Planning to move overseas -- either permanently or for an extended stay -- can be both exciting and stressful. Making it less stressful may often depend on how prepared you feel and how well you have planned for the trip. To help get you started, here is a checklist of 5 key things expats should do before moving outside the country.
Get Checkups. Your intended destination -- especially if it's a developing country -- may require vaccinations you don't already have. Getting your shots is a good excuse to have a regular physical exam and make sure your health is in good shape for traveling. In addition, ask for extra time on your current prescriptions (often called "vacation overrides") or prescriptions for potential problems like traveler's diarrhea. Completing medical checkups before moving will buy you extra time to find doctors and other local providers.
Meet with an Accountant and Lawyer. Getting your finances in order and finding out about the tax consequences of your upcoming move is important. Your accountant can help you determine how you will pay for your trip, how to avoid double-taxation if working overseas and how to file taxes outside the country. In addition, meeting with a lawyer with experience in expat legal issues is a good idea -- especially if you're planning to pursue becoming a resident, gaining citizenship or purchasing assets in the new country.
Set Up Bills Automatically. Cover your U.S. expenses while gone by signing up for automatic payment on things like mortgages and utilities (if maintaining a house in the country), storage units, estimated taxes and insurance. Pay what you can in advance to avoid having to worry about bills while outside the country.
Store What You Need. If you're going to be gone long enough to not keep your home in the U.S, you will likely want to sort through your belongings to see what you can get rid of. While it's good to purge unnecessary items, be careful not to get rid of things with sentimental or monetary value. Rent residential storage services to keep things that you may regret having let go of. You can always reassess your storage needs when visiting the U.S. after spending some time overseas.
Forward Mail. There are several ways to get your correspondence while outside the borders. Sign up for paperless billing and other communications options by email so that you can access it anywhere. For regular mail, research to determine if your intended destination has reliable mail services. If not, you could either have your mail forwarded to a trusted friend or family member in the U.S. or you may locate a mail forwarding service that scans paper mail to electronic versions.
By completing these steps while preparing to move outside the country, you can help ensure a smooth transition and a pleasant experience being an expat.