It has been about fourteen months now since I packed up a decade of doing life in Dallas to move to London. It has been a roller coaster of a move and while I have settled in a lot of areas; there are still days I feel completely out of my depth. One thing that has kept me moving forward has been this space and I am hoping this year; in addition to the travel guides; I can also share the practical ways to travel more and fit that around your work life. Now on to the point of this post, I did not realize how much was entailed in moving countries and there I a few things I wished some one told me before I started the process and ultimately made the plunge. I am not saying it will have impacted the decision to move, but I will have planned better and sooner. If you are thinking of moving abroad for whatever reason, here are twenty things to keep in mind as you prepare. Some will be no brainers and other mights surprise you like it did me.
1. Cancel your services. Make a list of your monthly bills; if you tend to have direct debit set up for your bills; it helps to print out a copy of your bank statement to help you make a list of all of the services I needed to cancel/defer. Some of the more common ones are car insurance; rental insurance; Appliance rentals; toll tags; utility service; cell phone; internet service needs to be suspended or canceled; streaming service that will not work in new home country. Because I travel back to the states a few times, I chose to downgrade my cell phone service to the cheapest option available.
2. Submit your move out notice if renting or Put property up for rental. Most apartments will charge an additional fee if you give less than 60 days move out notice; so as soon as you know you are moving, submit that notice immediately. If you are moving before your lease is up; you may incur cancellation fees. In my case it was one month rent (and my contract did not reimburse me for that). If you own your place, make plans to put it up for rent or sale.
3. Cancellation fees. The sooner you start prepping for your move the better. Don't forget to factor in cancellation fees for apartment lease; cell phone; utilities etc in your move budget. Those add up to a lot of money.
4. Credit Cards - I recommend keeping at least one credit card open even if you are making a permanent move; it always helps to have that financial connections if you decide to return. One of my colleagues move back to the UK after almost two decades of living state side and it was very useful to have maintained their banking here while they were away; they avoided the hassle that is the process of setting up a bank account/line of credit in the UK. My credit facility in the UK does not offer similar perks as the one in the US i.e. airline/hotel points ; cash back; no foreign fees so I often use my US credit card when traveling. Just make sure to update your travel alerts appropriately.
5. Make a declutter schedule. Start by getting rid of any items you would (should) have gotten rid of move or not. . Hopefully, you have ample notice before you have to move. When you think a move is probable, start decluttering. Don't underestimate what you have accumulated over the years. Be brutal with the process. This process will help streamline the items to ship; store or donate. This is one I wish I did; I crammed everything into the last month of my move and barely slept the entire month.
6. Schedule Donation Pickup. In line with point 4, figure out what items you are packing and what you are donating early and schedule pickup. Organizations like Salvation army will come pick up donations but require time. I scheduled mine three weeks ahead of schedule and I barely got a date that will not conflict with my actual move date. You also want to do this early one so you have time to clean the property especially if you are renting.
7. Excess luggage vs. shipping. If you will staying in temporary housing while you settle into your new home country. Consider shipping some of your possessions instead of having to log it from airport to temp accommodation and then to the my new home. You can request the shippers deliver it to your new home once you have permanent accommodation sorted. This is another reason to start preparing early, various countries have different requirements for shipping items in and these may be burdensome process. A week before my move, I decided to pay for excess luggage to move my possession because the paperwork involved with shipping was time consuming and tedious. Shipping would have been cheaper.
8. Store ; Ship or Sell. If you are temporarily moving you might consider storing some your items that you won’t be need i.e. furniture or car. I chose to sell my car and furniture. I donated all of my kitchen appliances and moved personal items only. I have 8 bags; a carry on and a backpack (don’t judge, I had a lot of shoes).
9. Make plans for your mail. Switch as much as you can to electronic mailing only and for everything else, find a mail service that can sort and forward your mail to you. I could not find one in the time I had to move; thankfully family and friends have been kind to store my mail in my absence. If you use a mailing service, don't forget to get a notarized form 1583 for your mail forwarding service - most mail forwarding companies will require this of you.
10. Schedule appointment with Healthcare providers. Get your annual physical done; visit your dentist and ophthalmologist before you leave and while you have health insurance. It might take weeks or months to find a healthcare provider in your new home. I fell ill within a few months of moving here and have had to pay out of pocket for all my doctor visits. While you are at, make sure to get prescriptions filled for you needed medications.
11. Make a to-do list for your new home. if you are going short-term - have a to-do list of all the non-work stuff you want to experience and do. Let's face it - work experience was only 50% of why you chose the expat life. If it is a permanent move, then maybe you need not worry and focus on settling into your new home.
12. Make a shopping list. This should be of items you make not be able to purchase in your new home country. I absolutely love the first aid beauty red clay skin care line. The brand is not available in the UK or Europe and I will need to pay to have it shipped to me. Thankfully, I was aware of this early one and order a few back-ups to bring with me.
13. Professional licenses and Continuing education. Look into whether you can defer compliance while abroad or if CPEs taken abroad will be considered towards your CPE requirements. If not (and you want to keep current on your license) then you have to make sure to schedule time while abroad to keep up with your CPEs.
14. Update your calendar for birthdays; anniversaries; profession certification renewal and any important dates of your nearest and dearest.
15. Make one last visit to your favorite places. My friend "S" gave me this advice and I cannot stress how important this was to me to have one final drink at my favorite wine bar; mani/pedi at my favorite spa.
16. Inform people. Believe it or not, this is one that actually gets lost the process and you don't want people sending a search party for you.
17. Schedule a going away party. You want to spend some time with your favorite people before moving on to new adventures and you can one final goodbye and not fifty mini good byes. Time is of the essence that last month before your move.