How to Prepare for a Big Move Abroad: A Step-by-Step Guide


How to Prepare for a Big Move Abroad: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you've ever thought about moving abroad, then you probably know it's not easy. It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare, especially if you're moving a long distance. Some people say that moving is great for clearing your mind and giving you a fresh start.

While this is true, there are also many things to consider when moving. If this is your first time moving abroad, don't suffer alone.

We've done all the hard work for you and put together a list of tips to help you along the way

Preparing to Move Abroad: A Step-by-Step Guide

Moving abroad is an exciting opportunity. However, moving can also be time consuming and stressful, especially moving to a new country. To make your move abroad as easy and exciting as possible. Here is our moving abroad checklist to make your move abroad easier.

Moving abroad to a new destination usually takes three to six months, so planning will help minimize surprises and allow you to enjoy the transition. 

We've put together a schedule of things to do as your move-in date approaches to make the process easier.


Things to Do Before Moving Abroad

Update your Passport and Get the Necessary Visa

While those moving from one country to another will not need a visa, others will need to apply for a visa in the host country. US citizens can start by looking up country-specific visa requirements to identify what needs to be done to obtain a visa. 

Keep in mind that the visa application process can take six months or more, so apply as soon as possible.

Book your International Ticket

It's no secret that flying to another country can be expensive. Start checking flight prices to your destination country as soon as possible and set up price alerts to notify you if a flight becomes available for the amount you expect to pay.

How to Prepare for a Big Move Abroad: A Step-by-Step Guide


While sites like Sky scanner can prove invaluable for finding the best deals on flights, be sure to keep an eye on individual airlines as some may charge a premium for booking your airfare through third-party sites.

Pack and Ship What You Can't Take with You

Shipping items internationally can be expensive, so it might make more sense to pay for extra baggage on the flight to your host country. Compare the cost of shipping items internationally to the price of extra baggage to see which makes the most sense.

Make Copies of All-important Documents

The last thing you want is to find yourself stranded in a foreign country trying to explain to the authorities that you've lost your passport. 

How to Prepare for a Big Move Abroad: A Step-by-Step Guide

Make copies of your passport, license, birth certificate, medical records, marriage certificates and health insurance in case the original copy is lost. For added security, laminate these documents to protect them from rain or wear.

Organize Your First Night in the Host Country

While "doing it" with lodging can provide a fun experience, make sure you have at least one place to stay the first night. Between dealing with jet lag and trying to navigate a whole new city, having somewhere to sleep in line before you arrive will take some unnecessary stress out.


Health Plan for Moving Abroad

How to Prepare for a Big Move Abroad: A Step-by-Step Guide

Purchase medical insurance

Make sure you are financially covered in case of injury or illness. We recommend that you identify a health insurance plan that gives you the freedom to choose any hospital with 24-hour emergency care.

Get the Necessary Vaccinations

From malaria to typhoid fever, a handful of harmful diseases are easily preventable with the right treatment. Explore this list of recommended vaccinations for each country.

Visit Your Doctor for a Checkup

The best starting point for vaccinations is to check with your doctor to make sure all vaccinations have been taken care of. While you're there, be sure to do your annual checkup routine to make sure there aren't any pressing health issues to attend to before you leave.

Stay Safe Abroad

Before leaving for your host country, make a plan to stay safe abroad. Start by reviewing State Department travel advisories to understand the biggest threats in your host country, whether it's avoiding certain areas or preparing for certain illnesses.


Find a Place to Live Abroad

How to Prepare for a Big Move Abroad: A Step-by-Step Guide

Determine What Items You Will Bring

When deciding what items to bring, start by identifying the living situation in your host country. Will you be living in permanent residence or will you be moving from place to place on a regular basis?

If you live in permanent residence, how much space will you have? Carrying three suitcases is probably not feasible if you plan on hopping from house to house or if you will be sharing a small apartment with other people. Also, most airlines will charge extra fees for baggage, so be picky about what you take with you.

Keep, Sell or Donate Everything Else

After determining which items to bring along, the next step is to identify which of the remaining items to keep in stock and which to give away. Try selling old goods on Craigslist, Amazon, or eBay, and donate any unsold items to a local thrift store.

Turn Off all Utilities

You certainly don't want to receive a surprise utility bill from your utility company while you live abroad. Be sure to check that all lights, heat, and water have been turned off in your home before you leave, and be sure to cancel or pause your plan with your utility company.

Sell ​​or Rent Your Home

Browse sites like Craigslist or work with a real estate agent to sell your home. Keep in mind that selling or renting your home can take anywhere from a month to a year, so start the process as soon as possible.

Sell ​​Your car or Position Shipping

The cost of shipping your car can vary greatly depending on the size of the car and the distance it will travel. As a frame of reference, shipping a car from the US to Europe typically ranges from $750 for a compact car to $2,000 for an SUV.

While this may seem expensive, shipping your car could save you the hassle of selling your existing car and finding a new one after the move. Also, if you're used to driving an automatic car, be aware that manual cars are the norm in much of Europe, and an automatic car usually costs significantly more to purchase.

Set up Mail Forwarding

You don't want your mail piling up when you have other things to do after your move. Make sure you set up mail forwarding to the new location.


Bank and International Accounts

How to Prepare for a Big Move Abroad: A Step-by-Step Guide

Create an Account that You can Use Abroad

We recommend opening an account with a large international bank such as HSBC, which makes your transfer easier by allowing you to open an international bank account in your host country before moving abroad. Also, try exploring Schwab Bank, which includes international ATM fee refunds, meaning you never have to pay a fee for using an ATM abroad.

Inform Your Current Bank/Credit Card of Your Move

Call your bank to inform them of your expected arrival in the host country and a list of other countries you plan to visit in the coming weeks. 

You should also check if credit or debit cards have a foreign processing fee. These taxes can add up quickly and add substantially to living expenses. 

If all of your credit cards have a foreign transaction fee, consider opening a new credit card or withdrawing larger amounts of money when visiting ATMs in your host country to minimize the fees fixed withdrawals.


Visit Before You Move

It's a great idea to visit your new country or city before moving permanently.

In this way you will be able to understand how the locals live:

Do they shop in department stores or local markets?

Do they travel on foot or by car?

Do they observe any traditions that you should know about?

Answering all of these questions ahead of time will help you adjust and make friends as quickly as possible.

Visiting before the move can also help avoid stress when it comes to logistics and practicality; For example, you can speak to staff at a local bank to learn about account options. You can also check out local neighborhoods to see which areas are safer, friendlier, and would be better for you and your family.

You may also be able to find a place to live by contacting some real estate agents in advance or by arranging visits with individual landlords or roommates.


Talk to Expats and Locals in Your New Location

How to Prepare for a Big Move Abroad: A Step-by-Step Guide

Try contacting someone who lives in your new city or town before you move. While researching online is helpful, there's no better way to get expert advice than talking to people who live in the city or the country.

These people can help you avoid stress by answering questions you can't find answers on the web or by connecting with employers or landlords. They may also be able to give you information about events happening in your area in the first few weeks. This is a great way to learn about the culture of your new home while also getting to know some of the locals.

But who should you talk to? If you have the opportunity to visit your own country before moving, finding a local or other expat to talk to should be easy.

You can simply talk to a waitress in a restaurant, a taxi driver or the sellers of a local store. If you don't have the opportunity to visit us, perhaps your new employer can put you in touch with your future colleagues, or chat with future roommates, if you've already managed to find accommodation.


Moving Your Pet Abroad

How to Prepare for a Big Move Abroad: A Step-by-Step Guide

Check the Pet Rules in Your Host Country

If you are considering rehoming a pet, most countries will require your pet to be microchipped for identification.

In addition to this, most countries will require rabies vaccinations, tapeworm treatment for dogs, and vaccinations that will vary from pet to pet. Some countries require your pet to be quarantined for a certain amount of time.

Make Sure Your Pet is Up-to-Date on Vaccinations

Take your pet to the vet to make sure it has received the proper vaccinations and has passed any other requirements needed to move to the new country.

Check if Your Pet can Handle Movement

After the checkup, your vet can provide a professional opinion on whether your pet is physically healthy enough to travel. Flights can be particularly taxing on pets, so be sure to consider your veterinarian's opinion before committing to taking your pet abroad.

Get the Necessary Medicines

While some medicines may seem easy to find in your current country, keep in mind that they may be more difficult to find in your host country. Get enough vaccinations for 1-2 months to ensure your pet is covered until you find a suitable vet.

Gather all of Your Pet's Up-To-Date Documents to Take with You

If you do not bring the proper documentation, your pet may be detained or quarantined upon arrival in your host country, so please make an additional copy of all documentation.

Once in your host country, you may want to relax and start settling down, but there are still a few things to take care of. Before you get too comfortable, complete this post-relocation checklist.


International Moving checklist

Set a Budget

Living abroad can be expensive, so take the time to come up with rough estimates of your monthly expenses and make sure the lifestyle you expect and the lifestyle you can afford are the same. Use a cost of living comparison tool as a benchmark to identify expected change in prices for housing, food, entertainment, etc.

Grab Some Local Currency

Before leaving for your host country, visit your local bank to withdraw some of your host country's currency. Airport currency exchanges often offer a low exchange rate and finding somewhere to convert your money in the host country can be stressful in the middle of your move. 

While using a credit or debit card may be your first option, some countries are more dependent on cash than others. Other than that, keep cash on you in case of a frozen credit or debit card (see Contact your current bank/credit cards regarding your move) – (set up an anchor link for “Contact your current bank /credit cards regarding your move” section above)

Cancel Your Gym Membership

Canceling gym memberships can often be time-consuming, and some gyms even require you to visit the gym to cancel in person, so make sure you take care of that before you go. take language lessons

At the very least, you should learn to use basic phrases like "hello," "thank you," and "do you speak English?" While English is a common second language in much of the world, many will become angry if you approach them and assume, they speak English. To learn more about the language of your host country, try using Duolingo or Pimsleur language lessons.



How to Prepare for a Big Move Abroad: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you are traveling alone, try to make friends before you travel by joining local social media groups and

sign up for clubs and hobbies upon arrival. This will help you meet people who are already living

in the area, as well as giving you some tips on where to go out and what things are like there.


Have you recently moved abroad?

Share your experiences in the comments to inspire others!

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