So you’ve decided to move overseas. Congratulations!
At the suggestion of my friend and former next-door neighbour Carling, who has since taken new roots in New York City with her husband Wayne, today I’m sharing tips to survive an international move (which is no easy feat, as those of you who have survived it before know all too well).
Making the decision to move countries is momentous, not only in significance but also in scale. Naturally, this is cause for celebration – and rightly so. But what precedes the bottles of champagne and the unavoidable champagne-sponsored tears is work. Lots of work.
What I can say, though, is that through all the tears and the fears and the “What the hell have I done?” moments of panic, it’s worth it.
Here’s a few helpful hints (inspired by my own experience) to know before you go:
Do your research.
It doesn’t matter if I’m moving house or backpacking, I always make sure to research the Dos and Don’ts of the country/countries I’m planning to spend time in. This might have something to do with my irrational fear of appearing “touristy,” but I still think it’s a great way to prepare for the change of scenery. It’s also a fine way to avoid getting your foot slapped by an agitated Thai woman when you unknowingly gesture at a statue of Buddha with your big toe…
Don’t be too proud to ask for help.
Packing up a three-bedroom home by myself would have been impossible. Swallow your pride and reach out to others for help; you’d be surprised how far the promise of beer and pizza can go. While you’re at it, canvas your network for possible employment and/or friendship opportunities to help ease the transition from the familiar into the unfamiliar.
Ensure you’re insured.
I can’t stress enough the importance of health insurance and making sure your visa is sorted well before arrival. Don’t pre-emptively book a flight on the assumption that the paperwork will process in time; make sure those duckies are in a neat little row first.
Pinch those pennies!
This one seems like a gimme, but it’s easier said than done. Six months before I moved to Australia, I indulged in a three-week trip around Japan with my brother and sister. Personally and culturally rewarding? Yes. Financially draining? According to my bank account: also yes. If you’re like me and can’t survive more than a few months without a holiday, try to cut smaller indulgences like Starbucks and shopping from your financial diet. You’ll shop when you get there!
I am a leave-it-to-the-last-minute-and-throw-everything-in-a-crumpled-pile-in-my-suitcase-and-hope-it’s-not-overweight type of packer, so preparing to move to the other side of the world was a major test of endurances. Pack once, then twice, then another ten times after that, making sure to cull each time so you’re left with nothing but the essentials (which, unfortunately for me, did not include that beautiful little ball of fur pictured above. Sad face.) However, if your move is being paid for by your employer, milk that gig for all it’s worth.
If you’re looking for more ideas, check out this blog post from my friend Vanessa. Vanessa is a stylish Saskatchewan expat who now hangs her hat in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her lifestyle blog Prairie Girl Musings is chock full of insider travel guides to help you feel like a local no matter where you go.
I can’t believe we’re almost two weeks into this 31-day challenge! What a ride.