Moving To A New Country: The Complete Checklist You Need

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Moving to a new country every two years

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Moving to a new country will be one of the most thrilling adventures of your life. It’s the best opportunity to experience a new way of life within a new culture.

Either you’re moving for work or studying abroad it will be a fantastic way to get immersed in a foreign culture. (Read about my experiences working at a Chinese company).

If you want to make the journey as smooth as possible there are many things to keep in mind, like organizing important documents, finding a house, maybe moving your pets with you or dealing with your household belongings in your home country.

I’ve moved from my home country, The Netherlands, to China, back to The Netherlands and to the Middle East.

Soon I will move again to another country.

Based on my own experience I’ve set up this complete guide and checklist to help you relocate overseas no matter what your destination is.

Table of Contents

Having the chance to choose a new country to live in is an incredible thing. Not many people get this opportunity. There are many things to consider when you make this choice.

keep an open mind

Thirst of all, keep an open mind. The biggest surprise for me when we moved to China was the difference between what’s on TV and what it actually was like to be there. For some people, China might seem like a strange and scary country, but the fact is that it’s one of the safest countries on earth. You will never ever have to worry about a robbery or any other crime. Is Iraq a dangerous country? It looks like it when you follow the news. Is it actually? Certain parts are but many parts are very safe. The crime rate in Erbil is actually a third lower than what is in The Netherlands.

My advice is, try to see countries with an open mind. You probably are already, since you are thinking of moving to a new country but still, try to get rid of stereotypes and prejudices. This will make you enjoy new places so much more and open up more possibilities.

Look into the possibilities for work

Try to look ahead of what the possibilities are to work there. Are you a creative person? Are there many possibilities for music, art or video? Are there many interesting locations? Or are you looking for more of a corporate job? Is there a thriving economy with many options and a big expat community?

For finding work in a new country, check out my post on 10 ways to earn money abroad.

Can family and friends come over?

When you’re living abroad one of the cool things to do is inviting your friends and family over to visit you. Show them your new place and all the local attractions.

When choosing a country, it might be a good idea to keep in mind what the options are regarding flights. If the cost of a flight ticket is very expensive it will be more difficult for friends to come over.

Is there a time difference?

I found out that it is super hard to maintain relationships and friendships when you’re in another time zone and with a big time difference.

I’ve had a time difference of 7 hours later than in my home country. Later I realized that in my country there is winter-time, which adds another hour! 8 hours time difference is really long and it will be difficult to schedule facetime or phone calls.

What's the food like?

Even if it’s not a top priority, it’s not a bad idea to give some thought to the local cuisine while making plan to move to a new country. It’s possible that many of the foods and products you’re accustomed to won’t be sold in your new area. Vegetarians should explore if the local cuisine is focused on meat or vegetables. It would be a shame if there are very few vegetarian options when you will live there for a long time.

I knew there would be a lot of dishes with meat in Erbil. What I didn’t expect, was that there are five Carrefour Supermarkets, each of which have almost every imaginable food item. Lucky me!

moving to The United States

If you want to go to the United States somewhere in the future, keep in mind that it might be more difficult to get a visa if you have visited one of these countries in the past: North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen. Check the US government website for the  latest info.

The Language

Once you’ve settled on a destination, it’s a good idea to begin studying the local language. Most of it is something you’ll figure out after you get there, however. But learning the rudiments of the language will be quite useful.

Also, if you plan on enrolling in language courses after you arrive in your new home nation, you’ll have a head start.

Chineasy was a great app I used before going to China; it explained a lot of things and made things clearer, and it showed amusing pictures to help me remember the meaning of the characters. Learning about the concept of the ‘four tones’ in Chinese was also very helpful.

Duolingo and Babbel are two other useful applications.

And if you know even a few words, you’ll be able to strike up conversations with almost anybody in no time. In the Kurdish city Erbil, the greeting is “choni bashi!” What this translates to is “how are you doing?” What a wonderful way to kick off a hello!


Before moving to a new country it is suggested to see which vaccinations are recommended. In some countries the hygiene might be less at restaurants or other public places than in your own country. So protect yourself by getting the right vaccinations.

Leaving your home country behind

So, what to do with all your beloved furniture? There are some things you can do. We gave some of our goods away to friends, some of the stuff we sold online and some other things we kept in a storage room. But a storage room will cost you money so it’s better to just use it temporarily.

If you want to keep some of your good but don’t want to use a storage room. Ask friends and family of they have some space left in their house, like an attic where you can store your stuff until you return.

You can also lend it out to friends and ask for it back when you return.

What to Do with your phone subscription?

My advice is to maintain your phone number from your native country, but that you scale down your subscription to the most affordable level. You won’t have to worry about losing too many contacts this way, and you’ll still be able to make occasional calls with the number when you’re back.

When it comes to some verifications, having a phone number on which you can depend completely, as opposed to a phone number that could just be temporary, will be very necessary. Especially nowadays when there are many services that require online verification through text messages.


If you need a vpn in the country you’re going to, get it before going there! In most countries where a vpn is required for certain social media, the websites to buy those VPNs are also blocked. So, make sure you get a good one before getting on the plane.


I’ve tried many vpns during my time abroad like internet access, nordvn and express vpn. In my experience express vpn just works best. It will also be very helpful if you want to watch TV or shows from your home country to keep up with all the news and things happening over there.

Expiring Passport

Check you passport expiration date. For most travels your passport needs to be valid at least 6 months. So, if you are going to another country and your passport is valid for only a year for example, the smart thing to do is to get a new one before departing.

Expiring driver’s license

I had to learn this the hard way. When we were living in China we didn’t have a car. I used to go everywhere in the city on my beloved electric Niu scooter. Way easier and more convenient than a car! So, I didn’t need my drivers license for a few years and I never really checked it or paid attention to it. At some point I noticed that it was expired for 5 months already! And if you’re not living in the EU anymore it is a huge hassle to renew it. Even more, if it would have been expired for 6 months I would be obliged to take a new drivers exam!

Print out everything

Make a hardcopy of the most important documents and keep everything in a box

I am not a very organized person so it’s absolutely vital for me to be double as careful with important documents. It’s a very simple solution but just keep everything together in maps or in a box.


Change your address on your government’s website and unsubscribe from your municipality. In most countries it is illegal not to register your new address if you are living in another country for more than 6 months.

Get travel insurance

Even if you’re going to a relatively safe country, it is still a good idea to get travel insurance. Not just in case you lose your phone for example but for any situation. You’re in a new country and a new environment so you just don’t know what might happen. You also don’t know what the exact rules on the road are, like how I learned about roundabouts in Iraq. Make sure you cover health expenses, loss of goods and also get a liability insurance.

It might very well be the case that as a foreigner you might have less rights as a national person. Although legally you might have, in practice the case might be different. For example, in case you’re involved in a scooter accident and hit someone else’s expensive car, you really want to have a liability insurance. Luckily those extra insurances, apart from health insurance, are pretty cheap.

I use OOMS insurance which has very good response time and customer service.

New bank account

Obtaining a bank account in your new location is extremely helpful for receiving and making payments in a foreign currency without having to pay a hefty conversion fee at the ATM.

You also have the option of using an online money transfer service such as Wise, which gives you the ability to send and receive payments in more than 50 different currencies.

Also, make sure you adjust the settings of your own bank account to ‘wordwide’ so you are able to get money from the ATM.

Credit card

It’s also smart to get a credit card. Some things can only be paid by credit card like renting a car or paying for your deposit at a hotel. It really surprised me when I booked a hotel. The room was already paid for but when I arrived I had to pay for the deposit with my creditcard, which I didn’t have…


Get a password manager like Nordpass where you can store all your passwords. When you go to a new country and you get a new sim-card, bank account or perhaps the code of your door you really don’t want to forget some of those codes. Especially abroad it’s important to be self-reliant.


This not only helps to keep your passwords secure it also prevents them from being stolen. There are stories going around that at some airports they scan your phone for images and other information. With Nordpass you can turn of travel mode which completely removes all passwords from your phone, and when you turn it off after you have left the airport you get all your passwords back. This will prevent any scanner of hacker at any airport access to your vital information.


I’ve only used Nordpass so far, no complaints.

Two-Factor Authentication

Setting up two-factor authentication is something that I can recommend even when you’re not traveling. But when you are moving to a new country you will have to get new online accounts on various social media, or a new phone number or bank account for example.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication on all of your accounts, such as the ones you use for banking like paypal, email, and yoursocial media accounts. While you are traveling, you will be using a lot of public WiFi hotspots which are not safe.

You’ve spent a lot of time building your social media accounts so protect them! Using Two-Factor Authentication will protect your accounts from being stolen. I myself use the google authenticator which can be downloaded for free in any Appstore.

Over the coming time I will expand this guide to help you moving to a new country smoothly. There is much more to tell about this exciting adventure.

Getting the right mindset, starting a social network from scratch, and business relationships are all essential factors when you are moving to a new country. More coming soon.

A man standing on top of a sand dune with his arms outstretched.

About the author

Chris Oberman is the founder and author of Moving Jack and has been traveling the world for over 20 years to 40+ countries.

He lives in a different country every two years which allows him to gain unique in-depth insights and experiences in new places abroad.

Quoted on, NRC Newspaper, Vice,and Feedspot.

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