Expat essentials – things you need to consider before becoming an expat

Expat essentials
Expat essentials

Expat life can be incredibly exciting, however, it can be daunting too. The decision is made, the ball is in motion. Consequently, all seems to be happening fast. 

 It’s easy to forget important key issues that need handling before leaving your home country.  Therefore, planning ahead saves tension and frustration. This is already stressful  for everyone concerned.

During this time, the mind can be a busy place because there is so much to do. Becoming an expat takes more than getting on a plane. Moving home is one of the most stressful events in life. New jobs, schools languages, friends piles on extra stress for a newbie expat. The list is endless, however, with help, advice and support, all can be an easier process.

Preparation for Expat life

Travel preparation

Preparation is key to a seamless stress-free move. This blog is designed to help organize the months ahead. Read on to find tips and as a result, make the transition of moving easier. A successful relocation process takes as much preparation and planning as the move itself. 


Stay on top of passport expiry dates for the family because it is far easier to do this in your own country than in a foreign one.

Use a reputable Expat relocation company

Get rid of clutter beforehand. Be completely ruthless in this respect. Find out if the new accommodation is furnished, part furnished. This way you know exactly what is included.

Once clear on what is being packed, collect estimates from packing companies. If you are shipping items, ensure that shipping and export documents are correct. This will not be an issue if a reputable relocation company is used. Make sure all necessary insurance is in place and is enough to cover replacement or damages should this occur. 

What about the car?

Some people choose to sell their car while others put it into storage. Action this quickly because the car may not sell as quickly as expected. As a result, there may be delays.

 If you are planning to store your car, work out if it is worthwhile to do so. Total up monthly payments against how many years you are going to be away to gain clarity. However, if you are considering shipping your vehicle, check which side of the road you will be driving on because the steering wheel may be on the opposite side. Therefore, this may cause a problem. Remember that a relocation company can organize this, therefore, saving time and money.

Electrical Goods

Check whether your electrical goods are compatible in your new home in a foreign country. In other words, you want to feel connected on arrival and therefore able to use all of your devices without any problems. 

Driving as an Expat

Find out what driving license you need to drive in your new country. It may be necessary to get an international license initially. Include your partner in this too. If you are moving to the UAE, your British driving license will be used to transfer to a UAE license. This may change in the future.

Research all that you can about expat life

Spend time each day researching the country that you will be going to live in. Join online expat groups because there is a lot of facts and tips that may assist you.

Write a list of questions you need to ask. Gain as much information as you can from those that have gone through a similar process.

In these groups, you can find support and help and as a result, you have more valuable information. Quite often advice and help are given freely from a place of personal experience. Consequently, many friendships are formed with this type of communication.


This can be a bit of a minefield but the more research you can conduct ahead of time the better.  In some countries there are very long waiting lists for admission. The earlier you can get your children on that waiting list for the school of your choice the easier your transition will likely to be. 


Ensure you know what curriculum is being taught and that it fits in with your plans for children’s education for the future. It may be that they teach the International Baccalaureate and you may be unfamiliar with this. Get all of the paperwork you need ready for submission this includes health documents too such as vaccination and health records.

Is it clear in your contract who is responsible for school fees?  Some companies cover these as part of the package. School fees can be incredibly expensive if you are paying them independently. Your income needs to take this into account. Organize payment plans ahead of time. 

Relocating your pet

This can be a bigger issue than you realize depending on which country you are going to. Contact professional pet relocation companies who can advise you of the best way to go about relocating pets. There is much to take into consideration.

I have relocated my two dogs from Dubai to Bahrain and from Bahrain back to the UK. Be aware that this can be costly so make sure you have plentiful funds to cover all the associated costs.  Bear in mind the health and age of your dogs for travel too. Many companies do not cover pet relocation costs. 

Health Insurance

Gather your medical records for your new medical provider. The more information they have on your medical history, the more they can can help you when you require health care. 

It may be that your contract includes private healthcare. Read the small print to see if this is inclusive of your partner and family. If there is an interim period, make sure that you have travel insurance in place for the whole family in the meantime. 

Important Paperwork for Expat life

Get yourself organized with all your important paperwork such as wills, mortgages, insurances, policies. Store them in a fireproof file case and carry them with you when you travel. This also includes Degree and qualification Certificates and memberships of any professional organizations. 


Give notice on any gym or other memberships you may have. Many require some notice period to avoid any penalties. Inform them as soon as you can.

Forwarding mail

Set up a forwarding address once you know where and when you are going. Mail will automatically be forwarded to your new address. It may take a bit longer to arrive however it will eventually. Inform credit card companies, banks etc. of your new address to save any confusion.

Bank accounts for Expats

Set up an offshore expat bank account. Look into this and do this ahead of time if possible.

The big move

The big move can be emotional and stressful for everyone. Arrange for pets and children to be with a neighbour during the moving process. Pack important documents, deeds and valuables in one place so that it doesn’t get packed along with the furniture. Be ready to give the packers lots of tea, coffee, drinks and maybe some food. It can be a long day for them too.

Let the neighbours know that a truck is arriving and taking up parking space for a large part of the day. Stay out of the packing teams’ way. They are professionals especially with expat moves. They know what they are doing.

Expat clean up time

When the house is completely empty, bring in professional cleaners. Organize carpets and curtains to be cleaned ahead of time.

Garage storage

Some people leave behind garden furniture in garages or sheds. Remember to remove gasoline to avoid damage.

Stay organized

Quite often companies place you in hotel accommodation for a few days. This is temporary until the permanent accommodation is ready. Use this time to explore and become oriented with your new expat environment.

Remember to take anything that may be needed immediately on arrival. It can be some time before the shipment arrives. Bear this in mind and pack accordingly. 

So you are in expat mode. Feeling fully organized, calm, ready, excited for new beginnings.  If you need support or help as you go through this process, please get in touch to schedule an Expatn session via Skype.

Moving around the world as an expat is something I have done many times. Therefore, I understand what you are going through. Expat support coaching sessions are available. Get in touch to find out more.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please feel free to browse others on the site, or leave a comment below.

What are your expat concerns or worries?


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