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International Moving

How to Plan Your Move Abroad

By July 6, 2023December 12th, 2023No Comments
How to Plan Your Move Abroad

How to Plan Your Move Abroad:  Complete Relocation Guide

Planning an international move is exciting and overwhelming. Starting a new chapter in a different country is alluring in terms of new experiences, people, and places. It’s also challenging and logistically stressful. However, with careful preparation and research, you can turn a daunting task into a fulfilling experience that changes the course of your life for the best.

Here’s your one-stop shop for everything you need to know to plan your move abroad.

Step 1: Research Your Destination

Choosing your new home depends on various factors like your personal preferences, the local culture, your professional possibilities once there, and much more.

Consider the following:

  • Identify your priorities. Are you moving for a better quality of life, job opportunities, a warm climate, vibrant culture, safety, better healthcare, or education for your children? Based on your priorities, start exploring countries that meet them and create a list.
  • Evaluate how feasible it is to get a visa.
  • Explore online ex-pat communities for the countries you’re interested in.
  • Take into account the quality of education and healthcare.
  • Determine how your personal life will be affected by the move. Will you have a support system? Will you be alone and are you OK with that?
  • How close will you be to other countries? Can you easily explore other countries in the region, or will there be geographical limitations? For example, exploring multiple Latin American countries is easier than exploring Asia and Oceania from New Zealand.
  • If possible, visit the country first and get a feel for it.

moving quote

Research the Cost of Living

Before you plan your move abroad, compare the cost of living and the average wage in the countries you’re interested in. Try to get pricing estimates for housing, transportation, healthcare, utilities, education, and daily expenses. Consider whether your financial situation would allow you to live comfortably. Or if you may have to start a savings plan to help make your move a reality.

Read Here: Moving Overseas using International Ocean Freight

Consider Local Laws and Customs

Customs and culture are among the main factors determining whether you’ll enjoy your new home. Consider language barriers that may affect integration and how capable you’d overcome them, social norms and values, overall lifestyle and work-life balance, traditional cuisine, and religious compatibility or restrictions.

You should consider the country’s legal context. Are they welcoming to immigrants? Is it easy to get a visa from your current country? What about employment laws that influence your status as an ex-pat/immigrant? Do people enjoy personal freedoms? How do immigrants/ex-pats fit into the healthcare system?

Know More Here: Understanding an International Moving Quote

Research Potential Jobs

Determine whether the country has an active industry for your professional field and whether your skills are in demand. Explore unemployment metrics, how hard/easy it is to get a job, and your potential for career growth. In today’s remote-friendly work environment, you can apply to remote jobs overseas, so you’ll have a job immediately after relocating.

Step 2: Create a Moving Budget

International moves generally cost around $10,000, but the final cost could be lower or significantly higher depending on multiple factors, such as transportation costs, the cost of shipping your belongings, the cost of applying for a visa, and even the distance from your home to your destination.

If you plan to move abroad with a significant amount of domestic belongings to your new home, consider hiring an international moving company.

How to Plan Your Move Abroad

Professional movers will handle all the logistics, customs, and processes to move your belongings worldwide.

Work on an estimate for how much money you’ll need to pay for the relocation, moving services, and at least 3-6 months of living expenses in your new home abroad. That should be the budget you want to work with.

Read Here: The Best Way to Organize for an International Move

Step 3: Get the Necessary Documentation

While researching your new destination is exciting, you can’t go anywhere without the proper documentation. This is very important when you plan your move abroad. For starters, you need to verify that your passport will remain valid for at least six months after your move. If your passport isn’t up to date, renew it as soon as possible, especially since passport timelines can vary tremendously.

With your valid passport, you can start looking for the right visa. Visa requirements vary depending on where you plan to live and how long you plan to stay. Check the visa requirements in your final destination and obtain the necessary documents to apply for it before your departure. Hiring a relocation consultant to help with the visa process might be wise.

At last, you should bring other documents you might need in the future for obtaining housing, opening a bank account, enrolling in school, and such. These are some of the documents you should bring with you:

  • A birth certificate.
  • A marriage or divorce certificate.
  • Passport-sized photos.
  • Insurance documents.
  • Documents that prove you’ve secured accommodation (if applicable).
  • Medical records and vaccination certificates.
  • School certificates for your children.
  • College degree certificates.

Top  International Moving Companies To Move Abroad

Here is a table of the top International Movers from the US. Ratings are based on Years in Business, Reputation, and Customer Reviews.

Best Overall

Corporate Relocation

Great Reputation

Ad-on Services



Step 4: Find a Place to Live

It can be daunting to feel a place to live thousands of miles away. However, you can work with local real estate agents to help you secure accommodations beforehand. Ideally, you’ll first move into a furnished apartment. You can easily find those through Airbnb or similar services. Once you arrive at your new destination, you can schedule appointments to see accommodations with a local real estate agent.

It’s good to rely on recommendations from expats living abroad throughout this process.

How to Plan Your Move Abroad

Thankfully, you can easily find expat forums where they share information on the best places to live, how to find a reliable real estate agent, and you may even find someone looking for a roommate. Take your time; the right place to live abroad will come along.

Read Here: The Best Places to Live Abroad This Year

Step 5: Prepare Your Finances

The first thing to do is determine whether your bank account operates internationally. If it does, you’ll probably need to change your address, apply for international wire transfer permission, and check whether your debit card has fees for foreign transactions. Nonetheless, you still want to open a bank account abroad. Remember that this might take some time, as certain banks have strict guidelines regarding who can open an account.

Get Health Insurance

While you may not qualify for the country’s health insurance plan, you still need to find health insurance. Luckily, many international health insurance companies like Allianz, GeoBlue, and Cigna International offer various plans and coverage. You want to work with an international health insurance specialist to help you find the plan with the right coverage for your needs.

Sort Out Your Taxes before your plan moving overseas

Moving abroad doesn’t free you from filing taxes if you’re a US citizen. It’s paramount that you work with your accountant before moving internationally to understand your fiscal obligations. It’s also key to hire a local accountant in your new country once you arrive. Ensure both accountants understand your situation and are familiar with your scenario to help you avoid double taxation.

Step 6: Make Arrangements for Your Belongings

At least six months before your move date, you want to start decluttering your home. Sell, donate, or discard items you don’t need or want to take with you. Downsizing will not only help you organize everything and bring down the costs of moving. Fewer things to pack, less labor, and less space.

Read Here: How much to save before moving?

downsize your move

As you start downsizing, inventory all the belongings you plan to take with you. This will help you stay organized, plus you’ll also need it for insurance and customs purposes.

Once you have your complete inventory, you need to determine if everything is coming with you or if you’ll need some storage.

Many international moving companies offer storage services, so you can keep your belongings until you can receive them abroad. This is particularly helpful if you’re first moving into a furnished home.

Choose a Shipping Method

Most international moves are shipped with sea freight. While this method takes longer (1 to 10 weeks), it’s the most cost-effective and potentially the safest option.

The most used sea freight methods are 20-foot and 40-foot containers. When booking international container shipment, you’ll likely have to choose between:

  • Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping: You booked your own container and can use the space to the fullest. This shipping method is often faster because it only has to be delivered to you. Another added benefit is that your belongings will not share space with other people’s items.
  • Less than Container Load (LCL) Shipping: You booked part of a container instead of the whole unit. This share or consolidated shipment method is a cost-effective solution for those who don’t have enough belongings to fill a 20- or 40-foot container. The biggest disadvantage is that LCL containers take longer to reach their final destination.

Know More Here: How to Ship Furniture Overseas on a Budget

Get Moving Insurance

Most international moving companies offer one or more insurance options. Consider securing your load with the proper insurance even if they don’t. As you’re talking to an international moving specialist, ask about the exact coverage of the policy and who’s responsible for your load throughout its journey.

Know More Here: Do you need International Shipping Insurance?

International moving company

International Van Lines is an international moving company that offers services to over 140 countries worldwide. Learn more about our international moving services.

Step 7: Prepare for Your Move Abroad

At this point, you should start notifying your local services (utilities, subscriptions, mail, etc.) about your move and schedule service shutoff. By now, most of your items should be packed and ready to be shipped. Make sure everything is labeled and inventoried.

Get the Required Vaccinations

Depending on where you’re going, you may be asked to vaccinate for measles, mumps, chickenpox, COVID-19, or other diseases. Your origin country may also influence the requirements, as some countries may be tagged as “high-risk” for certain diseases.

vaccination for abroad

Explore vaccination requirements for your destination and make an appointment with your healthcare provider to develop a vaccination schedule ahead of time.

Buy The Plane Tickets

You want to buy your plane tickets at least three months before departure. This will help you save money, as airfare prices are more affordable when purchased in advance.

Additionally, booking early gives you more options in terms of departure times, seat choices, and preferred airlines.

Nonetheless, some people book their flights around the same time they finalize their move with an international moving company, anywhere between 3 to 6 months before departure. Of course, the exact timing could differ depending on many factors, such as the time of year, destination, and personal circumstances.

Start Practicing the Language

Before traveling to a place with a different language, it’s helpful to learn some basic words and phrases. Though you won’t become fluent immediately, focus on learning commonly used vocabulary first. Download a language-learning app like Duolingo, get Google Translate on your phone, and begin listening to music in that language. These are all small steps you can take to learn the language.

Check Your Pet’s Travel Requirements before you plan your move abroad

If you plan to move abroad with your pet, you’ll have to complete a series of requirements before they can join you. For most pets, you want to start planning this at least 2-3 months before your moving date. However, remember that some countries require vaccinations to be just 2-4 weeks old, so you might need to plan accordingly.

Read Here: All about Moving Overseas with Pets

Talk to a moving specialist and your veterinarian to complete all the required vaccinations, paperwork, and processes to move your pet abroad.

Embark On Your New Adventure

After months of careful planning and preparations, it’s time to set off on your new adventure. Remember, moving to a new country involves unexpected twists and turns. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed at times, but always remember why you embarked on this journey in the first place.

If you’re unsure where to start or how to manage the logistics of moving internationally, International Van Lines is here to assist you. Our experienced team will guide you through every step of the process, ensuring your move is as seamless and stress-free as possible. From packing your belongings securely to handling all customs procedures, we’re committed to making your move to a new country a positive and memorable experience.

So, why wait? Contact International Van Lines today and take the first step toward planning your move abroad.

Your new life awaits; we’re here to help you make it happen.

 More about International Van Lines

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