Things to remember to do when moving to another country

5 Nov

I’m currently in the midst of packing and last minute preparations before my flight to Osaka on Wednesday. In 2007, I moved to Bangkok, Thailand for a year. For that trip, I had found a job, booked a flight and obtained a visa weeks before leaving the country. Because of this there were many preparations that I hadn’t done so I ended up scrambling at the last minute and organizing things from overseas.

Here are some important things to consider and do before moving your life overseas for a short or long period of time.

All your stuff

Moving abroad really makes me want to become a minimalist. Do I really need all this stuff? It’s a great opportunity to get rid of as much as possible. Throw out all those old greeting cards, give away books and clothes you don’t like. But what to do with the rest?

I was living in Toronto before moving abroad and I wasn’t sure if I’d be back there anytime soon. So I shipped the majority to my parent’s house and left some at a friend’s. Do you know how long you’ll be abroad? What will you be doing afterwards? Your plans may change. Renting a storage unit may seem like a good idea if you’re only going for a year. But what happens if you decide to stay another year or travel afterwards?

Money matters

Transferring money back to Canada was a huge pain from Thailand. Here are some banking related things to figure out:

  • consider adding another person to your account that can easily add money if you have a bill due
  • inform your bank and credit card companies that you’ll be moving abroad
  • order foreign currency or traveller’s cheques through your bank
  • find out whether your company will help you open a bank account abroad
  • figure out how much money you’ll need for the first few weeks before your account is opened. Will your current bank cards work in the new country?

Bills, bills, bills

Take a good look at what you’re currently paying for in your home country. Figure out what services can be suspended and which can be cancelled. If you’re not entirely sure when you’ll be back, cancelling such services as a cell phone may be the best idea. I also found that I could transfer my cell phone contract to another person for $25 (with Koodo mobile in Canada) and not have to pay for an iPhone that I probably can’t use in Japan.


What sorts of drugs and vitamins do you take at home? Do some research and find out what’s available in your new country abroad and how easy it is to get it. It may be worth stocking up before leaving.

Do you need shots or drugs for the country you’re moving to? There may be other requirements as well. Japan requires a medical examination with chest x-ray.

Also, look into whether you’ll have health insurance in the new country and whether you should purchase travel health insurance for the first weeks or months.

Visa and red tape

What sort of documentation do you need to get into the country and work there? For Thailand, I needed to come into the country with a tourist visa. For Japan, I’ve obtained a three year working visa. Check out the consulate’s website and realize there may be lots involved including getting copies of your degree notarized, obtaining visa photos and waiting for the visa processing.

Things to bring

Research what you should be bringing and what can be purchased there. In Thailand, I could buy pretty much anything and I believe it will be the same in Japan. It’s nice to start out with the essentials though. Also, if you’re moving to Asia and are taller than 5’5″ and weigh more than 100 lbs, it’s a good idea to bring lots of clothing basics, especially shoes, underwear and pants.

It’s also nice to bring photos from home, postcards and gifts, especially to a country with a strong gift-giving culture like Japan. I’ve purchased sweets made from Okanagan fruit, maple syrup, Canada stickers and postcards.


No comments yet

Leave a Reply