Planning your move abroad

Top 5 things to do before moving overseas

Last year (2015) around 244 million people, or 3.3% of the world’s population, left their home country or country of permanent residence to live abroad, according to UNFPA estimates. If you’re thinking of working or retiring overseas, there are a number of things you need to take care of before your moving day in order to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

To make sure you don’t forget a thing, I have a free, downloadable Moving Abroad Checklist you can get here.

1) Paperwork

Getting the right paperwork is the first thing you need to do, as it will help you to organise and plan the other aspects of your move. Start by checking if your passport is up to date. Then find out whether or not you’ll require a visa or residence permit before you enter the country you’re travelling to. And if you’re bringing along family members and/or pets, you’ll have to arrange for them to obtain the proper immigration paperwork and health clearances in plenty of time.

Also, depending on the country you’re relocating to, you may or may not need a work permit before you take up any lawful employment; so carry out the necessary research that will help you determine what you need in terms of paperwork.

One place to check for information regarding proper documentation is your proposed country’s embassy or consular office or on their website.

2) Finances

Money will play a big role in determining the success or failure of your move. So you need to look into the financial aspects of your relocation, including things like moving expenses, banking options available in your proposed country, cost of living, taxes, pension, and so on.

Make sure you can afford the moving expenses. If you’re relocating for a new job or a job transfer, your employer may cover some or all of the costs involved. But, if you’re moving because of personal reasons, you’ll be responsible for all costs thereof. These include the cost of hiring professional movers to pack and unpack your belongings, storage, and shipping items and storing them (if necessary). You may also need to consider the cost of legal clearances and taxes that may be slapped on your items.

As well as the cost of moving your belongings, you need to consider living expenses that you’ll incur in your proposed country before you find a job or resume working. This can amount to thousands of dollars and it’s important that you save enough to cover initial housing costs, food, emergencies and other living expenses.

Once you’ve saved enough money, you need to think about how you can access your cash while abroad. How do you move your finances? Have an account set up with a leading bank that will allow you to withdraw money from anywhere in the world and make sure you choose the right type of account to eliminate any unnecessary fees and unfair exchange rates. This is mostly done when you can open a bank account in both countries and at the same bank. A group like the HSBC has subsidiaries in over 50 countries worldwide, not just the usual big countries like the USA, Canada, Germany, Spain and so on.

Also, find out about how your move will affect your pension (in your home country) and the taxes you pay to both governments. Here, it is advisable to talk to a lawyer or a professional accountant to ensure you’re on the right side of the law.

3) Your belongings

The amount of belongings you carry with you to your new country will be the main factor in the cost of your move. The long distance shipping costs of an international move can be unbelievably high, and you should consider taking only those items that are absolutely necessary. This is particularly the case when it comes to large items such as cars and furniture.

Try to get rid of everything besides the absolutely essential stuff. You can sell or give it away; and this will simplify your international move, both logistically and financially.

After all, you can always buy what you need when you get to your new destination – which is more affordable than shipping large items to your new location.

4) Your health needs

Be sure to address any health or medical issues surrounding your international relocation. Start by researching the health care system and medical regulations in your host country and whether or not your current health insurance will adequately cover you while abroad. If not, find out if you need additional coverage or a new policy in your proposed country. Make sure you know where to go, whom to call or what to do when you need medical attention.

Simply put, ensure your medical needs are catered for before embarking on your big move.

5) Housing, utilities and other things to consider when moving

Where will you stay once you arrive in your proposed country? How do you plan to get to your new home? How do you interact with locals? How you answer these questions will depend on your unique situation. But you must arrange housing and other nuts and bolts beforehand. If possible, consider arranging an orientation visit to your host country to get a glimpse of daily life, check housing options, and plan various aspects of your move. This will make the relocation process a far less unsettling experience for you and your family.

Lastly, remember to tell everyone you’re moving and to cancel your bills and direct debits, redirect your mail, and arrange to vote while overseas.

Need to talk 1-1 about your move and life overseas with someone who 'gets it'? Consider me your own, personal expat expert! I'm here for you.

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  1. Great post.

    Agree with all those points. I always find that you can never fully plan for moving to a new country as you never really know what to expect, but all the above points are very valid. I would also add making sure you keep in contact with people back home, and also start a language course or get some books on the language of the country where you are heading, to fit in and enhance your experience…



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