What does 2020 hold in store for you?
Do you approach it with trepidation or enthusiasm?
If you’re reading these newsletters, then I’d say you’re a go-getter.
You’re looking to make changes, to get out there and stir things up, to make good things happen in your life. You’re likely looking at the year ahead with healthy exhilaration.
Capitalize on these feelings of renaissance by getting serious about your overseas goals. Even if you don’t intend to move overseas in 2020, it’s never too early to start making a serious plan and chipping away at your live-overseas agenda.
Let’s take a step back and look at some of the big checklist items you should think about in setting yourself up for a life abroad…
- Visit the place first—and not as a tourist
Visit before you commit to any move. If at all possible, you should try to visit multiple times, including out of season. If you’re happy living in your new country during winter or rainy season, it’s a winner.
Try to get a taste for what your new life will be like while there. Shop weekly, look at the amenities nearby, and, most importantly, get to know the area’s transport options.
Find out what you can’t buy locally and what’s more expensive. If, for example, you can’t get A1 steak sauce, you can bring a few bottles with you or check to see if shipment by Amazon is prohibitively expensive.
Speaking of shipping, look into customs fees—and don’t tell loved ones to send you care packages until you’re clear about the taxes you’ll incur when they’re delivered. The fees could be more than the items shipped were worth to begin with.
Will you need your own vehicle to get around? Inquire about driving licenses—do you need to do a driving test or will your U.S. license allow you to drive? How easy is it to get your license switched over to one from your new country?
If you are moving with a plan to work, make the commute as you would once you arrive. You might be close to your new office as the crow flies, but rush hour traffic can change that.
- Research your residency options
The sooner you get your residency visa the better. While it’s possible to stay in many places on a tourist visa, this often brings complications down the line. Trips to the border can eat into your time and savings. Immigration officials will sometimes get annoyed with these “border runs” (which are illegal in some countries)… and, if you’re suspected of trying to stay illegally, you can be sent home—even barred for re-entry.
Some countries make it easy to get residency… others not so much. Research your options and, ideally, speak with a lawyer about which path is best for your situation.
- Consider health care in your new home
Health care overseas is more affordable than in the United States, often much more so but you should research any care or medications you need specifically, to make sure they’re available without much trouble and at a reasonable cost. Again, you’ll almost always find that costs will be lower in your new country than they were back home, but in the off chance that’s not the case, plan to bring a few months’ supply of any prescription or over-the-counter drugs you need with you.
When we go to the States, Harry and I stock up on Nyquil and Dayquil, as well as his nasal spray and heartburn pills. Since moving to Paris, we’ve added Tums and Pepto-Bismol to the list, neither of which is available in France.
- Figure out your new budget
You’ll need to prepare a personalized budget tailored to the life you plan to lead in your new home. Will you have a car, for example? This is a major variable that makes a big difference in monthly expenses. If you own a home, you won’t have rent, and property taxes are likely to be negligible… if you plan to rent, though, be sure you understand what’s available at what cost and check what’s included in the rent, as this changes from place to place.
- What will you bring?
Our general advice is to move with as little as possible and give yourself a clean slate when you go overseas. If minimalism isn’t your thing, though, you’ll need to decide what you’re bringing with you and how to get it to your new home.
All that stuff you left behind? Hopefully you were able to sell most of it (nice seed money for new things overseas) or rehome special items with loved ones you know will appreciate them.
However, there’s always a chance there were some things you weren’t able to part with but couldn’t bring with you (at least not yet). In this case, look into your best storage options, whether it’s a friend’s garage or an actual storage unit. I still have some things in my grandmother’s basement in Maryland from when I moved to Panama after college… and Harry and I have a small unit in Panama housing books we haven’t relocated to Paris yet.
These five things are some of the first to think about when you plan for a move overseas. Tomorrow, I’ll share five more…
Happy New Year!