Though this year may have been difficult, the best part was staying in touch with our industry friends.
We wish you and your loved ones happiness and good health throughout the holiday season and in the new year.
To receive your holiday greeting, please click on the photo below and don’t forget to turn up the sound.

The Living Abroad Team


How did X. Pat get all these gifts so wrong?

Giving gifts for global colleagues offer many opportunities for error.

Can you find all the gift giving faux pas?

Click here for the answers!

Let the magic begin!

“Reading takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.”

— Hazel Rochman

As someone who enjoys spending the North American winter holidays curled up with good books, one of the pleasures I take from this time of year — even this year — is deciding what those books will be!

With authors and subject matter located throughout the globe, here are just a few of many resources you can use to find your next great read (or gift!):


Likely the best known literary prize on the globe, the Nobel Prize in Literature was first awarded in 1901.

The Giller Prize is given to a Canadian author of a novel or short story collection.

Pulitzer Prizes are awarded to books of American fiction, drama, poetry, history, biography, and general nonfiction. PEN America also offers numerous awards, including prizes for emerging writers, as well as for outstanding works of fiction, poetry, literature in translation, and nonfiction.

The Women’s Prize for Fiction is given to a novel published in the United Kingdom, written by a female writer from any country. The Booker Prize is given to a novel published in the UK or Ireland, and the International Booker Prize to a novel translated into English, with equal prize money going to the writer and the translator.

Other awards in specific genres include the James Beard Book of the Year and the IACP Cookbook of the Year, the Edgar Awards for mysteries, and the Nebulas for science fiction.

Don’t forget

Independent bookstores and libraries can also be an excellent way to find your next favorite book. Many will work with you via telephone or email, and have adapted book pickup or delivery services to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. Even better, quite a few have moved their readings, book clubs and other events to virtual formats that are accessible from anywhere.

Yes, you can!

As 2020 comes to a close, it will be quite a year to remember.  It’s time to focus on ourselves and self-renew to build our strength for the coming year.  There is a Stephen Covey habit from his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” which is habit #7 on self-renewal called “Sharpen the Saw.”  Regularly “sharpening the saw” means having a balanced life that includes four areas:  physical, mental, spiritual and social/emotional.

Let’s focus on the mental aspect of self-renewal.  As we begin our planning for 2021, Covey’s second habit, “Begin with the End in Mind,” is a good place to start.  Many people think of a new year as a promise of a fresh start, to do things a bit differently, and create some new goals.

To begin, take a moment to acknowledge all you’ve accomplished during 2020 and what you’ve learned from the past.  Reflect on your career, relationships, health, finances, and creative pursuits.  Make a list of all of your wins, successes, and breakthroughs.  Remember that 2020 was a year full of challenges and that just doing tasks like shopping or working remotely added additional stress to our life.  Then write down all of your losses, disappointment, and breakdowns.

It’s important to “close out” the current year.  Regardless of whether or not the items on the list were a win or less than desirable, you’ll need to be complete with past accomplishments and disappointments in order to be open to new opportunities in 2021.

Next, choose five to seven lessons learned from the past year that you would like to remember and carry into the coming year.  Now it’s time to shift focus and create new goals.  Start by imagining ahead to December 2021.  Create a list of your wins, successes, and breakthroughs for the year.  Be very specific and write them as though they have already happened.

Focus on all areas of your life.  Currently there are a lot of factors beyond our control, such as shutdowns and restrictions on social gatherings.  Place your attention on what you do have control over and make self-care a priority.

One way to clarify your thoughts is to use the S.M.A.R.T goals approach to help you achieve what you want in your life.  This system will help you focus your efforts and use your time wisely.  Don’t forget to review your goals on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and focus on your most important goals first.

And ask yourself this question: “What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”  This is the question Gary Keller addresses in his book, “The One Thing.” 

By focusing on the “one thing” for the week, month or quarter, you’re more likely to accomplish your goals.  Keep yourself accountable by finding an “accountable buddy” or building time in your day to review your goals.  Not only will this keep you on track, 2021 may be your best year yet!

Thing are looking up!

How many hours a day do you spend looking down at paperwork, or into a screen? Optometrists recommend a 20-20-20 rule to ease eye strain: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Stretches and exercises are helpful to relieve neck, shoulder, hand, and back fatigue.

Taking a brisk walk can be even more restorative. But now that half the earth – and most of its population – is experiencing shorter days and weak sunlight, getting outside tends to be a dim proposition.

So why not take in the night sky? This December, Jupiter and Saturn will be visible to us as close as they have been in 400 years. On December 21, a telescope or binoculars will show you the two largest planets side by side, with their moons. Bundle up, find a place away from ambient light, and take in the beauty of what my family likes to call ‘sky jewelry.’

For general stargazing, Travel & Leisure maps out the 10 best spots in seven countries around the world: Chile, Costa Rica, France, Japan, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States (Utah, Hawaii, New Mexico, California).

Of course, even during our short days, the sky offers no shortage of breathtaking views, some of the most gorgeous of which recently have been at sunrise: a bank of clouds creating a literal silver line as the sun rises behind it. One morning was so foggy that the rising sun looked like a fireball throwing off flames.

Clouds are their own sources of astounding artistry. They can be dramatic, forbidding, peaceful, or present us with a story-book tableau that looks like a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream pint. To quote a character in Swedish mystery writer Kjell Eriksson’s “The Cruel Stars of the Night:”

“I collect clouds,” Lars-Erik said and leaned forward, looking up at the sky. “It is like an enormous art exhibition. I like to stand out in my yard and watch nature give me fresh exhibitions every day, and to top it off it’s free. Have you ever thought about how the sky can give rise to the most unbelievable formations?”

As 2020 draws to a close and we await a COVID-19 vaccine, may the simple splendor of our natural world provide some peace and beauty, even in the dark.

Celebrating in a different way

Ukrainians do not generally celebrate their birthdays. Instead they celebrate:
a.  Name Day:  The feast day of the saint for whom the individual is named.
b.  Town Day:  The founding date of the town where the individual was born.
c.  Ancestor Day:  A new baby is given the ‘birthday’ of a recently deceased ancestor.
d.  Family Day:  The wedding anniversary of the individual’s parents.

Click here for the answer!


Living Abroad would like to take this opportunity to wish those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, a happy and healthy celebration.  We are thankful for all our friends around the world.

Global Risk Estimates

After many years as a content manager for Living Abroad, I know it’s not unusual to discover online tools and resources that are interesting, useful, and powerful, and to share them with our globally mobile users. However, it’s a little more unusual to encounter one that I also immediately share with friends, family and colleagues.

The COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool, one of the several resources newly added to Living Abroad’s International Relocation Center, was developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s GT-BIOS. It uses current data throughout the United States and Western Europe to help determine the likelihood of at least one person in attendance at an event ranging from 10 to 5000 people being infected with COVID.

Users are presented with a map of the United States, but choosing the “Global Risk Estimates” tab at the top of the website allows you to view the countries in western Europe for which data is available. From there, users can select their county or applicable administrative region. The “Event Size” slider in the left column allows users to change the estimate of event attendees, and “Select Ascertainment Bias” allows users to adjust data based on presumed COVID testing availability.

For example, on November 16, in my county in Connecticut, USA, there is currently a fifty percent risk that at an event with fifty people, one person who would test positive for COVID will be present.



As always, it’s important to be aware of context and circumstances when using online resources. You can read more about the research behind this tool in its “About” tab, and at the peer-reviewed journal Nature.

Written by Erin Fitzgerald, GMS, Content Manager

To the future and beyond

When the world came to a screeching halt in March, no one could imagine how our industry would change from one day to the next.  Yet as we moved into the summer months, we heard through many forums how companies were dealing with their assignee population.  It can be summed up best from Stephen C. McGarry, Director of Global Mobility at WPP, in his quote, “We’ve gone from the business of moving people to the business of planning to move people.”

In this vein, we thought long and hard about how we could add more value to the industry. Here are some offerings we’ve added to support global mobility professionals, as well as assignees and their families:

COVID-19 Resources

Advantage – With one click, users have access to a set of curated links to top global sources on the pandemic.

Cultural Questionnaire

Advantage – Users learn about their cultural work style by completing a short questionnaire and comparing their results to other countries.  During this planning phase, potential assignees can take the time to learn more about the new culture and how their business strengths and weaknesses will impact their new colleagues.

Google Translate

Advantage – Users can choose between 100+ languages.  Now, accompanying family members who do not speak or read English can access the information in the language of their choice, easing their sense of isolation.

Immigration Resources

Advantage – Save time sifting through changing immigration rules. Simply click on the real-time resources to get your questions answered on all topics’ immigration related.

Country Videos

Advantage – If a picture speaks a thousand words, a video is even better. Our new intro videos entice users to take a deeper dive into over 100+ articles, all specific to their new destination.

Living Abroad continues to vet and update all information contained in each report.  We can’t wait for 2021 and all the new innovations that are in store for you.  We will keep you posted!

Moving to a zoom town?

Even with global mobility hampered by the pandemic, there is a new and different kind of movement going on. Residents of certain cities are moving to more spacious communities nearby — some temporarily, some permanently. At the same time, specific towns and small cities are attracting newcomers who appreciate factors like low cost of living, larger homes, in-person schooling, and outdoor amenities.

With so many employees remote, and some companies not requiring proximity to the office, workers may pick up stakes and settle somewhere new. The term “zoom town” refers to locales that have seen increased populations since the COVID-19 shutdown and serve as remote working hubs.

Around the U.S., the west and south have welcomed many new residents, but so have the upscale Hamptons in New York; Aspen, Colorado; Cape Cod, Massachusetts; and Kingston, New York – a small, historic town about 145 km/90 mi north of New York City.

Worldwide, individuals and families are making decisions about where to live, assessing what the future might look like for them. And while this freedom of choice can be a wonderful thing during a time when so much is uncertain, there are some challenges. A few things to keep in mind:

-Before committing to a home lease – or especially purchase – employees should confirm that their presence will not be required at a distant office with any regularity. They should also ensure that the area and property have adequate infrastructure to support remote work and, possibly, schooling.

-Both employer and employee should be aware of any immigration issues that may arise from working in their chosen location. In today’s pandemic landscape, immigration regulations are changeable. New applications and extension requests may be delayed. Consult an immigration expert frequently to stay compliant.

– Likewise, determine the potential tax liability based on the worker’s and employer’s locations. Even intra-regional moves can raise complications. Don’t assume that a short move will grant you the same status as staying put. In fact, even continuing to work from your existing home can bring new tax exposure if things change. The U.S. states of Massachusetts and New Hampshire are embroiled in a dispute over that very issue right now, as Massachusetts attempts to tax New Hampshire residents who work remotely for a MA firm.

-The housing market has tightened up in many areas. With the majority of COVID-prompted movers seeking single-family homes, inventory is low and prices are up. It may take a while to find a property that suits an employee’s needs in terms of distance from neighbors, yard, and maybe a home office. The good news is that if a new home is found, the existing one will very likely sell quickly.

– Finally, the employee planning a permanent relocation to one of the up-and-coming zoom towns should research how well equipped and inclined they are to embrace population growth. Again, infrastructure is important, as is school quality and capacity, along with quality-of-life measures like fitness and cultural opportunities.

These are just a few of the considerations employers and employees should keep in mind in this new, complicated landscape of remote work. By all means, find a home environment that supports your well-being and productivity. Just keep tabs on these issues when you do.

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, Product Manager, Content Group