Living Abroad

8 smart ways to prepare for your move abroad

May 30, 2019

8 smart ways to prepare for your move abroad in the modern age, by someone who’s lived abroad four times before.

There is a very strong mood in my life at the moment, and that is remembering the beginning of starting life abroad. Nestled between reading Shantaram, recounting my first six months in Berlin and writing a book about my year in Seville (New Sevilla Blues) I am suspended in that scary, unknown and exciting headspace.

Since we established in my last poll that you are most interested in the subject of ‘Moving abroad’ and ‘How to move abroad’ I decided to create content that will explore all the topics from planning, to every-day life, and staying forever! This week, I want to delve into the preparation of the move! Though you may already be dreaming of your new chapter, there are a few things to remember before you depart that can make your move so much smoother.

1. Have a proper clear-out

Throw on the Netflix documentary on minimalism or Marie Kondo if you so wish, and start being honest with yourself about what you need to keep in your life. If you are moving I am going to assume that it is time for change, or a desire to wipe the slate clean and really make space for your dreams and the life you want for yourself. So this is the time to picture future you when picking items, if you can imagine future you owning or using something—throw it away! Also, I find it really useful to just set a very clear timeframe: did I use this in the last 6 months? If no, then baby you gotta go.

2. Have an overview of how many things you want to bring

And consider the various services available to you. Try to imagine your journey and how much you can realistically carry with you, then look at the price of your checked luggage options and compare them with websites like Send My Bag who will pick up and drop your boxes or suitcases for you; perhaps having your moving items hand-delivered to your door for as low as £30 pounds is a better option for you. When moving to Berlin from Seville, I sent my books and some heavy items across to make my journey as stress-free as possible. DISCOUNT: Send My Bag have now allowed me to offer you 5% off of your first order. Click here to redeem it.

3. Cancel your subscriptions

When you’ve lived where you do a long time, you can really rack up the direct debits and subscriptions services. When considering my own, I realised I had financial commitments I’d even forgotten about! I’ll give you some examples of things you’ll want to consider for yourself: Red Cross, Netflix, Spotify, Phone bill, Amazon prime—these all add up, and unless you will continue to have income coming into your home bank account, you might want to consider changing the billing account or cancelling the financial commitment if possible.

4. Get a bank account with an easy to use app that can allow you to move your money between both accounts

This has been a real game-changer for me. In Spain, and Colombia, I have experienced a lot of woes regarding money: accessing it, paying bills, getting money to go between my two account, being charged so much when I would need to use my UK card etc. When moving to Berlin, I signed up to N26, an online bank, beforehand, and can thankfully say me battling with my bank is now a thing of the past. I move my money freely between accounts using their Transferwise integration, I can pay for things in different currency and not get charged any fees (which means I don’t really panic if I have to use it for a bill that’s in pounds, for example) and as I have the premium account I also have travel insurance included. The growing online bank industry is one I’m well aware of as I work in Fintech, and you may have caught wind of names such as Monzo or Starling if you are based in the UK. I recommend N26, however, because I use it and because it’s so global, they cover Europe, and are launching shortly in the US and Brazil. They are also a fully licensed bank, rather than a prepaid card. 

5. Get a full health check

I’ve written before about how health often gets forgotten when moving abroad. Depending on where you’re moving, the experience of trying to find a doctor that works for you can be anything from difficult to downright devastating. I encourage you to imagine scenarios of trying to describe what’s wrong with you to a doctor in broken Spanish or battling with a nurse at the hospital who insisted I had the flu, when something else completely was wrong with me. In my case, due to a tumultuous start in Seville, I de-prioritised my health and ended up in the hospital for it. It is a story full of drama and a lot of lessons, so I’ll save it for my book I am currently writing about moving abroad and my year in Sevilla.

6. Buy books in the language

Does the place you are heading to speak the same language as you? If not I wholly recommend buying the language books to take with you, especially one that has key phrases for emergencies. I had one in Spanish before I spoke any (when I moved to Malaga) that allowed me to explain things like pain, crimes, directions etc. The reason why this is important purchase is that it is so easy to be overwhelmed in a new country when you don’t speak the language. Ultimately we all just want to connect and be understood and the shock of realising you cannot do that with the same ease can really wear you down.

7. Understand your priorities

Okay, let me guess? Your current to-do list, if written at all, is long and there are things that have been on there for months that you really really need to do. So you’re not alone! But the thing is, moving abroad won’t suddenly make you more productive, in actuality you have more things working against you. You are unfamiliar with everything, so it’s harder to pull together resources to make your life work the way you want it to. Although we move to fulfill our dreams: love, house, job you like, happiness. It is essential to set your priorities to manage expectations of yourself and so you have achievable goals of a successful move. It is simply impossible to build a brand new life exactly how you want in three months

8. Get excited!

As much as I love to be practical on this blog, I cannot downplay how moving abroad had changed my life time and time again. I’ve lived abroad four times and each experience has been invaluable in widening my mind, imagining what’s possible for my life, truly understanding people who are different to me, and finding my own version of what a happy, meaningful life means. Currently, Berlin has been the closest thing to home I’ve felt outside of my hometown London, and here, I’m experience a calmness simply because I know I am in the right place, and suddenly many aspects of my life are unfolding the way I’ve always wanted it to. You deserve that, or at least the chance to find out. Let me know how it goes, will you?

Tell me about your experience moving abroad or your plans to over on my social channels—and stay tuned for the rest of the New Wading Series.

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