Moving abroad is a life-long dream for many with the travel bug, so once the opportunity arises it’s important to do it right so that you can fully enjoy this new adventure. Once you’ve decided where you want to live, it’s time to prepare for your international move. Here are a few tips to help it all go smoothly.
Get your paperwork in order
If you’ve already secured a job in your new homeland, you’re probably well on your way. But be sure to take care of the essentials well ahead of time, as they can sometimes get bogged down in red tape: is your passport up to date? Do you need a special visa for your family members? Many countries require that official documents be certified in order to be accepted, so do your research on your new country’s requirements. Also, be sure to register with the U.S. government telling them that you will be moving abroad and for how long. This will prevent the U.S. from asking for your taxes down the road. Your accountant should be able to help you arrange this.
If you have children, ask your child’s school for the necessary transfer certificates verifying their educational status. Be sure your doctor and dentist provide you with your medical paperwork, and do some research on health insurance options for after the move.
Prepare your pets
If your pets are moving overseas with you, they’ll likely need up-to-date vaccines and the paperwork to prove it. Start this process well ahead of time, since many countries are quite strict about allowing foreign animals to cross the border. Also, talk with your vet about how to prepare your pet for the long journey — it’s not easy for them, either.
Make a budget
Overseas relocation can be a pricey endeavor, so make sure you’re prepared by making a budget well ahead of time. Consider the expenses of hotels and meals along the way, as well as some of the intermediary expenses once you land: renting a car, buying furniture, and so on.
Be sure you also talk to your bank about your overseas move. Some banks provide international transactions free of charge, but some don’t — so be sure you won’t be getting fees every time you pay for something.
Check on customs requirements
Different countries have different customs requirements that can affect what you can and can’t bring internationally. Most likely your houseplants will have to stay behind to prevent transport of pests, so find them new homes before you leave. An international moving company with experience in these matters will be able to help you determine what can be shipped and what can’t, but be sure you’re prepared with your carry-on luggage, too.
Hire an experienced international moving company
The logistics of international relocation can get complex, so be sure your moving service provider knows how to navigate it all smoothly and professionally. They will also be able to instruct you how to move your belongings in the most affordable way — though combining shipments may mean things take longer to arrive, so take that all into consideration when planning your timeline and arrival.
Learn the language
If you are moving to a foreign country with a different language, start studying in advance. Most people learn best through active practice so finding a study group or tutor in your area is a great way to be well-prepared for communicating in your new home. Create cheat-sheets for yourself and your family with some of the most basic and important phrases, and remember: kids tend to pick up new languages much easier than adults, so get them on board too.
Also, take some time to learn about customs in your new culture. Don’t assume that European countries are all alike, and especially do your research if the culture is more foreign to you. You want to avoid all faux pas possible.
Choose someone to be your U.S. point person
It’s bound to happen: a missed bill, a forgotten item, or something that needs to be addressed back home. Make sure you appoint someone trustworthy who can take care of these things if they pop up. Add them as a signatory to a discretionary bank account (not your primary account) so they can pay for any surprise bills or expenses, especially if you’re renting our your house rather than selling it. You might even consider giving a sibling or other close relative power of attorney, though that process requires legal consult and can take some time.
Update your driver’s license
Some countries will let you drive with an International Driver’s Permit, while others will require that you apply for an in-country license. Make sure your U.S. license is up to date because you are required to carry it along with your IDP — but if you’re planning on being abroad for over a year, you may be required to take a local driving test and become certified in-country.