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Moving Abroad Checklist packing, mindset & money

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Planning a big move? Don’t worry. We got the ultimate moving abroad checklist to get you travel-ready in no time. After 7 long distance moves including one mega international moving experience, we have nailed down the essentials list to the T, and you wouldn’t believe how de-cluttered and refreshed our lives felt each time we moved.

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Moving Abroad Checklist Packing List

free checklist for moving abroad

Here is the entire list for quick reference. Keep reading to learn about preparing for your next ‘live abroad’ experience, as we uncover how to master mindset, start a savings strategy, and tips for your move, in this post. As a bonus, we have also included a free checklist that you can download for use.

Travel Documents

☐ Valid Passport (s) 

☐ National Identification Card 

☐ Birth Certificate 

☐ Driver’s Licence 

☐ Driving Record/Abstract 

☐ Medical Records

☐ Travel Insurance – Medical, trip cancellation

☐ Bank Loan Documents, if any 

☐ Visa Documents 

☐ Educational Records (Degrees, Diplomas, any professional association)

☐ Sealed transcripts that list the courses you took to obtain a degree or certificate

☐ Professional associations/licences 

☐ Resume

☐ References

☐ Marriage/Divorce certificates

☐ Guardianship of minor children/their birth certificate/ adoption papers

☐ Proof of Settlement Funds

Cash

☐ Carry some cash 

☐ Travelers Cheques, treasury bills or stocks/bonds 

☐ Open an international/borderless account (like Payoneer or Transferwise)

☐ International Money transfer (Moneygram, Western Union, Paypal to transfer money)

Electronics

☐ Laptop

☐ Camera

☐ Portable speaker

☐ Headphones 

☐ iPod

☐ Tablets

☐ eReader/Kindle 

☐ Charging cables 

☐ Universal Adaptor

☐ TV*

☐ Desktop* 

☐ Printer* 

Clothing & Accessories

☐ Clothing – tops, pants, undergarments

☐ Shoes & socks

☐ Outerwear Jackets

☐ Medications

☐ Skin care items 

☐ Hair care products

☐ Sunglasses 

☐ Contact lens

☐ Scarves 

☐ Handbags 

Long Haul Flight

☐ Passport 

☐ Visa/ Resident Card

☐ Cash & credit cards 

☐ Moving & immigration documents 

☐ Neck pillow 

☐ Compression socks

☐ Travel scarf or blanket for comfort

☐ Charging cables 

☐ Carry-on with a pair of clothes

☐ Cosmetics in a transparent pouch 

☐ Sunglasses

☐ Noise cancelling headphones 

☐ Medications (add jet lag tablets)

☐ Small electronic items 

Others

  • Secure new address, inform friends, family
  • Arrange international movers

Download Free Checklist

YAY! Grab this Moving Abroad Checklist

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    Now that we got this quick list out of the way, let’s learn about preparing for your next live abroad experience. We will start with mindset.

    What’s on your mind?

    We get it, moving is tedious work. Cleaning and going through all the closets, boxes, bags is daunting. But before we get into packing, brown boxes, movers and packers, let’s talk a little bit about mindset.

    Whether it’s a long distance move in the same country or overseas, think of why are you moving?

    • Will it lead to a better lifestyle – work-life balance?
    • Will moving away enhance your career, leading to professional growth?
    • Will you be closer to friends/family/nature?
    • Will it help you upgrade your skills? Degree or PhD?

    Go back to your why – what is leading to the move, how will it positively impact your life, what are the pros and cons? Once you have your answer, and it is sorted out – stick to it. 

    This is your guiding force, throughout this overseas move!

    Positives of moving abroad

    If you are moving abroad, you are courageous and lucky at the same time. Trust us, we know way too many people (some even our friends) who want to move abroad but can’t – it’s always something – funds, relationships, no opportunities, fear and overwhelm.

    So if you are getting an opportunity, seize it, and embrace it. And don’t let anxiety and fear overwhelm you – we are here to help you through. 

    You know, I (Mayuri) belong to a very small town in northeast India (Assam). The nearest big city was located 7 hours away from my home-town. At the age of 17 years, I made my first move to study miles away from home. In 3 years, there was another move (from north to the south end of the country), again to study. 

    And then in 2009, I moved to Toronto, I was the first one in my family to have ever left the country. That major move opened up so many opportunities for me. 

    Every move I made, helped me learn about myself, and set higher goals. 

    Imagine, if I didn’t follow my ‘why’. My ‘why’ was to improve my life and upgrade my skills through education. Once I have the why, gathering money and taking stock of materialistic items was easy.

    Over the years, I have realized there are positives for moving

    • You get an opportunity to start afresh. 
    • An opportunity to grow (personal and professional).
    • Declutter, and dispose off what you don’t need
    • Set new goals, gain new perspectives 

    Many of my expat friends feel homesick – from missing their friends, family to food and the comfort of their home. Sure home always feels good, but I encourage you to look at the bigger picture, and come out of the comfort zone and experience something new.

    If things don’t work, you can always go back – give ‘moving’ a fair chance!

    Money Matters for your move 

    Moving costs quickly add up, and it is recommended that you set aside a savings plan just for this project. Yes think about moving as a project, have a start to finish goal and a savings plan to accompany that.

    From our personal experience, we found that 8 months to 1 year is a good time frame to start saving towards the move.

    The money saved is used for purchasing packing boxes, tape, paying movers/U-Haul, cleaning old residence, deposits for the new place, travel costs and temporary lodging and food. 

    Don’t forget the monthly expenses like phone bills, electricity, health insurance and any recurring monthly costs on your credit cards. This is also a good time to take a look at your monthly expenses and save money by reducing ‘wants’ (or unnecessary expenses).

    If your move is due to your employer or work responsibilities, you are entitled to moving pay (or can claim that when you file for taxes – in Canada). 

    Taking stock of materialistic items

    I will say it, materialistic items can make or break ‘moving’ to be an enjoyable process. Now, why am I saying this? Because each time I move and clear up closets, I realize how many clothes, bags, and cosmetics I have. 

    My track record has been 3-5 years in one city, before moving on to the next one. I get too comfortable with the new place and of course that leads to more items. But with each move, my attachment towards materialistic items are decreasing and moving towards a bare essentials/minimalist way (I should thank Salil for that, he is super de-cluttered – while traveling and moving – both!). 

    So yea, the more clothes, bags, shoes, decor items, books, boxes you have the more you have to pay for moving them overseas. And it is super expensive! 

    All the purging of items is also a time-consuming process. The less you have, easier to pack and be done. 

    Here are some quick tips for decluttering and purging items

    Remember, the scene from the series, ‘How I Met your Mother’, where Robin tells Lily and Marshall about disposing off their junk, if they have not used it in a year’ (re: Lily moving to Italy for one year). It’s the same mantra,

    • Determine if you really need to pack the item (think usage, cost in moving).
    • Leave it if you have never used it one year
    • Purge if an item is worn out and holds no sentimental value
    • For items with sentimental value, assess how big or heavy it is, in terms of moving. 
    • Can you donate unnecessary items, and help someone?
    • Can you sell any of the luxury, or near-perfect furniture and clothing and use that money for your move?

    Now, let’s go over the individual items for your move.

    Travel & Moving documents 

    Gather all the travel and moving documents for yourself and family members. Collect the originals and photocopies for each of the documents and organize them/store them in a folder. 

    ☐ Valid Passport (s) 

    ☐ National Identification Card 

    ☐ Birth Certificate 

    ☐ Driver’s Licence 

    ☐ Driving Record/Abstract 

    ☐ Medical Records

    ☐ Travel Insurance – Medical, trip cancellation

    ☐ Bank Loan Documents, if any 

    ☐ Visa Documents 

    ☐ Educational Records (Degrees, Diplomas, any professional association)

    ☐ Sealed transcripts that list the courses you took to obtain a degree or certificate

    ☐ Professional associations/licences 

    ☐ Resume

    ☐ References

    ☐ Marriage/Divorce certificates

    ☐ Guardianship of minor children/their birth certificate/ adoption papers

    ☐ Proof of Settlement Funds

    Carrying money

    Open a borderless bank account, or convert your savings into travelers cheques, treasury bills or stocks/bonds to transfer/carry money

    ☐ Carry some cash (check Customs & Immigrations for cash limit)

    ☐ Travelers Cheques, treasury bills or stocks/bonds 

    ☐ Open an international/borderless account (like Payoneer or Transferwise)

    ☐ International Money transfer (Moneygram, Western Union, Paypal to transfer money)

    Universal Adaptor

    Our number one moving abroad checklist item is a universal adaptor. Depending on where you are moving from, electrical plugs used in the new country might be different. The same goes for convertors. 

    Don’t forget to carry a universal adaptor to charge your electronics. 

    Electronics

    Make a list of electronics you wish to carry, and recycle unwanted ones. Here are the essentials

    ☐ Laptop

    ☐ Camera

    ☐ Portable speaker

    ☐ Headphones 

    ☐ iPod

    ☐ Tablets

    ☐ eReader/Kindle 

    ☐ Charging cables 

    ☐ TV*

    ☐ Desktop* 

    ☐ Printer* 

    *Moving desktops, printers, and TVs overseas will be expensive. It can also have additional import duties/fees involved. We recommend not to move with these items, rather purchase them once you are settled in your new place of residence. 

    For kitchen appliances too, we recommend only carrying small items – like handheld blenders. Having said that most temporary housing or rental apartments will have a microwave, dishwasher, fridge installed for you to use. Don’t pack them with you on your overseas move – not worth it. 

    Get the expert guide to moving abroad checklist packing tips that goes beyond materials, gives you a mindset & money plan to move overseas!

    Clothing & Accessories 

    When you pack for your new home, consider only carrying what is utmost important. Donate or sell what is not required. Declutter! 

    Try to fit your clothes in 2 large suitcases and a carry-on for living abroad. If you really require additional warm/winter clothing it is better to purchase it in the new country. That is what we did for Canada moving. We bought our winter wear here. I packed my clothes, accessories in 2 suitcases, I also left behind a lot of Indian traditional wear as I knew I wouldn’t be using them very much. 

    Do carry medications and medical records. Depending on where you are moving to, health insurance may not kick in right away, and may not be free. 

    Accessories take a lot of room, and I am guilty of that. I love my purses, but I had to purge them each time we traveled within the country (from a whopping 35 I am down to 10, and these 10 are packable and durable enough to last me for years). 

    ☐ Clothing – tops, pants, undergarments

    ☐ Shoes & socks

    ☐ Outerwear Jackets

    ☐ Medications

    ☐ Skin care items 

    ☐ Hair care products

    ☐ Sunglasses 

    ☐ Contact lens

    ☐ Scarves 

    ☐ Handbags 

    Getting a new address & informing friends

    An integral part of the moving abroad process is to secure accommodation (job and/or school) prior to arrival. For short term housing, you can crash in a hotel, or stay in an Airbnb with a local host.

    If you have narrowed down on a rental place, then use that to update your mailing records. Inform friends and family, (online) bank accounts with the new address. 

    If you are job hunting, use this address on your resume and cover letter. 

    International Movers & Storage options 

    As we mentioned before, moving overseas with furniture and multiple boxes is expensive. Movers and packers would normally come in and check out all the items that need to be moved. Some moving companies provide you with boxes and also help you to carry and load them unto their vehicle. 

    The more items you have, the longer it takes for packing and more expensive it is. It is wise to get a quote or moving rate and a contract to ensure all of your items are taken care of. We also recommend getting insurance for the packages. 

    If you are moving temporarily, consider opening a storage room in your home country to save money on moving to a new country. 

    For me, furniture, kitchen utensils are something I can easily part with. I have downsized books to my Kindle. So essentially the way I travel overseas is similar to when I moved abroad – personal electronics, clothing & bags, travel documents, minimal home decor items (especially my souvenirs and pocket size paintings). 

    Get the expert guide to moving abroad checklist packing tips that goes beyond materials, gives you a mindset & money plan to move overseas!

    Long Haul Travel Essentials 

    Yay! So things are packed (movers are here), your friends and family know about the move and now it’s time to prepare for your long haul flight. Here are some essential items for your international flight for a smooth trip, and a comfortable ride. 

    Ensure you have all the travel documents on you, plus carry any other valuables in a small carry-on. For your flight, wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Use compression socks. 

    For entertainment, carry noise-canceling headphones, iPad/cellphone/kindle. Pack your travel size cosmetics and medicines in a transparent pouch for an easy security check-in. 

    ☐ Passport 

    ☐ Visa/ Resident Card

    ☐ Cash & credit cards 

    ☐ Moving & immigration documents 

    ☐ Neck pillow 

    ☐ Compression socks

    ☐ Travel scarf or blanket for comfort

    ☐ Charging cables 

    ☐ Carry-on with a pair of clothes

    ☐ Cosmetics in a transparent pouch 

    ☐ Sunglasses

    ☐ Noise cancelling headphones 

    ☐ Medications (add jet lag tablets)

    ☐ Small electronic items 

    We hope you found this moving overseas packing list useful. We have a free downloadable copy here for you to print and use 

    Happy Moving! You are gonna have an amazing time! 

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