Moving Abroad? Here’s Your Checklist For A Smooth Start

What do you need to keep in mind when you move to a new country? Here’s our moving abroad checklist for any and all future expats.
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Moving Abroad? Here’s Your Checklist For A Smooth Start

Moving abroad is a huge step — something unimaginable for many people. For those who take on the challenge, it’s a lot of work. Before leaving your home there’s a long list of things to take care of, and quite a few tasks await you in your new country as well. To make the work a bit easier, we’ve put together a moving abroad checklist with the different items to remember as you move to your new country.

Of course, we don’t know the specific country you’re moving to and the way of life there, so this list isn’t definitive. We suggest that you also check with the official authorities in the country for further information — thanks to the internet it’s a lot easier than it was in the past. Let’s get started!

Checklist Part 1: Complete Before You Leave

1.1. Make sure that you’ve sorted all your affairs back home

  • Your gaze is set on a new period in your life, but you still have to deal with bureaucracy in your home country rather than your destination one last time.
  • If you leave your home country in the middle of the year or move to a country with a lower tax rate, you still might be liable to pay taxes back home. Ask a tax advisor for more information, as this can vary by country. The key words to mention are double taxation agreement, low-tax countries and habitual residence.

1.2. Learn the local language

  • Unless you’re moving to another English-speaking country, everything is easier if you at least know the basics of the language spoken where you’re moving.
  • Our language-learning experts at Babbel advise that you should start learning the language before you leave to get a head start. You might need it from the moment you land. 

1.3. Find out what you can expect in your new country

  • Join Facebook groups or forums for expats and ask questions — lots of questions. You’re not the first person to move to your new country, so take advantage of other people’s experiences. There’s no need to suffer the same mistakes or reinvent the wheel.
  • Ask the local authorities what you have to do, as sometimes there’s a long list of legal requirements. The immigration authority of your new country probably even has a checklist of its own!

1.4. Make sure your papers are in order

  • Do you need a visa? Do any of your family members need a special visa to join you?
  • Is your passport valid (and for a long enough time)?
  • Are you insured in your new country (including health insurance and other types of insurance)? Be careful: Because you’re leaving your home country, you can’t just sign up for a travel health insurance policy and have it stand in for a real policy.

1.5. Find a job (if you haven’t already)

  • Do you have somewhere to work in your new country?
  • If not, do you have enough money to fall back on if you need to?
  • Do you have a visa that allows you to work in your new country? Look out for any restrictions that might apply to your visa before you depart on your journey. 

1.6. Accommodation — and everything that goes along with it

  • Finding somewhere to live from a distance is difficult, but possible. It’s definitely worth it to have a look at online listings (but watch out for scams!).
  • In another country, renting a furnished apartment with everything included (electricity, internet, etc.) might be expensive at first, but it can save you a lot of trouble.
  • If you find something that isn’t furnished: internet, electricity, water, gas … you’ll need all those things in your new apartment. Ask the landlord what’s already included in the rent.

moving abroad checklist

Part 2: Hello, New Country! What Do You Do Upon Arrival?

2.1. Visit the authorities

  • Now that you’ve arrived, can you sign up for health insurance?
  • Do you need a tax number?
  • Do you have to register anywhere else, like at a registration office?

2.2. Meet new people

  • This may seem like an obvious point, but creating a support system in your new country is key to defeating the inevitable culture shock.
  • Meeting new people in a foreign country can be difficult, especially when you’re an adult. But keep in mind: You have to take the initiative. The locals already have their friends and acquaintances, and your social life isn’t their priority. So pull together some courage and approach people, even if it’s not easy. It should also be your initiative to be active and keep up your new relationships.
  • What are your hobbies? Find ways to pick them up as soon as possible in your new country. That’s especially how you can meet people who have something in common with you.
  • You can also meet new people on the internet: Groups for newcomers, hobby forums, Brits in Country X groups, language tandem partners … there are lots of possibilities!

2.3. Enjoy it!

  • Even if moving to a new country is no walk in the park, enjoy it! Yes, there are many things you must take care of to make sure you have a successful transition, but you don’t get to experience an adventure like this very often in life. Stay positive and make the best of it!

moving abroad checklist

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