Excited doesn’t even come close to describing how I feel about moving abroad for an indefinite amount of time.
It’s a huge step (and a rather intimidating one), but I’m just about ready to make the big move. I’ve spent the past few months preparing and am almost ready to cross the Pacific and live abroad in the USA!
There’s been a buttload of things to do and a lot to plan, so I’m going to share my list of things to do before moving abroad to ensure you’ve ticked off all the essentials before leaving your home country.
1. Research your destination
If you’ve already chosen your destination, read up on it! Immerse yourself in information. Make sure you know what to expect with money, work availability, weather, the economy, everything. The more knowledge you have, the better prepared you’ll be when you arrive.
If you haven’t chosen where you’ll be headed yet, weigh up your options and ask if each one a good choice for cost of living, WiFi availability, culture, and whether it’s a good travel hub. Nomad List is a good resource for comparing all of the above! Also take into account that working visas are more difficult to get for some countries than others.
2. Save some moolah
I’ve never heard of anyone who has moved abroad without saving up money first. Do a budget to figure out how much you will need and how much you’ll be spending when you get there. A good practice is to save up enough to cover three months of expenses and a return ticket, just in case.
3. Renew your passport / sort out visas
Some countries require up to 12 months validity on your passport before you enter. Make sure you’re aware of what will be required on arrival, and renew your passport beforehand if you have to.
Figure out what visas you will need for your move, and get them sorted a few months before. Whatever you do, don’t leave it until the last minute to sort out visas! I’ve been stressing out majorly over whether I’ll get my visa back in time as sometimes they can take weeks or even months to get.
One other thing to think about is renewing your driver’s licence. I barely drive at all here in Sydney, but would like to have the option to go on a spontaneous road trip through the US if I am so inclined. For this I’ll need a valid drivers licence, so I’ll be renewing it before I leave.
4. Prepare your health
Some countries will require you to be immunised before you enter the country, see my post on getting travel immunisations for more info.
Don’t forget to stock up on any medications that you might need while you’re away. Fill up any prescriptions you have and purchase enough medications to get by for as long as possible.
5. Organise insurance
I’ve posted a comprehensive guide on what to look for in travel insurance. Make sure your policy covers your health, cancellations for your bookings, and any belongings that would be costly to replace (I always make sure my MacBook, DSLR camera, and jewellery will be insured).
Also remember to cancel any other insurances you’re currently paying, as you probably won’t need them once you’ve left.
6. Sell everything you own
Start early! We began listing items online about 4 weeks before we moved out and managed to sell most of our major possessions (and made a tidy $3k for our trip, woo!) but there were still a few items left over at the end. You can read about my experiences of selling everything I own here.
Begin thinking about reducing your clothes and possessions a few months before. Sell the things that you won’t need as soon as possible, and sell the rest a little closer to the date. Give away anything you no longer want to charity.
If you have to deal with going without some luxuries for a little while, then so be it. We lived in our apartment without a fridge, microwave, couch, or mattress (air mattresses aren’t so bad!) for a week before we moved out because at least this way we knew they’d sold.
7. Move out of your place
Try to avoid moving out right before you leave. I’m giving it two months, but a week or so should be enough. Moving out is stressful and takes a lot of time, so it’s best to get it over and done with early, find someone to stay with (parents, sibling, friend, etc), then give yourself a little time to spare to prepare for your trip.
If you’re renting – advise your landlord that you’re leaving. Here in Australia most real estate agents will require about 3 weeks notice.
If you own your own home – make arrangements to either sell it (you’ll probably need to start uber early for this!) or to lease it out while you’re away. You’ll probably need to have someone managing the property if this is the case, so get on to that too.
You’ll need to change your address after you move out. Now this is a bit of a conundrum when you’re moving abroad, because in all likelihood, you won’t have an address! But most businesses require one for bank accounts, taxation purposes, and all that official crap. To get around this, either use the address of a family member and advise them that they’ll be fielding your mail, or get a virtual address. I’ve never tried this but I know of other nomads that do.
I’m not too sure about the rules in other countries, but in Australia we also have to tell our government that we’re leaving, otherwise they’ll be expecting us to vote in elections and pay taxes and such.
8. Get cash and other essential items
Make sure you have a way of paying for things when you arrive. Arming yourself with a credit card, travel money card, and/or cash is a must.
Stock up on a few other essential items so that you don’t have to worry about buying stuff until you’ve settled in. Toiletries especially!
9. Cancel ongoing subscriptions / payments
There’s probably a bunch of things that you pay for regularly without thinking too much about it, such as a gym membership, Netflix, or Cable TV. Cancel anything that you won’t be using after you leave.
Another good practice is to go through your bank statements for the past month or two and take note of any regular payments you have scheduled. Will you need to cancel some of these?
10. Organise a place to stay when you arrive
Some people like to arrive in a city without having anything booked, but I’m not one of them! I think it’s a good idea to have maybe a week of accommodation sorted for your arrival, just so that you have peace of mind that you won’t be sleeping in the gutter and so that you have time to sort something more permanent out.
Make sure you double check your bookings, and confirm you’ve got all your belongings before you leave! I’ve heard stories of people turning up to the airport on the wrong date, or leaving without their passport or tickets. Make sure you’ve gone over everything to make sure your move starts off smoothly.