If you have the luxury of time - use it! The better plan you have in place, the more seamless your transition will be.
1 Year before the departure
- Research and apply for any necessary visas or permits required for your move. Waiting for a visa is stressful and situation you want to avoid by starting early.
- Determine if you need to sale the home you are in, rent it out, or end your lease. If you are selling your home, employ an agent and begin the process as selling a home can take a long time. If you are terminating your lease, try to leave when the contract ends as leaving early can result in high fees.
- Slim down on material things and organize. Evaluate what you need and what you don't. Also resist the temptation to buy new things.
- If you are going to require the services of a International Removal Company, start complying quotes and reviews to find the right company for you.
- If you are flying to your new home, research the trends in airfare and consider their luggage allowance. If you have a lot of luggage it may end up cheaper to fly business class, so take this into account when searching for fares.
- If you have a car or pets start planning what you're going to do with them when you leave. Find out what import regulations entail. Consult the EasyExpat article "Expat Pets" to find out more about importing animals.
- If you have never been to the place you are moving, try to plan a vacation there so you can get a look around and better understand the environment. Don't psych yourself out with small snafus, but note if this area poses any serious long-term problems. It's better to know now then when you've already moved there.
6 Months before the departure
- Research neighborhoods and pinpoint where you would like to live. Start searching on-line for available housing to get an idea of what is available and consider hiring an estate agent or company. They know the area and can do the legwork for you.
- Pick an International Removal company and find out what their policies and procedures are for the move.
- Take out any additional insurance you will need for the move. Movers usually provide insurance for your items, but see if there is anywhere else you need to be covered.
- Consult international health advisory boards to find out if you and your family are in need of any shots, boosters, or medication.
2 Months before the departure
- If you have not yet found a house of flat, book a hotel/hostel for a few days to help you find your feet. You can also look into short-term accommodations. Some locations offer short-term apartment rentals that can be extremely helpful in allowing you to settle somewhere before picking a permanent place.
- Confirm your information and move date with the removal company.
- Request your & your children's vital records like medical and educational documents. You can make digital copies of all important documents for easy access and transport. It is also a good idea to store these documents online so these files are accessible wherever you are, with another copy in a safe deposit box, or in the possession of a friend or family member in another area. If you are moving to an area with a different predominant language than your records, have them translated.
- Get rid of stuff. Have a garage sale, sell on eBay or craigslist, donate, or throw it out. This is the time to slim down your belongings to just the necessities.
- Decide if you are keeping you bank account abroad and research your options where you are moving. Some banks have partnerships which makes transferring easy. If your account does not have high monthly charges, it may be worth keeping it open.
- If you haven't already or are not expatriating for your job, inform them of your plans. You may still need these contacts so try to make the split as amicable as possible. Also get a letter of reference.
1 Month before the departure
- Arrange for a postal re-direction service to a relative's address, or your new address.
- Set-up a blog, if you haven't already. Your story in interesting and could even be of use to other expats. It also allows you to keep in touch with friends, make new friends, complain when you need to, and chronicle your adventures.
- Start packing. Now that you are clear of things you don't need, start preparing everything that is coming with you. Put any travel documents and things you want to have available during the move to the side.
- Cancel your bills and any monthly direct debits.
- Notify your bank that you're leaving. If this means closing your account, find out what actions you need to take to do this.
1 Week before the departure
- Clean out the fridge and pantry. Donate what you won't use and throw out anything that isn't good anymore.
- Clean your residence. Whether you are leaving a rental or sold your home, leave the place in good working order.
- Pack your suitcases for the items traveling with you. Make sure anything traveling with the removal company is ready. Check and re-check the household for any forgotten items.
1 Day before the departure
- Confirm your flight and check in.
- Double check your luggage to make sure you haven't forgotten anything.
- Arrange for transport to the airport whether it is taxi, family, or friend.
- Relax. Anything that is not done, is probably not going to get done. This is the time to sit back and enjoy the ride.
- Get on the plane or transport with your suitcases, family and/or pets.