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How to be Comfortable Without Looking Like an American Tourist

Image via Wikimedia

Whether you want to immerse yourself in your new culture, or you simply don't want to wear a pickpocket target on your back, you might want to think about leaving certain items of clothing back in the states. While every country has its own customs for clothing, and climates dramatically vary throughout the world, there are certain items that scream American tourist, almost no matter where you are. 

Americans have made comfort a science. We love our logo tees, leggings, and gym shoes. The rest of the world, though, tends to think they belong in the gym. That doesn't mean you can't be comfortable. 

Don't Wear Logos

You may be proud of your college, or of your favorite sports team, but outside of the United States, no one cares. As a matter of fact, there's nothing that says "American" more than logos. Few people outside of the United States wear clothing with Nike or Puma emblazoned in huge letters. Instead, wear a neat, clean, plain t-shirt or a shirt with a collar. Avoid hoodies and sweatshirts altogether. 

Don't wear gym shoes

Gym shoes should stay in the gym. Instead, wear comfortable but stylish shoes, such as flats, low-heeled boots, supportive sandals, canvass lace-ups, slip-on shoes, or plain athletic-type shoes in a higher quality fabric such as wool. 

Don't wear baseball caps

Hats are a definite yes. They add style and keep the sun off your face, but stay away from baseball caps, especially backward baseball caps. They are almost purely American. Instead, opt for a hat made of cloth or straw. There are hundreds of styles to choose from, and they add a dash of style to even the most basic outfits. 

Don't wear leggings

For American women, leggings outsell jeans. In the rest of the world, though, leggings are for the gym. It's the same with sweatpants. For a casual look, wear jeans. Flowing pants are comfortable and can be dressed up. 

Don't carry a backpack

Backpacks are comfortable and can hold a lot of items. Unfortunately, when access is on your back, it's easy for a skilled pickpocket to pull something out without you even knowing it. Instead, use a cross-body bag, such as a messenger bag or a cross-body purse. 

Do Prepare to cover up

In conservative countries, such as Saudi Arabia, it is customary, or even expected, to cover from head to toe. Most countries, though, give a lot more freedom when it comes to dress. The same can't be said, though, of many restaurants and institutions such as churches. Women can rarely go wrong with a knee-length dress, but if it's sleeveless, having a cardigan or shawl on hand is recommended. 

Take all of this advice with a grain of salt

How you dress, excluding some local rules, is completely up to you. If, however, you don't want to stand out as an American, observing some simple fashion guidelines will help. 

 

 

What to Do With Your Home if Your Overseas Move is Temporary

Model Timber HomeImage Public Domain via Wikimedia

Many of our customers are diplomats or have temporary overseas assignments, which leaves many in a sort of quandary. They might own a home in the United States, and unfortunately, mortgage payments don't take a hiatus just because no one is living in the home. Which leaves the question, what does a temporary expat do with their home?

Temporarily displaced homeowners have more options than one might think. Here are the most common:

Sell your home

If your assignment is for years, instead of months, you might consider selling your home. Real estate prices are at a high. Sure, they could continue rising in the next couple of years, but they could also fall. If you don't want to take the risk, or if you planned on selling in the near future anyway, it could be time to call a Realtor. In fact, the timing could be perfect. It's much easier to sell, and keep clean, a vacant home than it is to sell an occupied one.

Rent your home

If you plan on keeping your home, the most obvious solution is to rent it out. While that's a great option, it can be problematic. You can brush up on state and local landlord/tenant laws and screen tenants, all while preparing for your move, or you can hire a property management company. Most charge between 8% and 12% of the monthly rental, but for that, they find tenants, collect rent, and arrange for maintenance. If your tenant falls through, or needs eviction, while you are overseas, a property manager can take care of it. 

Rent it short term

Apps like Airbnb or VRBO are great temporary solutions, under certain circumstances. If your home is in great shape and has a good location, you can make some serious cash. An average two-bedroom can earn over $20,000 a year. Obviously, tourist communities do better than more remote areas, but it could be seasonal. College towns and large urban areas are also very popular. Airbnb or VRBO take a service fee for finding renters, but unlike property managers, they don't watch out for your property. It will be up to you to hire a cleaning and maintenance company. 

Don't rent it or sell it

If you can keep your home without a financial burden, do it. Have a friend or family member move in and take care of the home. If you don't have anyone to move in, hire someone to keep an eye on your home. You'll want them to open the windows on occasion, to air it out. They should watch for problems like broken pipes, a leaky roof, or other potential hazards. 

Whatever you decide to do, your home should be a significant part of your pre-move planning. Your home is your most valuable asset and costs you thousands of dollars every year. If you've owned your home for a long time, it could cost you a lot more to replace it once you return to the United States. Whether you choose to sell your home or rent it, look for reliable and qualified people to help you out because handling everything from overseas will be difficult. 

 

10 Critical Steps to Get Ready for Your Overseas Move

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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. 

Downsize

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. 

How to Decide Whether to Ship Your Car Overseas

ship your car overseas

For many Americans, one of the toughest things about moving overseas is ending the love affair with the car. In many urban areas, and in many small villages throughout the world, owning a car is more hassle than it's worth. That's far from a universal truth, though. In more remote areas, a car may be a necessity. So, when should you ship your car overseas, and when should you leave it behind? It depends. Ask yourself a few questions first:

Where are you moving?

If you are moving to a place where a car is not necessary, leave it behind. Gasoline prices are rising across the world, and by comparison, it's very inexpensive in the United States. If you're moving to Scandinavia, for example, you could see gasoline prices approaching $8.00 a gallon. That should be incentive to learn the public transportation system, or at least to trade in that gas-guzzling SUV for something more energy efficient. 

How long are you staying?

If your relocation is temporary, perhaps you're a student or a diplomat, you're probably better off storing your car in the states. It costs about $800 to $2,000 to ship a car overseas (can be more in remote locations). If your stay is temporary, you'll have to do that twice. If your stay is permanent and it's convenient in your new home, take your car. Keep in mind that you'll pay from $50 and up to hundreds a month for storage, depending on your location and the type of storage. That could add up if your overseas stay is for more than a few months. 

How much do you love your car?

If you drive a classic car, or one that's difficult to replace, by all means, take it with you. If, however, you drive a fairly modest car, without much sentimental value, it's probably not worth it. You can purchase a car in your new location, and you might find one that's better suited to the roads and living conditions. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that stick shifts are the common mode of transportation in many other countries. It might be difficult finding an automatic transmission. If that's important to you, you may consider transporting your car. 

How much do cars cost in your new home?

Take a look at the exchange rate and do some online car shopping before you decide. You might find that with the exchange rate, buying a new car is cost prohibitive. You should also keep in mind that many things Americans take for granted, such as air conditioning, are considered luxuries in other countries. 

Cars, perhaps as much as any other material possession, are personal. For many, they are part of an identity. For others, they invoke memories of first dates, first babies, and family vacations. Whether your car has seen better days, or if it still has that new car smell, your decision to move your car is all yours. 

Featured image CC0 Creative Commons, by 4144132, via Pixabay

 

 

 

 

What to Know Before Moving Your Pet Overseas

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Featured image CC 2.0, by Katlene Niven, via Flickr

Far more than half of Americans own pets, and for most, they are part of the family, which can make an overseas move all that more stressful. If you prepare, though, it doesn't have to be. If you follow these steps, you may find that taking your pet with you is easier than you'd imagine. 

Consult the Experts

Contact the destination country's consulate or embassy to ask about the country's rules when it comes to pets. Nearly all will require certain vaccines, which should be available at your vet's office. Some might even require a quarantine period, and some may not allow pets from overseas at all. PetRelocation.com can help you, with both information and with moving your pet, but the ultimate resource is the consulate or embassy. 

How Pet-Friendly Is Your New Home?

Your destination country might be fine with your pet, but you also want to know how pet-friendly your new home is. Ask prospective landlords about their pet policy. Research pet-friendly areas and walking trails. Some countries even allow pets in restaurants. Others think pets should stay behind closed doors. Research local vets and pet care facilities. 

Take Your Pet to the Vet

Your pet will need shots, and for some countries, a waiting period before moving. Start planning at least six months before the move. Many countries require blood tests in addition to the shots, to make sure your pet isn't carrying a parasite or an illness. The consulate or embassy can give you all the specifications, which you should share with your vet, or better yet, one that specializes in preparing pets for overseas moves. 

Figure out how you'll move your pet

If your pet is small, you may be able to travel with her in a crate under your airplane seat. Most airlines will allow larger dogs and cats in the luggage compartment, which is usually pressurized and temperature controlled. There are some risks, though, especially if it's not a direct flight. There are plenty of stories online of airlines misplacing pets as they move them from plane to plane. Check with your vet, but it's generally not best to sedate your pet. You can give them natural calming medication, but sedation could cause them to get very sick. 

Having your pet on the same flight might seem most comforting, but it's not always the best thing for your pet. Some transportation services specifically cater to pets. Pet Airways, for example, transports your pets in the cabin, instead of the luggage compartment. With them, your pet's safety is the top concern. 

When you might not want to move your pet

If your move overseas is permanent, by all means, do everything you can to move your pet. If it's a temporary relocation, and your desination country isn't ideal, you might consider asking a friend or family member to take care of your pet while you're away. Always remember, though, that pets are resiliant and being with you is their number one priority. 

 

 

 

 

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