10 Critical Steps to Get Ready for Your Overseas Move
Image CC0 Public Domain, via Max Pixel
You may be a frequent mover. Perhaps you've moved across the country, but moving overseas is another thing altogether. There might be language differences. There will be cultural differences. There are also a lot of practical considerations before you board the plane. While that might all sound daunting, it doesn't have to be. Here are ten steps you can take to make the transition much more manageable.
Get your passport
This one is probably a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised at how many people realize when it's too late that their passport is expired. Double check yours. Allow a few weeks to receive a new one.
Get your driver's license
Most countries will allow American driver's licenses, at least temporarily. If you are moving overseas long-term, you will want to test for a license in your new country, but until you have permanent residency, you might need to carry both. Be sure to let your insurance company know about the move.
Research schools and housing
Make a list of requirements in your new home. Be realistic. Research the area and find out what it has to offer. Realtor.com, for example, has international listings. They might not be comprehensive, but there are enough to give you an idea of what to expect. The next step is to hire a real estate agent and communicate everything you need, everything you want, and the things you can compromise on, if needed. Once the real estate agent finds a few good alternatives, take a trip and look. While it's not unheard of to rent sight unseen, it's not recommended, even with virtual tours.
It's unlikely you'll find a 5,000 square foot home with all the modern conveniences in most other countries. Your children might have to share a bedroom. You might have just a living room, instead of a living room and family room. Storage could be at a premium. Sell, donate, or give away everything you don't need. It will save you money on your move, as well. If your move is temporary, your moving company is an excellent resource for storage.
Hire a mover
Once you find a place to live, it's time to hire a mover. Moving within the United States and moving overseas are very different. The vast majority of local movers outsource all their overseas moves, so why not directly hire an overseas mover? Do your research through expat communities, Yelp, Facebook, Google, and other review sources.
Get your pets ready
Each country has different policies when it comes to pets. Do your research. Get the proper shots and paperwork. Some countries require quarantines. Others just want proof your pup or kitty is healthy. Most do not allow exotic pets. Read this for more information on transporting pets.
Learn some of the language
It's tough moving to a new country when you don't speak a word of the language. While you will learn with time, before moving, learn some key phrases. Learn to order off menus. Learn how to ask for directions, or for the nearest restroom.
Temporarily wave goodbye to everything you own
The number one complaint we, and all overseas movers receive, is that shipments take too long. Ports and customs are fickle. While one shipment might sail through, another could be held up for no reason whatsoever. If you are moving from a coastal town to another coastal town, things will move a bit faster. But, if you're moving from the middle of the United States to the middle of another continent, it could add weeks or even months. Expect to be without your furniture for at least two months, often more. Pack well, including clothing for the next season. In many areas, you can temporarily rent furniture. Rest assured, though, that unless something catastraphic occurs, you will see your goods again.
Prepare your children
Children are resilient, but it will be a culture shock. You might feel some guilty, but be reassured that in the long-term, your children will thank you for showing them the world. Part of your pre-move research should include schools and activities for your children. If you have friends in the new country, ask if they know any children around your children's ages. If your children play sports, or like music, or art, sign them up for local teams or classes.
Emerse yourselves in the new culture
Once you're settled, it's time to absorb everything possible about the new culture. Shop local stores. Eat local food. Attend local events. Before long, you'll speak the language, have friends, and almost feel like a local.