Whether you plan to become a permanent expatriate or are accepting an overseas job assignment, making the overseas move is a job unto itself. How big that job is depends on your circumstances.
If you are taking your spouse, children, and a pet, your workload is, of course, increased and complicated incrementally. Add a car and household goods to the mix, and you’ll need to start planning early to avoid waiting months involved in ocean shipping.
The suggestions that follow, while not all-inclusive, provide a solid foundation for overseas planning and preparations. The key is to start early and leave time to cope with unexpected delays that can come between you and completing your journey abroad.
Attitude and preparation are everything.
Moving to a foreign country can be a combination of adventure, hassle, and hardship. Whichever facet of the foregoing dominates the experience depends on your attitude.
We are the sum total of our experiences, and those experiences are enhanced by travel abroad. A positive attitude will go a long way in coping the inevitable hassle and hardships of an overseas move. Work from a baseline of positive expectations and go about your planning in a methodical way, and your move will go well.
First things first: Research your overseas destination.
Country guides and profiles are just a mouse click away on the worldwide web. Many are oriented for tourists, but are definitely worth reading. However, if you’re just after the cold facts, check out the CIA World Factbook for an unbiased and fairly comprehensive summary on everything you need to know about your host country.
Get your documents and certificates in order.
Make sure your passport is current. Allow 4 weeks processing time if you are ordering a new or renewing an existing passport. Plan on paying a $120 fee for a 5-year Canadian passport ($160 for a 10-year period).
Check out the residency and visa requirements of the host country. It’s all on the web. Obtain the number of the nearest consulate or embassy of the country you are visiting and schedule an visit. Be prepared for fees and inevitable bureaucratic compliance steps.
Get an international driver’s license.
If you plan to drive overseas, or would like a handy ID photo without having to carry your passport everywhere, you should get your international driver’s license. Check out the CAA web page for details.
Also, read up on the host country’s driving rules, unique traffic regulations, and insurance requirements. For example, in Great Britain, motorists who are caught sleeping in a parked car after having too much to drink can be charged with the offence “Drunk in Charge.”
Think about health issues and follow these suggestions:
Schedule a complete physical exam. Get your vision checked and update your prescription. If you have any dental issues, have them taken care of before you leave. Get copies of your health and dental records, as well as your vision prescription. They could come in handy if you need medical care overseas.
Decide what to do with your pet.
You’ll need to do some research on bringing your pet overseas. Most pet import regulations include rabies and Avian influenza immunization. Some countries require pet quarantine of up to six months, which could be costly for you and traumatic for the pet.
Read more about moving overseas with pets on the TransitionsAbroad.com web page.
Choose what to take, what to store, and what to jettison.
The household goods and personal possessions you decide to take with you will add time and expense to your preparations. Shipping a load of furniture will set you back anywhere thousands of dollars, depending on shipment size and weight. The good news is that overseas shipping companies have the experience and expertise and can pack, store, and ship your possessions efficiently.
Again, do your research. Will your smart phone work in Europe? What about personal computing devices like iPads and laptops? If you’re considering taking any electrical appliances overseas, you’ll need to buy transformers to allow for the different voltages.
Finally, consider sending an express air shipment of items that you want delivered shortly after your arrival. Express shipments usually consist of personal supplies for your first few weeks overseas, including clothing, bedding, kitchen utensils, toys and games.
Should you ship your car?
Unless your sponsoring company is picking up the expense, you might want to sell or store your car before going overseas. Shipment costs for a compact auto, for example, could amount to over $1,000. Then there are differences in emission control standards between Europe and North America. Filling your tank with European fuel could ruin your catalytic converter and affect the vehicle’s performance.
Do some budget planning.
Look into the cost of living and estimate its impact on your income. For example, Where you were accustomed to paying under $1.31 per litre at the Canadian pump, you will pay over $1.00 more at the British petrol pump.
Likewise, there are generally higher living costs in Europe in food, energy, and utilities. Do your research and budget accordingly. You can also talk to MTFX currency expert to forecast estimate currency required to start livelihood in the foreign country. Avail MTFX money transfer service and send money to your friends and family in Canada from abroad.
Check into the crime statistics of your host country. If you’re moving from Canada, you are leaving one of the top 10 safest countries in the world. As you might expect, many countries in Africa and the Middle East rank on the opposite end of the safety spectrum. European countries do better, with Iceland leading the pack as the safest country in the world, with Denmark and Austria close behind.
Wherever you’re going, it is wise to check out criminal statistics. You may not be in physical danger, but consider incidences of property crimes—burglaries, pickpockets, etc.—where perpetrators like to target foreign visitors.
Summary and conclusion
This has been a quick look at what you should include in planning your overseas move. Use this guide as a basis for further research and planning. There are many useful overseas move checklists on the web. The key is to plan ahead and start early. There is plenty to do and that early start will keep your crisis management to a minimum.