1. Quit your job.
Kind of a no-brainer here. This can be done by putting in your notice exactly two weeks prior to your departure date, or the moment you decide it is time to move. I found it easier to go about the moving preparations when I had a lot of free time on my hands. You will have a busy schedule of things-to-do before you leave, and being tied up at work makes this tricky.
2. Sell your car.
Word of mouth in a small town might be the easiest way to get your vehicle off your hands. It allows you some leeway regarding the date you turn over the keys, as you will likely want to have a set of wheels handy right up until the time you leave. But sometimes there just aren’t enough interested car shoppers if you go this route, in which case an ad online is the next best thing; it’s free and targets a larger audience.
3. Get rid of your furniture.
A garage sale won’t get you the prices your furniture deserves, so I recommend using an online service to sell your tables, chairs, lamps, sofas, beds, etc. (All hail ye, Craigslist.)
4. Cancel your cell phone service.
Unfortunately, most data providers require a cancellation fee if you are terminating your plan. However, if you are going to be abroad for more than a few months, it is worthwhile to cancel your plan. You will save money in the long run. Instead of wasting money on international rates, purchase a local phone once you arrive at your destination. (Contracted plans take advantage of the customer; a pay-as-you-go works great even in the States. You can get a $20 touch screen phone at any gas station or convenience store—trust me, they’re there—with the same perks as a contracted plan, but cheaper.) Save your iPhone! Refer to #13 to find out why.
5. Thin out your closet.
This is a must-do for both males and females. Go through your clothes, shoes, and accessories. Give away the sweaters hanging in the back of your closet that you forgot about, the shoes you’ve only worn once, and the (man)purses you could do without. Offer your clothes to same-size friends, take them into work and put them in the break room for people to go through, or donate to a local charity.
6. Do away with all the tchotchkes, knickknacks and junk.
It would be nice to rope in a little extra cash selling all that “stuff” we accumulate, and one person’s junk can always be another person’s treasure. However, using the internet to sell anything that isn’t technically useful is generally a waste of time. The hassle of setting up a time for someone to come look at or pick up an item being sold for under $30 typically isn’t worth it. If you want to make any sort of buck off the little things, a garage sale is the way to go. Keep in mind it is time consuming and often only brings in a couple hundred dollars. I was happier biting the bullet and gave away most of my small stuff to friends (give them something to remember you by!) or charities.
7. Get rid of your kitchenware.
Figure out what you are going to take with you abroad, what you are going to sell, and whether or not you really need 15 plastic cups. If dinnerware and silverware do not have some sentimental value to you, it might be more cost-effective to buy replacements when you get to your new home instead of lugging these with you. Cut down on the number of pots and pans you take with you. Ask yourself what you can do without. Can you use a fork to mash potatoes instead of a beater? Does the cookie jar really have to make the trip? (It’s never filled with cookies anyway.) Tupperware can easily be purchased abroad, and let’s face it, half the containers are probably missing lids. It might be helpful to research the local cuisine in your new stomping grounds as grocery stores differ from country to country in products they sell.
8. Tell your bank you’re going out of the country.
To protect yourself from having your credit card canceled unexpectedly while you’re abroad, let your bank know you will be traveling internationally. This can be done through an automated phone service that will ask which countries you intend to visit and your dates of travel. Most banks also let you do it online, so make sure you’re signed up for online banking.
9. Request e-mail notifications for important information.
For all of those reminders and alerts that can be sent to your inbox instead of your mailbox, change your notification preferences to email. I recommend doing this with your bank and any other financial institutions or payment services.
10. Change your address at the post office.
While you may have signed up for email notifications for most if not everything, you will undoubtedly still receive mail at your last place of address. I recommend you set up a forwarding address where important paperwork can still be sent and received. Try asking a relative or a close friend if they would be so kind as to let you use their address, and alert them to what they should set aside, open immediately, or just toss in the trash. You can pick up a “Change of Address” form at the post office, or simply visit their website. Forwarding of postal mail can be done for up to one year.
11. Contact your family and close friends.
Make sure the people you care about—and who care about you!—know where you’ll be headed. Give them your email address to keep in touch. You never know when you’ll see each other again! It’s a small world after all.
12. Set up a Skype account.
Make sure you stay connected with people on Skype. Social media, email, and live chat services have made “keeping in touch” seem like a thing of the past. It is a good idea to create a Skype account before you go so that they already have contact information for you when you’re saying goodbye.
13. Download WhatsApp on your iPhone.
WhatsApp is a free mobile texting app. (Why Americans don’t use it to cut down on the costs in their data plan is beyond me.) Your iPhone acts as an iPod touch when connected to Internet, so it’s a good idea to keep your old phone in the event that you only purchase a cheap flip phone in your next destination. You need an active phone number only to get started. All your texts will be linked to this number, so if you end up using a friend’s phone number like I did for your WhatsApp account, you might get texts from your friend’s friends. Thus, I recommend you link it with your existing number before cancelling your mobile plan. You can still use WhatsApp linked to that number once the plan is cancelled. Don’t ask me how it works that way; it just does. Or, you can link your WhatsApp to the phone you purchase in your new destination. If you get a cheap flip phone, as long as it can receive the initial confirmation text code to start your WhatsApp, you’re good to go!
14. Change or cancel your voter registration.
If you don’t want to be called to jury duty while you’re away, it is important that you take care of this. You can sign up for an Absentee ballot instead.
15. Throw yourself a farewell party! (I’m really good at this one.)
If someone else doesn’t do it for you, don’t be too shy to gather your friends for one last hoorah before you head out. You will have a lot of people wanting to “get together before you go,” and it can be time-consuming—not to mention costly—to go out to lunch with everyone before you leave. So have yourself a big send-off, and encourage people to spread the word just in case you accidentally left anyone out.
What other things need to be done before moving abroad? Leave a comment below!