Tips for Moving Abroad

Could there be anything more exciting than moving abroad? Well the answer to that question depends on whether it is your choice or if it is an unexpected job transfer.  Either way, once the decision has been made to make the move it is important for you to get busy researching and planning for this great adventure. Even if you have moved to various cities, provinces or even to the United States you will find that moving abroad brings a number of unique challenges. There are a lot of details to attend to, documents to obtain and arrangements to be made.

If you are fortunate enough to be moving abroad as a result of a job transfer, you are likely to get a fair amount of support from your employer. This will make working your way through a mountain of red tape much less stressful. However if you have decided that now is the time to stretch your horizons on your own, you want to give yourself sufficient time to do your research. Knowing what is required to move to and live in a specific country is essential if you don’t want any unpleasant surprises.

Here are some tips for moving abroad that will help make the experience easier and more enjoyable.

1. Documentation Required

Every country has its own immigration and other regulations. Before you buy your plane ticket, do your research. Find out what type of visas you need to live and work in that country. Complete the paperwork well in advance of when you want to move since it takes months for processing; Make sure you understand any restrictions. Using an immigration consultant or immigration lawyer may help you navigate the red tape.

2. Medical Issues

Depending on the country you are moving to, you may be required to have specific vaccinations or get booster shots for vaccinations you got as a child. If you are starting a new job, be sure to inquire about health care insurance. Are you covered immediately?

3. Banking

Here in North America we think of banking being an instant, seamless process but when you move to a foreign country you may find some obstacles to accessing your money. You should choose a bank in advance and complete the necessary paperwork to setup a checking account. It may take a couple of weeks for processing to be completed and for an international fund transfer to go through from your home bank. Ask about fees since some countries levy fairly hefty ones on foreign transactions. Also make sure that your North American credit cards can be used without attracting extra charges; it makes sense to apply for a new card in the new country. If you can find a foreign subsidiary of your North American bank that may make it easier to get set up.

4. Accommodations

Unless you are moving abroad to work at an embassy or other government department you are probably on your own to find housing. One thing to remember is that most apartments outside of North America are usually not as spacious as what you’re used to, and they may be more expensive than you expect. Prepare to be flexible. Using a real estate rental agent is generally the best approach in most countries. Going online to some expat forums and asking for recommendations to reputable realtors may be a good idea.

5. Deciding What to Take

When it comes to moving abroad, deciding what to take and what to leave behind in storage takes a little thought. Your budget will be a major factor since overseas shipping is quite expensive. If you have an employer who is paying for the relocation this may not be as much of an issue. Even then, keep in mind that your living space will be smaller than at home. Rarely does it make sense to ship large appliances that may not be compatible with the electrical system in the new country. Similarly, shipping your car is usually cost prohibitive. You would be wise to carefully choose those pieces that you really want and need and leave the rest in storage. Remember that most overseas shipments travel by ship and take 3-4 months to arrive at the new location. For those items you need immediately you can either do a small air shipment or take what you can as part of your luggage allowance.

6. Learning the Language

It doesn’t hurt to try to familiarize yourself with the language before you leave. Programs like Rosetta Stone can be a good introduction to the basics, however once you arrive in the new country arranging for private lessons is the best way to learn the language especially as it relates to day-to-day living; forums are a good place to get recommendations for a teacher. You might even be able to find a native speaker who would be willing to give you lessons at a discount in exchange for you helping them learn English.

7. Make New Friends

One of the most important part of living in a new country is getting immersed in the culture and making some new friends. If you don’t make an effort to join clubs or activities that interest you it could result in you feeling isolated. Don’t make a habit of comparing everything and everyone you encounter to life at home. It will be different but that is one of the reasons you have chosen to live in a foreign country.

8. Don’t Lose Touch with Home

Make use of Skype, Facetime, Snapchat or other applications to allow you to stay in touch with friends and family back home. You can share your new experiences and keep up with what is going on in their lives. This will be particularly important when you decide to go home for a visit or to return to live.

For information on how Premiere Van Lines can help you move abroad contact us!

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I am writing to commend the work of Premiere Van Lines on our recent move from Hamilton, New Zealand to Halifax.  I want to make clear that all of our interactions with Premiere staff were very professional and very effective at getting our job done right.  I have been professionally moved 11 times in my career and this move was by far the best!

James from Halifax

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