I’m so excited to welcome Wendy to Namastay Traveling! Although I’ve moved far away from home a time or two, I’ve never lived in another country (although, sometimes moving to the south from the north feels like it). Luckily, I now have this list to make sure an extended stay across the way is smooth sailing (emphasis on the sailing part).
Perhaps, you are planning to move abroad long-term or even permanently. Maybe your want to take advantage of top-level educational opportunities in other countries, plus experience a new culture. Or, maybe you are retiring in a place that’s cheaper and more interesting to live in.
Even taking a short-term international trip requires a good deal of advance planning and organization. Planning for years or decades overseas will require a truly intensive planning effort. You’re definitely going to need a checklist.
So here is a 15-point checklist to help you get ready for your overseas adventure:
1. Arrange for cheap, fast, and reliable overseas shipping. As a student, for example, you might have heavy books and far more bags than you can conveniently take on the plane. But there are special services that can come to the rescue (click on the link just above to learn more!)
2. Prepare yourself with a great healthcare plan. Before departing the US, visit healthmarkets.com where you can learn about quality Medicare Advantage plans. You should get a good health exam before departure and, if you’re coming back, you’ll know your healthcare is already all squared away.
3. Carefully research relevant visa laws. Each country is different on how long you can stay on just your passport, and each has different fees per so many months/years and different protocols to follow.
4. Learn the tax code for expats. You need to research what kinds of taxes foreigners need to pay in your host country, as well as if you still need to pay income or other taxes to your home country.
5. Decide whether to rent or buy. It might be too difficult legally or financially to buy a home in your new country of residence, or it might be cheap (especially if you have the down payment). And rents may be high or low. Talk to people who’ve been there and make a detailed plan.
6. Shut off utilities at home. If you are leaving a home that you will return to after months/years, be sure to call to schedule utility shut-offs well in advance. It can’t always be easily done efficiently last-minute.
7. Deal with property you can’t take with you. If going to live abroad permanently, you’ll need to sell off any real estate you have (that can take a long time, so plan far ahead.) Also, figure out if you need to store anything in a self-storage unit or at a friend/family member’s house.
8. Establish your financial strategy. Maybe you’ll use Paypal or checks direct deposited into your (online) banking account to get cash. But set up a system before you leave and ensure it works. And decide on which (if any) foreign bank account you will open. Finally, don’t neglect to examine the exchange rate (current and long-term history.)
9. Learn how to drive overseas. Find out if your US license will still be valid or if you need to take a test, pay a fee, and acquire a foreign driver’s license. And pay attention to which side of the road to drive on and any other “rule changes!”
10. Get your phone ready for the trip. Find out if your mobile phone plan has international service and what rates you would pay. You might want to switch to a prepaid plan or just get a local SIM once you get there.
11. Don’t forget any important documents. Ensure you have your passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, SS card, marriage license, immunization records, travel insurance documentation, and tax data with you before you leave.
12. Bring prescription drugs. If you need prescription drugs or even use over the counter drugs regularly, take a good supply with you. You may eventually need to buy drugs overseas, but give yourself plenty of time before you need to do it (it can more difficulty than you think.)
13. Pack all needful electronics. Laptops, mobile phones, digital cameras, MP3 players, and other high-tech gear can be expensive and difficult to replace in some countries: so pack it with plenty of padding and bring it with you.
14. Pack only your favorite clothes. You can normally buy clothes in other countries as cheap or cheaper than in the US. Just bring what you need in the immediate and what you can’t bear to leave behind. And of course, plan for all seasons you will be there, weatherwise.
15. Bring minimal toiletries. Again, you can buy toiletries anywhere pretty cheap. Just bring what you need before you can get to a store and stock up. Why waste valuable suitcase space?
Have you ever lived abroad?