Despite the playful title, where your money goes and what paperwork you need to fill out is the single biggest obstacle to conquer. If you already have a position lined up, you are likely aware of embassy registration in your new country. You likely have a sponsored visa for you and your family members as well. Some less-obvious things to consider are your current debts, mortgages, loans, and credit cards.
Talk to your lenders immediately to determine what you should pay off before you leave, what can be frozen, and what you can continue to pay off while you are in your new country. Are your credit cards valid in your new country? What are the exchange and interest rates?
The other large, potentially challenging obstacles to overcome are health and safety concerns.
Check the Center for Disease Control’s Travelers’ Health Menu for an idea of what immunizations you’ll need and what you could be exposed to in your new country. Binge on doctor visits before you go, getting any surgeries, dental work, or eye wear before you go. While it may add a bit more stress to your relocation-focused mind, it will prevent a medical emergency in a new country.
Another critical question to ask is whether or not your current health insurance will still be available to you. If your new employer offers you insurance or your new, foreign country has socialized medicine, determine the lapse between the end of your current coverage and the beginning of your new coverage.
The U.S. Department of State has a Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which may be worthwhile for you to explore. It has pertinent information about the risks Americans face when they travel or move to a new country.
Deal with Your Stuff Second: Organizational Tactics and Hard Decisions
Decide what to bring, and then weigh it.
Ask your moving company when your items will arrive in the new city and pack in your luggage all the things you’ll need until the rest of your items arrive. Once you think you have the least items you can survive with, weigh the luggage to see if it’ll pass as a carry-on, checked baggage, or oversized luggage.
Be ruthlessly minimalist about what you want to bring to your new country.
Reassess, and then purge.
Sell extra items on eBay or Craig’s List, or hold a garage sale. Donate whatever else you can’t seem to sell. Set a deadline for your for-sale items, and if they are still at your house, donate them, too.
Take an inventory.
Once you feel good about the items you are going to bring with you, create a list to track them. You might feel like you have it under control, until the day comes when you are looking for your cell phone charger, your child’s favorite stuffed animal, or your comfortable house slippers. Whoops. Avoid this in advance by reviewing your stock and tallying each item.
Organize things into categories.
Separate your family’s items into categories, and then make an inventory list. Pack category items together in order to maintain organization for the unpacking process.
Think About Your Loved Ones: Relocating with Children and Pets
Children often have difficulty adjusting to an international move. Throwing them a goodbye party and encouraging them to stay in contact with friends via social media and email are excellent ways to ease the transition.
Look for schools that offer an International Baccalaureate program because they offer a standardized, transnational curriculum. The options for international schools may be limited in certain countries; if this is the case, a local school might be a better option for your children, especially if you are moving permanently. International Schools Services offers a worldwide list of English-speaking schools.
Now, another big decision-what about your pets?
To bring or not to bring, that is the real question. It’s hard to imagine life without your furry friends, but life for them can be substantially harder in a foreign city.
Look at where you are going to be living. Is there a yard? Is there a dog park nearby? Where can you take your dog for a walk? Will you be working long hours without the ability to come home at lunch? If you think your pet will suffer more with you abroad than it will in a new home, then it is time to think about adoption.
If you choose to bring your pet, every country has pet importation forms and veterinary clearance standards. Your pet likely will need immunizations and a clean bill of health from your vet.
If you do decide to bring your pet, complete the paperwork, certifications, and immunizations, then purchase a hard carrier case and spill-proof water container. Your vet can provide your pet with sedatives.
Taking your pet to a foreign country involves a difficult airplane ride. Ask your airline for information about when you can travel with your pet because there are black-out dates. How much is the surcharge for bringing Fido? Which pet friendly airports can you travel through? Will your pet be stored in-cabin or under-cabin?
On the day of the flight, arrive three hours early for security purposes. Between flights, confirm your pet has been boarded on the next flight during a layover.
Pack your pet’s go-to food brand, and after arriving, compare it to the current country’s food ingredients. Slowly mix in new kibble one quarter at a time until your pet gets used to the new food. Talk to neighbors about places to walk your dog.
These tips will help you ease into your new city. Remember that you don’t need to do this alone. An international professional moving service can circumvent most of the packing, shipping, and unpacking issues involved with international relocation.