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Home organization & decluttering

Relocating to Another Country: EVERYTHING You Need to Know Before Moving

 (modified Jan 20, 2023)

So, you’re planning on moving abroad? How exciting! While moving can be a very exhilarating process, it can also be stressful – never mind moving to a completely different country.

As wonderful as moving abroad can be, it’s not easy. Whether you’re relocating for a job opportunity, school, a change of pace, or for love, we’re here to help ease the entire process.

To make your life easier and your move more organized, we’ve put together a list of everything you need to do and know before moving to another country.

Learn About the Visa Process

Before you move abroad, it’s important to check that you legally can and whether you’re going to need to apply for a work visa, residency visa, or something else that allows you to remain in the country for an extended period of time. This is, arguably, the most important task before moving to a new country.

At this point, you likely know the destination you’re headed to – perhaps you secured a job, got into your dream school overseas, or found a great working holiday visa exchange program. While some countries require a work visa, some have schemes that allow you to live and work for one to two years to experience the country.

In either case, it’s time to begin the application process, which is often the longest part of this entire process. The application will probably inquire about your personal details, as well as your housing and travel arrangements, and how you plan to fund your stay. It’s important to get this step right, otherwise, you might end up stuck at the airport unable to get any further.

Consider the Language

People saying Hello in different languages

What language do they speak in the country you’re headed to? Depending on the country, you may be able to navigate the basics in a foreign language. However, it always helps to know at least some of the language before you live there.

This is especially the case if you’ll be receiving bills or having to go into government offices to fill out paperwork.

Before you relocate, try to find guides online that outline all the legal and registration documentation that you’ll be required to do when you arrive. After all, you don’t want to sign anything that you don’t understand.

Purchase Your Plane Ticket

Buying your plane ticket well before your departure date is another thing you should add to the top of your moving checklist. If you purchase your ticket early you’ll have a better chance of snagging a deal. That way, you can keep an eye out for deals, consult multiple websites, and consistently keep your eyes peeled for the best possible price.

If you can, try to be flexible with your departure date to get the lowest ticket possible. Then, once your departure date is set, the countdown can begin. This will make it easier to check off the rest of your to-do list quickly.

Quick Tips on Plane Tickets

Securing Housing

Real estate options may vary considerably depending on the country that you’re headed to. With that said, make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to research your options and find the right fit before or right when you arrive.

If you aren’t tied to a specific city because of your job or school, you’ll have your pick of all the cities within a country to choose from. Consider the following checklist when it comes to finding the ideal home abroad:

  1. Make sure to finalize the city you are moving to before you leave, whether you’re bound by your school or employment or can pick more freely.
  2. Determine the school you want your children to go to, if applicable. English-speaking schools, for example, make help with the transition and narrow down the neighborhoods.
  3. Seek out convenient and safe neighborhoods. The one you choose should complement your personal/family and professional needs.
  4. Understand your options. Is it better to rent or buy? What do the contract terms look like for either option in your destination country?
  5. Establish your budget. This will help narrow things down in terms of size, city, and neighborhood, but also help you steer clear of low-cost options that do not offer the best security or convenience.
  6. Understand your lease. What exactly comes with it? Is wi-fi, laundry services, appliances, or furniture included?

If you have trouble securing permanent housing before you leave, at least book temporary housing. Even something as basic as an Airbnb or hotel room will give you peace of mind when you arrive. It also allows you to explore and find your more permanent housing situation in person.

Declutter Your Personal Items

When it comes to beginning the packing process, the best course of action is to declutter and purge as much stuff as possible, and also pack as little as possible. Only take with you what you are absolutely going to need or what is sentimental to you. So, now is a perfect time any to go through your belongings and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What do I absolutely need in my new home? If you’re moving to South America, snow boots may not be necessary.
  2. What items cannot be easily replaced, for little or no cost, in my new country?
  3. What has too much sentimental value to give away?

Anything that does not fit at least one of the above criteria can go. Sell what you can to make some extra cash, donate relevant items or give them away to a friend, and purge the remainder. You’ll be surprised at the health benefits you receive from simply decluttering your home and getting rid of unnecessary items before moving abroad. Then, after you’ve purged what you no longer need or want, you can begin the packing process as early as possible.

Quick Tips 2

Set Up Health Coverage

When relocating to another country, you will eventually encounter your country of choice’s health care system. Before you leave, check with your current provider in your home country to see if they will cover you while you are living abroad.

You’ll also want to inquire about medical records, get the necessary vaccines, find out if your prescription medications are available in your new country, and have any last-minute check-ups done before you move. If your prescriptions are not easily accessible in your new country, make sure to request and pack extra for your trip.

If you are a U.S. citizen, the U.S. Embassy provides a list of doctors and hospitals in the country that you will be heading to. You can navigate to your local embassy’s website and consult the “U.S. Citizen Services” section to find out about medical resources.

Also, find out about the requirements of the country you’re moving to, as most will require that you set up a health insurance plan in their country regardless of the coverage you have in your home country. In fact, some countries won’t even allow you to enter the country without documented proof of a healthcare plan already in place.

Contact Your Bank

Your bank is probably one of the first that you should inform of your impending move. That way, you can figure out what the foreign transaction fees are going to be and find out if they need to be kept in the loop as to where you are.

A Couple Speaking to Bank Manager

Inform both your bank and credit card companies of your specific travel dates and consider getting an international credit card to avoid these overseas transaction fees. Staying in contact with your bank will also help prevent fraud on your account.

Try to pay off any unpaid bills before you leave. Though, if this is not possible, keeping your current bank account will allow you to make direct payments for any of your outstanding loans or ongoing bills.

Figure Out Your Electronics

Pretty much everywhere outside of North America uses different voltages and different plugs for electronics. So, before you plug in your blow dryer and end up blowing all the fuses in your new home, it’s important to find out what voltages your devices can receive.

Fortunately, most modern electronics are dual voltage, which means that are compatible in both North America and abroad. However, if you don’t have dual voltage electronics, it’s best to upgrade before you move.

Devices like cell phone chargers and computers are outfitted with built-in converters. This allows them to work pretty much anywhere.

Though, make sure you add a plug adapter to the top of your international relocation packing list. Preferably, opt for one that will work all over the world.

Hire Professional Movers

If you have more to move than just what will fit in a suitcase or two, consider hiring a global moving company. When you work with professional movers, you have the option of shipping your items via sea or air. Your movers will help arrange a container to load your belongings in, and also handle all the logistics and customs paperwork to ensure that your items arrive safely at your new home. You can leave all your boxed belongings in your garage to make it easier to load the trucks.

In order to find a reputable moving company, you’ll want to collect quotes from multiple companies. That way, you can do a proper comparison, research their legitimacy, and also find the best deal possible.

Don’t Forget About Your Pets

Homeowners read Bin There Dump That relocating gui

If you have pets, they’re probably like family to you. This means that you’ll absolutely want them to come along with you as you relocate to a new country. However, moving your pets isn’t as easy as booking a ticket and flying them abroad. Many countries have quarantine requirements for a specified period of time before you can move your pets.

Do your research on the country your headed to and find out their specific laws regarding international pet transport. Or, consider working with a company that can make all the necessary international arrangements for you.

Submit a Change of Address

In addition to notifying your bank and credit card companies, make sure that you head to your local post office to fill out and submit an international change of address form (COA). This is a request that informs the United States Postal Service (USPS) to reroute your mail for either all or specific individuals at an identified address. While you can submit a Change of Address online for domestic moves within the U.S., you must submit a form in person to forward to an international address.

Saying Your Goodbyes

Your relocation won’t be complete without taking the time to see everyone you know and love one final time before you head out. You can choose to quietly say your goodbyes or throw a big going-away party for one last hurrah, depending on your preferences.

Try your best not to worry during these goodbyes and enjoy your time with your family and friends as much as possible. While the move is certainly going to be stressful, it will also be a truly unforgettable adventure.

Before you leave, it’s also best to try to make plans for a return visit to your home country. That will give both you and your family some peace of mind, while also making the “see-you-laters” a whole easier.

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