Home » How to Make a To-Do List for Moving to Another Country

Traveling abroad for a couple of weeks can be stressful, but moving to another country can be borderline overwhelming. Between visas, clothes, and finding a place to live, you may wonder how you’ll get everything done in time.

However, if you sit down and compose a to-do list for your move, then you’re already taking a step in the right direction. This brief guide will help you figure out what you need to add to your checklist, and it will help you keep organized through a hectic move.

Add the Essentials

If you’re moving out of the country, then you need to have a few essentials on your to-do no matter who you are or where you’re going. These major items should take a high priorityon your to-do in order to ensure that you’re all set when the time comes for your move.

Sort Out your Paperwork

The most important part of moving abroad is ensuring that you have the proper paperwork to move to a country long-term. First and foremost, you’ll need to secure a long-term visa. If you’re moving for a job, then ask for an invitation letter to secure your visa. If you’re moving for a spouse or other reasons, then be sure to carefully choose the correct long-term visa for your travel purposes.

You also need to ensure that you have all relevant personal documents as well as a handful of copies of them. These include:

  • An up-to-date passport.
  • Your birth certificate.
  • Medical records, including vaccinations.
  • A copy of your diploma.

You may need these documents to show the authorities at border control or you may need them while abroad, so be sure to have them handy if necessary.


You should ensure that you have proper insurance that will cover you while abroad. Depending on where you’re going and for how long, you may want to buy a general travel policy or a policy within the country that you plan to live in. Research your options in order to make sure that you’ll be covered in the event of a medical emergency or other major issues while you live abroad.

Save your Money

Unless you’re moving specifically for work, then you’ll need quite a bit of money to set yourself up abroad. Calculate a budget, and be sure to include everything from major expenses to small items like food and sunscreen. As a general rule, you want to have at least 2-3 months’ expenses in your pocket when you leave your homeland.

Have a Place to Stay when you Land

Whether you’re going it solo or meeting others, you’ll want to have somewhere to stay in the short term while you hunt for apartments. Book a hotel or Airbnb for a week or two to allow you to get settled without the pressure of finding a place to live once you hit the tarmac. This way, you can adjust and recover from jet lag before you need to start taking care of business.

The Little Things

Make sure you tie up your loose ends at home before you leave. Cancel memberships and subscriptions in order to ensure that you’re not charged for something you’re not using (e.g. a cell phone bill or a magazine subscription). You should also make sure that you’ve recused yourself from any responsibilities, such as organizing a party at your church. Finally, make sure your mail is forwarded and that everyone you know has your email or other contact info to keep in touch with you.

Know Your Needs

In addition to these basic items, you might have other to-dos depending on your individual circumstances. These tips will help you consider what else you need to do before taking off.

Research Where You’re Going

Some of the items on your to-do will depend upon where you’re going. A to-do for moving to England will look much different than one for moving to Thailand. Research issues like safety, medical care, and cultural considerations before you go – even if you’ve already been there a handful of times. You should also talk to other expats who have moved to the area that you’re going to and ask questions about what surprised them and what to look out for.

Moving with Family?

If you’re headed abroad with a spouse and kids in tow, then you’ll need to make arrangements for them to ensure that your whole family adapts well to living abroad. You also should help coordinate action on their part to ensure that moving runs smoothly, using a shared calendar to keep everyone up to date on plans and anything that they must personally accomplish.

Sort your Stuff

What you need to do with your things depend on how much you have and where you’re going. If you have major possessions like a house or car, you will want to make arrangements to sell or rent them ahead of time, but smaller possessions can be taken with you, given away, or stored.

What you do with your smaller items will depend on what you need, where you’re going, and where you can store items. If you’re headed to a less-developed part of the world, for example, then you may want to bring more creature comforts and medications with you than if you’re going to England or Japan. In sum, you want to pack enough to have basic essentials when you land, but moving abroad is a great opportunity to purge your wardrobe and nick-knacks.

Furry Friends

If you have a pet, then you need to make proper arrangements for them to travel with you or find other people to adopt it at home. Look up national pet import requirements for where you’re going to make an informed decision about what will be best for your animal companion.

Special Medical Circumstances

If you have special circumstances like particular medical conditions, then you need to prepare in advance to manage them while abroad. Consult your health care provider at home about your move, and ensure that you have at least a month’s worth of prescriptions. Additionally, keep in mind that some countries may prohibit particular types of medication – even if they’re prescribed.

Tips for Keeping Organized

For a task as major as moving overseas, you don’t want to fall into the trap of having a giant, disorganized to-do. You want to create an action plan with smaller, manageable to-do items that can be divided up and incorporated into your daily schedule. These tips will help you keep your to-do organized throughout your planning.

Make a Larger Action Plan

When you decide to make the move, you should make an overall action plan to help you organize the entire process. State your overall goal – to move abroad – and then come up with major tasks that you need to accomplish, such as sell major items or secure a visa. Once you’ve established those major to-dos, you can divide those into smaller items that are easily actionable and manageable. Be sure to add deadlines in order to ensure that you complete particular tasks on time, and prioritize tasks that might take a long time to process, such as applying for a visa.

Incorporate Tasks into you Daily To-Do

After creating your master to-do, you should start incorporating individual tasks into your daily to-do. Depending on your other commitments, you should add in at least one item each day to ensure that you make progress toward your move. If you’re still working, then you will need to move at a slower pace than if moving abroad is your sole concern. However, remember that timing is key – you want to apply for visas or other permissions as soon as possible in case they take a while to process, but small things like canceling a magazine subscription can wait til even the day before.

Technology is your Friend

Use to-do apps and other tools to help improve the way that you coordinate your move. A digital action plan is easier to modify, and it’s much harder to lose than a piece of paper. You can also copy-paste items from your master plan to your daily to-do more easily, and many apps will automatically push notifications for major events and deadlines. If you’re moving with others, such as your kids or a partner, then you should utilize a shared to-do and calendar to ensure that everyone knows your plans and what they individually need to accomplish.

Take a Deep Breath

Moving abroad is no small undertaking, so many people might feel a bit of panic as they prepare to move. This is completely natural, and you shouldn’t let these feelings of nervousness derail your plans. Instead, continue to engage in stress-relieving activities like exercise or crafting, and focus on how excited you are to move. Plus, by taking time to plan and divide your to-dos into manageable chunks, you’ll feel far more confident in your decision to go abroad.

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