Moving overseas is one of the most liberating, rewarding experiences I’ve had. Before I left for London all I did was picture how much fun I was going to be having while I was living there and travelling the world, I didn’t really think about the nuts and bolts of moving until the time came. It was overwhelming and there was a lot to do, a lot of things I hadn’t thought of. If you’re planning a move overseas, these are my tips to help you with the move.
If you’ve been lucky enough to move overseas before, what are your top tips? I’d love to hear them and I know others would really appreciate your advice too. Share in the comments below.
Sell your stuff
In the months leading up to your departure, do a massive spring-clean and start saving up all the things you don’t want to keep like clothing, furniture, trinkets, DVDs, CDs, games, books etc. Find a local flea market and organise to host a stall, you’ll be amazed what people want to buy and you could easily make a few hundred dollars cash to line your pockets with, just before you go.
Store the rest
When you weigh it up, it can be quite cost-effective to store your bigger items rather than selling them all and having to re-purchase when you return home in a year or two. Shop around for a good storage place and make sure they have adequate security, regularly treat for pests and are safe from fire or flood. Fort Knox Storage is a reputable company and has loads of locations in Queensland. Invest in good quality packing supplies, like boxes, packing foam, bubble wrap and tape, Packqueen is a good place to start.
Send over your essentials
If you know you can’t survive the next few years on the contents of one suitcase, send some of your things over in advance. Things like books, computers and clothes can be sent overseas using a company like World Baggage. It means you don’t have to spend a fortune re-feathering your new nest and it’s particularly useful if you’re spending time traveling before arriving in your final destination. You don’t want thick jackets and winter clothes taking up your precious luggage space when you’re spending two months backpacking asia before you settle in London.
If you already have a job lined up, you need to check with your new employer whether you’re covered by their insurance and what, exactly, you are covered for. If your new employer covers you for medical, make sure you understand exactly what is covered. If you’re not covered, you may need to look into long-term travel insurance.
Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned return-home date (yes, return date, not your departure date). Carry extra passport photos just in case your passport is lost or stolen and you need to replace it while you’re away, get the copies witnessed by a Justice of the Peace.
You should find out well in advance what rules and regulations apply to obtain a residency permit, work permit or working visa by contacting the foreign mission (embassy, high commission or consulate) of the country where you want to work. Some countries require your prospective employer to sponsor you before your work permit or visa can be issued. Be aware that a tourist visa may not allow you to undertake any form of work, including voluntary or unpaid activities.
Remember to also check the visa requirements of countries you might be transiting on your way to your final destination.
When you go overseas there are requirements you must meet in order to remain on the electoral roll, and in some cases to avoid a fine. Just because you aren’t home doesn’t mean you don’t have to vote (Australians!) and you will be fined if you fail to vote. If you do vote while living overseas, retain evidence you lodged your vote as required and on time.
If you intend to stay overseas for an extended period, it’s recommended that you take your personal records with you, including certificates relating to:
- birth, name change and marriage
- divorce and custody arrangements
- police checks
- educational qualifications.
Before you leave home make sure you have enough money saved to get set-up in your new country. If you have a job lined, up your employer may help with some of your relocation expenses. Be really clear about what they will cover and when, sometimes they don’t pay for expenses upfront so you may be out-of-pocket in the beginning.
If you’re staying in a country for an extended period of time, you may want to set up a bank account in that country. Your bank in Australia may be able to help with recommending banks overseas or give you some advice on what personal documentation you may need to provide to set up a bank account in another country. Consider contacting a bank in your new country in advance for similar advice.
You’ll need to get in touch with everyone who sends you important mail to let them know you’re moving overseas, such as banks, superannuation funds, insurance providers, accountants and the Australian Tax Office. Australia Post has a great service, Notify Organisations, which is free and can be done online. Basically, as mail comes in, they tell the company you’ve moved. You should also put a redirect on your mail and ask a close family member, like your mum, to receive your post for you while you’re away and let you know if anything comes through that looks important (like a fine!)
It can be worthwhile getting an international drivers permit from NRMA. An international drivers license allows you to drive overseas without further tests or application, provided your Australian license is still valid. You will also need it in most countries if you intend to rent a car and it can form part of your personal identification evidence and save you flashing your passport all around town.