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Preparing For An International Move - Things To Expect

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 2

When moving to a new country there are things that come up that you may not have prepared for. Here are some items that you should consider when making an international move. This article will not deal with legal matters such as passports and visas, rather more on mundane items that are easily overlooked.

Your move may be short or long term. Some of the information will not apply to people who are moving to a new country and renting an apartment for just a few weeks or months. However, those who are planning a permanent or long-term move will probably have to deal with each one of these items.

Money

When moving to a new country for work or even just an extended vacation, you will need a lot of cash up front. There will be extra fees that you have to pay that you weren't expecting. You may have an idea of what you need to pay monthly for utilities based on your research, but no one warned you about the $100 connection fee that they long forgot that they had to pay when they first moved. Don't depend on writing a check or using a credit card to get you out of not having enough cash. Some countries will have systems in place to accept credit or debit cards, but certainly not most.

Many countries have a limit on the amount of cash you can take in and out of the country. Even if you can't take enough cash for everything you need to get settled, you might be able to use ATMs to extract money a little at a time. ATMs are the easiest way to exchange money in a foreign country if you can find one that works with your card.

Housing

Do as much research as you can about available housing before you leave your home country. You may have friends or family you can live with while waiting to get settled into a rental house or apartment. However, realize that things may not move as quickly as you would like. Knowing as much about the housing market as you can before you make the trip will help the transition be less stressful.

Check with other expatriates in the country on what they were required to do to get into a house. Will you need to pay lawyer's fees? Will you have to pay one to six months rent in advance? How much is standard for a security deposit? Do you need people who own their own property to co-sign a lease with you? The answers to these questions will help you be more prepared.

Renting a furnished apartment that is designed for foreigners is usually pretty simple. It is even possible to get into a place in less than a day with a simple contract. However, renting a house may take weeks or even months before you can move in.

The best people to talk with about housing requirements are not other expatriates who have been in the country for years. While they may be the most experienced in day to day life, but they have long forgotten the frustrating process of renting a house for the first time.

Furniture

If your stay in a country will be temporary, you may want to find a furnished place to live. However, you never know what you might be able to find as far as furnished housing. In some places this could mean elegant, well cared for furniture or it could mean they shoved whatever furniture they could pick up on the side of the road into the house. At some point you will probably have to get furniture for your new home.

Take your time. You don't have to buy the first items you see. A few folding chairs can get you started while you learn what is available in the area.

You may be used to moving sales, consignment shops and garage sales for furnishing your house back home. Not all countries and cultures are used to the idea of selling used (but still functional) items for a relatively cheap price. You may be shocked to see the ridiculous prices people are trying to sell their broken furniture for.

Groceries

Wouldn't it be nice to go to a foreign country and get all the items you are used to back home? And wouldn't it be even better to find those items at a reduced price? While the dream of being in a country with a lower cost of living is appealing, you probably won't be able to get all your normal grocery items. And if you do, they certainly won't be the cheapest items on the shelf.

Learning to buy groceries and cook like the local population will help you save money at the market or grocery store. There is certainly nothing wrong with trying to make the same items you had back home, but you may have to resort to substitutions and alterations in your recipes. Fortunately, with access to the Internet you can probably find out how to make that special item that you are craving using basic ingredients found anywhere in the world.

Utilities

Because utilities are usually connected to the government, or highly regulated by the government, you may find them much less flexible on their connection requirements. Some will require a permanent visa to be able to transfer the utilities to your name. Others may accept a simple phone call to switch everything over.

This may not work in every country, but many places don't care whose name is on the bill as long as someone pays it. Leaving the name of the house owner on the utilities can be an acceptable option. It may also be easy to use a friend's information to get basic services to your new home. Of course the utility will require that your friend be the one to set up the service. You can't just tell them your friend's name and get everything working.

Vehicle

You may be used to having your own car and expect to need a car in your new country. Spend some time trying to use the public transportation system. You might find that it is cheaper and less frustrating than trying to purchase a car and drive in a country with rules you don't understand. Buying a bike and doing some simple commuting may be an appropriate option as well.

Language Study

If you are needing to go to language school, you should research places to study before you arrive. If you are in the country because of a business assignment you may not have a choice on where you will study. If you do have a choice you can probably get all the information you need before you arrive in the country by looking at various language school websites.

General Orientation

If at all possible you should accept the help of a friend or co-worker already in the country to get you oriented to the culture and country. Even if you are not dealing with a language barrier, there are some things that are done differently in other countries. Having a friend who can politely tell you what you should and should not be doing is a great help in keeping you out of cultural trouble.

One thing you should avoid is finding a discouraged expatriate and spending much time with them. They can cast a wet blanket over everything you are trying to enjoy in your new life.

A good friend can help you learn the city. They can help you with transportation and show you where things are. Knowing there is someone who understands what you are going through is a big encouragement. You know they went through the same frustrations you did and they lived to tell about it. You too can take solace in that and know that you can work through whatever frustrations may come your way as you get settled in.

There are certainly many challenges you will face as you start your new life or new adventure in a foreign country. Taking a deep breath and stepping back occasionally will help you see that you will work through all these new things in the first few weeks. Then you can start enjoying the country you have decide to call "Home."


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Comments

Mar 1, 2011 9:02pm
Sookie
Fantastic tips for moving to another country. My son had to move to England for a contract, and it was the little things, such as the electrical system is different, and he had to replace a lot of his stuff. But once settled, he enjoyed what the country had to offer. Great article!
Mar 2, 2011 8:36am
dpeach
This article could be 3 times as long. I actually had 3 more points that I left off. It really is the little things that can be the most frustrating. Had a friend who just destroyed her hair clippers because she forgot to use a transformer and plugged her 110V clippers into a 220V outlet.
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