Moving overseas is a new beginning that gives you the chance to follow your dream and live an exciting and life-changing adventure. Thousands of people every year choose to leave their native countries and live the Expat life. They head to countries with fascinating cultures, delicious food, new opportunities, or simply a better quality of life. In fact, 258 million or 3,4 per cent of the world’s population are Expats! But what steps should you take after the big decision to move to another country? Your first step should be a moving abroad checklist.
And suddenly you just know… it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings. – Meister Ekhart.
Before you move abroad, you will need to take care of many things. You need to find a new home, pack everything you own, and transfer your belongings. You’ll book travel, take out insurance, and apply for a visa. And, what about your kids and your pets? A big part of moving overseas requires a leap of faith. However, many aspects of the moving process need hours of research and a detailed Moving Abroad Checklist. Download the wherecani.live checklist below.
Choose the best country to live in with help from our detailed article.
Even if you aren’t passionate about stationery, checklists, and colourful markers, it’s essential to keep organized. Moving overseas is a long process – usually around four months or more – that keeps you on your toes! You’ll need to remember dates, numbers, and other details. You cannot rely fully on your memory. We highly recommend you get a notebook, folder or calendar (whatever works for you) to keep everything safe in one place.
We also recommend planning using time-based checklists. This checklist format allows you to keep track of everything and carry out the right tasks at the right moment. It is a good idea to set a timeline to follow while preparing for your move. This schedule is essential to know when to do what. Sorting out your documents, for example, is on the top of our checklist.
We suggest starting with documentation. It may take a while to obtain or even update some of your records. If you know what documents you are missing right from the beginning, you have plenty of time to anticipate possible problems and delays. Moreover, starting early and following a timeline ensures you have enough time before departure. You’ll be able to do your essential research, compare sources, read reviews and choose what suits you best.
The rest of this article will touch upon the tasks that require more extended research and need your full attention.
Visa and residency eligibility for your move abroad
The next item on your moving abroad checklist is essential. You need to find a way to live in your new country legally. Your choice of visa or residency permit will depend on many factors, not least what is available. Start by having a look at your circumstances and then find the best fit.
Visa options will depend on many factors, and some research can be beneficial. These factors can include age, employment status, profession, income, and assets. Of course, the visa and residency criteria vary from country to country. It pays to be open to all options; visas are certainly not limited to working and student visas.
Let’s look at an example. Take an American citizen who is lucky enough to earn an income working online who wants to move to the beautiful country of Spain. The non-lucrative visa allows you to reside in the country without a confirmed job or course of study.
The list of visa types is long and can get confusing. There are two main ways to approach the research.
The first way to start your visa research is to create a list with the countries that appeal to you. Once you have narrowed it down, look into each country separately. This way, you narrow down your options until you find the one that is best for you.
The second way is to identify a visa type that you may be eligible for and then find the countries that offer those visas. For example, startup visas, skilled migration programs, study visas, and investment visas are offered by a range of countries. Once you know the type of visa you’re interested in, then you can assess the countries that provide that visa class.
After finding a visa you are qualified for, get ready to deal with the paperwork. Start by contacting the embassy, consulate or visa application centre that represents your preferred country. They will inform you about the documents you need to submit and the fees that may apply.
We strongly advise you to do your research and get started on your application well in advance. Apply for your visa at least two months before moving. It may a long time to process your application and for the immigration department to issue the visa or permit.
In many countries, it is worthwhile to hire a trusted immigration professional to assist with the application. Immigration law can be confusing. Also, the required documentation can be unclear or requirements may change. The right legal partner can save you time, heartache and money. Where Can I Live has a panel of pre-screened to help you find an immigration lawyer to assist you.
Your belongings and your move abroad
For many people, one of the most challenging parts of the process is shipping or moving their belongings to a new home. Firstly, because it’s one of the highest costs, and secondly because you have to entrust someone with everything you own. We recommend devoting adequate time and attention to searching for international moving companies and comparing their services. An excellent place to start your research is with our Guide to International Moving Companies. We’ll look at this area on your moving abroad checklist in detail.
When it comes to moving companies, experience is an essential asset. You need your movers to be aware of any pitfall that may come up on your moving journey. Experienced movers are familiar with the regulations, the requirements and the restrictions of your country, and most importantly, the country you are moving to.
Once you identify experienced and certified moving companies, it’s time to narrow them down according to your personal needs and budget. To do that we recommend you ask for quotes and read reviews about at least three companies.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to make moving arrangements well in advance, especially in high season when moving companies are busy.
Packing for your move overseas
Although shipping can be high cost, there are ways to minimize the financial impact. Moving companies charge according to the size, number, and weight of your belongings, so reducing your luggage saves you money.
One way to eliminate the things you are shipping to your new location is decluttering. Go through your clothes, shoes, accessories, towels, bedding kitchen utensils, etcetera. Is everything in good working order? Ask yourself ‘Do I really need that?’.
Most of us have bought things we never use. These waste precious storage space and add to international shipping costs. Collect everything you don’t need and give it to charity shops or friends and family. You will be surprised by the space and money you will end up saving! And, moving overseas is also an excellent opportunity to declutter your life a little.
Another way to cut down expenses is packing by yourself. You can easily find a lot of tips and tricks about how to pack smartly and save space. Effective packing can make a massive difference. But is it wise to pack everything by yourself? Well, it is not always the best for your move overseas.
Most moving companies take responsibility for the items they have packed. This means that if one of the items you have packed gets damaged during transfer, the company may not be liable.
For this reason, we suggest packing clothes, books, bags, or shoes but avoid fragile items and valuables. In any case, we encourage you to liaise with your movers before packing anything alone. It’s a pity to waste valuable time packing and unpacking if the company includes the cost in your moving service.
Download the wherecani.live checklist below to make your move smoother.
Moving overseas with your pet
Another task on the moving abroad checklist you need to consider early in the moving process is moving your pet. Your pet needs as much, if not more, documentation as you and your children when moving overseas.
It is your responsibility as the pet owner to ensure your pet fulfils the requirements of your destination country. If not, immigration may deny your pet entry to the country. The requirements usually include a health certificate signed by your local vet after examining and treating your pet.
Most likely, your vet is aware of the requirements and will go through everything with you. But, it is advisable to have a look at the specific country’s prerequisites yourself. You can do that through the embassy’s website or other relevant websites such as the USDA or the European Commission.
Furthermore, don’t forget to contact your airline as they may have additional requirements when it comes to carrying your pet. Airlines don’t allow all pets onto flights. The weight and size of your pet will affect the price of transportation. And, you may need a specific type of carrier when moving overseas with your pet.
Health insurance for your move overseas
For many Expats, private health insurance is an essential service. Many visas and residency permits around the world require health insurance as a prerequisite.
Many countries nowadays offer free, advanced, and efficient health care. However, in many countries, it is only citizens or permanent residents who are eligible to use local health care services.
Private health insurance may also offer additional services. It can cut wait times and prescription costs. You may also be able to choose your healthcare providers and to source healthcare in your native language. Identifying the right healthcare professional who can speak your language can be critical.
There are many private health insurance companies out there that offer competitive packages. As with all insurance, before you choose your company, read the policies carefully. Check age restrictions, travel coverage, and other limitations regarding pregnancy, pre-existing conditions and chronic illnesses.
In addition, make sure you check the paperwork requested by your company. Some insurance companies ask for long detailed claim forms while others will accept original medical bills.
Finally, don’t limit your research to big health insurance companies. Your goal, in this case, is to find the insurance company that suits your needs. Be open to options; a small company may be the one you’re looking for. When moving overseas, you want to be confident that you have the right healthcare for you and your family.
For more details and our recommendations, please see our article on choosing the best Expat Health Insurance.
Bank accounts and money transfers when you move abroad
Is a local bank account essential when moving overseas? There are some issues you might face without a local bank account. The first is excessive fees. Your bank in your home country will charge you for all foreign transactions. That means each ATM withdrawal and every transfer comes with a fee. And, when you are moving overseas, cutting out these unnecessary expenses can make a big difference to your budget.
If you are working, a local bank account is often a prerequisite for employers due to taxation requirements. Other services such as a phone/ internet provider or your estate agency might also ask for your local bank account. This can be to check your financial standing, as it can be challenging to run credit checks on foreign bank accounts.
One home account, and one away account
Many Expats keep a bank account in their home country and have a separate, local account in their new country. If you need to open a local bank account, then prepare for the paperwork. In some foreign countries, opening a bank account is easier than others, but you’ll have to deal with paperwork everywhere.
Foreign banks usually require personal identification documents (passport, ID, etc.) and proof of residence, and proof of address as a minimum. You may also be asked to show income, taxpayer information, and other financial documentation. The type of account will impact the level of requirements. A simple savings account will usually have a lower documentation burden than a credit card.
We strongly suggested doing your search well in advance. Also, collect all the documents you need to open a bank account in your new location. Using Expat forums and social media groups to identify a bank or branch used to dealing with Expats can make this process much simpler. Make sure you leave adequate time to cross this off your moving abroad checklist.
Why use a moving abroad checklist?
Moving overseas is a big decision. It can be stressful. Having your move overseas well-organized allows you to relax and be excited about the upcoming adventure.
A comprehensive checklist will give you peace of mind. You’ll know that all your boxes are, literally, ticked. Download the wherecani.live checklist below to make your move a smooth one.