Moving Abroad with Kids – A Checklist
Ok, so you and your family have made the decision to move abroad. Great. You’ve also found a job or potential job. Brilliant! Ok. What now? Well, we have been in the exact same position recently when we moved from the UK to Malaysia with our two young kids and I can almost guarantee we’ll have been asking the same questions and facing the same anxieties that you are right now. You need to start writing your ‘moving abroad checklist’.
So to try and make things a bit easier for you, here is (almost) everything that was on our moving abroad checklist and the things we had to think about in the period from accepting the job offer, to getting on the plane.
Your house– Ok so this is a pretty major one and not one that you want to leave to the last minute. This may well be top of your moving abroad checklist.
If you’re renting, depending on your current lease situation you either need to give notice to vacate or if you’re tied in, speak to your current landlord and see if they will agree to let you out of your lease early.
If you own, you have three options. Sell, rent or leave empty
Sell – Personally I wouldn’t do this straight away as if you decide to come back, you’ll have to nowhere to live! But if you do decide to do this, you need to speak with an estate agent asap
Rent – The preferred option and what we did. You can involve an estate agent or you can do this yourself. Don’t be put off by doing it yourself either, its really not that hard and will save you quite a lot of money. If you have any friends or family members who are living nearby whilst you’re away then why not see if they want to manage it for you, for a fee? Again, this is not as difficult as it sounds. have a look at this for more detail on what to do.
Leave it empty – unless you’re stinking rich or so houseproud you couldn’t bear the thought or someone else is in your house, I wouldn’t do this, but its an option.
Your Belongings – If you’re not planning on renting your house out furnished then you may well have a whole lot of furniture to do something with. Lets also not forget everything else you own, all the ‘stuff’ you’ve been accumulating over the years. You have three options. Sell. Store. Ship. We sold everything!
Your Mortgage – If you have one, you need to speak to your current lender as you’re very likely about to make some big changes to the terms you originally agreed to. If you’re renting your house out you will need to gain consent to let or change to a buy to let mortgage. Speak to your lender or most mortgage brokers will be able to help.
Other Loans – A lot of lenders require you to be a resident of your home country and having an income in that country. Again speak to your lender asap.
Student Loan – If you have a student loan, you may need to continue paying it whilst overseas. Get in touch with them.
Your Bank – Tell your current bank that you’re moving abroad. If you don’t you run the risk of trying to use your debit/credit card abroad for it then to be flagged as ‘suspicious activity’ and being blocked for potential fraud. Not a situation you want to have to deal with when just arriving in another country.
Your Tax – I’m not qualified to hand out any tax advice however when we moved we had to complete an NRL1 form as we still owned property. We were told that if we didn’t have property we would have had to complete a P85 form. This will be different if your home country is not in the UK. In any event, speak to an accountant who will be able to help.
Check Passport Eligibility Requirement – Most countries require you to have at least six months remaining on your passport before being allowed in. For the British ones amongst you, check the Foreign Office advice for the specific country you’re heading to. Also, make sure you have this and also enough blank pages in your passport. If like us you’re going somewhere new and are wanting to explore surrounding countries, those pages are going to get filled up pretty quickly.
Visa – Can be a complicated process but if your employer is not sorting this, you need to, for you and your family. The Foreign Office is the best place to start for country-specific advice.
Medical Insurance – Familiarise yourself with the medical insurance requirements of your new country and if it’s needed, take out cover.
International Driving Licence – Malaysia requires us to have an international driving permit. Get this before you go, at the present time certain post offices will issue these for a small fee. (£5.50 when we go ours)
Life Insurance – Again, I’m not an insurance expert but what I do know is that our insurers would not cover us abroad. We had to go through a broker to find us a policy for both life insurance and critical illness. It’s not cheap, we pay about £90 per month for two people.
Sort Your Will – To ensure everything is exactly how you want it to be, it could be a good time to update your will before you go.
Buy New Clothes – We moved from Newcastle in the northeast of England. It’s lucky if, in the heights of the summer the temperature gets over 20°C. We now live in Malaysia, we’re lucky if, in the depths of the night, the temperature drops below 28°C. What I’m saying is we all needed brand new wardrobes, don’t leave that until the last moment. Also, I am 6ft 2 and have size 12 feet. I really struggle to get clothes and shoes to fit, if you’re like me, or taller, stock up before you go!
Vaccinations – Book an appointment with your local travel nurse who will be able to tell you what jabs you need, if any. Don’t leave this until the last minute, some vaccinations can require a course stretching over a few weeks.
Find a School – If you have kids this is huge and something you need to get right. We were in the fortunate position that my wife had a job in a school in Malaysia so our kids slotted straight in but this needs some thought early on. This article may help.
Find a House – Again, we were lucky that my wife’s employer sorted our accommodation. If this is not the case for you then you’re going to have to start house hunting. A good place to start would be the various expat facebook groups of the country you’re moving to, get some advice from people already there where is good to move to and some recommended estate agents.
Check the Plugs – This might seem like a non-factor when you consider ‘finding a house’ but just imagine turning up in a brand new country after a long haul flight with the kids, going to plug your kettle in and….you need a two-pin plug instead! That wouldn’t be a funny moment. Check this list and if you need an adapter, get one.
Learn Some Basic Language – Hello, please, thank you. You want to get off to a good start with the locals. There’s a list for everything on the internet! Find your country here.
Get Some Currency – Order some currency bearing in mind that the exchange may not hold large amounts of what you need. Also, check that the currency is not ‘closed’ meaning that you can only get the currency in that country and not from outside.
Make Some Friends– Moving abroad can be a lonely experience at times. Use those Facebook groups you were finding an estate agent through to speak to like-minded people who are already located near your new home, you could have a play date set up as soon as you step off the plane!
Unlock Your Phone – You don’t want to be roaming for very long, as soon as you can get a local sim card you should. Make sure your phone can accept new sim cards first.
And Finally…Tell Your Friends & Family – Obviously, you’re not going to forget to do this, but it does require a bit of thought about how you go about it. Speaking from experience this could have a much bigger impact on people than you think, especially if you’re taking children away. Remember it’s not just your own life that is changing with this move, spend a bit of time thinking how you will raise this with your family and friends and how best to ‘soften the blow’.
This pretty much completes our moving abroad checklist. There will, of course, be plenty other things than you need to think about but hopefully, this will give your own moving abroad checklist a bit of a head start!