Leaving your home to live in a new country can be an exciting adventure. Here are some practical tips to make your move smoother.
Visit the doctor. It is important to get a physical exam and to tell the doctor that you are moving to a new country. If you are taking prescription medicine, ask for double the amount of your normal prescription so that you will not run out before finding a new doctor. Talk to your doctor about the generic name of the medicine you take, or about alternative medicines in case the drug you are taking is not available in your new country.
Before visiting the doctor be sure to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for all mandatory vaccines so you will know what vaccinations are needed. Ask your doctor to fill out an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis booklet. This is an international record of all your immunizations and can come in handy when applying for a visa. Some countries will not let you visit without one. It can also come in handy in case of an epidemic — for example, if there's a cholera outbreak and you can show you've been immunized against it.
Also visit the dentist. Before you move is the time to make sure that you do not have problems with your teeth. Nothing will ruin the first few months in a new country like a tooth ache or a crown falling out. If you are traveling with children this would be an appropriate time to have their teeth sealed if they haven’t yet had that done.
Talk to your financial Institutions. Contact your bank(s) with plenty of lead time, and let them know that you will be living in a new country. Make sure you can receive your banking information online and via email. Check with them about how to renew credit cards while living overseas. Help them to understand that you aren’t immigrating to a new country, but will be living there for a few years. Ask if the bank cards and ATM charge a foreign transaction fee. If they do charge ask them to waive this fee, or change to a bank that doesn’t have this fee.
Have an updated Will and formally let your next of kin know where it is.
Don’t underestimate the complexities of moving your digital life. While digital technology make staying in touch with family and friends in your home country easy and convenient; security breaches are more of a problem in many countries. It is easy to be locked out of an online financial account when you access it from another country as the computer security may think you are a hacker. It may be worth setting up a Google Voice number, since many security and backup procedures now include a call or text verification.
Think simplicity when packing. You don’t need to move all that you own to the new country. Clothes, household furniture, appliances, and computer equipment are all usually available, often cheaper, in your new home. If you are an odd size (size 17 shoes) or have specially needed equipment (a cpap machine) you should check with a friend in your new location to see if they are available.
Sign up for STEP. The State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) provides up-to-date travel alert and information to U.S. nationals abroad, and makes sure travelers and expats are on the radar of the local embassy. Following the social media accounts of local embassies and ambassadors also provide a wealth of helpful information.
Moving to a new country is a big step, but it is also a step into an exciting new life. Following these steps will help make the move less stressful.
About the Author: Scott is the IDEAS Director of Project Operations in Asia. He and his family spent 25 years in Taiwan and he now travels extensively throughout Asia on behalf of IDEAS. Check out his recent blog post: Becoming a Trusted Traveler