What to consider when moving overseas…

The prospect of moving overseas can be incredibly exciting and completely overwhelming.  I had always wanted to move, however never taken that plunge.  I scoured the web looking for online advice but it wasn’t focused on my kind of move.  They talked about shipping your belongings etc, but what about just packing a bag and taking your most treasured belongings with you in a suitcase?

From the moment you decide to move, to the time you board that plane.  Here is a to-do list for you to tick off


1 year prior

Why are you doing this? Where do you want to go? Will you be able to find work? Do you need visas? Do your research in every possible way you can.  Whether it be online, talking to friends/family, guidebooks.  Learn as much as you can about the city you want to move to so you’re not faced with any surprises when you arrive.

Estimate the cost of moving, how much will you need to survive before you start to panic.  Have you budgeted for not having a job? Paying a bond/deposit for a room or a flat? Buying insurance? A car? In saying that, can you drive in the country you’re moving to? Take into consideration the cost of food, public transport and sightseeing.  Start a budget to save for all this, you might be a great saver or like me and can’t save money unless you have a goal.  A tip that I found, start small and once you’re used to that money missing from your pay, bump it up.  Keep doing this until you are only spending on the most necessary items and saving the rest.  Perhaps you need a second job? You may miss out on a few parties or nights out, but think of that final experience.

6 months – 1 year prior

Take time to decide on a departure date, have a look at flights online or with a travel agent.  Will you be spending some time in a stop over city? Do you want to visit that city to break up the journey? What kind of season will it be when you arrive? For instance, are you leaving summer and flying into winter? Are you prepared for this? Or will it be the other way round? Is it cheaper to push back or forward a couple of months?

Check your passport to ensure you have enough time on it, most countries require at least 6 months however if you’re moving and you have less than this then I would consider getting a new one as soon as possible, this is also important to do early if you need to send your passport away for visas.  You want to make sure you have enough time to get all the necessary documents in place.


3 – 6 months prior

Book your flights if you haven’t done so already, do you need a return flight? Make sure your return is flexible so you can amend the date with less cost.  Have you looked at flying into a different airport which may cut costs.  For instance, are you planning on flying into London Heathrow? You could look at other airports in the city.  Do you even need to go to Heathrow? The city you’re planning on moving to may have their own airport.  I flew into Manchester airport before I decided to move there as it was cheaper by hundreds.

Begin to sell your stuff, if you’re flying into Summer and it’s currently Summer in your own country then you don’t need all those winter clothes do you? What about all those DVDs you never watch and haven’t in months.  List your belongings on Ebay or similar and watch your savings grow.  I found it was hard to part with my belongings so doing it bit by bit was best.  Anything I didn’t want to sell as it would be more appreciated by someone else, I donated to a charity.  I halved my whole wardrobe twice by doing this.  I got ruthless and told myself off for keeping something which someone else would want.  This applied to clothes, shoes, scarves, everything.

Check the cancellation policies for your contracts, do you need to give them 6 months warning? Can you postpone them if you can’t cancel?

Get any immunisations that maybe needed, visit your doctor and ask if you need to get any vaccines for the country you’re moving to.  This is also a good time to get any prescriptions filled for medicines you may not need.  Depending on your doctor or country rules, you may be able to get your regular medicine in larger doses.


Less than 3 months prior

Research banks, mobile phone companies, insurance etc.  Do you need proof of address with opening a bank account? Is your phone unlocked to use an international sim card? Consider buying travel insurance for a couple of months after you arrive this will give you time to organise local insurance.

Give your employer notice, you may need to only give a couple of weeks or a month.  I gave my company 2 or so months so they can find a great replacement for me.  They might be able to offer advice.  However if you feel that they may not take it so well, consider your words and how you will approach it so they can see it your way.  They might surprise you and offer you a transfer.

2 weeks prior

Notify your bank, this is a good time to change your address if you have a new one.  Ask them to send you a copy of your latest statement so you can give this to your new bank.  Let your current bank know also that you will be in a foreign country so they don’t put a freeze on your accounts if you use the ATM.

Scan and print your important documents, I printed two copies, one for my parents and one for myself.  I also have the copies saved in my dropbox so I can access them from anywhere if needed.

Start packing, you will do this a few times, so best to start early.  Pack away anything which you won’t wear while you are still at home.  Best to buy any miniature sized bottles now, as you may not get a chance to go straight to a supermarket once you arrive.  Do you know what you want to wear on the plane? Start packing away any belongings you will be storing for your return (should this happen).  Make sure they’re clearly marked with your details and the contents.

1 Week prior

Actually start packing if you haven’t done this already.  Make sure you don’t overpack everything.  I recommend rolling your clothes as it will allow more to fit into your case and avoids being creased too much.  Can your suitcase close? Do you know your limits for your flight.  If it’s a weighted amount rather than a piece, can you take more than one bag but divide the weight over these bags? This is what I found out and it saved me so much stress.

Order some foreign currency, make sure you get these in a range of bill amounts so you don’t have to “break a hundred” when buying something small at the airport once you arrive.

Have a farewell party, I had one for my friends and a separate one for family.  This meant I was able to say goodbye to everyone and felt it was fair and easy on everyone including myself.  You will be overwhelmed with it all no doubt so best to do it this way.  Also, maybe organise a dinner with your nearest and dearests so you can give them a special goodbye.

Eat some of your favourite meals.  You may not be able to have these for a wee while, or perhaps they’re from a restaurant and you won’t have that meal again? Create this memory and savour each flavour.


The day you leave

Get to the airport early, you may have a few family members with you and you will want to spend time with them right up the last minute.  Remember that the least amount of stress at this moment is crucial, as you will remember this day for years to come.  Avoid the rush through check in (do this online if you can) and line up early.  Also handy so you don’t have to carry your suitcases around with you.  Make sure you have some snacks for the plane which you can have in case the in-flight food is terrible.  How about enjoy a nice healthy smoothie filled with fruit and vege to keep you hydrated.

Board your flight, dry your eyes and off you go for the adventure of a lifetime.  Remember you can always move home if things don’t work out.  You also don’t necessarily have to stay in the same city you intended to move to.  If London isn’t the place for you, try another city.  Northern England is lovely and I personally prefer it over South England.  Perhaps you are moving to New York, but it’s just too crazy busy and New Jersey might be more your style.  Take time to explore your new city also.  If you’re planning on catching public transport, then don’t leave this to the day you start work or go to interviews to test out.  Map out the city and the best supermarkets for you.



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