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The Ultimate Checklist for Moving Abroad

Moving abroad is an exciting experience, but there are so many aspects involved when planning your move. This is why it is so important you create a checklist for moving abroad, it will save you time, energy and forgetting important stuff.

I am the to-do-list girl for sure, but I never considered writing a list of all the things I needed before moving abroad, and yes, I wish I did.

In this post, you’ll find two lists, a list of important things to do before moving abroad and a list of things to take with you.

Checklist for moving abroad

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Checklist for Moving Abroad

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Checklist for moving abroad

Things to do before moving abroad

Research your new country’s rule

When you’re about to live abroad, there are so many things you must learn, and of course, you aren’t supposed to know everything beforehand, however, knowing some essential rules will make your life easier and save you from trouble.

Look at your finances

Living abroad is especially expensive at the beginning. You need to be able to maintain yourself for a couple of months until you find a job and you’ve settled in your new home. You may need to use those extra pounds or euros in your bank account you saved before for other reasons.

Some ways to gain extra money for moving abroad are selling things (as I’ll mention below), working extra hours for a couple of months, stopping eating out or having your weekly matcha latte in your favourite cafe. 

When looking at your finances, you must check your bank. When I moved to the UK, I left my bank account open because I knew I would be using it when I go back home for a couple of weeks or months, or if I go to another European country where euros are the currency.

I find it beneficial to have bank accounts in different countries (especially with different currency), however, if you feel like you’re not going to use it anymore, you must contact your bank and consider closing your bank account or cancelling your credit card (if you’ve got one).

TIP: Do you want to easily transfer money between your accounts? Xe.com will give you the best currency exchange. 

Sort out your accommodation

Whether you are renting or you have your own house in your home country, you need to decide what you are going to do. Especially If you are renting as you’ll have to check your contract and tell your landlord you will be leaving soon. 

If you own your house, you have to consider the questions like “Do I want to rent it? Do I want to sell it? And make a decision before you leave. You can always leave some time and decide later, but it’s much easier when you are in your home country.

Sell unnecessary items

Moving abroad isn’t cheap, so one of the best ways to get extra money before you make the move is to sell unnecessary things that you no longer use or you can’t take with you.

I didn’t sell much because I was leaving some of my things in my parent’s house and I wasn’t sure how long I was going to live abroad, however, when I think about it now, I could have sold books or clothes I haven’t used since I left.

Cancel memberships

It’s so easy to forget about cancelling memberships, especially things like TV channel memberships. I always like to have a notebook with my expenses and monthly memberships. You don’t have to write in a notebook, you can do this on your phone or laptop.

This way you’ll never forget about cancelling that 10 pounds membership that in the long run, you’ll waste a big amount of money on.

Check out healthcare in your new country

No matter where you move in the world, you really need to check how healthcare works. 

If you’re from a European country and move to another European city, you’ll receive free healthcare in most countries by using a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). However, if you’re moving from Europe to America, things completely change.

Do your research before moving abroad as healthcare in other countries can be very expensive and you may need health insurance to cover some costs.

TIP: Check with your GP/doctor if you need any vaccines, especially if you’re planning to move somewhere exotic.

Check what it is like to be an expat in your new country

Everyone wants to feel welcome, and although you’ll find welcoming and unwelcoming people anywhere in the world, some countries are more welcoming than others and make things easier for foreigners.

Do some research on essential things like the quality of life, education, work, people, healthcare, social security, language, affordability, etc.

According to Condé Nast Traveler, these are the best countries for expats to live in:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Singapore
  3. Canada
  4. Spain
  5. New Zealand
  6. Australia
  7. Turkey
  8. Germany
  9. United Arab Emirates
  10. Vietnam

Related blog post: 10 Cheapest Countries to Live in Europe

Get your documents ready

Have a look at important documents like passport, national insurance number, visa, etc. Are they up to date? Do you need to get any visa for your new country? You need to ensure you have all the necessary documents before moving overseas.

Also, if you’re a driver and you’re planning to drive in your new country, check if you need an international driving permit (IDP).

TIP: Renew your passport if it’s going to expire in the next six months, you may plan to go back to your country before that time, but you never know if you’ll make that trip before it expires. This will also save you from stressful situations.

Book flights

This is an obvious one, but booking flights in advance can save you money and at the same time you have more flights, routes and airlines to choose from. 

If you don’t mind stopovers, getting flights with stops in other cities will probably be cheaper than direct ones (this may be different depending on the destination, the season, etc. but it’s worth having a look if you’re on a budget).

*In case you don’t need to take a flight and you want to take some of your heavy stuff (like furniture), I highly recommend checking some international moving companies beforehand. 

Best travel apps for Europe

Look for a new home

Something that really speeds up the process of settling down in a new country is having a look at accommodation in advance.

Although some places may require you to attend a viewing and sign a contract in person or provide proof of work, locating some houses or making some viewing appointments will help you feel at home faster.

The Ultimate Moving Abroad Packing List

Do you struggle with packing? I can totally relate to that!

I know packing for a trip is completely different from packing to move abroad. However, you go through a similar process – whether you’re packing for a trip or moving abroad, you always end up putting unnecessary things in your suitcase.

I remember standing up by myself at the airport with three full suitcases, and yes, you don’t want to do the same as I did because you’ll struggle. 

So after learning my lesson, here is a list of things you must take:

Important documents

Don’t forget to take your passport, visa, driving license, etc. Without these, you won’t be able to travel.

In addition to this, I would add other documents like any university certificates (if you’re planning to apply for a master or a specific job related to your studies), a birth certificate and any reference (I.e. from your previous landlord or employer). 

passport travel essential

Electronics

There’s no point in buying essential electronics when you already have them. And by essential electronics, I mean a phone, maybe a laptop and camera. The rest of the electronics you can always buy in your new location.

Something that I suggest doing is to put all your valuable electronics in your hand luggage to avoid any damages or disappointments.

Clothes and shoes

Before packing any clothes, I would definitely have a look at the weather and prioritise seasonal clothes. For example, if you’re going to live in Dubai, you won’t need fluffy coats and gloves, whereas if you are going to move to the UK you’ll need them.

Be sensitive to packing clothes because it’s very easy to overpack your suitcase with many clothes and shoes (you’ll barely wear some of them).

Here is a list of clothes and accessories you may need to take depending on your new country:

Clothes

  • Coat
  • Raincoat
  • Jacket
  • Cardigan
  • Jumpers
  • Dress
  • Skirt
  • Jumpsuit
  • Leggings
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Bikini

Shoes

  • Sandals
  • Flip flops
  • Heels
  • Boots
bag with passport and phone and clothes in the bed

Toiletries and make up

Some of these toiletries you can easily buy in your new country, however, it’s very useful to take little bits with you, especially for the first couple of days.

If you’re staying in a hotel before moving to your new home abroad, the hotel will provide you with essentials like shower gel, shampoo, etc. but I am very unique with the toiletries I use, so if you’re the same, don’t forget to pack these with you.

In terms of make up, remember you can use the toiletries bag to put some of your make up items. I normally put some lipsticks and eyeliner on it since they don’t occupy much.

Remember the toiletries allowance is 100ml per product. Have you got anything above that? You can put it in your suitcase, just make sure it’s placed inside a small bag (in case it leaks).

Plug Convertor

This is a saviour! When you take electronics (laptop, mobile phone, hairdryer, etc.) with you, you must remember they have different plugs and you’ll need an adapter or a universal travel adapter.

Although you can get this in your new country, you’ll probably save some money when you buy them at home. If you forget to take it with you, you’ll end up buying one in the first convenience/souvenir shop and it’ll be more expensive.

Water bottle and snacks

I’ve included these because if you’re hungry 24/7 like me, you need supplies of food for your journey. You can get them from the airport, of course, but expect to pay crazy prices for items you’ll find much cheaper in a normal supermarket.

A healthier option is making some snacks or even food the day before, you can easily put them in a small container and take them with you on the flight.

I personally prefer this to buy some snacks, but I totally get you’re busy packing, saying goodbye to friends and family and you end up with no time for this. I’ve been there too.

In addition to this, a water bottle becomes super handy! Many airports provide water points where you fill your bottle for free, and you help the environment.

Medication

Whether you take medication or not, it’s always super handy to pack some tablets like paracetamol in case you need them. You don’t really want to be in pain in a new country where you don’t know if you can easily access a pharmacy. 

If you take medication for any health problems, it’s better you get medication for a month at least, this way you have enough time to find a GP to prescribe you medication, etc.

Sentimental items

When you leave your home country, you leave behind many memories and friends or family, therefore, it’s very important you take items that bring you good memories back.

They don’t necessarily have to be big – something as simple as a framed photo or a handmade blanket.

As you can see there are many things before moving abroad, but having a list like this helps you remember important things and be less stressed.

Related blog post: 20 Gift Ideas For Expats Living Abroad


If you have any questions, reach me at cristina@mylittleworldoftravelling.com or on Instagram. I’m always happy to help.

Wishing you the best in your new home abroad! 

Cristina xx

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Country specific moving abroad guides you may want to check 

Moving to Germany – Top Tips for Future Expats in Germany

Living In Spain As An American Expat

Moving to London: The Ultimate Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Moving to Amsterdam

Best Tips for Living in Croatia as an Expat

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14 Comments

  1. Such a great post. As an expat I can attest to this. Definitely helps to list everything out because it’s so crazy before a move that it’s very easy for things to slip through the cracks.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you so much Venaugh! 🙂

  2. What a great article! I’ve always wanted to move abroad and feel like this is a perfect checklist to help anyone with their first steps!! Also glad that Switzerland is on the list of best places for expats cause I would love to move there for a bit!!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Krista! I hope you move to Switzerland in the future. That would be a great adventure 🙂

  3. Great post! Never have lived abroad but have thought about it and all the things to do to prep have always intimidated me. Nice to see it all outlined so nicely.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thanks, Kristina! Also, I totally get you. There are so many things to do before moving abroad that can make you feel a bit stressed or intimidated, but I’m glad you found my post useful 🙂

  4. So many good steps. Even looking into being an expat I wouldn’t have thought of looking that up.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thanks, Rebecca!

  5. This post is so great and makes me want to move abroad. There are definitely things on here I wouldn’t have thought of!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Megan! I hope you experience moving abroad one day 🙂

  6. I found this post very useful. Especially the reminder to cancel your memberships, because the monthly cost of those could add up and most likely you won’t use those abroad.

  7. I’ve moved more times than I can count, so totally agree with this list! I also like to get things set up as much as possible before arriving – perhaps find temporary accommodation, make appointments at job centres etc. Preparation is the key! 🙂

  8. What a great list! I don’t visualize myself living outside of the U.S., but if I ever move abroad, Spain is my number one choice!

  9. Magicandbliss says:

    Loved this post! Most people do not research how they would manage their finances and healthcare in the new country and that brings them in big trouble when they move abroad. I would definitely follow this checklist if and when I move abroad. 🙂

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