Tips for moving abroad for a year

There are a host of reasons why people move abroad, even if only temporarily. You might need a change of pace, or a change of scenery. Perhaps you are hoping to spend a couple of semesters studying at a renowned university overseas. Or maybe you have always dreamed of living in another country but you are not quite sure if you want to make the commitment to permanently live there. Whatever your reasons are, you can rest assured that living abroad for a year will give you the exciting opportunity to experience a new culture, meet new people, and partake in unforgettable adventures.
Moving abroad can be challenging, especially if you have to juggle maintaining your home base for when you are ready to return, in addition to setting up your new life in a new place. But that does not mean that you can’t enjoy every minute of this experience, which so many people dream of but can’t achieve. That is why we have compiled a few tips on how to move internationally, from packing to settling in, so you can make your journey a smooth one.

To move abroad for a year:

  1. Establish where you will live.
  2. Make arrangements to store what you can’t take with you, and hire an international shipping company for large items that you can’t pack.
  3. Apply for all necessary documents, including your visa.
  4. Open an account with OFX to transfer your savings from your domestic bank account to a new foreign account.
  5. Have your mail taken care of back home.
  6. Find employment, make new friends, and have an adventure! 
money transfers

Decide Where You Will Live During Your Year Away

In order to secure a temporary home away from home, it is recommended that you research the renting requirements for your destination, as they will vary from country to country. Doing so in advance will give you the ability to collect the necessary documents, such as a copy of your passport, a copy of your ID card, and copies of your bank statements and tax returns, as well as a list of your previous addresses and employers. You may also need to provide contact information for several references.

  • To begin planning for your big move, calculate how much you can put towards your soon-to-be new home. You may decide that you will be perfectly fine with staying in a hotel until you are able to work with a local realtor to find a place to rent. Or you may instead feel more secure with booking your rental prior to your move.
  • Keep in mind that, in addition to hotel costs and rental fees, your move will also include other expenses, such as advanced rent, a security deposit, and various accommodation charges and fees. Depending upon your living arrangements, you may have to start paying for your housing before your arrival, rather than once you actually move in.

You Don’t Need to Pack Everything You Own, or Sell it Either

The great thing about moving abroad with plans of coming back home in about a year is the fact that you do not have to worry about getting rid of everything that you own and can’t take with you. Individuals who are planning on moving away permanently, including those who have intentions of retiring overseas, will have to figure out what they will do with all of the things that they can’t ship. And they need to say goodbye to anything that can’t be put into a suitcase. But you have a lot more freedom.

  • If you own a house and your friends or family will keep an eye on it while you are gone, you can leave your possessions there. The same is true if you are going to be renting out your house to tenants. And if you are not a homeowner and you are renting your current residence, you could move out and store your belongings with friends and family, or you could rent a storage unit to hold your things until you return.   
  • Anything that you know you will definitely need, and anything that can’t easily be replaced once you settle into your new abode, could be packed and taken with you. For larger items that you can’t take with you, consider hiring an international shipping company. Search for businesses that have years of experience and a solid reputation in carefully shipping items overseas by sea or by air. Keep in mind that shipping by sea might be less costly, but shipping by air might be quicker. But before you settle on an international mover, set an appointment so you can ask them important questions about how they will be handling your belongings, what insurance they recommend, and what documents will be necessary at customs.
  • Also, if you are planning on taking your car with you to your new home abroad, you should first contact your insurance provider to find out if they cover international shipping. If they do not cover it under your existing policy, you can purchase shipping insurance through an international auto shipper. As is the case with other international shippers, we suggest contacting several auto shipping options to find the business that has the best reputation and the right price. Then, when you are settled into your new home abroad, you can have your own set of wheels to drive around in comfort. Don’t forget to research local car insurance laws and requirements so you can invest in the appropriate coverage during your year away.    
  • Finally, contact your airline to find out how many suitcases you are allowed to bring aboard the flight, as well as how much they can weigh. Doing so will help you narrow down what you should pack and take with you versus what should be left behind or perhaps shipped to your new residence.

Get Your Visa, and Other Important Documents, Ready Before You Head off

There is a lot of important paperwork that you should not leave behind when you are moving abroad. This includes your visa, passport, birth certificate, driving license, work and residence permits, immunisation records, medical history, and pertinent contracts or agreements. All of that is in addition to your prescriptions, emergency contact information, and bank cards. 

  • Visa requirements vary from one country to another, and there are several types of visas that you can apply for. The key is to apply for and acquire your visa before you actually make your move, whether you are applying for a visitor visa, a work visa with the help of your employer, or a student visa to study abroad. Fees for your visa will depend upon the country you are moving to, as well as your purpose for applying. You can contact a Foreign Consular Office of the nation that you are planning on moving to in order to request the information that you need regarding your visa, its fees, and the application process.
  • Another document that you will need when moving abroad is your passport. If you already have one, just check that it has not expired. Give yourself enough time to apply for a brand new passport or renew an old one, as it could take a few weeks to arrive in the mail. It is also a good idea to renew your passport prior to your move if it will end up expiring while you are living abroad, as you will need it to be valid for your return trip home. Like your visa, you should expect to pay a fee to create or renew your passport.
  • To apply for a new driving license, whether you are planning on shipping your own vehicle or acquiring one after your move, pack a copy of your driving record. Doing so might even help you avoid having to go through driving tests, and the driving record will also be helpful when it comes to purchasing the auto insurance that you will need.

Get Your Finances in Order

So you have set your budget for your move, and you have even calculated how much you will need to pay for everything from your transportation and your housing, to various international shipping costs, in order to ensure you will have everything you need once you are settled in. But, wait, there’s more. When it comes to your finances, there are other things that you need to consider prior to moving abroad, even if it is just for a year.

  • Because you will be living in another country temporarily, you will probably want to keep your old bank account open. In addition to that account, however, you might also be able to use your visa and other documentation to open up a new bank account abroad so that you can deposit paychecks and make payments with greater ease.
  • If you do not yet have a job secured, calculating your monthly expenses in advance is a smart strategy, as you will be able to ensure you have enough money in your bank account to support yourself until you find employment. On top of that, it is also a good idea to find out if your credit cards and debit cards can be used abroad, as well as what fees you might incur for doing so.
  • A great way to enjoy financial stability is by opening up an account with an online money transfer service like OFX. In this way, you can easily send savings to a new bank account from your home bank account, and vice versa, without having to pay the high margins and fees that banks charge for the same service. In addition to being able to pay any necessary bills back home while you are living abroad, keeping your home bank account open will also give you peace of mind because you will always have that safety net in case you end up needing additional funds while you are living abroad.

Arrange for Your Mail to be Taken Care of

Just because you move abroad does not mean that the mail will stop arriving at your door every day. So before you make your transition, contact your local post office and arrange to have your mail held there for the length of time that you will be away, or have the mail stopped until your return.

  • Another option would be to have a trusted friend or family member pick up your mail from your home every few days and keep it for you until you come back. In this way, you can be notified if anything that requires your immediate attention arrives.
  • In terms of mail forwarding, you will be responsible for any shipping costs associated with having your mail forwarded to your international address. But today’s technology has provided expats with other, more affordable options. For example, you can hire a mail forwarding company that will collect your mail at their facility and scan the envelopes for you to view through a personal online account. You can then instruct them to scan the contents for you, or you can tell them to recycle, shred, archive, or ship that mail to your overseas address.

Know How to Find Employment Abroad

If you do not already have a job lined up prior to completing your move, there are several ways to make your job hunt abroad easier. Once you have landed a great job, you will be more financially secure. Plus, you can use your workplace as an opportunity to make new friends who can show you around and help you acclimate to your new environment more quickly.

  • To start, you can tap into the power of your existing networks, or you can attend job fairs and networking events.
  • Hiring agencies may also be very helpful when it comes to landing a job abroad, especially since many of them specialise in filling temporary positions.   

Don’t Forget to Take it All in!

With proper planning, you can make an otherwise intense international move a more pleasant experience. Once you have been able to make another country your new home, you will be able to dive right into everything that it has to offer, and make unforgettable memories along the way. Just remember: a year can go by surprisingly quickly, so be sure to take it all in.

If you liked these tips, you can delve even deeper into how to relocate to another country by reading our Guide to Moving Abroad.

IMPORTANT: The contents of this blog do not constitute financial advice and are provided for general information purposes only without taking into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of any particular person. OzForex Limited (trading as OFX) and its affiliated entities make no recommendation as to the merits of any financial strategy or product referred to in the blog. OFX makes no warranty, express or implied, concerning the suitability, completeness, quality or exactness of the information and models provided in this blog.