Moving abroad for a few months or years is something that I believe everyone would benefit from experiencing at least once in their life. Whether it’s for volunteering, school, personal growth, a job, or even a relationship (wouldn’t recommend), we will all have to go through similar motions to get from A to B. While it can be quite a daunting process, that shouldn’t deter you away from potentially making the best decision of your life.
This was my first time moving abroad by myself so I learned a lot when it comes to the logistics and everything in between that comes with moving to another country. After making the move across the pond, I thought about all the things that I’m glad I did and what I wish I had known and wanted to share them with whoever else is planning on making the big move. All the tips for moving abroad are in an unofficial chronological order from what you should start doing as soon as possible to what can wait to do until you’re about to fly out.
Move back home to live rent free
The number one thing you’re going to want to have secured before moving abroad is having a financial cushion. It’ll free you from having to rely on other people and give you the ability to do whatever you want and live comfortably.
Rent typically takes up the majority of peoples’ monthly income so if you move back home for a bit to save up, you’ll be able to pocket a lot more money in a short amount of time. In addition, you’ll be saving money on food and other miscellaneous living expenses you have to make when you live on your own.
Save up at least 3 months rent
Unless you’ve already got a connect, it can be difficult to find a job in a new country depending on if you need a visa and what kind you are on. It’s never a fun feeling to be stressed out about making ends meet so it’s smart to have some room to play with until you find stable income.
You can get a ballpark amount by looking at the rent prices of housing in the area that are you are relocating to. Rent prices will obviously be different depending on if you’re planning on living alone or in a share house, but the more money the better so just save up whatever you can.
Unlock your phone prior to moving
One of the most annoying things I did was not unlock my phone before moving abroad and since I still had a balance on my account, I had to wait a week or so before my phone was paid off and unlocked so I could use my new SIM card.
This dumb mistake disabled me quite a bit because I couldn’t fill out job applications without a working local phone number, exchange numbers with new people I was meeting, use my GPS when out in the city, or take my phone off airplane mode without getting charged for roaming.
De-clutter and sell old items before packing
Before you even start packing, I would recommend going through all your belongings and getting rid of stuff by either selling, donating, or tossing. It’s best to start months before you already move to give yourself enough time to find a new home for everything you’re leaving behind.
Trying to sell as much as you can is the move so you can have extra money to take along with you. There are a ton of different platforms to sell clothing, furniture and used items such as Facebook Marketplace, Ebay, Depop, Poshmark, Let Go, and Craigslist or Gumtree.
Pack for the current season
This is another little tip if you’re limited on luggage space and that is to pack for the current or upcoming season of the country you’re moving to. When I moved to Australia, I messed up and packed clothing items that I wanted with me versus items appropriate for the hot summer weather that greeted me.
As long as you bring a few pieces that can work for different seasons and occasions then you’re set. You can always get the items left behind shipped within 5 days to you at a cheaper rate than using your local postal service which I’ll explain in a tip further below.
Limit the amount of beauty/hair products you pack
Along with shoes, lotions, foundation, any type of liquid, beauty and hair products, etc. add most of the weight to your luggage so if you’re close to the weight limit and can repurchase those products in the country you’re moving to then just leave it behind. It’s 2019 so a lot of the same products are sold worldwide or can be ordered online.
In addition, most of the things I listed above are the most likely to explode or leak due to cabin pressure. Personally, I think there’s nothing more annoying than opening your luggage and seeing oil, shampoo, lotion or whatever it may be all over your stuff. And even if you do one of those bag tricks there will still be all that wasted product!
Review checked bags allowance
Sometimes purchasing international plane tickets from third parties can be confusing because there can be three different airlines involved: A marketing carrier, operating carrier, and a ticketing carrier. This makes things difficult when it comes to luggage allowance, mileage perks, and where to go if you need to re-book.
Known as code sharing, airlines are able to market the same flight using their own airline and flight number. There will be one airline operating the flight but all the airlines involved can sell seats for that flight using their own airline and flight number.
The operating carrier is the airline that provides the plane, crew and ground handling for the flight. The airline that sells you the ticket for the flight is the marketing carrier and sometimes it can also be the operating carrier. The ticketing or validating carrier is the airline that actually issues the ticket to you which is typically the one marketing the longest leg of the journey. It can get even more confusing when the operating flight is controlled by a subsidiary company.
In my case, my flight from Houston to Melbourne was ticketed by United Airlines but operated by Air New Zealand so I flew from Houston to San Francisco with United being the operating carrier for that flight and then from San Francisco to New Zealand with Air New Zealand and finished it off with a flight to Melbourne with Air New Zealand again. All of this really messed me up when it came to my baggage allowance because I thought I had two checked bags included but since Air New Zealand was the operating flight only one checked bag was included so always double check to see how many checked bags are included with your international flight.
Ship boxes or suitcases with Send My Bag
If you can comfortably fit every single one of your belongings in two suitcases, a carry on, and small personal item then I heavily applaud you. The weight of both of my suitcases were over 75lbs or 34 kg which equaled over $500 in baggage fees which is so ridiculous. That was way too much just for bags full of clothing so unfortunately I had to leave over 30 lbs of my stuff behind.
Recently I used Send My Bag to get a boxes of my stuff shipped to me from the United States to Australia. I wish I knew about Send My Bag before moving so I could have shipped items that didn’t fit in my suitcase prior to moving. The process was so easy, all you do is fill out a form online, pick a date and then a postal worker picks up the package from the pick up address provided. Both of my packages arrived within 5 days and it ended up being cheaper than if I had used USPS to get it shipped to myself. Get $9 off your first order with this link.
Get a copy of your medical records from your general practitioner
Depending on how long you’re planning on being abroad for, it doesn’t hurt to have a copy of medical records and any prescriptions such as eye or medications so you’re prepared if anything happens. Hopefully you won’t need to be treated for anything serious, but it’ll make the whole experience easier if the GP in your new home country knows your medical history.
This is also handy if you end up getting a job such as in a hospital or one working with children that requires making sure all your shots are up to date. It’s best to request your medical records from your GP in advance, because it can take a few days to process and there’s usually a fee.
Leave photocopies of your passport(s) and birth certificate with someone you trust back home
With today’s political climate, especially if you’re an American, you truly have no idea what could happen to you while abroad so it’s always good to have your own digital and photocopies of any important government documents so they are easier to replace if they get lost or stolen.
In addition, you should leave photocopies of all your important personal documents with a trusted individual in your home country. Overall it will make the processes easier if anything terrible where to happen.
Research slang and law of the country so you don’t find yourself in trouble
If you’re moving to a country that you’ve never been to before and the culture is completely different than your home country, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look up the slang and general laws to help you assimilate quicker. For example, I didn’t know that in Australia cilantro is called coriander, bell peppers are known as capsicums and romaine lettuce is cos lettuce. Overall, knowing some slang will make conversations with locals easier and make you not stand out like such a foreigner.
Some countries are more strict than others, but a few good general laws to look up are the things that are considered unlawful to do in public, driving alcohol limit, jay-walking laws, city curfews, etc. so you don’t accidentally find yourself getting into legal trouble.
If you’re reading this because you’re about to move abroad then I wish you the best of luck, it’s going to be such an amazing experience! Did these tips help you? Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading and stay hungry to learn, create, and grow!