Family Life

Family life abroad can be very exciting, filled with enriching cultural experiences. As a U.S. diplomat, your spouse, children, and in some cases, dependent parent may travel with you to your post, except on unaccompanied tours or in cases where there is imminent danger or civil unrest.

As a member of the Foreign Service, you and your spouse can expect government-paid housing, and at many posts, there are high quality schools which your children may attend. And while the Foreign Service does not guarantee your spouse or partner employment, there are resources at post to assist them in the local job market.

The U.S. Department of State makes every effort to support a comfortable family life abroad. In fact, we have a dedicated team in the Family Liaison Office (FLO) to help to make the transition easier.

Please note that employees with a family member who has been issued a limited medical clearance (not worldwide) may be assigned to posts where that family member cannot accompany them. We strongly advise candidates to consider this situation as they pursue employment with the Department of State.

FLO serves U.S. Government direct-hire employees and their family members, including Members of Household (MOH), serving at home and abroad. FLO’s mission is to improve their quality of life through advocacy, programs and services online, in Washington, D.C. and at over 200 posts worldwide.

FLO was established primarily as an advocacy organization and for 30 years has worked to effect policy changes and create programs and services for the benefit of the Foreign Service family. FLO has worked to expand family member employment opportunities, to provide education counseling, to assist with reentry to the United States after a tour abroad, and to provide information and referral.

Successes include the establishment of the Community Liaison Office program, improved educational allowances, voluntary and involuntary separate maintenance allowances, numerous family member employment programs, inclusion of MOHs in many services and their access to many resources (to the extent currently permissible under the law), and support for unaccompanied tours.

FLO provides a variety of client services on the following topics:

  • Family Member Employment
  • Education and Youth
  • Crisis Management
  • Unaccompanied Tour Support
  • Expeditious Naturalization
  • Support Services
  • Community Liaison Office at posts abroad

For more information on the Foreign Service lifestyle or on any of the issues listed above, visit the Family Liaison Office or contact them at 202-647-1076. You can also visit the Family Life forum to ask questions and get more information.

Read more about the history of the Family Liaison Office (pdf, 324kb). This 56-page pdf document chronicles FLO history, its beginnings, the start of the overseas Community Liaison Office Program, and the people who contributed to FLO's successes.

Still need more answers? Click here to visit the Family Life Office blog.