Things to Do Before Moving Abroad – A Moving Abroad Checklist

by | Last updated Jul 2, 2023 | Live - Accommodation, Live Work Play Travel

Moving abroad is one of the best things I have done in my life. I have done it several times now and each time I have learnt a lot. What I have found is moving abroad, as well as being wonderful, can also be stressful. There are a lot of things to consider before moving abroad and to organise. I presume if you are reading this post, you have decided that you are moving abroad, and you are seeking information on how you can make this happen. Wonderful! With this post, I want to help you create a checklist for moving abroad.  One that will help you hit the ground running so you have a smooth transition into living abroad. So let’s start your moving abroad checklist of things to do before moving abroad.


Create a Moving Abroad Checklist


Moving Abroad Checklist Freebie.

Even if you aren’t normally a person who creates lists, I have found creating a moving abroad checklist is really useful. Go get that pen and paper or create a list on your phone or laptop. One that you can easily add to, and tick off as you do each thing on your checklist. Seeing your checklist will enable you to easily track what you have done and also what you need to do. Following are the items I would include on your checklist:


Apply for a Passport / Check Your Passport


The first thing to do is apply for a passport or check if your current passport is still valid. A passport is an essential item when travelling abroad. It authenticates your identically and is required so you can enter and leave countries. If you don’t have a passport, you better get yourself one. If you have a passport, check how long it is valid for as if it expiry is less than 12 months, I recommend you apply for a new one. This is because many countries require at least 6 months validity on your passport to let you in. Why? Just in case you become sick, injured, extend your stay or any other circumstance, there is plenty of time for you to recover and move on. Apply for your passport well in advance just in case there are any delays.


Apply for a Visa


A visa is an endorsement stamped in your passport by a foreign government and grants permission for you to enter their country. Originally the term comes from a Latin word for ‘see’ and basically means the officials of the country have seen your passport and decided it is alright for you to enter their country. There are a variety of visas available. Tourist visa, working holiday visa, digital nomad visa, work permit and student visa to name a few. When moving abroad you will need to consider which visa is appropriate for your time living abroad as an expat. The application process for a visa can be time-consuming and at times, intrusive, but if you want to live and work in a particular country you need to adhere to the application and approval process. Do this a few months before you plan to move abroad just incase more documents are required to get your visa approved. And like a passport, you want your visa sorted and not be stressed if your chosen leaving date is looming.


Open a Bank Account Abroad


When you are moving abroad to live and work in another country, you will definitely need a bank account so you can be paid in to. When I first moved to the UK on a working holiday, I opened a bank account from Australia in London. My local bank opened the account for me and when I got to London, I had to go claim it. I used this all during my working holiday for my salary to be paid in to. As well as having a bank account I also have a Wise account to transfer money around the world. Revolut is also a good online bank account option. 


Have a Medical Checkup


Don’t laugh, not everyone is healthy enough to travel. I recommend you schedule a checkup with your doctor, dentist and any other medical professional to ensure you are fit and healthy before you travel. Believe me, there is nothing worse than being sick in a foreign country. Before I moved overseas for the first time, I was getting tooth pain, turns out I needed my wisdom teeth out. I had the four wisdom teeth removed one month before moving overseas and I’m glad I did otherwise I would have needed to get them out while travelling or, return home to have them out. Check while at the doctor if you need any vaccines to travel. Some countries require you be vaccinated before you can enter. Also if you need prescriptions, ensure you have enough medication to take or can get it abroad.


Take out appropriate Travel Insurance


Ensure you take out appropriate travel insurance when moving abroad. You may think you won’t need it because you aren’t actually ‘travelling’, but you are outside your home country and will need insurance. World Nomads offer some great insurance policies that not only cover you for general travel, but for working holidays, your technical equipment and extreme sports. You can buy a policy when you are already travelling, so buy one that suits the travel you are doing. Another option is SafetyWing that offers health and travel policies for full-time travellers, remote workers and digital nomads.


Make a Will


As Katherine Mansfield, a New Zealand author once said: “When ever I prepare for a journey I prepare as though for death. Should I never return, all is in order. This is what life has taught me”.

Making a will might sound unpleasant and absurd to you right now, but it is a good idea. You are moving abroad to live and work in another country and you may do things you might not normally do. Chances are slim, that anything will happen to you, but you never know. Having a will should ensure your wishes are carried out. 


Make Sure Your Driver’s License is Valid


If you plan to drive after you have moved abroad, make sure your driver’s license is valid. Many countries like you to apply for a local license a few months after moving there. Or, get yourself an International Driver’s License which is usually valid for one year, then make your decision as to what you might do.


Arrange a Place to Live

Person Lying Face Down On A Bed With A White Sheet Over Them

Finding somewhere to live should be a top priority when you move abroad


One of the most important things on your moving abroad checklist should be arranging somewhere to live. You can begin the search months before you arrive. If you cannot find anything long-term to live in after you’ve moved abroad, arrange a short-term rental first. This could be in a hotel for a few weeks or an AirBnb. Then you can scout around and find somewhere to live. Leaving finding somewhere to live until you arrive has its advantages. You will be able to visit suburbs to see if it is somewhere you would want to live. Also check out how close to public transport and services like a supermarket the properties are. A disadvantage to this is it is time consuming – but necessary as you want to feel comfortable in your new home. Start your search on the internet on big websites like Booking dot com, AirBnb and joining Facebook groups of the area or city your are moving abroad to.


Book Your Flights and/or Other Transportation


If you know your exact moving date, then it is time to book your transportation to your new country. Most people fly so you will need to buy an airfare. Others might sail – like me, who spend 42 days at sea from Southampton, UK to Sydney, Australia. Or you might want to go overland on a train such as the Trans Siberian Express! Whichever way you plan to move abroad, it is time to book it.


Deciding What to Pack & What Not to Pack


Packing is an arduous task at the best of times. Trying to squeeze in everything you think you will need for an extended stay overseas can be horrendous. Any seasoned traveller will tell you how much and what you do and don’t pack can impact on how much you enjoy your time living abroad. So what do you need to take when you move abroad?

Clothes and personal items

Definitely take clothes, particularly clothes for the weather you will be arriving in. Then buy clothes are needed.

Tech stuff

Yep, if you work online remotely or are a digital nomad you will need to take your tech stuff with you. And you need to make sure they will work abroad. Voltages can vary in different countries. Plus the plugs can be different. Definitely purchase a plug converter to ensure your electricals will work. Amazon offers a whole range of plug adaptors. You could get a universal one or one specifically for the type of plugs used in the country you are moving to. Also, organise a good VPN. It will help keep your devices secure.


Well, if you are moving abroad for quite a few years, you may want to take your own furniture so look into shipping companies that can move your furniture to your destination.


Are you taking your car or will you buy one when you arrive? Get some quotes from shipping companies to transport your car abroad. Maybe fill it will all the items you want to take with you.


Do you want your beloved pet to move abroad with you? There are shipping companies that will transport your pet abroad for you. Be aware that some countries have strict quarantine rules for pets.


Packing List Suggestions
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Moving Abroad With Kids


I’ve put moving abroad with kids in its own category – as you can’t pack them! Moving abroad with kids can be a different kettle of fish than just moving abroad solo. You will need to arrange schooling, sporting activities and language classes may be needed. There are loads of things to consider when moving abroad with kids and many families move abroad all the time. I would suggest you include kid-friendly things to organise on your moving abroad checklist.


Cancel Services and Take Paperwork


Your move abroad is getting closer when you need to cancel services – subscriptions to TV channels, electricity, gas, water, etc. Take copies of bills and other papers, such as your CV as these may come in handy as good references when you are setting up these services in your new overseas home.


Unlock Your Mobile Phone


If you are taking your current mobile phone with you, ensure it is unlocked. This way you can buy a local SIM card. It is worthwhile looking into a dual-SIM phone so you can use both the SIM card from your home country and the new SIM card in the country you have moved to.


Read Up About Your New Country


I wouldn’t ever arrive blindly into a new country. Read as much as possible about the country you are moving to so you can hit the ground running. It can be hard settling in to your new life abroad particularly the first few weeks, but with knowledge of the country, it can help you settle quicker.

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Are You Ready to Move Abroad with Your Moving Abroad Checklist?


Any type of move abroad or relocation has its challenges. Having a move abroad checklist that you can tick off as you go will help to alleviate any overwhelm of moving abroad that you feel. If you are in the process of moving abroad ask your questions, or if you have moved abroad offer your suggestions in the comments following.


Person with passport moving abroad.
Moving Abroad Checklist Freebie.

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My favourite tools to Travel Live and Work Abroad


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✈️ Need a cheap and flexible airfare – head to Skyscanner.

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 🚆 Train Travel: I love riding the rails. For a rail pass in Europe head to Raileurope. And Japan has a great one too – JapanRail Pass.

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 🌏 How to pick a country to live and work abroad in? Check out my Working Holiday Visa Country Guides and Digital Nomad Visa Country Guides to see where you can live work play travel abroad.

 🚑 Should you buy travel insurance? Absolutely Yes! SafetyWing is great digital nomads and long-term travellers and World Normads has policies for general and adventure travel.


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Sharyn McCullum Travel Writer and Founder Of Live Work Play Travel, Work Abroad, Work Online, Travel Blog Enjoying At Beer At The Coldstream Brewery In The Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia.

Sharyn McCullum – Travel Writer / Blogger, Remote On-line Worker, sometime Digital Nomad and Travel, Live and Work Abroad Expert. Is a chocoholic, coffee connoisseur and lover of ’80s music. Been travelling all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. Lived in London 4 years on a working holiday. Has holidayed in Hawaii over 15 times and currently calls Melbourne, Australia home. Is inspiring others to live work play travel around the world with this blog. Read more about Sharyn here.

1 Comment

  1. Lisa

    Good list!
    I just moved back to Australia and it’s been hard work… There are so many apps for everything now, it’s overwhelming! I’ve needed a lot of help getting myself set up again!


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