The Expat Diaries: The Preparation Phase

I know people who had made their decision, picked up their lives, and moved to the other side of the world in only a few short weeks. Sometimes, such as when you receive a job offer or if personal situations arise, this is unavoidable. On the whole though, I’d probably advise against this. For us, the process of preparing to move was (in theory) a 7 and a half month long process. That’s according to when I uploaded our announcement post last May. In reality, we didn’t use those whole 7 months to prepare. I think, all in all, we did almost everything in about 3 months.

Our timeline, as far as I remember, was as follows:

  • May 2016: I applied for my British passport
  • July 2016: We booked our one way flights to London
  • August/September 2016: I actually received my British passport
  • September/October 2016: We sorted out Alex’s vis
  • October 2016: We booked an AirB&B apartment for 2 months
  • November 2016: We booked our train from London to Edinburgh
  • December 2016: I started packing my suitcases and packing up our things
  • December 29th 2016: We finished packing (aka Alex started packing)
  • December 30th 2016: We flew out of Australia

So, really, we did all the important things between 6 months – 1 month before we left, and did all the packing and organising in the final weeks (and days/hours) before we left.

I’ll be honest with you, I spent a lot of the evening of the 29th in tears. We’d just come back from a week with my family over Christmas, we went out for dinner with Alex’s family, and then, at about 9pm, we started packing. It was stressful, and I’m not great under stress. Even if you’re a pack-at-the-last-minute person, I recommend doing this packing with at least a week to go. We definitely left a few things behind in Australia, and this would have probably been avoided if we hadn’t waited to the last minute.

Everyone prepares for travel in different ways, and I think moving overseas is no different (just on a larger scale). There are some things we didn’t do that I’m sure people would be horrified by, and some things we did do that other people might think was a waste of time. That said, there are a few things I’d say are required (or at least highly recommended) when preparing to move overseas:

  • Passports, visas, and other documents. Without these, you won’t be getting into the country, let alone moving there!
  • Somewhere to stay. Arriving in a new country is a lot easier when you have somewhere to stay, and you’ll usually be asked for an address as part of your arrivals/immigration forms.
  • Money. Having a debit/credit card that will work overseas, as well as enough local cash to cover emergencies, makes the time between arriving and getting a bank account a lot less stressful.
  • Sim cards. You want your phone to be working as soon as possible after arriving. Either pick up an international sim before you leave, or buy a local one at the airport when you arrive.
  • Registering and travel insurance. Work out if you need travel insurance (or any other insurance), and register with organisations like Smart Traveller (as well as your old bank/insurance providers/etc) so they know you’re going.
  • Research. The process of moving overseas is confusing. There’s a lot of paperwork, and you’ll definitely have a lot of questions. We found that government websites aren’t always the most helpful at answering your queries. Online advice forums, other travel blogs, and even Reddit were super useful in helping us navigate the complications (of course, always check with the official bodies as well).

Other things, like what to pack, travel adapters, and which airline to fly with, are much more of a personal choice (or, in the case of travel adaptors, blindingly obvious).

Preparing to move overseas is such an exciting time, but it can also be super stressful. You’ll probably get a lot of people questioning your decision, but that’s ok. Just know that at the end of all the stressing, packing, preparing, and justifying, you’ll be jetting off on the most exciting adventure of your life!

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