So you’ve been toying with the idea of moving to another country either permanently or temporarily. If you’re well established in your life at home, it’s not as easy as picking up and leaving. You probably have plenty of loose ends to tie up before you can even think about leaving.
Here are some of the steps you can take at home and abroad to prepare for a move overseas.
Things will be different for you if you own a home versus rent a home. If you own a home, you have two options: sell it or rent it out while you’re away. To rent it out, you can try to get someone to stay there long-term, for 12 months or so. Or you can use it as a vacation home (depending on where you live) and rent it out via Airbnb.
If you’re renting, you have a few options:
- Wait until your lease is up (which is what we did).
- Find someone to sublease your place.
- Up and leave.
(The third option is not recommended. You’ll have to deal with losing your deposit and maybe even making it harder for yourself to rent an apartment again if you decide to move back.)
The first time I left the U.S. I got rid of all my stuff. I was fresh out of college at the time and didn’t have much to speak of anyway, so it wasn’t difficult. This time, we had an apartment full of furniture and we expect to come back to Miami eventually. So we opted to put our stuff in a storage unit until we decide to come back.
What you do with your stuff will depend on how permanent your move to another country is. Before we packed our stuff, we looked at every single item and decided if we really loved it/wanted to keep it or not. We all accumulate stuff we don’t need over the years and it will be a lot easier to deal with it now then when you come back home.
I recommend only bringing the essentials with you when you go. There might be some things you need or products you love that you won’t be able to get in your new country, so stock up before you leave. As far as clothes go, you can always pick up things while you’re there. You don’t need to bring everything you own.
We chose to sell our car instead of try to hold onto it. It was almost paid off so we get a decent chunk of change once it sells. A friend of mine uses a service called Touro to rent her car out when she’s not home. That way she makes a little extra cash on a car that’s not being used anyway.
If you don’t want to get rid of your car either, could you park it at a friend or family member’s house? If you still owe money on it, could you sublease it to a friend who’s without a ride?
Before we left we paid off our phones so we could unlock them. Now that we’re in Colombia, we’ll put new SIM cards in so we can make calls locally.
Your Other Bills
If you’re locked into a cable or internet contract, call up the company and tell them you’ll be moving out of the country. Most are willing to work with you. If not, you’ll likely have a fee to pay but it shouldn’t be much.
We are self-employed so we have health insurance through Obamacare. It is extremely expensive. We bought travel insurance to protect us in case anything serious happens. Dwayne is a Colombian citizen so we’re going to explore getting insurance here too.
If you have credit cards, make sure you let them know that you’ll be moving to another country so they don’t block your card. Find out if any have foreign transaction fees so you know not to use those in case of an emergency. If your debit card charges too much for international withdrawals, consider finding a new bank or switching to Paypal.
Every country has different requirements and rules about how long foreigners can stay. Sometimes it will require some creativity or border runs on your part. Can you take a class and get a student visa? If you plan to buy property will you qualify to stay longer? Can you start a business and get a business visa? Research all your options so you go there with a plan.
Connect with other expats
Each country and city has its own network of expats. These are people who have already done what you’re planning to do and they can be the best resource of information out there. It’s really easy to find people to connect with. Head to Facebook and type in [country] + expats or [city] + expats. You’ll have a handful of groups to choose from. Participating in these is a great way to make connections and get information before you even enter the country.
If you haven’t visited the country yet, I suggest you rent an Airbnb or stay in a hotel until you get your bearings. You wouldn’t want to end up renting a place before you see it and get a feel for the neighborhood. There’s likely a place that many expats congregate but you might be looking for a different experience.
If you speak the local language, you’re going to get better deals working with local people than with expat real estate agents. On the flip side, the process might be harder. Talk to a bunch of people and see what kind of properties are available. Find the websites that local people use to look for new living spaces. It might be a newspaper or a specific local website. (Hint: it’s probably not Craigslist!)
If you’re moving to another country where the cost of living is lower than where you live now and people make less, you want to make money in your native currency. This will give you a lot more spending power than if you tried to get work locally.
Through most of my journey I worked remotely (except for NZ and Australia, which paid well). I always recommend doing this. If the cost of living is lower than at home, you won’t have to work as much and you’ll have more time to explore.
If you don’t have the work situation figured out yet, work on saving some money so you have a nice buffer until you do.
The cool thing about moving abroad is that you really don’t have to have every little detail figured out before you go. A lot of stuff you will figure out in your new country. Tying up major loose ends will give you peace of mind so you can fully immerse yourself in and enjoy your new home.
Photo by congerdesign on pixabay
Are you moving to another country? Tell me about your plans in the comments!
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