Expat Life: The Ultimate Moving Abroad Checklist for First-Timers

Full length portrait of smiling delivery worker carrying a big cardboard box from stack, global shipping and delivery over world map sketch. Mail order distribution.

In 2017, there were some 258 million international migrants all over the world. That’s a 38 million increase from the 220 million back in 2010.

In fact, there were 8.7 million Americans who lived and worked abroad in 2016! And that number doesn’t include those in the military.

Wherever you hail from though, these stats show you that moving abroad is quite common. But that doesn’t mean it’s super easy.

Don’t worry though, as this moving abroad checklist will show you how it’s done. Use this guide to learn the most important steps to make your big move as easy and hassle-free as possible!

1. Check Visa Requirements in Your Destination Country

At the moment, the Japanese passport is the most powerful passport in the entire world. Its holders can get into a whopping 190 countries without restrictions. As for U.K and U.S. passports holders, they can visit 186 countries, restriction-free.

But that’s for visitation purposes only. It’s a different story if you’re moving long-term into these countries. You’d need a long-term visa, the requirements for which depend on the country.

That said, be sure to do your homework on visa must-haves several months before your intended trip. Visa application is one of the most important things to do before moving abroad. It can take weeks, even months, so it’s best to get this done as soon as you can.

2. Renew Your Passport

Speaking of visas, some countries require passports to be valid for more than six months. If yours is about to expire in less than a year, now’s the time to have it renewed. It’s way more expensive (and very inconvenient) to process it outside of your home country.

3. Start Hunting for a Job

Unless you’ve got some of the fattest bank accounts, you still need to find a job to support yourself in your new home. Even if you’re headed to one of the happiest places on earth.

So, before you hop on that plane, make sure work is already waiting for you at your destination. Or at least, you already have a few interviews or job prospects lined up.

4. Scope Out Your New Home

But first, decide whether you’ll buy a house or rent one in your soon-to-be new home country. Note that some countries don’t allow foreigners to buy a home right away though, so check the laws too.

In most cases, renting is often the best choice for the first few months for those moving abroad. First, it’s cheaper, which is great if you don’t have a sure job yet. You can save a lot by sticking to a furnished rental room or apartment.  

Plus, you’ll find many short-term rentals with contracts of only six months or so. This makes it easier to move to a new place if you don’t like the current one.

5. Decide Whether to Sell or Rent Out Your Existing Home

Found a sweet spot in your destination country? Awesome — but don’t forget that you still have to deal with the one you own right now!

If you’re okay with letting go of your existing property, then, by all means, sell it. That way, you can be financially secure for the first few years in your new country of residence. Here are some of the best tips for a quick and easy house sale before your big move.

If you don’t want to sell, consider renting out your home or signing it up with Airbnb. This’ll take more preparation, but it’s the better choice if you still want a home to come back to.

6. Decide What To Do With All Your Stuff

This is one moving abroad advice you shouldn’t put off since you likely need weeks to organize your stuff. Especially if you’ll put your current house up for sale.

You can choose to sell your belongings together with the house, or you can sell them individually. You can sell them online, through a garage sale, or if you want, put it up for donation. If you want to keep most of them, like if you’ll only be abroad for a year or so, consider professional storage.

If you need some of them brought to your destination country, get an instant freight quote. This way, you’ll have an idea of how much it’ll cost you to have these items shipped to your new home. From there, compare shipping fees and charges to secure the best deal.

7. Set Up a Bank Account in the New Country

Set up an international bank account so you can get access to your money in the country you’re moving to. When you’ve settled in, start looking for the best local banks so you can avoid extra fees and charges. Local banks have ATMs all over, so you can withdraw money wherever and whenever.

If you plan on still using your credit cards, make sure to tell your issuer about your travels. That way, they won’t deny your transactions once you’re out of your home country.

8. Befriend Expats and Locals

As cheesy as it sounds, no man is an island, especially not in a foreign land. If you don’t make friends in your host country, it won’t take long before you feel homesick. That’s why you should look for expat groups and networks also living in your destination.

From there, grow your circle and befriend locals! Making friends with locals are some of the best ways to be comfortable and safe in your new home country. They’ll make your moving and living abroad easier and more enjoyable.

Follow This Moving Abroad Checklist to Settle in Quickly

Do everything in this moving abroad checklist, and you’ll have less moving jitters to worry about. You’ll settle in your new country and neighborhood faster and feel at home away from home. Most importantly, you can start making new and amazing memories as soon as possible.

Need even more tips for your travel abroad? Then be sure to check out this list of international travel tips!

Bottle up That Bathtub Beer: 5 Top Tips for Making Homemade Beer

Modern Alchemy: How Are Plastic Bottles Made?