Moving abroad can be extremely exciting but it can also be a daunting prospect. There is so much to think about and organise, both at home and abroad, in order to make your move possible – from packing, to arranging transport, to sorting new accommodation and planning for your new job or course of study. To help you prioritise tasks and to make sure you don’t miss anything important, Send My Bag has put together this moving abroad checklist.
1.Finalise your travel itinerary
Make sure that you know all the ins and outs of your journey to your new location. This may sound obvious, but arriving at a destination you are not familiar with can be disorientating. Research the location well and print out instructions for travel to your final destination, plus timetables for public transport and fare charges. Check that you are not travelling on a public/ bank holiday, which could mean reduced timetables, or possibly no service on that day. In case of unexpected travel disruption, be aware of alternative modes of transport and keep numbers for taxi companies saved in your phone. It is also important to be aware of the etiquette involved in travelling on public transport. Do you buy your ticket on board or at a ticket kiosk? Do you need to validate your ticket, once you have boarded a bus or tram? Is it customary to tip a taxi driver? How do you arrange a taxi pick-up – should you book beforehand, or is it cheaper to simply hail one from the side of the road? Are you aware which taxi companies are properly licenced so that you are not taken for a ride, in both senses of the word? Check out review sites like Tripadvisor to benefit from the advice of other travellers.
2.Make sure your documents are in order
When moving abroad you will need to ensure that several documents are in order – documents relating to travel, employment, health, and residency in your new location. Ensure that all forms of identification (passport, driving licence) are valid for the dates of travel, but also for a good number of years in advance, to allow you to travel back home when you need to. It will also be easier to renew your document when you are still living at home. You will, of course, need to make sure that you are permitted to travel to, and to stay in, your new location. You will need to arrange visas/ permits well in advance of your date of travel. It is also advisable to obtain travel insurance to cover you in case of cancellation or loss of baggage. Bring copies of your policy with you, along with details of numbers to call for advice or to make a claim. You can always leave photocopies of such documents with family at home, in case you misplace your own copy. If you are starting a new job or course of study, there are likely to be a number of documents that the employer or host institution requires. Check what these are before you leave home.
If you are moving to study in the USA or the UK, check out our guide on what visa you need to study in the USA and what visa you need to study in the UK.
3.Ensure you have sufficient funds
When relocating abroad, you will need to have money available in the local currency. Make sure you have enough money to cover your travel, as well as the first few days/ weeks in your new location, to allow you to set up a bank account. Do not carry too much cash, however. Instead, spread your money across cash, travel cards/ traveller’s cheques, etc. You should also authorise your credit/ debit card to be used abroad. To avoid paying international transaction fees too frequently, you should withdraw cash to cover you for a few days, once you have arrived, rather than using your card for lots of individual purchases.
Once you have a new bank account, you can transfer money from your old account. Why not transfer your money using CurrencyFair? CurrencyFair is a website that allows you to transfer money internationally, while avoiding your bank’s poor exchange rates and high fees. This service will also allow you to send money back home to family.
4.Sort out your accommodation
If you are moving abroad as a student, you may find that your institution offers accommodation on campus. Or, most university towns and cities offer affordable accommodation to students, usually in the form of house shares. If you are not a student, but moving abroad to work, for example, it is advisable to research available housing before you move. If possible, plan a trip to your new location to visit potential homes. Or, when you first arrive, you should spend some time visiting accommodation in person before choosing which property to rent/ buy. Book into a local hotel in the meantime to give you the freedom to do so. Before signing any rental agreements, make sure you are aware of your responsibilities and also that you have checked that the rental amount is a fair price for the local area. Try to establish a rapport with your employer from the beginning and ask them for advice on the best areas to live and on reputable estate agents or rental companies. Allow yourself plenty of time to find a place to live before your work contract/ course of study begins. Check out our guide to buying a house abroad if you are thinking about buying a property in your new location.
5.Send your possessions abroad
When relocating internationally, you may struggle to bring with you all the possessions you would like. Airlines are making it increasingly difficult and extremely expensive to bring any substantial amount of luggage with you. It is also a real hassle trying to drag several bags with you onto public transport. Having your much-loved possessions with you, however, can help to turn your new accommodation into a home and can help ease home-sickness. So, why not ship your luggage to your new destination using Send My Bag. Send My Bag has many international routes, with a great-value flat rate for each route up to a massive 30 kg. This means that you can bring your favourite clothes, books, dvds, etc. to quickly help you set up home abroad. Visit our 'How it works' page or our 'FAQs' to find out more.
6.Get acquainted with your new local area
Before you travel, do some research on your local area. Make a list of local amenities, including local shops, chemists, banks, public transport networks, etc. If you know where you are going to live, note down how far away they are and how to get here, as well as opening times. If you intend to use public transport a lot, find out if there are travel cards available to reduce the cost. If you are relying on public transport to get around, investigate supermarkets that offer home delivery. This way, you can buy in all the essentials you need to start living. You should also acquaint yourself with local council amenities, such as bin collections. Find out what day your bin will be collected and what the rules on recycling are. Finally, acquaint yourself with the local emergency services and make sure you know what number to dial to reach them.
7.Make sure you can stay in touch with people at home
These days, phone and internet access are essential parts of daily life and will be especially important to you if you have left friends and family back at home. If you are on a mobile phone contract at home, you should try to cancel this, if possible, as your tariff will often not include international calls. You can then obtain a pay as you go sim so you only pay for what you use. Alternatively, you could try to change tariff to one that includes international calls. In the long run, the best option is to purchase a local sim in your new location, especially as you will increasingly need to contact people locally. To obtain internet access, you will often need a landline. The landline provider may be able to offer a package with free international calls. Or, you could use Skype to contact other users at home. If you would rather not pay for a landline, if may be possible in your area to use an internet dongle. Whichever option you go for, make sure you shop around, and ask the advice of locals. They may even be able to help you make sense of terms and conditions if you are not entirely au fait with the local language.
8.Make provisions for health care
Ill health can strike at any time, even if you are abroad, so make sure you have access to local health care. Find out how the health system works – whether it is a public or largely private health care system. Do you need to obtain health insurance to afford fees? Does your job contract come with health care benefits? Does this cover other members of your family? Ensure that you know what to do in the case of an emergency and what services are available for minor injuries or illnesses – a walk-in clinic or pharmacy may be able to help. Register with your local doctor/ dentist/ optician and find out how to arrange an appointment.
9.Make sure everything has been settled at home
You may be so busy planning your move that you forget that there are several things at home that need to be sorted out. Make sure that all outstanding bills have been settled, and that contracts, insurance policies, etc. do not renew automatically when you no longer need them. Don’t forget services that you use on a frequent basis, such as window cleaning and gardening. Let companies know that you are moving away (they might be able to continue working for the new occupants of your old home.) And, of course, make sure your friends and family know you are leaving and give them details on how to contact you.
10.Get involved in your new community
Home-sickness is likely to strike once the excitement of relocating has died down. To help combat this, you should try to become involved in the local community. Talk to people at work/ university and ask to get together outside of working hours. Remember that family members who have travelled with you may not have such outlets for socialising and encourage them to meet people in other ways – by joining local clubs and societies, for example. A significant hurdle to overcome may be a language barrier. It is imperative that you try to learn the local language. This can start well before you move, whether you take a formal class at home or simply teach yourself using books or one of the many online resources now available, such as language apps, websites such as Babbel, or more substantial software such as Rosetta Stone. Most people you meet abroad will be thrilled that you have made the effort to learn their language and these people will be crucial to helping you become fluent.
Have you decided to move to the UK? Check out our extensive guide to Moving to the UK to help you plan your new life in the UK.
Maybe you are thinking about moving abroad but haven't yet decided where to go? Read our 'Top Ten Reasons to Move to Australia' to get you thinking. As well as our moving abroad checklist, we have a handy packing list that will help you pack everthing you need for your move abroad.