We’re in the home stretch, kids. Before you know it, we’ll be at the airport with everything we own setting off to start a new life. There are just a few more things we need to take care of before we leave.
16. Start looking for an apartment– Having a place to live lined up before you land would be amazing, but it’s pretty difficult to do if you’ve never even been to the city you’re planning on living in before. I’ve been looking online for apartments in Glasgow ever since Geoff first had an interview there. Our plan is to get a short 3-6 month lease in the cheapest furnished apartment we can find near his office. I will start contacting leasing agents about a week before we depart to try to set up viewings for the day after we land. It’s nice to have a head start, and the leasing agent may have some other properties that aren’t listed online yet that they can also let you in on when you get there.
17. Plan your going away party– A lot of people are probably going to want to share one last drink with you before you leave. Unless you’re a radical extrovert with a ton of energy, I recommend planning one or two evenings out, letting everyone know where you’ll be, and asking them to come to you all at once. You’re going to be super busy, so it will be difficult for you to stop by and visit everyone individually. Make sure to bring your camera and get a photo with all your friends and family. You may want to hang it up in your new apartment.
18. Consider your in-flight entertainment options– You’re traveling overseas, so there’s a pretty good chance you have some very long flights ahead of you. I find air travel to be much more bearable if I’m properly distracted. Try to find out ahead of time if your flights will have individual on-demand screens or if you’ll need to provide your own entertainment. We’re traveling with a budget Canadian airline, so I’ll have to have a fully charged laptop and lots of movies pre-loaded on the hard drive. I also like magazines rather than books for air travel because if you get interrupted frequently, it’s not as annoying.
19. Buy a guidebook for your new country– Go online or to the bookstore and get yourself a travel guidebook for the country you’re moving to. Not only will it give you tons of ideas for cool ways to spend your weekends, it will likely also have tips for how to best navigate using public transportation. There will also be some very useful tips on culture and etiquette in your new country. You’re going to want to know who to tip when and how to avoid offending people as much as possible.
20. Take some time to daydream– You’ve worked hard for this. You’ve sacrificed a lot, and now it’s time to enjoy the possibilities. Don’t forget to take a break and allow yourself to relax. Moving is a long and stressful process. Don’t forget to enjoy it. Make a list of all the places you want to visit and things you want to eat. Imagine what you’ll wear and how you’ll decorate your apartment. Dream about the people you’ll meet. You made it. It’s gonna be awesome! Get into it.
Departure day is getting closer and closer. What else do we need to get together to get out of the country?
11. Prepare for your electronics– Make sure you find out how electricity works in the country you’re going to and whether or not it’s different than where you live. If it is, you’ll need to make some preparations for your electronics. For your laptop, you don’t need to replace your whole charger, just the end with the plug. This should save you some money. For your phone, just get a the USB part of the charger and plug that in. Things like hair appliances are probably better replaced if you’re going somewhere where the electricity is stronger. Even with a good adapter you can blow a motor or burn yourself pretty badly.
12. Order SIM cards for your phone– If you’re moving from the U.S. to another country, chances are you’ll need a SIM card for your phone. If you have a contract, find out what it’s going to take to get out of it and whether or not your phone can be unlocked. Check Amazon and eBay to see if you can pre-order new SIM cards. That way you can put them in your phone on the plane and you’ll be able to make phone calls when you land at the airport.
13. Cancel your bills– Skim through your bank statement and make a list of all the automatic debits you’ve set up. Make sure you cancel them all before you leave. Usually utilities will let you set your end date ahead of time, and sometimes there may be a deposit coming back to you. Don’t forget about Netflix. You don’t want any surprise charges coming out of your bank account after you do item #14.
14. Transfer your money– Check around and find the best service to wire your money. Find out how to get the lowest fees and the best exchange rate. We’re lucky enough to have family in the country we’re moving to, so we can transfer the money to them and then into our own account after we arrive. If you don’t have access to an account ahead of time, you can always call the bank when you get there. Remember, you don’t want to transfer or travel with more than $10,000 at a time. $9,999 is fine.
15. Don’t forget to leave a forwarding address– You’ll need to leave a forwarding address with your current employer as well as the post office at the least. For some people, it may be okay to give your foreign address, but the post office won’t forward your mail outside the country. Ask a relative if you can have your mail forwarded to them. They can send along anything that’s really important.
This is a lot of tedious business, but it all has to be done before you can set off. Don’t worry, we’re going to get to the fun stuff in part 4.
Okay, we’ve got a plan, we’ve submitted our paperwork, and we’ve started down the path of getting rid of the vast majority of our possessions. Let’s get you to that foreign country.
6. Sell your stuff online— Honestly, we were able to get rid of a most of our stuff by just letting our friends and co-workers know what was available. But if you still have some larger items that are worth significant money, definitely try to sell them online. I put our big pieces on Craigslist on a Saturday morning and had most of it sold by Sunday afternoon. We didn’t bother with $10 bookshelves. To me, it’s not worth it to wait around for a stranger to invade your home, but we were able to make some money on our furniture that will really come in handy when we land. You can also try listing your stuff in a local buy/sell/trade Facebook group. I’m too impatient to put it on an app.
7. Donate your remaining household items to a local homeless services agency— I’ve worked at a homeless shelter for the past two years, so I know how much they love to get household items for people who are moving into their own apartment for the very first time. Any small furniture, towels, drapes, pots and pans, and other random items you can’t sell or give away could really make a difference for someone who is struggling to get their life together and build a home. You can even call and see if they can pick up your stuff. You items will stay local, won’t be resold, and will benefit someone who truly needs it.
8. Investigate possibilities for your pets– We’ve gotten rid of our worldly goods, but what about our animal friends. If you want to take your pets with you, be sure to carefully research fees and quarantine rules. Your pet may need to stay in a quarantine facility for a few weeks. We knew our chicken wouldn’t survive the journey, and we wouldn’t have anywhere to keep her in a high rise apartment in Glasgow. Luckily, we have a friend who lives in the country. Our little dragon was in chicken paradise.
9. Choose your suitcases wisely– You’ve gotten rid of most of your stuff, but now what about all the stuff you have to take with you? We decided to take two suitcases each. Paying the second bag fee was the cheapest option we could come up with. Be sure to check with the airline you’re flying with about their baggage policy on international flights. It’s usually a little better than U.S. domestic flights. If you have to buy new luggage, choose carefully. Consider the weight. If you only get to take 200 pounds worth of stuff, you want as little of that as possible to be actual suitcase. You might also want to consider buying one hard sided suitcase and carefully packing any breakable items in there. We went to Ross to buy new suitcases. It’s definitely cheaper than a department store, and the selection is pretty good.
10. Weigh as you go– Hopefully you have a bathroom scale so you can weigh your suitcases before you go to the airport. This will help you determine if you need to further eliminate precious books from your cookbook collection or if you need to shift some items from one case to another. Try and be strategic about distributing the weight, and take full advantage of it. We’re going to have to buy a lot of stuff when we get there, so go ahead and fill it up as much as you can.
You did it! You made your dream come true. You got a job in a foreign country. You told you friends and family. You jumped up and down like a silly child because it’s all just so cool and wonderful. But now you have to execute that dream.
Maybe you’re lucky, and you’re rich enough to hire an immigration lawyer and a moving company. Maybe you got hired by a big corporation who’s sponsoring your visa and paying all your moving expenses. But since you’re here at How to be Awesome on $20 a Day, there’s a good chance you’re neither of those, and you’re on your own. Moving abroad isn’t easy or remotely chaos-free, but you will survive it and come out bigger and better on the other end. This is our third time around, so I’m happy to share what we’ve learned.
1. Make a plan— There’s gonna be a lot to do, and probably not a lot of time to do it in. Take a look at your calendar and try to map out deadlines for certain projects to make sure you get it all done in time. You don’t want to be running around trying to collect documents and sell your furniture two hours before your flight leaves. If you can, get things done early.
2. Get your documents in order— Visas come in varying levels of complexity, but no matter what type of visa you have to get, you’ll still need some documents. At the very least, make sure you have your passport, birth certificate, college transcript, and marriage certificate if you’re married. Research your visa process thoroughly so you don’t end up delayed. Geoff gave some tips on applying for a spouse visa to the UK.
3. Say goodbye to your stuff— Guess what, kids. Shipping all of your stuff across the ocean, or two oceans and the continent of North America, is outrageously expensive. It’s not gonna happen. Whatever you can’t put in your suitcase and take with you on the plane, you have to leave behind. This is not easy. Obviously, precious memories like photos and scrapbooks should probably go with you, but your beautiful berry Kitchen Aid mixer, your enamel-coated cast iron pot that your dead mother gave you, they’re not gonna fit. You need to let them go. It’s okay to grieve for your stuff a little.
4. Do a round 1 purge— This is the perfect time to go through your entire home and just give away all the stuff you haven’t used in a while. Go through your clothes and consider whether you really want them to be a part of the 200 pounds of stuff you’re allowed to bring. Are they going to be practical in your new climate? Do they have stains and tears? Have you been holding onto them out of some sort of gifting obligation? If you’re even slightly on the fence, get rid of it. Give stuff away to your friends or donate it to Goodwill or your local homeless shelter. Don’t over think it. Just make it disappear.
5. Sell to your friends and family first— You probably don’t want a bunch of strangers traipsing through your house if you can avoid it, so put together a website or even an album on Facebook with photos of all the furniture, appliance, vehicles, and other items you’d like to sell. Remember, you’re going to have to put a deposit on a new apartment on the other end, so you’re going to need to get there with some cash to spare.
So it turns out I have a ton to say about this. Let’s not get overwhelmed. Take a deep breath. It’s gonna be okay. You can do this. I’ll be back tomorrow with five more things to think about while you’re preparing to move abroad.
Last June, Emily visited Switzerland. She’ll be writing this post about her trip.
I’ve always wanted to visit Europe. Not for any particular reason, just to see new things. Now that I’ve visited Switzerland and experienced a new culture and seen new sights, I’m even more excited to travel.
I visited Baden, Bottstein, and other parts of Switzerland in mid June. I went with my step mother’s family, who I don’t see often, because we live in different states. Some live in California, some in New York, some in Oklahoma, and I in Tennessee. We took this trip to, of course, broaden our horizons, but also to attend the wedding of a foreign exchange student, who’s name is Simon, my grandparents housed for a time, then continued to keep in touch with.
First, I’ll talk about the food. Because I stayed in Northern Switzerland, I ate a lot of German food, but I also ate some French and Italian food as well. On the first night, I ate pork neck with the house salad, and some kind of white wine. I also tried french fries that my little cousin had. The pork neck, while it had the same texture as steak, tasted different, which I enjoyed. The salad was very different, and had combinations that I’d never tried before. The wine, of course, was excellent and sweet. The french fries all throughout Switzerland were different from America’s fries. They were thicker cut, crispier, and perhaps buttery.
The next day, I slept through the breakfast at my hotel, so I had a late lunch with my aunt, uncle, father, and grandmother. We went through Old Town and found a place called Moser’s. It was basically a Swiss Panera Bread. I had schnitzel, which is fried veal, on a baguette with a special sauce. While the baguette had a rather plastic-y texture, the schnitzel with its sauce was good.
After I ate, my dad and I went to a bakery and bought a piece of black forest cake, or schwarzwalder kirschtorte. It had a sweet cherry on top, and the cake itself had a crumblier texture than American cake. The taste of the cake was like chocolate with a few more spices.
For dinner, I had gemuse spatzli from Restaurant Arcade. It was balls and strings of pasta in a creamy sauce, which was very tasty, and good for the chillier weather.
The next morning, I had breakfast in my hotel. I had pineapple, a croissant with strawberry-rhubarb jam, a sausage, scrambled eggs, a miniature muffin, and a mocha. The pineapple was tangy and sweet, the croissant was the perfect amount of flaky and buttery, the jam was excellent, the sausage, even though I tend to not like sausage, was savoury and delicious, the scrambled eggs were just normal, the muffin was good, and had a bit of crunch at the top, and the mocha was rich.
That day, I also had a shot of peppermint schnapps, which was very strong and took the life out of my whole family.
Later, we ate at Simon’s mother’s house. She made us a cheese and meat plate, which was very good and new. She made a very delicious guacamole, which I also don’t usually like. We had potatoes with a creamy sauce, which were heavenly. And Simon also grilled us beef, chicken, lamb, and ostrich. The lamb lollipops, or chops, were very tender, and I enjoyed them a lot. The ostrich was very different. It was tough, and the juices tasted very interesting.
For dessert, I ate creme brulee, which was very wonderful, and chocolate mousse, which was very rich and yummy.
The next day, I had the same breakfast as the previous day, but with a chocolate miniature muffin, which was rich and delicious. For lunch, I ate carbonara. It was thick, creamy, and rich. For dinner, I ate at Simon’s mother’s house again. I had fondue, which is often made in the winter. It was very good, and very different. I dipped bread, potatoes, and pineapples in the dish.
The next day was the wedding. After the ceremony, I ate sausages with a mustard-like sauce, which was very good. At the reception, I had a nice white wine, a plate of yummy vegetables, meats, and cheeses, a cut of tender meat with a rich, buttery sauce, and, finally, tiramisu and a kind of pistachio ice cream. All of the wedding food was very delicious.
The next night, I ate dinner in a castle overlooking Switzerland. I had a very scrumptious schnitzel, and a chocolate and vanilla ice cream dish.
The next morning was the last meal I had in Switzerland. I had a ton of croissants with jam, and a type of coffee cake. An excellent last minute meal to make me think of the Swiss.
Now, I’ll talk about the culture. Being a cheery American, it was odd for me to walk down the street and not receive a smile from anyone I said good day to. It seems the Swiss are more reserved and quiet than the Americans.
As well as this, almost everyone smokes. There are ashtrays on almost every outdoor table, and by benches at parks or by the river.
People also speak about three languages in Switzerland: Swiss German, Swiss French, and Swiss Italian. This is because Switzerland is surrounded by these three countries, along with Austria. As I said before, I was in the North, so most spoke Swiss German.
It is also very expensive in Switzerland. I spent about $20 on three chocolate bars.
I also noticed how there were not very many obese people. This is, because when you turn eighteen, you have to serve for the Swiss military for two years. I assume that people keep up with their fitness after they serve because they’re used to the training.
Lastly, Swiss people tend to extremely enjoy paintball. I went with Simon’s wife, Simone, and her family, and it was very fun, but it seemed that the Americans always lost the rounds before the Swiss. All in all, I dig the way the Swiss live.
Lastly, I’ll discuss the scenery in Switzerland. There were hills upon hills, mountains upon mountains, and a beautiful, flowing river. There were so many colours that made me want to take my sunglasses off, so I could better obtain their magnificence. As you walked, your perspective changed completely, showing a hidden vineyard or forest. Overall, Switzerland’s view was breathtaking.
Visiting this country made me excited for travel, so that I can learn about and marvel in a brand new culture. I’m so thrilled to learn more about the world!