There is a lot to consider when moving abroad, and it can be tricky to know what’s important and what isn’t. Below, we’ve put together a few logistical tips to help you make sure all the important things are under control.
- Keep your home bank accounts
I know someone who moved abroad, unsure whether they would stay longer than a few months before coming home again, who hastily closed their home bank accounts almost before they’d got on the plane.
This made it incredibly difficult to move their money around and they ended up having to spend hours on the phone. You will need a bank account in your destination country, but even if you’re planning to live there for a year or more, don’t go closing all your home bank accounts.
It takes a long time to set up an account in your new country, and you don’t want to be stuck between bank accounts – plus, keeping your home ones open will maintain your credit score and allow you to easily pay any outstanding or ongoing bills.
- Make copies of important documents
This really goes for any trip abroad, short or long term – but that’s because it’s important and really useful. Making copies of your important documents not only means you can refer to them for information while keeping the real ones locked away, but it also protects you against loss and theft. It’s also a good idea to make a couple of sets of copies and leave a set at home with your parents or a trusted friend in case of emergencies.
- Weigh up shipping vs storage
When moving abroad long term, one of the many things you’ll need to think about is what to do with all your stuff – which obviously depends on your circumstances. If you’re planning to move into somewhere furnished with just a couple of suitcases and rent out your place back home, then that isn’t too much trouble.
However, if you’re planning to say goodbye to your apartment at home then you need to decide whether to keep your stuff in storage while you’re away or whether you’re going to have it shipped over with you. Working out the pros and cons, not to mention the financial cost, of each option ahead of time will make sure you’re properly organized and reduce stress.
- Save a starter fund
You may have a new job lined up, you may have your budget all worked out and you may have researched all you can about the cost of living in your destination country – but there are always unexpected start-up costs to a move, even when it doesn’t involve crossing borders.
You will probably have saved up a little to help you get started in your new life anyway, but it’s a good idea to save up more than you think you’ll need so that you can cover any unexpected costs without worrying about breaking the bank.
- Research the country’s vehicle laws
Is your driver’s license valid in your destination country? Do you need a special type of insurance? Do you need to make sure you have a certain type of car (some countries, like Norway, have very high taxes on petrol-powered cars due to environmental laws)?
You might not be planning on using a car when you move abroad, but if you are then you should make sure you have all the facts and proper documentation beforehand so there are no nasty surprises that mean you can’t make it to your first day of work.
- Plan for the boring admin stuff
Moving abroad is an escape and an adventure, but unfortunately, the responsibilities of life aren’t quite so willing to abandon you as you are to abandon them.
You will still need to be able to receive mail and vote, and you need to set these things up before you leave. Set up a forwarding address with your mail provider, and speak to your local government about setting up how you can vote from abroad.
- Wait until the last minute!
This advice doesn’t apply often in life, but it does apply here. Obviously, don’t move abroad with no plan – but do wait until all of your documentation such as any visas and travel documentation have been finalised before you accept a new job offer, hand in your notice in your home country or put a deposit down on on apartment. Obtaining travel documents is a complex process depending on where you’re moving to or from and it’s best to get all the kinks ironed out in that respect before you do anything else.
Moving abroad is very exciting and certainly an adventure, but it isn’t without its logistical traps and pitfalls. Inevitably, you’ll discover you’ve forgotten something or other – but hopefully by following some of the tips above you’ll be able to avoid any major mishaps, and you won’t find yourself in hot water financially, accidentally undocumented, or the proud owner of a car you aren’t allowed to drive.