Before moving abroad I probably should’ve done more research on what to do and what to bring instead of looking up what kind of shopping would be at the place of my destination. After living in the Bahamas for a year and permanently relocating to London in 2017, I’ve learned a lot about the ins and outs of living and moving abroad. From overpacking during my initial move to the Bahamas and to visa confusion when it came to applying for my UK Visa, its safe to say that doing the big move is not easy.
These are 13 Helpful Tips for Moving Abroad.
1. Get Rid of Things You Don’t Actually Need
Before I moved to the Bahamas I thought I had gotten rid of things that I didn’t need but ten suitcases ish later and a transatlantic move to the UK a year and a half later, I realized that was not the case.
I had a difficult time with the move because it had come at a time in my life where I wasn’t actually ready to move, which is why it was difficult to part with certain clothes and memorabilia. But after a few moves abroad you quickly realize that some stuff you just really need, or after a while, you forget that you have it. Paying to bring it abroad whether on a plane or shipping is too much agg if you don’t absolutely love it.
2. Collect Family and Friends Addresses and Phone Numbers
This one is huge since you may not be home for the holidays and you will miss birthdays and parties. An easy way to mediate this problem is by making sure you are sending out holiday and birthday cards. I’m sure your grandma would love to get pics every now and then. I either send out hand written cards or use apps such as Felt or Bond.
3. Pack Enough Prescriptions or Anything Medical
Prescriptions that may be legal in one country may not be in another. Or they may come in a different format or come with different restrictions, such as needing approval from abroad. Some may be easier for you to get. I found that some of my prescriptions from home are readily available over the counter here in the UK and one for my skin was unavailable entirely! Also, it took some time to get properly set up with the NHS so I was really happy that I had plenty of prescriptions as backups.
4. Bring an Unlocked Phone
Getting a phone contract in a new country may be difficult because you may need a proof of address and if you’ve just arrived you probably won’t have that. When I was in London last year, I wasn’t on a phone contract so I slid a UK sim card into my unlocked iPhone and ta-dah! It helped me so much with adjusting here.
Related: What To Expect When Moving to London
5. Research on Visas A Lot
Prior to moving to the UK permanently, Sonny and I had researched on the UK website on the process of getting a Settlement Visa for me. The UK website made it seem like you could apply from within the UK which has actually happened to a lot of people and they have been denied. We sought the help of an immigration lawyer who was able to tell us what our options were, and was one of the reasons why I went home for the summer of 2017 and applied from the US. I spent months researching the process, timeline, paperwork, reasons for refusals and was part of a really helpful forum called the UK Yankee.
Sometimes people don’t take immigration seriously, but it really isn’t a joke. For example in the UK you are not allowed to get married on a visitor visa, you cannot overstay the time you are allotted, you must apply for your initial settlement visa from your HOME country and your sponsor must meet strict income requirements.
Related: My Tips for Applying for a UK Visa
6. Make Copies of Important Documents
Scan your passports, ID’s etc and have PDF copies in case of an emergency. It will be extremely difficult to get access to new copies of things if you happen to lose them.
7. Begin Mail Forwarding or Entrust Someone to Hold Your Mail
It’s difficult to put a stop on mail once you move and if you’re like me you will get mail from both countries. Luckily I have mine forwarded to someone I trust. They send it to me every now and then. But for the most part, I have gone paperless on most things.
8. Change Your Address on Your Credit Cards
You will most likely need a proof of address in the country of your destination to open a bank account, get a phone contract and to get on health insurance. In the UK you need proof of address for all of the above. Despite having an approved visa I couldn’t register with the NHS without having proof of address. So if you know your address before moving change the billing address on your cards to your new address and have them send a statement
9. Research on Shipping
If your move is long-term, invest time and money in having things shipped to you. I didn’t have any furniture from an apt when I moved so I didn’t invest in looking into something like this. But will eventually, once I want to move memorabilia.
10. Find Out What Items Are Not Sold in Your Destination Country
Each country has different laws when it comes to food and beauty products. The UK doesn’t carry certain beauty lines and brands or if they do, they are different than the ones from back home. For example, the UK doesn’t carry Degree or Axe deodorant. They also don’t carry the full Neutrogena line either. There is also no Trader Joes. : (
11. Bring a few Converters
One will not be enough especially if you have multiple devices.
12. Do As Much Stuff in Your Home Country Before Departure
I know moving abroad is super exciting but its natural to miss home eventually and depending on where you are in the world it may not be that easy to get back there. Whilst you’re saying your last goodbyes make sure to really soak in your hometown and your old country because there’s no place like home.
13. Don’t Have Expectations of Your New Home
For More of My Advice on Living Abroad Check Out These Posts:
Follow my Expat Life Series Here.
Follow my Expat Life on Instagram
Stock photos from Haute Chocolate