Expat life; moving to another country


Moving to another country is exciting and fun, but can be scary and stressful at the same time. Not only do you leave behind everyone and everything you have gotten to know, but you also have to pack up everything and get it to your next destination.

After moving to a new country for a couple of times in a row now, I think I am getting this thing down {snapping my fingers all over the place}, and every time it gets a little bit easier – at least the moving part. Obviously the moving itself is the least interesting part of your move, but someone has to do it, so it might as well be done in a {somewhat} orderly fashion. Here follow a couple of the things I like to do when moving to a new country.

1.) Take a trip before moving:

Ok… I know this is not possible in all situations. I have been very lucky that I have been to all the places I went to live before we actually moved there. When I went to Singapore, I visited for a month, to see whether I liked the country, but also to see whether it would work with my then boyfriend. We had never lived together, so it was a trial run for the both of us {luckily it all worked out 🙂 }.

After this we moved to Saigon, which we visited a year or so before the move for a holiday and same goes for Phuket. Off course living somewhere is not the same as going for a holiday, but at least we knew where we were going to which made the move somewhat easier.

2.) Tie up loose ends:

So you’re moving country and you’re already preparing for what will happen in this new town of yours. Unfortunately you have to keep in mind that you have to tie up the loose ends in your old town before you head out. Especially if this is a place where you won’t be coming back in the next few years.

Think about all the outstanding stuff such as telephone, bank account, membership of the gym you’re going to and much more. Some things you need to make use of until the very last-minute you’re in this country {I can tell you from experience that it’s really annoying to not have a working local phone number}. So go through all your outstanding items and see how you can close them, but still make use of the services until the very last moment…

3.) Pre-Packing:

I call it pre-packing, as since the moment we moved abroad we have had movers that do the real packing for us {yes I am very spoiled, and wouldn’t want it any other way ever again!}. It’s the perfect time to go through your stuff and see what you can throw out. Do you really want and need to bring everything to your new place?

I love to go through my closet every time we leave a country. Clothes I haven’t worn for a long time will go into the donation box, and clothes that can’t be used again will be thrown away. When we moved from Singapore to Saigon, we knew we would not need all our sheets anymore as this would be included in our apartment, so I donated all our sheets too. I am sure I made someone really happy with them.

At the same time we always look at our furniture and anything around the house, and see whether we want to sell it off {How I love those Facebook Sell/Buy pages}. Last time we were able to sell of so many items we did not use anymore, which made moving so much easier, not even talking about making the move cheaper, as our big closet was sold to a nice Vietnamese lady!

4.) Arrange for Shipping:

If you have many items to bring over to your new home, shipping is the best option. This makes packing your suitcase a whole lot easier as well, as you know all your other items will arrive in your new home too {one day…}. However keep a couple of things in mind:

  • Bring the most important items in your luggage. Besides the standard stuff such as your passport, don’t forget to bring your diploma’s and wedding certificate in your carry on. These are items you might need for your visa application in your new country.
  • Make sure you pack climate appropriate items in your suitcase, not only for the first week, but also for the coming month {or three}. When we moved from Singapore to Vietnam it took over 4 months before we received our shipment…

5.) Contact your airline:

Some airlines will let you bring additional kg when you’re moving countries. When I first moved from Holland to Singapore I contacted my airline to see whether I could bring additional kg for a surcharge as I explained I was moving to a new country. They then offered me to bring along 10kg complimentary as long as I could fax them my work permit in advance.

This was such a great surprise and it saved me loads of money!

6.) Arrange accommodation:

We have always been very lucky that we had accommodation arranged for us. But I know this is not always the case for everyone. I always feel a lot more relaxed when I know where I am going to sleep, and where I’ll be staying exactly. In this way I can find out what can be done around the area we will be living, and have some fun things to explore during the first days there.

Also you can let your family and friends know where your staying. Ours are sometimes even so nice and send us postcards to our new destination, which are waiting for us when we arrive {there is no better way to feel at home, than with a card by airmail…}.

Let me know if I have left something out when moving to a new country. Always looking for great ways to settle in to a new town!

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