Moving overseas checklist

Moving overseas is likely one of the biggest life decisions you’ll ever make. Moving away from familiarity and into the unknown, being apart from friends, family, and your regular routine can be a scary idea! 

But, we know that living overseas can also be one of the best and most fulfilling times of your life, and the memories of exploring those unknown corners of the world will stick with you forever. 

Such a big life decision requires a solid plan. You’ll want to make sure you’ve done research on how to move overseas, thought through all possibilities, and are prepared for every aspect – from which country to choose, to which particular packing cell is your ideal companion.

We’ve compiled all the things to consider when planning your move overseas, broken down into a handy timeline – so you’re sure to not miss a thing! 


1 year out

Depending on how much of a planner you are naturally, you may have already thought seriously about how to move countries at this point, but we’ll start our timeline here, because this is where the serious planning really begins. Consider these things when you think you’re about a year out from your big move: 

  • Think Big – what are your goals? What purposes are important to you? What makes you happy? These all seem like big questions, but they will ultimately help you to decide on things like what country will work best for you, what type of work you’d like to do, whether you want to move somewhere where you already know people – the list goes on! This stage can look very different from person to person, so we recommend writing it all down to get clarity on your reasons for moving overseas. 
  • Visa research – once you’ve landed on a country, it’s a good idea to understand what type of visa is required and what you’re eligible for. Types of visas could include working holiday arrangements, sponsorships, or ancestry options. You could also be eligible to apply for passports, depending on where your parents or grandparents were born. 
  • Consider a timeframe – now’s a good time to map out how long you think you’ll want to be overseas. This may obviously change as time goes on, but it’s helpful to map out any milestones in your family or friend circles – maybe your best friend is due to get married, or it’s your grandmas 90th birthday. Some events you’ll no doubt have to sacrifice but prioritise what’s important to be home for. 
  • Money – Now is the time to get serious about saving. How much you plan to take over with you can depend on many factors – if you want to do some travel first to explore the surrounding areas, what you’d like your living situation to look like, how much of your own things you’re going to take over, the list goes on! Start to draw up a realistic budget and stick to it the best you can. Apps or tools from your online banking can be helpful to keep you accountable.
  • Language – it’s no secret that learning a new language is a long and dedicated process. If you’ve chosen a country that speaks another language, consider downloading apps or enrolling in a course to start the process! Even if the country you’ve chosen speaks a lot of English, you don’t want to be turning up with no knowledge at all of the local language! 

Man crossing the street in London 

6 months out

  • Time to look at flights! - Research out there varies on what the best time is to buy your flights, relative to your date of travel, but we think about six months out generally gives you a pretty reasonable deal. Remember to shop around and read reviews to make sure you’re happy with the airline, price, flight duration and path. Once you’ve booked the flights and know the date you’ll be landing in your new home, it’s a good idea to map out the first few days.
  • Work – it must be done! – if you’re moving overseas for more than a couple of months, it’s likely that you’ll be undertaking work while you’re there. Start to research the job markets of the fields you want to be working. Consider if you want to continue your career in your new country or perhaps try something different. Understanding what the application processes are like can give you more confidence when you start to apply. If you have any work connections in your new place, now’s the time to reach out! 
  • Research specific locations – You’ve picked the country at this point, and now is the time to narrow it down to the city and neighbourhood. Consider things like transport options (is public transport widely used? Is a car required? A bike perhaps?), and what’s important for you to be close to. Whether it’s a nice big local park, the seaside or just the right number of bars and restaurants, you’ll want to ensure that all the things you enjoy are part of your new hood!
  • How much are you taking? Will it fit?! – It’s time to visualise downsizing everything you own into a few shipments, or maybe even just a few suitcases. This stage can vary greatly from person to person, with some taking a mere standard suitcase and starting over in their new home, and some shipping over everything but the kitchen sink. Work out where you fall on this spectrum and look into the most cost-effective ways to get your prized possessions abroad. Packing cells are your friend!
  • Travel insurance – start to research travel insurance options for your move. Remember, even if there are reciprocal agreements between your home country and your new country, this may not provide cover for all scenarios. Policies designed for individuals Working Overseas could be right for you, but be sure to do your research and to read policy documents so you know what you’re covered for. 
  • Visa application dates – remember that Visa stuff you looked into 6 months ago? Now’s the time to get serious about it. Mark down important dates you need to meet for your Visa process to ensure you’re all set for arriving in your new country. This may even entail a trip to the embassy, so remember to factor this into your plans. 
  • Vaccinations and medical requirements – make sure to do your research on the country you’re heading to in order to find out if they require vaccinations and allow enough time to get booked in for these. Seek advice from your local GP surgery or travel vaccination centre if you are unsure.
  • Get serious about saving – you should have your budget all drawn up by now, but take a look to see where else you might need to scrimp to meet your moving costs. Remember to allow for a buffer, and that you’ll want to experience all your new home has to offer! 

Woman boarding plane

6 to 12 weeks out 

  • Decluttering for packing – draw up a manageable plan to start the decluttering process. You could section this out by type (e.g. kitchen, bathroom, bedroom etc.) or by categorising your belongings into what you’ll take, store, or chuck. 
  • Notifying services of your move – send emails to your bank, phone provider, insurances and other services to let them know you’ll moving overseas and what this means for either shutting down your services, or continuing to use them (like your bank accounts!). Remember, you’ll probably be back home at some point, so don’t go closing each and every one of your services – just make sure that you’ve managed them while you’re away. 
  • Student Loans – if you’re paying back student loans, head to the IRD website to check what your obligations are while you’re out of the country. You may be able to take a loan holiday, or you may need to meet certain payment dates. 
  • Rentals/ a place to live – joining Facebook groups or researching the best sites to find a rental or a room in a shared house is the best way to start looking into what kind of place you want. Even if you think you’d prefer to live alone, living with housemates can be a great way to quickly make friends while you’re overseas! You can always move into your own place after a few months and once you’ve established some connections. 
  • Insurance – you may think that you only need travel insurance from when you leave, but if you sort it now, you could be covered for any unexpected events that come up between now and your departure date. At the very least, decide on what insurance provider and policy you’re going to go for. 
  • Shipped goods – finish up any packing that you’re shipping over and organise the sends. This depends on the shipping companies timelines, and alternatively, you could arrange to have it stored for you to collect when you arrive.  

Woman packing boxes

1 week out 

  • Organise transportation from the airport – remember that when you land, you may not be connected to your phone yet, and therefore it could be tricky to use the internet. Pre-planning your transport is a good way to minimise any stressful situations when you land, and allows you time to get to your accommodation before you figure out phone connectivity. Phone plans from the airport can often be more expensive, so it could be best to wait until you’re at your destination to connect to the local network. 
  • Packing the everyday essentials – its often the most important things that you use everyday that are the most forgotten items on a trip, because you can’t pack them in advance! Write down a list of all the essentials that you’ll need to pack just before you leave so you’re not left with a stressful situation before you even start your adventure! 
  • Flight tips – find ways to make yourself more comfortable on the flight over. Downloading podcasts, TV series or meditations are a great way to pass the time. Use the online check in for flights if you can, and plan out how you’ll spend your layovers, if you have any.  
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family – say your last good-byes, and schedule times you’ll check in with your nearest and dearest. Remember to factor in timezone changes, and your preferred contact methods. It could be messaging, video calls, voice notes or even an old-fashioned letter is a lovely way to feel connected. If you’re continuing your career, make sure your LinkedIn page is up to scratch to stay in touch with your network!  

Moving to another country is a huge life step, mixing excitement with a bit of nerves as you dive into the unknown. But with some careful planning and some positive spirit, you'll navigate the challenges like a pro, setting you up for an experience full of unforgettable moments

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