60 Days Prior
- Start packing: Once you begin the process of getting rid of stuff you will start to realize just how much stuff you really have. If you have been living in this place for a long time you will have years’ worth of knick-knacks to comb through and decide you either want to bring it with you or throw away. If I were to give you my advice I would try to bring as little as possible. I can tell you right now that we brought way too much stuff and when we return to the states we will be leaving most of the stuff we brought the first time right there. The key to packing up an entire house is to really take your time and stay on top of it. On our first move we started packing and throwing things away from 4 months prior and still on the very last night we had to ask friends to come help us get rid of all the rest of our stuff.
- Complete a background check: If you plan on working in the country you are moving to it is likely that you will need to bring a background check. This sounds like a lot but if you think about it there is no way for this country to verify who you are and that you are trustworthy. If you are from the United States your background check needs to come from the FBI. If you are from anywhere else your background check usually comes from your local police. The company that we use to get our background checks done is called Accurate Biometrics. You have to go somewhere locally to get your fingerprints done and then you send the company the fingerprint cards you receive. They usually get back to you within a week if you choose the online option. We choose to get the online version and the paper version. Most companies want the envelope sealed and will not take it if it is more than 6 months old. So timing of this is very delicate because you don’t want to get them done too early and then it expires but you also don’t want to get them done too late where they arrive after you leave. I feel like this is obvious but I am going to say it anyway. If you have something criminal on your background check, no matter what it is, it is likely that no company in this new country will hire you.
- Obtain a complete list of medications you need to take every day: If you are taking a lot of medication you may already have a list of what you take every day. If not, visit your doctor and ask him for everything that has been prescribed to you. Make sure that you also get the name of the knockoff brand of each type of medication, the active ingredients and also the dosage. It is likely that your medication is available in your new country but they may not call it the same name. Inform your doctor that you will be moving abroad.
- Fill enough prescriptions to last you two months: I am aware that certain medications have a limit as to how much you can obtain in a certain amount of time. I am currently unsure how to work around that but maybe you can ask your doctor for help. I believe that two months is more than enough time for you to find a reputable pharmacy that can provide your medication. If you are going to a country that does readily have your medication available, figure out how this can be sent to you.
- Renew your local/states driver’s license: Each state has its own requirements for renewal. If your license is expiring during the time you will be gone you might want to renew that so you will not be overseas with an expired ID.
- Find accommodations for when you arrive: If you will not be moving directly into a home you need to find a place to stay for the in-between time. Originally when we had planned out the move, we wanted to move around a couple times to get a feel for different neighborhoods. We ended up staying in three different places before Mr. Ward got tired of “running around”. Lol We ended up staying in an Airbnb for a month before we found an apartment.
- Join social groups specific to your new country: There are plenty of ways to meet people prior to your arrival. Joining these groups will also allow you to see what types of activities are happening around town. There will Facebook Groups, Meetup, Couchsurfing, Expat Social Group and many others.
30 Days Prior
- Get your visas: If there is a consulate or embassy in your city it will be easy enough to make an appointment (some don’t require appointments) and go there to drop off your passport. If you have all the proper paperwork needed for the visa this should be a fairly quick process. Every country is different but as long as you aren’t missing anything you should be able to obtain them within 3-5days. If you don’t have an official office near you, you may decide to fly/drive to one. You will have to return to pick it up so make sure you leave enough buffer time when purchasing your flights. Another option is to send your passport to the embassy by mail and they will mail it back. This option personally scares
the f*ckthe mess out of me. For starters I don’t trust the mail service. What if it gets lost in either direction? What if it doesn’t reach you in time? There are just too many unknown factors in this scenario. It makes more sense to me to spend the money to fly to the offices rather than having to deal with the amount of money and time you are going to have to spend to get a new passport with a limited amount of time. Plus you could make the visit a mini vacation.
- Inform your landlord you are leaving: Most apartments require a 30-day notice before departure. Will you be breaking your contract? Is there a fee for that?
- Start setting appointments to disconnect services: Some service providers require you to make an appointment (when you are home) to shut off whatever service they provide. Services that need to be cut off include, but are not limited to: cable, water, electric, gas, internet and phone. I would leave the electric and gas on until the very last day especially if you are making this move in the winter time.
- Register with the embassy: For US Citizens you are able to make these arrangements online, through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). When the state department is aware of your location they will be able to send “important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country and help you make informed decisions about your travel plans. Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.” that was quoted directly from their site. They also send out relevant updates such as how to vote abroad, where you can get your passport renewed, and where to register births and marriages abroad. For citizens of other countries I am unsure if there is a database you can register for prior to going to your new country but there is probably a way you can register with your country’s embassy/consulate on arrival.
- Cancel all memberships and subscriptions: Make sure to cancel your gym, BirchBox, magazine and any other memberships or subscriptions you may have. Does Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Apple Music etc., work in your new destination? If they don’t work you can either cancel them or keep them working through a VPN. I’ll discuss VPN’s later.
- Forward your mail: Whether that be a parent or a close friend, I would make the forwarding address that of someone you trust implicitly. You may need this person to open your mail from time to time. This may include very sensitive information such as bank statements and tax forms that have your national ID on them. If it is someone you don’t trust you will always be worried about what they are doing with your information. Save yourself the headache. For US Residents you can forward your mail by going to a local post office or visiting USPS’s website. For Canadian Residents you can visit the Canada Post’s Website. For UK Residents you can visit the Royal Mail’s Website.
- Change your address: There are a number of places that need to be notified of your address change. Before you quit your job make sure you change your address with them so your tax forms can go to the right place. For US residents a list has already been created with the government agencies that need to be notified of your change of address. Also consider notifying family and friends that your mail should now be sent to this location.
- Obtain international drivers permit: If you plan on driving in your new country it may be necessary that you come with an international driver’s license. It’s basically just a document certifying that you have a driver’s license in your home country. Even if you don’t plan on driving when you get there you never know when this might come in handy. It’s always best to be over prepared than under prepared. We did not use our not one time while we were here but we still have them none the less. In the United States AAA provides them at their branches for $20USD.
- Pay off all bills: This goes with minimizing debt. If it is possible get rid of all open bills.
- Notify banks of move: If you end up opening that brokerage account I would not advise you to tell them you are moving. Just place a travel notice on your account and keep renewing it. As far as your regular bank goes, you should inform them. I went in to Bank of America and talked with an agent and told them I was moving for a year. They placed an extended notice on my account that supersedes the one on the app. Knock on wood but I haven’t had any issues using my card abroad yet.
- Buy products that aren’t available in your new country: This one is hard to determine. Try reaching out to one of the people in the social groups you joined and ask them if they have the products you use daily. As for Thailand they mostly have all of the American brands (this does not include black hair and skin products) and they look just like the ones at home but you have to be careful because there is usually some type of whitening agent like bleach in it.
- Get final checkups: Before you quit your job and lose your insurance make sure you have finished all your doctor visits. I got dental surgery a week before we left just because I could still do it with my insurance turned on.
- Obtain medical certificate if necessary: Some countries require a medical certificate to get certain types of visas. The ones needed for the visa are preferred to come from your home country. Some jobs require a medical certificate to start working. If you have a job lined up then ask them. If you are unsure don’t fret healthcare is more than likely cheaper in your next location and you can just get it done there. I got mine done in Thailand with no problem although our next destination is requiring us to get them done in the states.
- Download/pay for a VPN: A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is used to add security to you using the internet. It also reroutes your internet to make it look like it is coming from a different country. In countries like China, Saudi Arabia, N. Korea, Vietnam and many more there is content that is blocked from the general public to see. Using a VPN (which may be illegal) will allow you to access the internet from what looks like a foreign server. There are plenty of free services out there but depending on what you are looking for you might want to pay for one.
- Check absentee voting requirements: For US Citizens https://www.fvap.gov/citizen-voter
Check out the next page for Two Weeks Prior until the Day of your move