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March 23, 2015
Moving to another country can be one of the most exciting and scariest adventures in your life. It is an endeavor filled with the unknown, which is what makes it so invigorating. Questions abound from the most cost effective way to send your personal items to the best way to transfer your money internationally.
Today, we’ve decided to put together a handy guide to help you answer some of these questions. Now you can focus on the more enjoyable aspects of the move like getting the best apartment and exploring your new hometown.
The first step in any well-planned international move is doing your research. There is no shortcut here and the more research you do, the better prepared you’ll be when the big day comes. Moving to another country isn’t like relocating to another state or city in the US. There are a number of additional factors that will come into play like visas, international banking, shipping your items, and more.
While it may seem like fun to look for a beautiful condo or check out the best restaurants online, that isn’t the smartest use of your time. Instead, look into things like the requirements for opening a bank foreign account (they are different in every country), the most cost effective way of moving your personal items, how to obtain a driver’s license, requirements for getting an apartment lease, etc. They may not seem like the most glamorous things, but how quickly and easily you settle into your new life overseas depend on how thoroughly you have researched these processes.
Getting a visa is vital to your ability to stay in any country and while some may have very lax regulations, most do not. Read up on everything you can find about what requirements you need to meet to get a visa. The best source is usually the specific countries Department of Immigration website, but you can also check out the U.S. Department of State’s website or Visa HQ. They both have a pretty exhaustive list that cover just about every country.
If a company is sponsoring your visa application, they will handle most of the process for you, but if not, you’re on your own. As each country has its own method, there are no hard and fast rules, but it’s always best to start your application process sooner rather than later. There is nothing worse than getting everything set to move only to find out your visa has been denied or you have to wait another month.
Step 3 – Packing and Shipping
Packing everything you own is often one of the most stressful parts about moving to a new country. You have two options, you can either do it all yourself or hire a moving company to handle everything.
If you decide to use a moving company, spend some time getting quotes from a number of different sources. You’ll also want to check into the moving companies you are considering to make sure they get good reviews. If you are moving just few things, a quote can often be arranged over the phone, but if you are planning on moving a whole house, most companies will send somebody out to do a home survey. A good moving company will also provide you with a Customs Guide for your destination to inform you of all the regulations.
If you aren’t moving any large furniture, oftentimes paying for extra baggage on your airlines is cheaper and easier than sending your stuff overseas with a shipping company. An extra piece of luggage usually costs between $100 and $200, plus it will arrive at the same time as you.
Step 4 – Booking Your Ticket and Finding an Apartment
After you’ve got your visa and your personal goods in order, it’s time to book you flight ticket. While it is nice to do this long in advance to get the cheapest flight deal possible, it’s better to wait until the other things are set. Otherwise, if something doesn’t fall into place as expected, you may have to forfeit your ticket.
This is a great time to find an apartment too. Once you know the exact date of your flight, you can begin to look for an apartment, condo, or house that suits your needs. Start your search online and then contact some realtors if needed. While it seems like a great idea to get your new residence reserved and under contract before you arrive, you never know what unexpected surprise it might have in store for you. It’s best to wait until you are in country before picking out your new home. You can always spend a week or two in a hotel. It’s better to spend a little more on a hotel than be stuck in a place you don’t like for a year.
Step 5 – Sorting Your Finances
Getting finances in order is something often overlooked by many people moving internationally, but you’ll want to be on top of this. It’s a terrible feeling to be stuck in another country and unable get your money when you need it. Luckily there are a couple of things you can do to ensure you have access to your funds.
Make sure you set up your home country bank account for internet banking. This way you can set up a wire transfer after you move overseas. This is more of a last resort though, as there are better ways to move money overseas. Open up an account at a dedicated foreign exchange company like Forex, World First, or Xoom. They offer the cheapest and fastest options for sending money internationally, plus they give better exchange rates than the banks.
Check into the requirements for opening a foreign bank account in your new country, often you’ll need a visa and proof of address, but some countries may even require special permission from a government agency. Once you have opened you new foreign bank account, you can use one of the previously mentioned foreign exchange services to transfer your money as often as you need. Check out a Guide to Sending Money Overseas, How to Transfer Money as an Expat, or the Four Best Ways to Send Money Overseas for in-depth explanations of your best options.
In addition to getting everything set up so that you can handle your international money transfers with just the click of a couple of buttons, you should also bring enough money in cash to tide you over for about a month in your new country. This way you won’t be left twisting in the wind if something goes wrong.
Step 6 – Congratulate Yourself on a Job Well Done
You’ve researched what you need, sorted your visa, packed your things, booked your ticket, and got your finances in order. Now just sit back, relax and wait for the big day. Your greatest adventure is looming on the horizon.