What I have learned about being organised when changing countries (more than once!)

Buddha head in packing material

For better or worse, I decided during 2019 to pack up my life and return to live in the United Kingdom (which I had done before).  As you can imagine – never an easy choice, but as my children were grown and engaged or married, I felt it was now “Mom’s Time” to follow her dreams.  All this was before Covid-19 and before it was even on anyone’s radar.

I decluttered, donated, disposed of, and packed what was left over a period of about 4 months.  Being a professional organiser (and having moved globally no less than 4 times) you would think I would have this down pat!  But as I am only human, I still made mistakes, left things out of the packing, and had to send a couple of extra boxes (with the precious family genealogy records) as an afterthought!

Here are my main takeout’s from having packed up and moved (in a global pandemic):

  1. You will pack too much stuff – it is human nature to become attached to our possessions.  I still do not have a permanent home after 10 months of living here and I am still living primarily with what I brought in my suitcases!
  2. Do your research – often the spaces in your new home country will be quite different from what you are used to – South African or American furniture does not fit comfortably in European or UK homes.  Unless it is a family heirloom, or you honestly cannot live without it – leave it behind and buy what works in your new home.
  3. Take the time to be clear on what you will need initially and what you can wait for – you may need the summer clothes before you need the crock pot!  And honestly research the prices of items in your new home country – often it is cheaper to buy new (which also then means guarantees/warrantees) than it is to bring items with you.
  4. Make sure you can easily access all the critical records you may need – education certificates, birth, and marriage certificates etc.  And have digital backups of everything.  In this case – the Cloud is your friend.
  5. Take the time to review your Curriculum Vitae or resume and make sure they are in a format that works for your new country.  There are always subtle differences, and it may be worth your while to have it reviewed by a local professional to help with your job search (if you are not going to a job directly).
  6. Look for and join local area Facebook groups – there is a wealth of information available to you in these groups, including recommendations for trades people, great places to visit and generally helpful local information.
  7. If possible, set up some type of banking account before you leave – even a global account will make it easier to access funds once you land and will give you time to get the necessary paperwork to open a local account.  At the same time, research what is needed in your new home to open a bank account, local government services and utility bills.  As much as this seems like TOO much information – it will make it easier particularly if you have limited access to the internet or are relying on your phone.
  8. Talking of phones – get a local SIM card as soon as possible.  Initially in most places you will not be able to open an account but everywhere I have been there are companies that offer a data heavy package at a reasonable price.

I am sure I have left off a ton of things – but that just means I have a chance to come back and share some more lessons from moving globally – Covid or no Covid!