Tuesday, 27 May 2014

An expat from afar: how to get organised before you arrive

You’ve just decided to up sticks and move abroad. Perhaps you’ve told a few friends and are beginning to think about shipping your belongings, or maybe you’re in the process of applying for a visa. Whatever’s on your to-do list, there’s no doubt that at some point, you’ll feel stressed or nervous about the amount that you have to do before leaving. Sound familiar? Take a look at our guide to setting up your new life before you get there: 

Get app happy
When it comes to keeping life simple technology is often king, wherever you are in the world – and these days, there’s an app for everything! Whether it’s organising quotes from removal companies, keeping track of your paperwork or checking out new schools for the kids, you can almost guarantee there’s a digital answer to your problem, that will help you to stay on top of what you need to do and when. With so much going on, and even more to keep track of, we say embrace technology – but always make sure you keep a hard copy of important documents somewhere safe, just in case technology should fail you...!  

Lists are your friend
Even if you’re embracing technology, a hand-written list still has its place – there’s very little else as satisfying as putting a line through a task that you’ve completed. You might find that things sometimes spring to mind when you’re getting on with other things, so keeping a pen and paper to house your trusty list is always a good plan. 

Image source: Creative Commons / Nomadic Lass

When you’re moving abroad, you’ll find that you’ve probably never been in a position where you’re receiving so many quotes for so many different services. From banks to removal services, schools to insurance, it’s always wise to shop around and make an informed decision and get the right service for what you need. If you’re relocating for work, it’s likely that your employer will be able to give you some guidance – otherwise using the internet, particularly social media and forums, can be a helpful way to check out your options and make the right decision. 

Choose shops which will deliver the goods
…In all senses. If you’re furnishing your new home, the devil is in the detail and you can’t underestimate the value of getting your new place just how you want it –  as it really helps you to feel settled. Order furniture ahead of time and choose well-known shops and brands which can help to make life easier for you; whether that’s arranging a delivery to your home or workplace.  

Take a trip
There’s only so much you can do from hundreds, or often thousands, of miles away – particularly if you’re brand new to the country and culture! Glean as many insights as you can about your new home through doing your research and asking around (you might also find our Hints & Tips tool is a good place to start) – but sometimes there’s no substitute for an actual visit. If you can, take someone along with you when you go. Not only does this help to make things a bit less overwhelming, it means you have another valuable pair of eyes and ears to help you soak up as much local knowledge as you can while you’re there!

Image source: HSBC Expat Hints & Tips

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