Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Great Expat checklist...

The thought of packing up all your belongings and moving to a totally new country is quite daunting however its also a chance to start over, a brand new chapter... a brand new adventure which offers so much to learn.  This chapter contains hints and tips learned during our transition...

In your current country of residence, its best to always have a check list to work from.  This way with the stress of moving, you are at less risk of forgetting tasks to complete.
We designated a room in our home to sort and pack all of our belongings.  We had four piles which were items to donate to the underprivileged,  items to be shipped, items to be taken as luggage on our flight and items to be placed in storage.  These categories would differ depending on your personal circumstances so this is merely a guideline to help you.

Before beginning the "big pack", ensure that you have the following simple, yet important stationary items:
1.  Boxes to pack your belongings into
2.  Vacuum storage bags (these are great space savers and air tight)
3.  Cellotape
4.  A pair of scissors
5.  Newspaper to wrap fragile items in
6.  Markers
7.  A note pad and pen to note down the numbers of the packed boxes and contents which is 
     required when completing the shipping documentation.

  • Create a "To Do" list of all the items that you need to action as this is the list you will be continually updating and referencing, almost every day.
  • If you own your current home, decide on whether you will be selling or renting it out.
    • If renting, terminate your rental agreement.
    • If selling or renting, contact an estate agent to begin advertising your home.
  • If you selling your car, ensure it is washed and sparkly clean.  Take a few good pics of the exterior and interior and advertise it in the local newspaper and online websites.
    • Make a For Sale sign, with the car details, selling price and your contact number and stick it in the inside windows of the car.  This helps to advertise the car whilst you are still driving it around.
  • Schedule an appointment with your financial advisor to inform him/her of your move and to make the necessary arrangements/agreements pertaining to your current financial policies, investments, etc.
  • Schedule and appointment with your local gp for a health check up as well as your local dentist and oral hygienist.
  • Contact your medical insurance company and ensure that your cover ends post you arriving in your new country of residence.
  • Sign up for travel insurance if you do not have this feature on your medical insurance already.
  • Cancel your existing gym membership or any other extra mural club memberships.
  • Switch your current cellular contract to prepaid and convert to sms roaming.  This works well to check in with loved ones during travel, until you arrive in your new country of residence.  
  • Update your mailing address for mail posted to your current home address.  We found that signing up for email was best else in cases where it was not possible, request that the mail is forwarded to your new home address in the country you are residing.  Alternatively, have someone you trust with your personal information receive the mail locally in your current country of residence as he/she can easily scan and email it to you as well.
  • Start cleaning out room by room.  It's always best to pack up each room one by one that clean a bit here and there as then it becomes a nightmare.
  • Advertise any furniture, appliances and unwanted gifts which you wish to sell.
  • Back up your laptop or PC to external hard drives, write to dvds or cloud storage.
  • Contact the removal agency to set up a date for collection of the items that you will be shipping.
  • If in the case you have pets, find a new home for them or contact a pet relocation service.
  • Before leaving the premises:
    • Contact a gardener or garden grooming service and set up a date for a final clean.
    • Contact a cleaning service or domestic aid to help you clean up the premises.
    • Contact a carpet cleaning company to steam clean the carpets.
    • Decide on whether you will be doing a final new paint coat to the home before leaving and if so, contact your painter or painting service provider.
  • Check the date of expiry on your passport and remaining pages and apply for a secondary passport.
  • Check the date of expiry of your driver's licence and credit card and apply for a new one if necessary.
  • Ensure you have at least 5 certified photostat copies of yours and your family's passport and ID's/birth certificates.
  • Ensure you have at least 8 recent passport sized photographs of you and your family members as you will need it in your new country of residence when applying for your residence permits, drivers licence and other legal applications you will need to make.
  • Source the visa requirements of your new country of residence and action accordingly.  For e.g. you may need a police clearance or inoculations so action that as soon as possible.
  • Ensure you have an updated yellow card i.e. innoculations list as this is important when entering a new country as well as if you have kids as the schools usually require this information.
  • If you're packing appliances to take to your new country of residence, ensure that you have purchased the necessary adapter converters.
  • Transfer all the photo's you have on your current camera to be used for your trip so you can maximise on the number of photo's you can take.
  • Decide on how much foreign exchange you will be travelling with.  It's always good to have extra cash on hand especially if you are travelling with a stop over, to grab a quick meal or refreshments.
  • Purchase medical necessities to keep you going until you have transitioned in your new country.  Over the counter medication such as Valoid, Immodium, Gastropect, Corenza C, Allergex, etc.
  • If you are on chronic medication, inform your Doctor/GP about your immigration and perhaps source a repeat prescription to carry you for a month at least until you find your feet in your new country of residence.
  • Purchase any specific spices and articles that you require to be shipped to your new country of residence.  These could possibly be specific spices, cosmetics or other necessities.
  • Schedule time to bid farewell to friends and family and incorporate a farewell party.
  • Schedule a drop off of all items to be donated to the local charity or underprivileged collections home.

Tips to remembers when becoming an expat:

  • Be open minded when meeting new people as being an expat means an opportunity to be in contact with many enriching diverse cultures.
  • Always show respect towards the local people in the country you will expatriating to.  Be it cultural respect, dress sense respect or behaviour.
  • Do not be scared to try new things as this is how you will learn to adapt easier.
  • Research the country, places to see, historical background and explore!
  • Remember when becoming agitated or frustrated with processes, that you are a guest in the country and to abide by the rules.  Always ask questions as many times, people will be eager to offer to assist.

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