I don’t think any amount of conversations, articles or preparation can prepare one for the big E. It’s like a big rollercoaster which promises a lot of ups but does not focus on the potential lows. Emigrating is like the mother of all moves. Whether you are moving with all your possessions or moving with just your tog bag, it’s still big. In our case, we have had to say goodbye to our work possessions, our home possessions, most of our clothes, our clients, our friends, our pets and as if that isn’t crazy enough, I have even had to say good bye to my favourite pair of boots.
First things first : Emigration comes with a lot of research and decisions to be made namely :
1. Where do you want to move or better yet, where can you move to and what will work for you/your family ?
2. Do your research on the internet, talk to others, join ex pat facebook groups.
3. Why are you wanting to leave your country and what are you looking for ? What is your objective/s ?
4. What are the visa requirements ?
5. What is the main language ?
6. Do you have any special skills which may be in demand e.g. doctor, nurse, etc.
7. What are the money requirements ?
8. Can you see yourselves living there – climate, location, schooling, medical care, etc
9. Are there job opportunities or must you be self employed ?
10. What are your skills ? How can you earn an income ?
11. Have you discussed your plans with your current employer – rather give them a heads up so that they can think about succession planning.
12. If you are retiring to your new land, make sure you research how this will work.
13. What will you do with your current home ? Is it a rental or do you own it ? Where will you stay until you fly off to your new land ?
Once you have decided on your new land, then even more decisions and work ensues i.e.
1. Is your passport current, will it last long enough during the emigration process or do you need to renew it ?
2. Is your driver’s licence current or do you need to renew this ? Is an international drivers licence required ?
3. How do you get a visa / work permit / residency in your new land - make sure you know exactly how all the red tape works and how long it all takes.
4. What vaccinations do you need e.g. yellow fever.
5. How much money do you need and how to do you take it there – cash, travellers cards, credit card, etc.
6. What paperwork do you need for the visas and how much does it cost e.g. unabridged birth certificates, unabridged marriage certificate, etc (bear in mind that unabridged paperwork takes months even up to a year to receive from the South African Home Affairs)
7. Do you apply for the visa here or there ?
8. What paperwork do you need to carry with you ?
9. What are you taking with – just what you can carry (bear in mind airline weight restrictions are very strict) or are you going to take more via a shipping container or post (bearing in mind logistics and immense cost).
10. Whatever you don’t want – sell or recycle. Facebook is a wonderful tool for this process. Make sure to pass on any sentimental items onto family members or special friends.
11. Also bear in mind that some electronics will not work as efficiently in your new land due to different voltages so you may not be able to take that beloved hairdryer with you.
12. What adaptors do you need for those electronics which may be going with you ?
13. If you are going to send possessions via ship/post– make sure you research costs as well as what is allowed to enter the country.
14. Any bulky items i.e photo albums – scan any special photos and either save them onto a hard drive or create a special album on Facebook which you can access anywhere. The photos which you no longer need either need to be given to someone or destroyed (burn or shred).
15. If you want to take pets – what are the quarantine rules and costs.
16. If the pets are not going with you, start a rehoming process sooner rather than later, as the disturbances and packing in the home is very disruptive to animals.
17. Get a copy of your medical history e.g. GP, Dentist, Optometrist, Gynae, etc.
18. Make one last visit to your optometrist (make sure you have enough contact lenses if applicable).
19. Have one last dental clean up, hair appointment, gynae check etc.
20. If you are on any chronic medication/asthma pumps/allergy medication, then make sure you have enough stock to last you a while so that you don’t need to urgently seek medical help in your new land.
21. A letter of good standing from your current bank. Be aware of the time limits on letters of this nature. Advise your bank of the move as well as the fact that you may be using your credit card in a different country. Check expiry dates on current cards.
22. Police clearance will need to be obtained from your Police Authority. There are also time limits on these certificates plus the process takes some times so bear all in this mind.
23. Plan your travel itinerary to your new land i.e. airtickets, foreign currency and a temporary place to stay until you find something more permanent.
24. Cancel debit orders as and when you can and ensure that there is enough money in your current bank account to cover any possible fees or remaining debit orders.
25. Cancel any insurance that you may have on household contents or cars, when applicable. This has to be timed perfectly so that you are not at risk at any time.
26. If you have a cell phone contract, you will need to call your cell phone provider to discuss premature cancellation costs. This cost can be quite hefty so be prepared.
27. If you are self employed in your current land :
a. Think about your registered company and whether you want to deregister or become dormant. Research your options.
b. Make sure you company books are all up to date and that your company tax is up to date until the last day of business.
c. Give notice on your rental space, telephone and internet line, insurances, etc.
d. Do hard drive clean ups and back ups. Shred all confidential documentation.
e. Make sure you give your clients and providers an opportunity to say goodbye.
f. When you move out, sell or recycle as much as possible and ensure office space is clean and ready for inspection. Ensure your rental deposit is received.
If you need further assistance, The Ex Pat Hub site is awesome.
Let me just warn you this process above is going to stir up a lot of emotions – good, bad and ugly. You are physically sifting through your life and having to decide what goes where, which can be very hard. Once you have given that item away or destroyed it, feel the emotion and then move onto the next item on the list. Try to think of this ‘get rid of phase’ as liberating. It is not the end of something, it is the beginning of something new. You have made this big decision to change your entire world, be strong. Rely on each other for support, but also share your thoughts with your best friend. Whatever you do, don’t hide under your duvet, rather face the world head on and tick another item off the list.
Feel free to leave comments or questions. Hope to hear from you.