A Single Girl's Guide to Moving to a New Country
In my 20s, I moved to a new country twice. I know firsthand how utterly terrifying it can be but also how incredibly exhilarating, enriching, and rewarding it can be too. The first time I moved away from my home in Montréal, Canada, I was going to study abroad in Australia at the ripe age of 22. I was moving across the world to a place I had never been with only two suitcases in tow. While it was emotional and daunting at times, it was also the most incredible life experience—so much so that I ended up living there for three years!
This time, I’m moving to New York (which presents its own set of challenges), and I find myself more settled and mature. Instead of two suitcases, I’m bringing with me a moving truck full of belongings. To help me plan out my move, I created a pretty detailed checklist to keep me organised. Whether you’re temporarily relocating or permanently uprooting, keep scrolling for the ultimate guide to moving overseas.
❑ Get your documents in check. Make sure your passport is valid, and take all the necessary steps to get a visa for your country of choice. An immigration attorney can assist with this.
❑ Shop movers. Make a list of what you want to bring with you, and shop around for moving companies. Get at least five quotes because prices can vary a lot.
❑ Put your health first. Some countries require you to get vaccinated for viruses that don’t exist in your home country. Find out about vaccination requirements, and research health insurance you might need. Organise a final check-up with your general practitioner and your dentist. Ask your doctor about any prescriptions you have and how to transfer them to your new home.
❑ Let people know. Advise your landlord that you are moving, or contact a real estate broker to help you sell or lease your home.
❑ Browse the real estate market. Start shopping around for homes in your new city online to get a feel for the rental market, neighborhoods, pricing, and other local real-estate quirks you might not know about. Familiarise yourself with real-estate regulations and practices.
❑ Book an apartment-hunting trip. If you can, book a short trip to go visit apartments in your new city—connect with real estate brokers prior to your arrival and have all the paperwork to file an application with you when you visit. Bring a friend along. If you prefer renting on arrival, book a hotel or Airbnb for the first few weeks.
❑ Book a date. Book an official moving date with your chosen moving company, and book flights immediately. The more you delay, the more you’ll pay. Get a list of your movers’ requirements. Some might ask for a copy of your passport, a detailed list of the content of your boxes, or a certificate of insurance for your building.
❑ Sell your car. If you are selling a car, put it on the market or contact your dealership about ending your lease early.
❑ Prepare a power of attorney. You might need someone in your home country with a power of attorney to handle your affairs while you’re away.
❑ Talk to your bank. Find out if your bank has a branch in your new country. This is the easiest way to set up a bank account and credit card—and will also allow you to make transfers from your two accounts free of charge.
❑ Declutter. Put items you don’t need for sale on eBay or Gumtree. Give the rest to charity or friends.
❑ Start packing. One box per day. That’s all you need. Unless you live in a castle, in which case, start early.
❑ Start a checklist. Create an Excel spreadsheet that identifies the content of each box you pack. Label your boxes clearly with corresponding numbers on all sides.
❑ Change your address. Give your new address to every company or person who semi-regularly sends you mail. This includes governmental agencies, banks, phone company, accountants, attorneys, etc.
❑ Give notice. Let your Internet, electricity, and cable companies know you’re moving as early as possible. Organise the cancellation of your house insurance.
❑ Cancel your car insurance. You may also be able to get a portion of the money back for your immatriculation if you pay yearly.
❑ Pay all bills. Make sure each company you have monthly bills with has a contact number and address to reach you in case there are any outstanding fees. You don’t want to screw up your credit just because your Internet company sent you a $20 cancellation fee one month after you moved and you never received it.
❑ Re-route your mail. Contact the post office for mail re-routing. Cancel all mail delivery subscriptions.
❑ Make it legal. Research what new ID cards you will need in the new country—driver’s licenses, social security cards, etc.
❑ Organise a goodbye party. Or ask your BFF to do it.
❑ Double-check your moving date. The delivery date may differ from the pick-up date. Call your moving company to double-check.
❑ Set a meeting with your broker. Set a time and date to get your new keys on arrival and sign any outstanding documentation.
❑ Organise accommodation. Make sure you have a place to stay between the date when your movers will pick up your belongings and the date they deliver them. You’re not going to want to sleep on the floor of your new place.
❑ Schedule cleaners. Schedule cleaners to come on moving day after the truck has left to leave your current place in good condition. Schedule cleaners in your new city to come and clean your new apartment before you arrive. No one likes to do that on top of unpacking.
❑ Book a handyman. Don’t know how to uninstall those cute sconces, wall-mounted shelves, or curtain hardware you bought? Me neither. Find a friend to help you, or book a handyman before your movers arrive so they won’t charge you extra.
❑ Pack a suitcase. Pack your first week’s essentials. Moving internationally often involves a few days of delay before you receive your belongings, so be prepared.
❑ Tape up your final boxes. Make sure everything is packed, labeled, and ready.
❑ Clear a path to the large furniture. Movers will want to carry out the largest items first, so make sure they can access them.
❑ Roll up rugs. Cover them with plastic wrappers if you can.
❑ Go to bed early. If your moving truck is scheduled to arrive between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m., chances are it will arrive at 7:30 a.m. Be prepared. And shower the night before—you might not have time in the morning.
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❑ Wake up early. See above. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes (think athleisure). Go grab a quick coffee to wake up before the movers arrive.
❑ Have a game plan. Being organised means that your movers will move more quickly and efficiently. Mentally prepare the move, and be ready to guide them when the time comes.
❑ Give keys back. Give keys back to your landlord, or hand them over to the new owners.
❑ Have a glass of wine. Once on the flight, keep calm and enjoy. This is a huge milestone in your life. Give yourself a pat on the back.
❑ Welcome movers. Get your new keys well in advance of your moving truck arriving, and be at your new home at least one hour before the scheduled arrival time. This is also the perfect time to schedule someone to come and install your cable or Internet.
❑ Document damage. Take a tour of your apartment, and make sure to notify the landlord of any damage so it doesn’t get taken out of your security deposit at the end.
❑ Walk around your new neighborhood. Once all your belongings are moved in your new place, go outside, grab a coffee, walk around, and get a sense of the place.
❑ Catch up with friends and acquaintances. If you have friends in your new city, invite them over so they can lend a hand. If you have acquaintances, make a point to catch up with them for a coffee or a drink so you can relax. Unpacking can wait.
❑ Purchase a few groceries and essentials. Toilet paper, milk, cleaning supplies—there are a few essentials you should buy right away.
❑ Get a new phone plan. Who wants to stay phoneless for more than a few hours? Get going, girl.
❑ Call your friends and family. They will want to know how your move went. Fill them in on all the details.
Have you moved overseas before? Did we forget anything? Tell us in the comments below!