Whether you’re looking to move for work, studying in another country, or even retiring abroad, moving overseas can be a difficult task. Like any challenge, though, it can be broken down into bite-sized chunks and made more manageable. Let’s do that together for your overseas move. Here are the four steps you’ll need to take.
1. Before you do anything
Before you do anything else, you need to figure out where you’re going to move and what that means for you and your lifestyle. Likely the biggest change that will impact you is going to be changes in the cost of living. Here’s a good international cost of living calculator to help you figure out what’s going to change.
If you play around with it a bit, you’ll note that not all factors in the cost of living change equally. In some parts of the world food is more expensive but health costs are much lower. In others, housing is very expensive, but robust public transportation makes getting around a lot cheaper. Not all changes will have a huge impact on you, but since housing often represents such a large part of our budgets, it’s good to plan on sticking to the 30% rule when planning for housing. That is, the most you should plan on spending on rent or mortgage payments is 30% of your monthly income. If you make $5,000 a month (or the equivalent in your host country), you should plan on spending at most $1,500 on housing. Keep this in mind when accounting for fluctuating housing prices in different parts of the world.
2. Before you move
So you know where you’re going, either through corporate assignment or your own decision-making. What do you need to do before you leave? One lesser-known step to packing up that so many people seem to forget about is cleaning! People usually think of cleaning as “OK, I’ve moved everything out, now I’ll clean up so that I get my full security deposit back.”
Wrong! Think of it this way instead: moving out of a clean and organized house is so much easier than trying to pack a jumbled mess away. A house that goes into boxes organized comes out of them organized, making it worthwhile to clean before you move out.
This is also a good time to take inventory. The process itself will help you to declutter and figure out what you really need to take with you and what’s just weighing you down. Plus, your things will likely change hands quite a lot on their way to another country, so it’s good to keep a list of important items in case something goes missing along the way.
3. While you’re moving
There isn’t too much to worry about here and not much that you can do if things go wrong, so it’s probably best to sit back and enjoy the flight. Take a break from all the work you did packing and preparing for your move (and if you worked hard on that, you really won’t have anything to worry about on your way). If there’s one thing that you should have on you at all times, though, it’s a folder with your vaccination records and other medical records that might be useful to foreign doctors if you fall ill during your trip.
4. After the move
Congratulations! You’re ready to make your way in a new country, but before you do, make sure that the things you didn’t bring with you find a good home. Places like Goodwill will take furniture and clothing at collection sites and charities like Move for Hunger will come by your old house and collect non-perishable food items that you’ve left out for them.
These are my tips for making an international move. Let me know where you’re headed!