Moving abroad is an exciting occasion. Whether you are moving for work, school, or simply to explore a new place, it’s a momentous milestone. However, there are a ton of things to consider to prepare for your move and to keep in mind along the way.
Relocating domestically has its own unique set of challenges. However, moving overseas adds a list of additional factors to the equation. Depending on the country that you are moving to, a lot of logistical planning must come into play.
Planning well ahead and carefully can make your transition to your new home as seamless as possible. By doing the prep work ahead of time, you’ll get settled more quickly and be ready to explore your new county. So here is everything you need to know about moving overseas and beginning your next big adventure.
Choosing A New Home to Relocate to Overseas
This process all comes down to your unique situation. If you are moving for your job or an opportunity in higher education, you might not have much leeway in the decision of where to relocate to. However, if you have the freedom to choose your new home, there are some factors that you should consider.
Consider Climate When Choosing a New Home Country
The climate is often a major driving force in peoples’ decision to move. Whether looking for more mild conditions or escaping cold winters, relocating is an opportunity to live in your ideal climate. However, you should consider the challenges that also come with moving to a different climate than you are accustomed to.
You’ll want to prepare your wardrobe for your new climate. Do you have the proper attire for cold winters if you are heading somewhere icy? Are you stocked up on swimwear and sun protection if you are moving to a tropical locale? Having a reasonable supply of these things on hand ahead of time eliminates scrambling for them in an unfamiliar new location.
If you are moving your car to your new climate with you, you want to make sure it’s also ready for the varying conditions. Check the wiper blades and tires to make sure they are ideal for snowy and icy conditions. Make sure the air conditioner is in good shape and fluids are topped off if you are heading somewhere steamy. This will avoid any mishaps when your vehicle feels the shock of its new environment.
Depending on where you are moving, you might need some weather-related equipment. Ordering it to your new home ahead of your arrival can pay off should extreme weather welcome you to your new home. Having things like umbrellas and snow shovels on hand can ensure that your first few days in your new place are as comfortable as possible.
Be sure to prepare yourself for any natural disasters that your new home is prone to. Educate yourself on hurricane preparedness or hunkering down during a blizzard if you are likely to encounter such events. Having an understanding of the best way to weather these conditions can make getting through them safer and less traumatic.
Legalities and Documentation When Moving Internationally
While deciding on a country to move to, you’ll want to look into the legal system they have in place regarding ex-pats. Some countries make it easy to live there temporarily or even permanently. Others have a rigorous system when it comes to emigration.
Look into what systems are in place and get started on any paperwork and applications as early as possible. If you are moving for work or school, you should have an in-house relocation expert that can assist you. You can also seek help from a lawyer that specializes in moving abroad to ensure all of your legal ducks are in a row.
This is also a good time to renew your United States passport if needed. There can be a delay in processing, especially during the busiest times so make sure to do this well before the projected timeline. Make sure you also have certified copies of both your birth certificate and social security cards.
Budgeting for Your Move Abroad
Moving to a new country is an exciting, yet expensive venture. However, if you start saving early and budget carefully, you will feel less of a dent in your pocketbook. Being prepared for unforeseen costs can also help soften the financial blow.
Costs for Finding Your New Home Overseas
Once you have nailed down where you are moving, the next step is to find a new home. This process comes with its own unique set of costs. Not only do you need to set a budget for the expenses associated with your new home, but you need to consider the actual costs of finding it.
Setting the Budget for Your New Home
Do your research on your new area and set a smart budget for your new home. If you are purchasing a home, make sure to get preapproval for your mortgage so you can shop knowledgeably. If you are renting, narrow your price range to make your search more efficient.
Think about factors that could drive your home above your intended budget aside from your mortgage or rent payment. Are there HOA fees associated with the property? Is the homeowner’s insurance policy or property taxes significantly higher than you are used to?
Do your due diligence in researching the utilities as well. You might be shocked at the higher water or electricity rates in your new location. Things like the internet and cable TV might also be much higher if you are moving somewhere more remote. Build these into your overall housing budget to ensure that you don’t stretch yourself too thin.
Moving to another country is the prime chance to explore the world. Make sure not to overspend your way right out of enjoying your adventure. Consider lowering your housing budget to allocate more funds to traveling and experiencing your new location.
Costs for Finding Your New Home in Another Country
The process of actually finding your new place has its own set of costs associated with it. You’ll likely need some professional help, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area. Plus, you might want to visit in person to choose the perfect new home.
Whether you are planning to rent or buy, a professional local agent can help you find the best home for your needs. They are also skilled negotiators and can likely get you the best deal for your budget. However, this comes at a cost. So it’s a good idea to budget for agent fees for your new home search.
You might want to visit your new home in person to select your property. Depending on where you are moving to, this trip can come with significant costs. Be sure to plan on paying for flights, hotel stays, and food during your new home search.
Establishing Plans for Your Life in Your New Home Country
When starting a new life in a new country, there are many pieces of the puzzle to consider. Do you already have a job in your new location? Will you need to set up new health insurance and find new providers? Do you have children that will need to be transitioned to a new environment? These are all things that can be planned well ahead of time to reduce stress.
Finding Employment When Relocating Overseas
If you are moving for work, you won’t have the worry about finding employment in your new country. However, you will want to make sure you understand the norms of your new workplace, even if you are working for the same country. What are the typical office hours? Is the dress code different than the one you are used to? Make sure to work with your transition specialist and HR department to integrate seamlessly to your new office.
Finding a job in a new country can be a challenge. It might be smart to retain an agency that specializes in international job placement. You can also update your resume, attend job fairs, and search online for positions that fit your skillset. Make sure you apply for a work permit if it’s required by your new country or prospective employers.
Deciding on A School for Your Kids in a New Country
If you are moving a family with you overseas, you’ll have a few other considerations and decisions to make. One of those choices is selecting a school if you have children. This decision can make or break their experience when transitioning to a new country.
One option is to send your child to a local school. If you are moving to a country where English is spoken, this can be a great option. It can also immerse them in a new language if English isn’t widely used in your new home. This is a great way to make friends and meet people in your new neighborhood. And language often isn’t as much of a barrier to learning at a young age.
However, if your children are older, language can prevent them from learning the high-level skills that they need to prepare them for college or a career. This is when you might want to consider an international school option. These schools are designed for ex-pat children and have a curriculum designed to transition them between countries.
Securing Health Insurance and Providers Before Moving Overseas
Don’t wait until the need arises to set up your health insurance and find providers. Having these in place as soon as possible can help you be prepared should illness or injury occur. Visit your current providers to be sure you are ready for the transition.
Make an appointment with your primary care doctor for a physical and to be sure you have any of the necessary immunizations for moving to your new country. Make sure to have prescriptions refilled and find out what you need to do to have any routine medications transferred to your new pharmacy. This is also a good time to request copies of your medical records so you can provide them to your new physician.
The health insurance system varies from country to country. Some provide health care to citizens and residents while others require you to purchase your own plan. You can look into global health insurance plans that are specifically designed for ex-pats or contact an international insurance agent for guidance.
Finding a good primary care doctor is a challenge, especially in a new country. Contact the United States Embassy in your new country for guidance. They will have resources like lists of English-speaking doctors and specialists in your new area. Don’t forget to look into dentists as well. And locate the emergency room nearest to your new home to be ready for any urgent situations.
Deciding What to Do with Your Current Home When Moving Internationally
Once you have all of the plans made for your new home, it’s time to decide what to do with your current home. If you are renting your home, you can either end your lease or sublet it to a new renter. However, the choices become a little more difficult if you own your property.
Selling Your Current Home Before You Move Internationally
Depending on if you plan to move to a new country temporarily or permanently, you might choose to sell your current home to have one less thing on your plate. Make sure to do this enough time ahead of your move so you can handle the closing ahead of your move abroad.
Work with an agent to list your home and find the right buyer. You might need to negotiate the day of possession so it aligns with your moving timeline. This is also a good time to purge unneeded items and move belongings that you aren’t taking with you into storage. You can even sell your home furnished to eliminate some work on your part.
Choosing to Rent Your Home While You Live in a Different Country
If you are only moving overseas temporarily, renting your home might be the best option. This allows you to still keep ownership of your property. You can likely charge enough rent to cover your mortgage payment and even make a little extra income.
Since you will be out of the country, hiring a property manager is a must. This should be someone well-versed in rental property laws and guidelines. For a fee, they will manage the property, make sure it’s in good condition, and handle any issues that may arise with your tenants.
You will also want to retain landlord coverage on the property. If you are planning to rent it furnished, be sure to take plenty of pictures of your belongings to record their condition. You will also want photo documentation of the home prior to any renters taking residence.
The Big Move to Your New Home Overseas
Once all of the prep work is out of the way, it’s time to implement the actual moving process. This comes with a lot of logistical planning and organization. You’ll need to secure movers and pack your belongings. You will also need to plan to have your vehicle shipped if it’s coming with you. Plus, you have the task of planning the actual transportation to your new country and coordinating your arrival.
Hiring International Movers
If you are moving for work, your employer likely has a list of international movers. In fact, you might be required to use their preferred companies if you are utilizing a relocation package. However, if you are planning your move on your own, you’re going to have to do some research to find great movers within your budget.
This is a great time to lean on reviews and use the experiences of others to guide you. Don’t just peak at the star ratings of different companies. Read the actual reviews and look at the types of outcomes customers have had in situations similar to yours.
Make sure any international moving companies that you consider are accredited by the Better Business Bureau. You also want to check that they are fully licensed, bonded, and insured. Get a quote from several companies so you can compare them and make an informed decision.
Communication is key to working with international movers. Ask for a firm timeline for picking up your belongings and receiving them at your new location. You should also find out what is included in their services. Will you need to pack your own boxes or do they provide that service? Do they have the ability to move specialty items like pianos or large TVs and is that an extra cost?
When you sign a contract, double-check for hidden fees. Ensure that your delivery address is accurate and the timeline that you agreed upon is clearly indicated. Find out how the delivery process works and address any logistical challenges that might arise like narrow driveways or several flights of stairs.
Having Your Car Shipped Overseas
If you have decided to take your vehicle along on your overseas journey, you will need to have it shipped to your new home. This will likely be a multi-step process with lots of coordination required. Working with an auto transport company can help make this transition easier.
Your car will likely need to be transported from your home to the port. An auto transport carrier driver can meet you right at your home or a nearby terminal to pick up your vehicle. They will be responsible for getting your car from your home to the port or airport.
If you have a luxury or exotic car, you can request an enclosed transport vehicle to protect it from debris and the elements on its journey. Oversized vehicles can also be shipped using a flatbed. Your auto transport company can recommend the best method for your unique set of circumstances.
Then, your car will begin its journey overseas. Depending on where you are moving to, you might have several options to get it there. You can opt to transport your car by plane, however, this choice comes at a price premium. It can also be loaded onto a cargo ship. This is a more budget-friendly option, but it might take several days to weeks to arrive at its destination.
Remember to make plans to pick up your vehicle once it arrives. This might mean you need to retrieve it from the airport or shipping port. Or, you can hire an auto transport company to deliver it to your new home.
Traveling to Your New International Home
Once you have all of your belongings set to go, it’s time for you and your family to make the journey to your new home. This should be a fun and exciting trip. Plan ahead and pack strategically to make sure no stress dampers the occasion.
Check the weather at your destination and be sure to dress appropriately. If you are moving between drastically different climates, dress in layers and pack a carry-on bag with weather-appropriate attire. Remember that planes tend to be cold and you’re in for a long flight. A sweatshirt and blanket can keep you cozy along the way.
Make sure to pack plenty to do on your long journey. Books and movies can make the time pass. Look for ones set in your new country to learn about your new home on the way there. Pack plenty of snacks and water to stay fueled and rest when you can to avoid jetlag.
Once you arrive, take your time in getting to know your new home. Locate the nearest grocery store and coffee shop. Stock up on easy to prepare meals and get plenty of rest as you get used to your new time zone. Ease into your new location as you transition into life as an ex-pat.
Making Your Overseas Move Successful
Moving overseas is a huge decision. It’s also one of the biggest journeys that you can take in life. Many ex-pats credit their time living in foreign countries to significant growth and lifelong memories.
With careful planning and plenty of research, you can take the guesswork out of your overseas move. You’ll find a new home that you love and create a life full of excitement and adventure. And you’ll find that your overseas move was one of the best decisions you could have made.