Venture / Moving Abroad Checklist
Moving countries seems to have become a right of passage nowadays, or at least it is amongst those with insatiable wanderlust. The ease and opportunity to do so is also unparalleled against history. For all the interconnectedness of our world however is it still a defining tilt in ones life; you stash away parts of yourself like a time capsule; unsure of whether they'll serve you upon return, it's the new that most people are chasing; new people, new haunts, new experiences, new selves and the price of that is unfamiliarity. Goodbyes ache terribly and the physical separation can seem daunting in the moment, it's worth the embrace however if nothing but to expand the fabric of your life. To lessen the overwhelm I've put together my thoughts and a checklist for moving abroad; to London specifically but adaptations can be made if you have another destination in sight.
Prior to Departure
Right to work
Obviously most pressing to your move abroad is the right to legally reside in the country. If you’re blessed with English parentage then check here whether you qualify for nationality and a passport or otherwise apply here for the relevant visa. Be sure to check processing and delivery times so not to leave applications too late.
insurances, flights & ACCOMMODATION
Insurance is a matter of personal preference, while you’re in transit however protection can be useful for delays, cancellations and lost luggage. When booking flights be mindful of layovers and connections, particularly terminal changes; if you're a sorry traveller then it might also be an idea to stopover so that your body clock can adapt gently. Be tactful about your accommodation in the beginning; we had the luxury of staying with family but if this isn't an option I would recommend Airbnb so that you can stay with someone local. They'll be able to offer advice and possibly be more obliging as proof of address while you settle in.
Pack & minimise possessions
There’s an art to packing and it seems to elude me everytime. My best advice is to be as lightweight as possible; almost everything is replaceable. Take the opportunity to reduce your possessions to only those that are delightful and functional. Also be mindful of how time consuming this process can become, give yourself adequate space to sell or donate the things you no longer need.
Licensing & Vehicles
Decide on storage options and/ or resale of your vehicle. Remember to cancel insurances, registration and to surrender your number plates. Check your requirements for driving in Great Britain on a non-GB license here and apply for an international driving permit if necessary. This will grant you a valid license for 12 months after which time you can exchange your license if eligible.
Services, Subscriptions & Mobile Phone
Remember to cancel household services for water, electricity and telephone lines along with subscriptions for cable television and the like. Ensure your mobile phone is also unlocked from any existing contracts. If you wish to keep your number in existence some carriers allow you to put your account on hold; otherwise you could switch to a post paid account with long expiry.
Notify relevant Authorities
Ensure you notify your bank of foreign travel so that you can use your account freely abroad without attracting suspicion of fraud. It's also a good idea to register your movements with a government agency, which is Smart Traveller in Australia, so that in the unlikely event of disaster assistance is more immediate. Remember lastly to redirect your mail, either to an overseas address or so that the postal service holds it for you.
Ensure all your medical checks are up to date. This might include dentistry, screenings, general health and/ or optometry. If you have any underlying conditions remember to take copies of your medial history and prescriptions.
Nowadays a lot of online services require verification via codes sent to a mobile number, where possible include other means of verification including an alternate email address or identifying questions. If necessary you might need to change contact details to that of a trusted relative or friend. Once you've arrived you can then up date your details with an overseas number. I've also had trouble accessing email accounts abroad so be sure that all of your personal information is up to date and that you can recall recent mail received and sent.
Don't forget to pack electrical socket adapters. Take more than you think you'll need and once you've settled in replace all of you chargers. Trust me it's not worth the inconvenience.
Biometric Residence Permit
If you've enter the country on an entry visa you'll need to collect your biometric residence permit. During the application process you nominate a local post office from which you can collect it and after you've landed you have ten days to do so.
Proof of Address
This seems to be the biggest hurdle in moving abroad. You need a proof of address for anything official but for anything official you need a proof of address. We had a solicitor draft a letter stating our proof of address as true and accurate which allowed us to open a bank account. Otherwise there are a number of private agencies that you can use to open a bank account on your behalf without proof of address. These are paid services but most are affordable.
The type of bank account you open will depend on whether you use an agency or can secure proof of address. If you are free to choose then do your research about what might best suit your needs. It's worth noting that some accounts come with travel insurance so if you intend on travelling this can be useful even simply for peace of mind.
Healthcare in Great Britain is busy to say the least. Be sure to register with a doctor as soon as possible; for this you'll need proof of address. It can also takes up to two weeks for you application to be processed and waiting times for appointments are normally weeks not days. If you need assistance more immediately then you can register as a temporary patient. You can also call the non-emergency help line 111 for advice or alternately attend your local accident and emergency hospital department. For life threatening emergencies dial 999.
National Insurance Number
For tax purposes you'll need a national insurance number. You can start working without one but ultimately it's best to apply as soon as possible. You apply via telephone and can find the number here. It's a straight forward process; if you have a visa they'll send application forms or alternately if you have a British passport you'll be required to attend an interview.
There are a number of sim only packages you can purchase immediately upon arrival. Once you have a bank account you can then switch to contracted plans. Something else to do your own research on; costs vary as do carriers and it's a matter of personal preference as to what is most valuable to you.
You'll need an Oyster Card for general travel, it's £5 to purchase and you can top up online, at certain retailers or in stations. Be mindful of peak travel times as costs can be quite outrageous during these hours and remember to touch off and on for trains only. When using buses and trams it's a flat fare so you only need to swipe when boarding. The Oyster Card only works within Zones 1 - 6 of the public transport system with some exceptions listed here, outside of these you'll need to purchase addition tickets. To save money you can use seasonal tickets for weekly, monthly or yearly travel. Alternately if you're looking to travel on weekends with a companion there's a Two Together Rail Card available that will save you a third of the cost.