90 Days Prior
- Inspect your passport– Double and triple check the expiration dates on everyone who is traveling. If any of them are expiring within the next year they need to be renewed. I would suggest (if you’re American) you get the passport book with 52 pages. It will save you time, stress and money. If it has damage I would suggest you also get it replaced. Some countries will not let you in even if it is the smallest amount of damage. Most countries’ websites will tell you they will deny you entry if your passport has less than two pages available. I would argue you should probably just get a new one if you have less than 10. The visas in Thailand take up the entire page. In one year of being here I have used 11pages. If you fall into the category of someone needing to get a replacement I would urge you to go into a passport agency and get an emergency passport. Usually you can get it back within a day. It does cost more than sending it in the mail BUT you will have the peace of mind that it isn’t lost in the mail.
- Check the visa requirements– Each country has different rules for extended stays in the country. Also, be aware that if you plan on working or are retired you may require a different visa type.
- Look for a job– Now this one is country and situation specific. Maybe you run a business online so you don’t have to worry about this. Some countries require you to have a job prior to entering and some countries really don’t care what you do. We moved to Thailand WITHOUT a job. Knowing your job market is important. We knew we could come here and find a job fairly quickly since we had all the basic requirements. While Thailand is tightening their immigration laws it is still fairly easy to enter the country on a tourist visa and work on the same visa. Most companies don’t care. Please be advised that is illegal and I am in no way condoning illegal activity abroad.
- Purchase travel tickets- Since you now have a date set it is time for you to start purchasing tickets to leave the country. As a general rule, it’s is best to purchase plane, train, and bus tickets early as they sometimes sell out or the prices go up. Some travel companies will allow you to receive money back if you find the same route for cheaper somewhere else within a certain time frame. Something to take into consideration is bag fees. You will more than likely have to check multiple bags. Bags fees could cause the cheaper airline to be much more expensive.
- Purchase travel insurance– I will be honest this is something I know nothing about. We have never purchased travel insurance simply because it is too expensive. I do understand that many people always get it but I am not sure how sustainable it is for long term stays.
- Check CDC website for vaccination requirements– Although this is an American website it is the most accurate for anyone anywhere traveling. Once you find the country you are moving to, the CDC Website will give you a list of suggested vaccinations for that region. You will probably find that you already have most of the ones listed. Checking this list early is essential because some of the vaccinations are a series and take very long to complete.
- Begin vaccination series- This is pretty self-explanatory. If the shots you are required to get comes in multiple doses it would be best to start early and not have to worry about having to get them during crunch time.
- Start compiling documents that you may need while abroad– This may include but is not limited to college transcripts, transcripts for your children, college diplomas, marriage certificate, birth certificates for you and your children, vaccination cards and insurance cards. Every country is different and for Thailand we needed original copies of everything. That includes our gigantic diplomas from university.
- Obtain medical and dental records- If you are someone that is required to go to the doctor very often you may want to wait a while before getting these. If you want to continue the same treatments you are getting at home this could help the next doctor you end up going to. Although most doctors around the world SHOULD speak English this is not the case everywhere. It would be best to have the whole file translated into the local language, possibly by that countries consulate. Medical care is the last thing you want to experiment with.
- Get organized– Make two binders/folders that will hold all the documents you will need. Leave one set with parents or close friends you trust. In an emergency those family members could send you whatever documents you need. I would also suggest scanning every document into your computer for safe keeping.
- Look for places to live– Again this is country and situation specific. Maybe your company is providing housing so you don’t need to worry about it. We moved to Thailand without any place to live simply because it’s hard to gage a neighborhood online. Plus, this country wasn’t that online savvy. Many places have FB pages rather than a website so it’s hard to tell what is nice and what isn’t. Plus I am not too keen on taking people’s advice about places to live since the things I am used to and what I’m looking to get out of neighborhood will be different than the next person. If you are moving to a poorer country I can bet that the only living accommodations that are listed online are the ones for foreigners and are therefore much more expensive than what the locals are paying.
- Start trying to learn the language– This can be difficult depending on the location but it doesn’t hurt to attempt to learn a few words to get around. Duolingo is a pretty good service that has about 10 languages available.
- Make a list of keep, sell, donate, or throw away. This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you continue to stay organized and write down the things you need vs the things you don’t this transition will go much smoother. I would also suggest that you start looking into storage rentals or speaking with family members/friends on using up space in their house. We were lucky enough to have enough family to keep our stuff. My only regret is that everything isn’t in one place which becomes annoying when we are looking for something important.
- Start selling and throwing away items: Especially big items such as your car. Sales like that take a long time to facilitate and you don’t want to wait for the last minute. I sold my car literally the day before we moved and I was stressed about what I would with it if I didn’t get it sold. Using services like Craigslist, OfferUp or eBay could help put a little bit of cash in your pocket. If what you want to get rid of is mildly used it would be generous of you to donate to a local homeless shelter or orphanage. You can even write donations off on your taxes which could also equal more money in your pocket.
- Open an international bank account: Due to the way banking is done now-a-days you don’t really need an actual branch to be available in the country you are moving to. What I mean by open an international bank account is to open a bank account that WORKS internationally. That means you aren’t getting hit with ridiculous fees for every single transaction. There are plenty of credit cards out there that do not charge a fee for transactions outside of the country but finding a bank that will also not charge you fees for cash withdrawals internationally can be difficult. What we did: We opened a brokerage account with Charles Schwab. With that brokerage account they can also give you a bank account. With that bank account they give you a debit card. You can use your debt card anywhere in the world and you don’t have to pay ANY fees. This includes ATM fees, international transaction fees and currency conversion fees. It’s all covered. Which is great for people who travel all the time. There is one thing though: DO NOT TELL THE BANK YOU ARE PLANNING ON LIVING ABROAD YET! A bank like this does not want to cover your everyday transaction fees. It is a card you are supposed to only use for travel so there is no need to tip them off that you are always traveling lol. I also have a Bank of America travel card which is pretty amazing.
- Attempt to minimize your debt– I know earlier I told you to save as much money as you can buttttt the consequences of not doing this could have a major impact on your life abroad. I would argue that you will not be making as much money abroad as you are making in your home country. The only difference is that the cost of living is usually much cheaper which allows you to save more money. Which in theory sounds great but in reality, you might not be saving anywhere near as much money as you had hoped to. If you have bills back in your country to pay, they are not going to be accepting your Monopoly money. Putting money toward stuff like your car note, student loans, business loans, mortgages, etc. will help you in the long run.
- Put your house on the market: If you own a house you understand how long it could be before you sell it. If you are in real estate you understand that sometimes these things happen quicker than expected. Either way you need to be prepared for both the best and worst outcome. Start trying to figure out what are going to do if the house doesn’t get sold. Will you have tenants? A property manager? What will you do if the house gets sold quicker than expected? Where will you go? What will you do with all your things?
- Make sure your phone is unlocked: What this means is your phone will be able to be used on other GSM networks and it will work internationally. As a rule of thumb Android phones usually come unlocked. This is not the case for iPhones. There are multiple ways to figure out if your phone is unlocked. Read this Wikihow article to figure out if your phone is already unlocked. If you discover your phone isn’t unlocked your carrier may provide unlocking services for free.
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