Checklist for Moving Around The World

SignpostToday’s blog post is brought to you all the way from Riviera Maya, Mexico. My husband and I decided to take some of my own advice and take a break to recharge and relax. What better way to treat yourself than with a beach holiday!

Before I left my friend asked me for a checklist because she’s thinking of moving to Australia or New Zealand. I don’t have much experience with moving halfway around the world. So I reached out to my fabulous editorial assistant Nicole, who is from the UK.  But she has made some cross-continental moves and has lived South East Asia and travelled around South America, Europe and Africa. Plus I also asked my Aussie friend Niki if she had any thoughts. The help they gave me was so good I thought I had to share it with all of you just incase.

Before You Go

The first three things you’re going to need to do is research, research and research. I can’t stress how important this is. The more prepared you are before you go, the much smoother the whole process will be.

Start by learning a bit about the country you’re going to. Simple things like knowing what the weather is like or some local customs can inform your later decisions. Another thing you need to consider is your social circle. Do you know any friends of friends who live in the country you’re going to? Ask them to introduce you so you’re already connected upon arrival.

Things To Consider

Here’s a list of everything you need to think about if you’re going to move to another country:

Bank – All the expat guides recommend setting up your account before you arrive. Talk to your bank and see if they can help you. Large banks like HSBC and Citi are all over the world and they offer services to help you set up before your voyage.

Housing – Finding somewhere permanent to live when you’re not in the country can be difficult. The best plan is to initially look for something temporary and then search more when you get there. Finding housing is always different from country to country, some have complicated laws surrounding renting. So make sure to research before you go.

Transport – If you’re in a city you might be able to get away without having a car, but in the suburbs you might need one. Keep in mind that cars can be much more expensive outside of the US.  That’s because there are often stricter laws on how well maintained the car needs to be. Getting an international driver’s license is a good start. However you can only drive on a foreign license in a country for 1 year and then you need to get a local one. That means you might need to retake your driving test.

Medical – Do you need any vaccines before you go? What about health insurance? It’s unlikely that anything bad will happen to you, but you need to be covered just in case. If you know what to expect from the country you’re moving to, you’ll be less stressed.

Electrical – A good trick to avoid buying multiple adaptors is to get an extension cord with multiple sockets. That way you just need the one adaptor for the main plug. Also remember that America operates on a different voltage from the rest of the world.  So you’ll need to check if your hairdryer and other electronics can be used on a higher voltage. If they don’t – just buy these items when you get to your final destination.

Communication – There are plenty of online expat communities which can be good to get involved with, whether you want to make new friends or if you ever need some Americans to feel homesick with. It’s also a good idea to get familiar with Skype for all those calls back home. Look into the packages they offer which allow you to can call US numbers for free. When you first land you should be able to rent a local cell phone or get a cheap burner until you set up a permanent contract.

Food – All that really sugary stuff from America that’s really bad for you can normally be found in foreign supermarkets, but you might struggle to find all the typical brands you’re used to. Be prepared to switch to a local brand or pay a higher price for imported goods. It might be good to stock up on a few favorites before you go. You might not be able to get them for a while.

Politics and Taxes – If there’s going to be an election while you’re away, it’s a good idea to register to vote abroad while you’re still in the US. Also, sadly there’s no escaping the tax man! Make sure to research your financial situation before you go and plan ahead. It’s better to have it sorted out rather than having to back pay tax once you’re gone.

Schools – For those of you that have kids, this is probably the biggest concern. Many countries have International schools where you can get US qualifications. Of course you can also choose to send your kids to a local school to help immerse them in the culture. Here’s a guide of the pros and cons of each.

Packing – I highly recommend you get one of those foldable weekend bags to pack in your main luggage. Otherwise when you get there you’ll only have massive bags or your hand luggage. It’s nice to have something in between if you go travelling. For more fabulous packing tips check out my friend Nicole’s popular post about fitting everything you might need into a carryon bag.

If you found this post useful please be sure to share it with your friends.

8 replies
  1. Maureen
    Maureen says:

    Be aware that most moving companies have a policy against moving food or plants. Stocking up is good for toiletry items, over the counter medicine, craft supplies and other things as well. I personally loaded up on — of all things — diaper genie cartridges before moving to Europe.

    Reply
  2. Marguerite Zimmerman
    Marguerite Zimmerman says:

    Housing and taxes are definitely a very important aspects when moving abroad! It is definitely not the fun part but the impact that they have on your life is big so it is really important to pay attention! Thanks for the article! Really good tips!

    Reply
  3. manwithvanforestgate
    manwithvanforestgate says:

    Your checklist is pretty awesome – everything you have to know in one place! The worst part is to deal with all that kind of institutions and to do that you need to prepare – mentally and emotionally, and to have a positive attitude about that! Greetings!

    Reply
  4. Claire
    Claire says:

    I just love to make lists! I’m moving to CA in two months, so this one will be definitely on my bookmarks, I’m starting the planning in a week so thanks a lot for sharing!

    Reply

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