moving abroad checklist with your pet

The Ultimate Expat Moving Abroad Checklist

This post was most recently updated on August 26th, 2020

Do you ever dream of moving abroad? And just don’t know where to start. Here is our moving abroad checklist to help you prepare for your big move.

Are you a person who loves to travel like us and has always had a dream of moving abroad? There are so many things to consider before taking on this exciting adventure. So hopefully our moving abroad checklist can make things a little easier.

In our early 40’s we even purchased property in Belize with every intention of building a house on to retire in later. Why not? Belize is a beautiful country that enjoys a favourable climate of 80 degree weather year round.

Plus they also have a pretty great retirement incentive program. You only need to be 45 years or older and provide proof of having an income of $2000 a month or $24,000 a year.

But another 10 years later, and even closer to retirement, we just can’t see ourselves picking only one permanent spot to stay put. There are so many more countries out there to explore. We might even find a place we like more than Belize. But who knows, maybe in the end Belize will win our hearts.

Things To Consider: A Moving Abroad Checklist

There are so many essential items that you need to look at first if you want to make your dream of moving abroad a success.

  • How safe is the country
  • What is the cost of living?
  • Will you rent or buy?
  • What kind of attractions are there?
  • Is it near a medical facility?
  • What is the weather like year round?
  • What is the cost of health insurance?
  • Visa’s

How Is The Crime Rate?

Since people values things differently, everyones list could place things higher or lower depending on your needs. Probably for most people though, their number one requirement is finding a safe region to live.

You will never find a completely crime free place since crime exists everywhere. Especially in the very touristy areas of a city where pickpocketing seems to prevail. But finding a place where we feel safe day in and day out will be number one on our moving abroad checklist.

It’s always a good idea to check on your own governments site for any travel warnings before you go. For Canadians you can click here. For Americans click here.

Comparing the Cost Of Living For Your Moving Abroad Checklist

Depending on what country you’re from, a lot of places could be cheaper to move or retire to. Whether it’s only for a few months or permanently.

We will try to stick to a budget of $2000 U.S. a month or less for a couple. And find which countries you can retire to with a lower cost of living. Some factors to consider are:

  • Rent
  • Groceries/restaurant
  • Transportation
  • Insurance
  • Entertainment
  • Internet/cell phone

Deciding Whether To Rent Or Buy

Most people recommend you spend a least 6 months to a year renting in a place before you buy. I’ve read plenty of stories of expats buying a place as soon as they move to a new country. Only to find out they have culture shock, and are finding it too hard to adapt to the unfamiliar surroundings.

Or they are missing their family/grandchildren too much because they’re not coming to visit as often as they’d like.

Jerry at the airport

What Kind Of Attractions Are Available?

If you’re someone from the city who is used to having plenty of activities around, you are probably going to want to look for the same in a new place. Do you like to go to the theatre every week? Or have a gym around to join? Maybe going for a walk on the beach every day is your idea of perfection.

A lot of countries already have a thriving expat community. If you search on Facebook it’s pretty easy to find a group to join. That way you can find out where all the favourite expat hangouts are. Therefore making it a lot easier to make new friends.

Where Is The Closest Medical Facility?

Definitely not something anyone younger would even consider or worry about. But as you come closer to retirement, you might want to look into where the closest medical facility is.

Would you be comfortable if you had to ride a donkey five kilometres, then take a panga boat to catch a taxi for another 40 kilometres just to get to the nearest medical facility? Even though it probably wouldn’t be this dramatic, it should be something to think about.

What Is The Weather Like?

Since we come from Canada, we are used to a place with four seasons. Some years though it can seem like we only have two. Winter and summer.

Like most people, we prefer a warmer sunny climate. This will be a big deciding factor for us on where to live. What do you prefer? The mountains or beaches, the city or country?

Cost Of Travel Insurance

If you’re still working, your company might cover you for travel insurance for short trips. Or plenty of credit cards will cover you for a smaller length of time depending on your age. But always check what is covered and for how long.

Seniors travel insurance will always be more. You should purchase travel insurance before you leave your home country. Make sure to have emergency medical and evacuation coverage included also.

World Nomads is one option for travel insurance.

In Canada you can be gone for six months maximum and still keep your benefits for when you return home.

Either way it’s a good idea to have travel insurance in case something goes wrong. You can purchase travel insurance from World Nomads for one option. Always read the policy details to ensure that it’s right for yourself.

Language Barrier

Another thing to consider when contemplating living abroad is whether you can speak the language or not. Will you feel comfortable if you can’t? Or are you willing to learn another language, or at least enough to get by?

There are some really great apps or programs to get you started on learning a new language. There is nothing like living in a new place to pick up their language. But learning some key words and phases before you go will make the transition a whole lot easier.

*Duolingo – This is my favourite app for learning another language. It’s free, easy to use, they’ve turned learning into a game, plus you have a choice of over 30 languages to pick from.

*Babbel One of the most popular courses to learn a new language. Babbel offers the first lesson for free. After that it costs anywhere from $6.95 to $12.95 a month. They also offer a 20 day money-back guarantee.

*Memrise – A completely free app, that offers over 100 languages to learn. If the language you’re looking for isn’t on Duolingo, you’re sure to find it on Memrise.

Visa’s For Moving Abroad Checklist

It would be nice if we could travel wherever we wanted for however long we wanted and not have to worry about visa’s, but that’s just not the case. So before you set off, make sure to get your visa’s in place.

passports and money from around the world

This usually has to take place before you leave your home country. A lot of countries you won’t need a visa to visit if you plan on staying less than 90 days. Some you do though, depending on where you’re from. Just to be safe, always check with your own government first to see if you need a visa and what type of visa is required.

Comparison Costs

Two great sites to compare the cost of living in cities world wide are:

NumbeoCompares the cost of living in cities and countries around the world. Also great for comparing housing costs, crime, traffic and pollution for different areas.

Expatistan – Compares the cost of living between two different cities around the world.

Books To Read Before Becoming An Expat

The Emotionally Resilient Expat

The author Linda A Janssen gives a first hand account, and through interviews with others, a deep look into the expat life.

You’ve survived all this preparation. Maybe you’ve been organizing and planning your moving abroad checklist for over a year. Or maybe this was some last minute, spur of the moment decision. But now is the time to celebrate. Have a party and say all your goodbyes. Enjoy your new adventure!

Guides To Expat Retirement Locations

The Emotionally Resilient Expat

She delves into the emotional factors that expats can face in trying to adapt to their new surroundings. A great book to read before embarking on an expat lifestyle.

Available on Amazon 

Retirement Without Borders: How To Retire Abroad

Plus talks about any fears or worries you may have and how to find solution. If you are deciding on where, when, and how to retire in another country, this book can help you.

Available on Amazon

How To Retire Overseas

The author Kathleen Peddicord gives great tips on how to get started for your overseas retirement. She writes honestly about the different challenges you can face living in different countries. 

She also examines all the preparations you need to make to retire in another country. And also discusses various retirement locations to look at. A great book to add to your moving abroad checklist. 

Available on Amazon 

The Expert Expat: Your Guide To Successful Relocation Abroad

This book contains personal stories from the two authors as well as other expats. Recounts the different experiences that each had to face. 

As well as great tips for moving with your pet, learning a new language, as well as your health and safety in a new location. 

Available on Amazon

A Moving House Checklist

Ok, so now you’ve researched everything you need to know and are ready to take on the life of an expat. But before you go, here are 10 things to make sure you’ve checked off before making this exciting move. 

  1. Travel Vaccinations – You should check with your doctor at least 6 weeks before you leave to decide on what vaccinations you might need. For example certain countries require a yellow fever vaccination certificate before you’re allowed to enter if you’re arriving from a country with a high risk.

    Make sure to bring copies of your medical and dental records. Plus  any prescriptions you need.

  2. International Driver’s Permit – Some countries require you to have an International Driver’s Permit before you’re allowed to rent a car. Just print off the form online and bring it into your CAA or AAA. The cost is around $20 and you’ll receive it in the mail within a couple weeks. Just bring copies of your driver’s license and 2 passport type photos. Once you receive your IDP it will be valid for one year.
  3. Tax Requirements For Your New Country –  Take inventory of your finances before you leave and check into the tax rules of your new location. The U.S. and Canada have tax treaties with certain nations which might give you a tax break.
  4. Passport – Most countries require your passport to be valid for at least 6 months after you plan on returning home. If you don’t plan on returning and are permanently moving somewhere, you can renew your passport at the nearest Embassy Office. Make extra photocopies of your passport in case it goes missing.
  5. Documents In Order For Your Pet – Make sure to take your pets for a full medical check up before moving with them. Have them microchipped and get vaccinations up to date. Request a veterinary health certificate. Check to make sure your countries requirements. Some documents will need to be completed within 10 days of your departure date.

    Get a proper size carrier for your pet depending on their size. Call ahead with the airline to book a spot for your pet. The airlines that take pets only allow a certain amount per flight. 

  6. Shipping Container – Decide if your going to be shipping your items overseas with you. If so, look into getting quotes from a few different companies and ask plenty of questions. Find out the final delivery date. If it’s only you and a few bags, decide what you absolutely need, and what you’re giving to charity. Have a garage sale to earn some extra cash.
  7. Forward Mail – If you have your new address already, make sure to let the post office and friends and family know. If you’re only leaving for a certain length of time, maybe you’ll want to use one of your friends or family’s address to forward your mail to.
  8. Contact Bank – Check with your bank to see if it’s still possible to have an overseas account with them. With ATM’s almost everywhere, it should be convenient to withdraw cash. Look into getting a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
  9. House – Are you renting or selling your house. Both can have their advantages and disadvantages. If you’re just rent it out, at least you have some place to come back to. Plus a possible income from renting. Selling will give you the extra cash in your bank account. If you decide to live somewhere for an extended time, you’ll need to show how much money you have in your bank account to qualify for a permanent visa.
  10. Airplane Tickets – The optimum time to book tickets for the best prices is 60 days in advance. Although if you’re flying with your pet, you’ll want to call the airline as soon as possible.
    Toronto Pearson Airport

Your Done! 

You’ve survived all this preparation. Maybe you’ve been organizing and planning your moving abroad check list for over a year. Or maybe this was some last minute, spur of the moment decision. But now is the time to celebrate. Have a party, and say all your goodbyes. Enjoy your new adventure!

Comparing Retirement Costs Around The World

Retiring in Ajijic Mexico

What is the cost of living to retire in Ajijic? It is actually quite affordable, and a beautiful place to live.

blue house in Mexico

Retiring In Puerto Vallarta

What is the cost of living to retire in Puerto Vallarta? Depending on what you’re looking for, there is something for everyone.

Puerto Vallarta Malecon sign