AS SOON AS YOU MAKE THE DECISION TO GO:

  • Get Passports
  • Research visas & work permits (for all family members) & residency restrictions (for children who will reach adult age while you are there) and schedule applications
  • Research entry and residency requirements for whole family (including pets) including vaccinations.
  • Make vaccination appointment schedule and set reminders in your calendar or phone
  • Beg / borrow / steal and then READ any resources available on your new location, including age appropriate ones for your children.
  • Negotiate relocation package with employer – including a copy of policy for spouse, and ability to request changes as issues arise.
  • Review relocation package in detail, including health insurance provision, monetary allowances, shipping allocation, emergency evacuation, early repatriation, dependent care provision, transport to and from host location. etc, etc
  • Make host country contacts, and meet informally.
  • Begin studying the language and culture of your host country. Tim Ferriss (http://fourhourworkweek.com/bonus/pdf/how-to-learn-lang-A.pdf) has an alternative view to learning language quickly.
  • Research living conditions, housing, schooling (including school system & home schooling if necessary), driving requirements and lifestyles.
  • Make decision on current housing – sell, rent out, give notice of end of tenancy. Choose professionals to handle sale or property management early.
  • Plan an exploratory trip, if possible. Make a list of questions that you need answered on it.
  • Schedule time off for important relocation dates

4- 6  MONTHS BEFORE DEPARTURE

  • Choose moving company & get quotes for removals, shipping and storage. Verify that each stage is fully insured.
  • Start decluttering the house.
  • Inventory possessions, take photographs and arrange insurance.
  • Categorize possessions – Air freight, Sea Freight, Luggage, Storage, Donate.
  • Continue vaccination schedule (humans and pets).
  • Make arrangements for pets that you will leave behind – allow time to find a home you like for them.
  • Get medical, dental and eye examination, and review results. Make any lifestyle changes, treatment plans etc. necessary to maximize health prior to obtaining health insurance. Get useful contact details for current providers (e.g. email, fax and direct line – you don’t want to get an automated response when paying international charges..).
  • Organize important documents, make copies (both photocopies and scanned copies saved to a flash drive, Evernote (www.evernote.com) or Dropbox www.dropbox.com)
  • Make a will and prepare a power of attorney
  • Make arrangements for managing your finances abroad, and understand the cost of your choice
  • Decide what to do with high value or irreplaceable objects (consider a safety deposit box for both these and your important documents -leave the key with a lawyer who you can instruct if necessary)
  • Get advice from people in your host country about what personal and household supplies or electronics you might need, and start purchasing. Common items include preferred toiletries, electric toothbrush heads, sun cream, hair color and feminine hygiene. Note that you will need to purchase a multi region DVD player if you are going to take your DVD collection with you..

3 MONTHS BEFORE DEPARTURE

  • Schedule routine medical and dental check-ups that would normally fall within the first 3-6 months of arrival to be completed before you go.
  • Update the contact details of people you wish to keep in contact with; join a social networking group (e.g. Facebook) for ease of access. Include host country contacts too.
  • Transfer as much of your day-to-day bills, banking etc to online capability.
  • Make arrangements for new schools for children and notify your home school of when and where the children will be going. Request copies of school transcript both for yourself and to be sent to the new school.

2 MONTHS BEFORE DEPARTURE

  • Buy supplies to be included in household shipment.
  • Unlock mobile phone.
  • Set up independent email account (e.g. gmail, yahoo etc) and transfer contacts. Notify your email contact list of new address.
  • Go through each room of the house and finalize what to take and what to leave. Final inventory the former on shipping paperwork, start disposing of the latter.
  • Make interim living arrangements (hotel / short term apartment) for host country.
  • Give notice on rental property.
  • Check with any host country contacts if they have anything they would like you to bring out for them. Have them send any purchases to your home address.
  • Schedule your packout. Allow at least 3 days before departure.

IN THE FINAL MONTH

  • Notify all contractual services (mobile phone, cable / satellite TV, insurance etc) of date of end of service in writing. Keep copies.
  • If you are renting your home out, make list of preferred maintenance / service engineers and forward to the property management company, along with your web-based contact details. Arrange for the house to be cleaned after your departure. (And, no, you can’t do it – I personally forbid you to be spending your last days cleaning – spend time with friends instead)
  • Buy a laptop if you don’t already own one, and make sure it has wifi, camera and microphone capability. Learn how to use it. Download Skype or other VOIP provider.
  • Arrange mail forwarding.
  • Finalize new homes for any pets that you are not taking.
  • Notify banks etc that you will be accessing your accounts from a new location.
  • Remind your email contact list of new address.
  • List and collect all important documents and store safely for transport in your hand luggage.
  • Pack your luggage before the movers arrive, and store in the car to prevent accidental shipping..