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Moving Internationally: A Baker’s Dozen To-Do List

Posted in: I'm Moving, International Moving

by MelB

The Eiffel Tower

So you’ve been searching for a long time to find that perfect place to live. Maybe your goal was to find the cheapest place to live and staying in the United States just no longer made sense. As great as you believe it will be, moving out of the country is a challenge for even the most enthusiastic adventurist. In order to lend you a hand with your international move, we have prepared a short list of 13 things (a baker’s dozen) you can do to organize this exciting project. Think of it as a jumping off point before you reach the real jumping off point. These are things that you may want to put on your to-do list as you get ready to press the start button. Or print this out and check off the empty check box next to each item as you progress through your move.

  Household Inventory

Take inventory throughout your house and get rid of stuff that is no longer useful to you. Please consider giving those items to a charity and help someone else in the process.


International customs will want to know everything you are importing, make a descriptive list of what you pack into boxes and label (number) the boxes so you know where everything is.

  Mail Forwarding

This is of vital importance and, although it may seem like a great idea to have Aunt Suzie forward your mail, it can become a burden for her over time. There are plenty of services that can forward your mail, in place of Aunt Suzie. There are even services that will open, scan and email your mail to you. Do a little research and you’ll probably be surprised at the level of service and price points that are available.


Decide how you will handle your banking. One option may be online banking. There are many online banks now available and if you get over the mental hurdle of this still widely unaccepted banking practice, it can be quite a good fit for many people – especially those living outside their home country.

  Service Providers

You will need to notify all your current service providers that you will no longer need their service. Things like insurance, cell phones, cable, internet and utilities, just to name a few. Don’t forget to provide them with last service dates so as to not have services interrupted too early.


E-mail service is one of those things that need not be a concern when you move out of the country. Here’s why:
If your internet service provider is different in your new home (which is likely) you will be assigned a new email address from them and would normally need to share that with your friends and family. But you have another option. If you take control of your own email you can make this the last time you have to change your email address. Go sign up for an email address at one of the free online providers like Google’s Gmail, Microsoft’s Hotmail, or Yahoo! Mail. This will make your email as mobile as you are so you can get it wherever you are, no matter where or how often you move.

  Travel Reservations

Make travel plans to get to your new destination. This may include plane tickets, hotel reservations and many other plans that will be unique to your trip.

  Computer Backup

Make a complete backup of all your important computer files. There are online services that can back up your entire hard drive or you can do it yourself, if you feel safer, to an external drive.


Pets are a huge consideration when moving abroad and you will certainly need to do research into the hurdles involved in bringing Fido into your new home country. This will likely include vet visits as well as paperwork, so start early.


Get yourself to the Doctor one last time and address how you will handle any on-going medical needs after moving to your new country. Get an extended supply of prescriptions if allowed. If not, make contacts near your new home to continue your care there.


Make decisions about vehicles. If you are keeping them, many states still require you to take some “non-operating” registration action even if you’re just keeping them in a storage unit. Find out what the laws are.

  Paper Documents

Start making a list of and copies of all vital documents you will need as you travel. You might want to scan all documents so they are more readily available before things are unpacked and be sure to know EXACTLY what box they’re in for the move.


There is an old saying ‘cash is king’ and until the rest of the world becomes a little more electronic it will continue to be so when moving internationally. It’s not always safe to carry lots of cash but it can still be a life saver in a foreign country. Things like money belts and other cash hiding devices are quite affective in keeping your secret stash safe while you travel. Not to minimize the need for credit cards – it is best to have both.

By no means is this a complete list and we’re sure you’ll have several other items to add, but it makes for a great place to start. After all, finding the best place to retire wasn’t easy and this is just another step along the way. But if you plan ahead and work that plan, things will (in most cases) go a lot smoother. If you think of something we forgot, please add it below in the comments so others can benefit.

***This was a guest post featuring author MelB.

Photo Credit: Nimages DR – David Rodrigues

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