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.