Moving to another country is a major dream for many people; a chance to completely rewrite destiny, and get a fresh start in a foreign land, where the possibilities seem all but endless, and where we can explore a range of opportunities that might not have been available back at home.

Whatever the reason for your move — whether it be primarily financial, for social reasons, or as a means of exploring that deep-seated sense of wanderlust that you’ve been carrying with you for your whole life, going through with an international move can be a life-changing experience in all kinds of positive ways.

Of course, by the same token, moving overseas can also be an immensely stressful and chaotic experience, where your life is invariably thrown into turmoil for an extended period of time, and where you need to rally all your emotional and physical resources in order to get things organised, find your feet, and try to make the best of the situation.

Sometimes, these kinds of moves don’t work in the long term, but when they do, an important factor in the success of the move will often be that you were able to properly tie up all your loose end, and address any outstanding issues, before you boarded that flight to your destination.

So, if you’re planning an international move, here’s a checklist of sorts to get you off to the best possible start.

Get all your paperwork sorted out in detail

If you’re going to pack up all of your worldly belongings and send them across the ocean on a container ship, then board a flight to distant lands in order to begin your new life, you’d best be sure that you’ve taken care of all the details and paperwork that you need to take care of, in order to secure your home at your destination, and thus make sure that you’re not met with any nasty surprises — or, worse yet, end up falling foul of the law in one way or another.

Any sales and purchase agreement should be fully reviewed and signed, you should be sure that you’re filed all the correct paperwork in order to have the right visa to allow you to be in your destination, to begin with, and you’ll need to ensure that your property isn’t riddled with various issues which will make it unlivable upon your arrival, such as problems with the electric or water systems.

If you have children to enrol in school, you’ll want to have the process either complete or well underway before you leave; you’ll need to be sure of your contract at work, in your new destination — and if there’s a provisional trial period that you need to stick around for before knowing whether you’ve secured the job, it might be a good idea to leave the bulk of your possessions back in your country of origin and hold off on the more permanent agreements, until you’ve completed that trial period.

Paperwork is a major part of every move, for better or for worse. You can’t expect to be in a position to settle in any new country without at the same time jumping through the various hoops requires by the state in order to regulate your arrival and your behaviour once you’ve arrived.

Falling foul of the law because you failed to file some essential visa document, or having a last-minute crisis of accommodation for the same reason, is obviously a pretty terrible situation to be in, and you should, by all means, do your best to avoid it.

Fill out all of the required paperwork at the earliest possible stage, and be sure to read through all of the fine print in absolutely painstaking detail.

Do a complete audit of all your current possessions, and decide what to hold onto

One of the many great things about an international move is that the degree of upheaval you experience, while on the one hand being emotionally trying, will also allow you a rare opportunity to go through all of your possessions — and to some extent, pretty much your entire life — with a fine-toothed comb, in order to identify those things you want to carry forward with you into the future, and those things which you’re happy to leave behind.

This may seem like a somewhat insignificant point at first, but rest assured that the things we own have an incredible and profound effect on the way we experience life, over the long term. When we inhabit environments that are perpetually cluttered and difficult to navigate, we frequently come to experience chronic, low-level stress, and our thoughts and moods become more chaotic and disordered in line with our chaotic and disordered environments.

Having a heavily cluttered environment also means that we tend to mentally “check out” of even trying to organise things, largely because the job seems to be just too big to manage.

This then compounds and feeds a sense of helplessness which can easily become debilitating.

It’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that this kind of negative psychological effect can cascade, and make us less outgoing, ambitious, and positive in the rest of our lives as well.

Needless to say, that’s not quite what you want when you’re trying to start a new life in a new land.

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Begin practising your language skills well in advance of the move


If you’re moving to another country where the language isn’t one that you already speak, you’ll want to get the greatest possible headstart on your language learning, before the move. Ideally, this should take place at the point where you first decide to do the move, some months if not years before the date when you actually board your flight.

Landing in your destination and being unable to communicate with anyone isn’t an enviable experience — it effectively shuts you out of the society at large, and if you don’t get a handle on the language in a reasonably short time, you may end up falling into the trap that many expats do — namely, living in a community of other expats from your country of origin, socialising exclusively with them on a day-to-day basis, and in more or less all ways, living as though you were back at home, while being in a different place.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with immersing yourself in the expat community, but knowing the local language at least allows you the freedom to navigate society effectively, and decide in any given moment how you want to conduct yourself, and what sorts of activities and pastimes you want to involve yourself with.

Luckily, there are many systems and tools available online for learning new languages effectively and at a relatively accelerated pace, and these will tend to serve as an excellent addition to in-person classes and tutor groups (which you should also be involving yourself in).

Rosetta Stone is one language learning service which relies on a “complete immersion” model, that has you learn your new language in the same kind of way you learnt your first one — by hearing the language spoken, and picking it up organically.

Duolingo is a popular, free language learning service which “gamifies” the experience of learning languages, and breaks “lessons” into easily handled bite-sized chunks, which typically take no more than a few minutes to complete.

Plan the design for your new home in advance

As mentioned above, your move to a new country is an incredible opportunity for reinvention. You don’t have to be chained down to the way that you’ve done things before, but can completely re-imagine how your life should be.

Home design is one area in which this really manifests itself. As your home’s interior design and decor is, to a large degree, a reflection or extension of your personality, set yourself up for the best possible start in your new home, by realising your design dreams.

Spend some time coming up with the template of your ideal home, deciding which colour schemes you’d like to exhibit in each room, and figuring out what kind of arrangements of things would make the experience of just being in the home as pleasurable and satisfying as possible.

This can be a fun exercise, where you get to dive through piles of home magazines, in order to get a sense of just what your perfect home would look like. Make a scrapbook. Cut out pictures that appeal to you, identify the common themes and design trends which speak to you in the most essential way, and then start to put together a plan of attack, for how you can implement these features in your new home.

It might be that you’re able to have the home painted up and arranged just as you like without even having to lift a finger yourself, or it may mean that you need to begin saving up for the great design overhaul that you’ll initiate in earnest once you arrive.

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