10 things you absolutely must do before moving abroad

10 things you absolutely must do before moving abroad

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.

Manhattan, New York City, USA

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 a bunch of 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.

things to do before moving abroad

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.

Selling everything you own

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.

10 things you must do before moving abroad


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.

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28 Responses to “10 things you absolutely must do before moving abroad”

  1. Alissa

    Good luck on your travels and your stay in the US! And congrats on your recent wedding!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Oh I’m not actually moving to Prague, I just used it as an example (and I know of many other travellers who have moved to Prague :P) but I am moving to USA hopefully! And if not USA it will be Europe. We’ll see what happens 😀

  2. Bec

    Good luck with the move! I’m currently doing the same thing. I am in the save money phase and will be starting to sell all of my stuff in the coming weeks! Whohhooo its all very exciting 🙂 Hope you have an absolutely amazing time!

    Bec 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s awesome Bec! I think the lead up part (with the selling and saving) is actually really exciting. It gets you pumped for what’s to come!

  3. Justine

    Such good tips. You’re so organized! I wish I would have done all these when I moved abroad 😉

  4. Anne-Laure

    I recently moved to Germany and I think your tips are really helpful! x

  5. Jess

    Well, in my case, besides saving a good amount of money, I try to create a permanent online income from my blogs.
    You feel much relaxed if you have a second income, especially when you arrive there in the new place.

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Oh absolutely, if you can manage to create a second income then it’s definitely worth doing for peace of mind! Great tip Jess!

  6. Marc

    Hi Ashlea,

    what a great and informative article! Will most definitely refer to it once the time comes for us…

    By the way, just read you’re planning to move to Portland! We’ve lived there for a while too and still have family there, such a fun city! Good choice 🙂


    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Marc! Portland is truly amazing, I really hope we can find work there. If not it will probably be NYC instead, but I’ve got a week-long visit to Portland booked for July nonetheless 😀

  7. Leah

    Great list of tips, Ashlea! I just found a replacement for Netflix so I am looking forward to canceling that monthly payment, even if it is only $8! I’m a poor traveler, what can I say… 🙂 Good luck with your big move!!

  8. Dawn Jolena

    Portland is a great city, and so is NYC.
    Nyc has youth hostels, and tons of cheap food, great public transportation.
    Portland has decent public transportation and also BIKE PATHS everywhere.
    Also, in PDX there are water fountains and homeless shelters everywhere- you can pretty much survive being homeless there no problem, and there are also tons of cheap places to rent. Look at Craigslist- most Americans sell/rent/whatever on CL.
    Also, there is a GIANT bookstore called Powells- new & used books. The main one is 2 city blocks and 3 stories high. Anything you ever want to read about is covered.
    Good Luck!


    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Dawn! Portland is such an awesome city, thanks for all your recommendations! I’ve done a few of the sights there but definitely have to check out a few more on my next visit, including Powells!

  9. Grace

    Great tips! Just to add something – proper preparation prevents failure! Thumbs up.

  10. Renee

    Best wishes for an amazing adventure. When I moved to Vancouver on a working visa I found a monthly furnished rental – so I could decide to stay or leave as each month went on (I stayed seven months in the one place). It worked out best value compared to renting and buying furniture, whitegoods, crockery and what-not. It was right in the CBD so I didn’t need a car or waste hours each day on public transport or taxis at night (I walked almost everywhere). I was in hindsight, super lucky. And being a writer as well – I ensured to offer free publicity in exchange for a great rate.

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Renee! Sounds like you were very lucky to get something like that, it would make things so much easier to have short term furnished rentals in case your plans change!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Dave! Getting rid of all your stuff really is a great feeling, and having some extra cash is great outcome too 😉

  11. Theodore Winston

    I agree that knowing about where you’d be moving is what’s most important before even buying your tickets. This will ensure that you have fewer chances of getting lost, you can get acclimated to the culture, and you’d know what to look out for once you’re there. My wife and I are moving to London next year for a new job I took and we are very excited. Wish us luck!

  12. Kanika Bakshi

    All of the points above mentioned are really helpful while moving to another country, to be honest, the main important part is to research about the place are been migrating because you never know the surrounding thanks for the wonderful article.


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