Moving Abroad Checklist

Congratulations! You’ve made a serious decision to move to another country! The next step is to make arrangements without stressing out.

Thankfully, moving abroad doesn’t have to be complex, frustrating, and overwhelming. With the right approach to preparations, you can make the most out of the process while saving time and money.

By designing an effective checklist for moving abroad, you are simplifying the move and avoiding many problems that tend to accompany long-distance moving. Let’s take a closer look at things to do before moving abroad.

Research the New Country’s Laws

Laws, rules, and regulations in the new country can be drastically different from what you are used to. That’s why it’s imperative to sit down and do a little research. While you will definitely learn as you go, some laws need your immediate attention.

For example, you need to find out:

  • Which applications you need to fill out for visas (if any).
  • How much cash you are allowed to bring over the border.
  • Whom you should notify about your arrival.
  • Which restrictions apply to international shipping.
  • Which items may require additional documents.
  • Vaccines and other medical documents your pets need.
  • Whether you need to pay import taxes when moving high-value items.

If you are having trouble finding relevant information, you may want to consider looking for social media groups where expats give each other advice.

Make Calculations

Living abroad may turn out to be more expensive than you expect. Whether you already have the means to support yourself or thinking about getting a job in the new country, you need to make calculations.

  • Compare prices of food in your country and the new country.
  • Find out how much the rent is (go further to check out mortgage costs).
  • Calculate utility expenses (they can turn out much higher than in your country).
  • Learn about taxes and other deductions (your salary after taxes is likely to be significant difference)

You have to take the time to learn about the new country’s job market. You could find that the city you are planning to live in doesn’t have many positions for your profession. You could end up choosing another destination based on job opportunities.

Keep in mind that in some areas, it may be difficult to find a job simply because you are an expat. There can be language difficulties and document problems. It’s up to you to be ready for the challenges.

If you are planning to retire in a new country, find out what their pension conditions are. This could influence your decision about the type of job you plan to get.

Think About Your Home

Having your own place to live in a new country can simplify the moving process tremendously. However, buying a house or an apartment in a new country isn’t always easy. Before you move, it can be hard to understand which city or even neighborhood suits your needs the best.

Ideally, you should consider renting a place first, having a good look around, and buying a house after you move. If you have a friend or family member who lives in the destination country, you could ask them for help with living arrangements.

Additionally, you need to decide whether you want to sell your existing home. If you are planning a permanent move, selling your home may be a good idea. You will get some funds to purchase a new house in the new country. Meanwhile, you don’t have to worry about someone taking care of your old home while you are gone.

If you aren’t sure whether you are going to stay for good, consider keeping your old home. Having a place to come back to can end up being priceless.

Make Arrangements for Pets

If you are moving with a pet, you have to make special arrangements. Many countries require substantial paperwork, including all vaccination documents. Find out exactly what you need to bring your pet to a new country. Otherwise, you could face problems at the border.

When renting an apartment in a new city, make sure to mention that you have a pet. Most likely, you’ll hear many “no’s” before there is a “yes.” Be ready to pay higher rent for an apartment or house that allows pets.

Make Arrangements for Children and Elderly

If you are moving with children or elderly family members, you have to make arrangements for schools, medical care, and nursing homes. Find out how this works in the new country. Many countries have special programs that help children adapt to new schools. Find out which schools suit your kids best and what documents it requires to accept them.

If you need a nursing home or other assistance for your elderly relatives, make arrangements in advance. You may face a lack of familiar government-backed programs in other countries so be ready for extra expenses.

Sort Your Belongings

No matter how much time you’ve lived in your old house, you probably have numerous belongings. While it’s possible to take advantage of international shipping when moving abroad, relocating your entire house can be costly.

Take the time to identify which items you won’t need overseas. Most likely, you won’t need the majority of them, however, you’ll likely need money. Consider arranging yard sales and selling your belongings on eBay or other platforms.

As soon as you set the date of your move, start sorting. It’s a time-consuming process.

Research Transportation

As soon as you arrive in another country, you’ll need to move around. Unless you are bringing your car, you have to find out how the transportation system works. Things to learn in advance:

  • Type of transportation
  • Routes
  • Cost of transportation
  • Cost of taxi (find out which apps work in the new country)

When researching transportation options, look out for tips that tell you how to save. In many countries, there are numerous ways to cut transportation costs.

Plan for a New Language

Learning a new language is often the toughest part of moving to another country. If your destination doesn’t list English as an official language, you need to get ready for some serious studying.

While you may not have time to learn the language before the move, you have an opportunity to memorize a handful of useful phrases. Make arrangements to start learning the language as soon as you arrive.

Take Care of Your Health

While medical assistance may be cheaper in the new country, don’t plan for any procedures during the first several weeks after arrival. You’ll be too busy with housing, transportation, and documents.

Ideally, you should get all the urgent health-related matters taken care of in advance. Consider visiting your dentist, buying all the necessary prescription medications, and arranging routine vaccinations.

Make a Packing List for Moving Abroad

Here is a short yet effective moving abroad packing checklist. You can add some important personal things according to your or your family’s needs:

  • Important documents– make a list of all your documents including passports, marriage licenses, tax information, high-school and college diplomas and transcripts, school records for children, vaccination records, all medical prescriptions, travel insurance, credit card, and driving license.
  • Medication – if you are taking any meds, take enough with you for at least a month. It will take you a while to settle in and find a family doctor in a new country. You can also take some over-the-counter meds you usually use. Don’t forget eyeglasses, contact lenses, and hearing aids if necessary.
  • Electronics – small electronic devices are an essential part of your everyday life. So don’t forget your laptop, cell phone, charger (the new country may have different sockets so get an adapter plug), headphones, camera, e-book reader, smartwatch, tablet, and portable speakers.
  • Clothing – since you can’t take all of your clothing with you, take the time to read up on the new country’s climate. Bring the most comfortable things you usually wear during each season. Pack activewear, jackets, and comfy shoes but don’t forget underwear, tops, and a sweatsuit.
  • Toiletries – when packing toiletries, imagine that you are going on a week-long trip. Don’t pack large bottles of shampoo or shower gel. These things are easy to buy in any country. Don’t forget your toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, floss, shaving cream, and sunscreen. You can also pack tweezers, a razor, and nail clippers.

While you are packing all these essentials, leave some space for a few items that make you feel at home. When you arrive at your new place, you’ll appreciate something special that reminds you of home. It can be your favorite blanket, book, jewelry, or even a stuffed animal.

People who are moving for the first time tend to overpack. When deciding what to pack when moving abroad, keep these things out of the list:

  • Pots, pans, and other large items– you can take these only if there is some extra space in the moving truck.
  • Food – if you have any food left over at home, give it away to neighbors and friends. Carrying it with you is expensive and unnecessary.
  • Toiletries– leave large bottles of shampoo, shaving cream, and lotion. You can buy them in the new country.
  • Home electronics – take large home electronics only if you are 100% sure that they are compatible with the systems in the new country.

If you aren’t sure whether you are going to need some of the items, leave them at a friend’s house or rent a storage space. You can always come back to get them later on.

The Takeaway

Moving abroad can turn into a serious challenge unless you have a stellar plan. By taking advantage of this moving abroad checklist, you can avoid any unnecessary expenses, mistakes, and unpleasant issues.

While some problems when moving abroad are unavoidable, proper preparations can keep them to a minimum.