Moving abroad can be an exciting adventure, resulting in a better quality of life in a new, amazing country.
And if you are moving abroad, you’re not alone; according to Inter Nations, “on average, 5.6% of the British population lives abroad as expatriates.”
However, planning for the big move can be challenging, especially for first-time expats. Figuring out the crucial stuff – the things you have to do before moving might throw unexpected obstacles in your path.
This guide sets out a helpful checklist before you relocate abroad, so you don’t miss the important stuff and can ensure a seamless transition.
Let’s get started:
Top 6 Expat Relocation Checklist
1. Book your initial accommodation
Finding suitable accommodation overseas plays a significant role in helping expats settle in. This may seem obvious but it’s impossible to move abroad without making plans for your initial accommodation, even if it’s only temporary before you find somewhere more permanent.
As a minimum, you want to ensure that you have a place to stay for your first night. Between dealing with flight stress and trying to navigate a completely new city, having a place to sleep planned before you arrive will remove unnecessary stress.
It can also be useful to talk to locals or join an online expatriate forum to find out about the best housing locations and options in your new host country.
2. Get a health check-up
Getting sick while living overseas in a country where you’re unfamiliar with the healthcare system and facilities can be a big challenge for new expats. Here are some important issues to bear in mind regarding your health when moving abroad.
Before embarking on the journey, you should consult your doctor to make sure that all your relevant immunizations are up to date. You can find out more about the recommended immunizations you might need from the WHO website here. You may also want to consider booking a routine check-up to make sure there are no major underlying health issues before you move.
You should also ensure that you’re financially supported in case of illness or injury. In some countries, foreigners may not be able to access public healthcare facilities and will, therefore, need to budget for treatment at private hospitals. Taking out an international health insurance plan is one way you can manage your medical expenses when living overseas.
3. Decide what to do with your belongings
When deciding which items to take with you, remember to think about the living conditions in your new host country. Are you going to live in a permanent residence or be continuously moving from one place to another? Are living spaces smaller than what you’re used to back home? Will you be in a city or somewhere more rural?
It’s also important to consider the weather when packing what clothes to take. Will the weather be seasonal or hot all year round? Will it be easy and inexpensive to buy appropriate clothing once you arrive? If so, you might want to pack light!
If you’re moving with your job it’s likely your employer will arrange to ship your belongings for you. If that’s not the case, there are plenty of international movers to choose from so you should be able to get a competitive quote. You can often choose between air or sea freight: remember that sea freight is usually cheaper but it may take longer for your items to arrive.
After deciding which items will go with you, the final step is to figure out what to do with the remaining items. Some you may be able to give away while others you might want to keep in storage. Remember family members and friends may be willing to store some items for you, within reason!
4. Sort out your finances
Creating an account with a large international bank that has branches in your new host country before you move can help make it easier for you to set up your finances on arrival. They may even be able to set up an overseas account for you, so you can use it as soon as you land.
Additionally, it’s worth calling your bank before you go to let them know where you will be traveling to, to ensure your cards will still work when you get there. You should also check if any your debit cards or credit cards have a foreign processing fee. If they do, you’ll want to set up a local debit or credit card as soon as possible. There are also plenty of ways to transfer money internationally without incurring fees, including through new platforms such as TransferWise and Xoom which may be worth considering.
Finding somewhere to convert your money once you arrive can be difficult amidst the stress of relocation, so make sure you have sufficient foreign currency to hand just in case of any issues. It’s also important to find out whether your new host country is a cashless place or not, as some countries rely on cash more than others.
5. Considerations for pets
If you’re considering relocating with your pet, you will need to do your research first.
Some countries require pets to have a microchip as a means of identification, while others have vaccination and quarantine requirements, such as rabies shots for dogs.
Before moving to take your pet to a veterinarian to make sure they have the vaccinations they need and meet any other relocation requirements. Long haul flights can also be particularly stressful for animals, so your vet will also be able to advise on whether your pet is physically fit enough for the journey. You should also consider how you will access medical treatment for your pet in your new host country, and consider whether you need to take any supplies with you.
Finally, don’t forget to bring the proper paperwork with you when you move (and keep copies) to avoid your pet having to be detained or quarantined unnecessarily.
6. Additional tips
Here are some other useful expat tips to consider.
Set a Budget: When living overseas some items may be cheaper than you’re used to, while others may be more expensive. Take some time to estimate your monthly expenses, including entertainment and trips back home, and make sure that the lifestyle you intend to live is affordable within your budget.
You can use a cost of living comparison tool as a yardstick to figure out the expected change in pricing for food, housing, entertainment, and so on.
Take Language Lessons: You may also want to consider taking language classes before you arrive. To start with you should at least know some basic phrases such as “thank you,” “hello,” and “do you speak English.”
While English is a common second language in most countries, bear in mind that some locals may be offended if you approach them without making an effort to use their language. Try using free resources such as Duolingo to start with, and once you settle into your new home country you may then decide to take up more formal lessons.
Every year thousands of people relocate abroad to experience expat life in a new country. Moving overseas can be a daunting and stressful task, but if you follow all the steps in this expat relocation checklist you can easily manage your move like a pro.
Whether your reason for relocating is to pursue a career, to be closer to family or a loved one, or solely for some adventure in the sun, be sure to consider all the items mentioned here before you make the move to ensure a seamless experience!