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Moving abroad – 4 essential ways to prepare

Ever sat on a microwave for 5 hrs?

They aren’t that comfy but when all your stuff is being packed up to move abroad you can’t be picky with your seating arrangements. 

It’s weird seeing your life being put into boxes and wrapped in brown paper. You might be thinking, wow, all of my life can fit in that one tiny van? Or how did I accumulated so much unnecessary crap, no way is it all going to fit in that one tiny van…

I was mainly wondering how much of this stuff would make it to the other side. When you’re husband’s PCS means you will be moving across an ocean you have to make peace with the fact that there will be some casualties. It also meant we would not be seeing the majority of our things for 3 months. It was like we were sending them off on a grand voyage into the unknown, beyond the edge of the maps where they would face horrors and trials most people could scarce imagine. There would be good days and bad days. The smaller, more delicate plates may not be able to take this harsher way of life, but with the sturdy table and shelves by its side, it may just live to see the green, green grass of home. 

Oh, the joys of moving across an ocean.

When you’re moving abroad, or anywhere for that matter, chances are you’re a bit stressed out. So let me break down some key things I picked up to prepare for moving abroad… and a few things I’ll do better next time…

my having just moved abroad
Me loving my new "American-y" house

1) Be organised

I like to think I’m organised. I’m probably not, at least when it comes to my personal life. (Any prospective employers, my organisational skills are top-notch please don’t let that flippant comment put you off). 

But being organised is kinda important when you’re moving abroad or just moving in general. There is so much to schedule and plan, and paperwork to fill in and flights to book, and people to see, and things to reschedule, and things to clean, and money to move, and random stuff to throw out, and more paperwork to do and oh my goodness my brain might explode. And sometimes visas to process too. 

I am a strong advocate of list-making. I honestly believe there will be a time where it will save my life. (Figurative or literally). And list making is key to any successful move. Yes, if you don’t make lists you will probably still move buuuut it may not go so well… you’ll forget things, lose something else and potentially get the wrong move date. 

So note down all the details and make a list of all the crazy things you need to do so you don’t miss anything or feel rushed at the last minute. Personally, I love a program called Trello. It’s basically an organisational platform that you can use at work or to sort out your personal life. And it’s based on the art of list-making!!

2) Clear out before moving abroad

Who else hordes random crap?? Yea. Me too. And I have no shame in it!! When you look in the boxes under your bed/hidden in the cupboard it’s like opening a magical treasure chest full of memories from your past. 

However, these endless trinkets, old clothes and random bits of paper aren’t so fun to pack when they seem to fill box after box after box.

Moving is a time of change and new starts so have a clear out! Do you really need to continue clinging to those jeans that don’t fit anymore, or that Christmas card from your grandma 3 years ago?  

But be smart about it. There’s no need to throw out the wedding album because you never look at it or make it your mission to cut down your worldly possessions to a grand total of 10 if you don’t want to. Just use moving abroad to declutter as it’ll save time in packing and help you think about really matters.

mini van

3) Keep the essentials handy

I like my clothes. But when we moved from the UK to America we had to survive on 3 suitcases for 3 months. I had to send the rest across the ocean in a box without my protection which honestly scared me a little. So I crammed as many as I could in one suitcase and prayed each night the rest would survive. 

However, we were moving abroad during awkward months that ranged in temperature from 35c (95f) to about 15 (60f) so I couldn’t just take my gorgeous yet not so practical dresses with me. I had to compromise and pack the essentials (ugh). 

Okay, I realise I’m being a little dramatic. But it’s soooo important to learn and remember to keep the essentials handy and avaliable when moving abroad as you’re so limited on what you can bring. 

So, going back to my first point, be organised and plan! Think about the weather and what you might be doing while your stuff is stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean. Don’t just pack the pretty stuff. If you’re anything like me you’ll have about 3-4 outfits you keep in heavy rotation so take those and leave the ball dress in its box. (Unless you’re going to a ball… then take it or use this as an excuse to go shopping… with every problem there’s a silver lining). 

4) Make time to say goodbye

Let’s step back from being practical for a moment and get all gooey-eyed and sentimental. 

Wherever you are, you’ve lived in this place for a portion of your life. You’ve probably made a few friends, potentially been living near family, frequented that random local cafe every Sunday afternoon or simply enjoyed watching Netflix on cozy evenings in your tiny apartment. 

No matter how small the memories are, they’re all important so take time to say goodbye. Carve out some time in that busy moving schedule and organise time to see friends and family before you head off on your next adventure. Use your last Sunday to go down to that cafe again or spend your final night snuggled up watching trashy Netflix shows. With all the stress of moving abroad, you’ll need a night or two off in those final few weeks so use it wisely! 

Unless of course, you hated where you lived. Then get the hell out of dodge ASAP and leave it burning in the dust. Or something like that.

Map and photos

So there you have it, a few key things I’ve picked up which will be useful to remember when moving abroad (or anywhere)! 

Do you have any other tips? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

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