This weekend, my partner and I will move out of the flat we’ve called home for a year. Our landlord decided to sell the property and the new owners want to live here so they’ve asked us to leave.

Preparing this unwanted move has reminded me how daunting the task of finding a home away from home can be.

Although details differ from country to country, I thought I’d share with you a list of steps that have helped me settle abroad time and time again. I hope you find it useful!

1. Define what you’re after

What each of us looks for in a home is very personal but regardless of what your preferences are, there are a few overarching areas to consider.

  • Location: Would you prefer living in the city centre, a trendy area, a quiet neighbourhood…? How far from work would you like to be?
  • Type: Are you looking for a house share, an individual apartment, a house, a castle [SAY WHAAAAT?!] …?
  • Criteria: What are your ‘must-have’ and ‘nice to have’? Think about things like the number of bedrooms, car park, whether the place is furnished or not etc.
  • Budget: What can you afford to spend on accommodation? Define on a range and be mindful that some countries, like the UK and Australia, advertise prices per week whereas others, like France, do so per month.

2. Go hunting

This step can be as long or as short as you need it to be depending on your situation and expectations.

  • Sources: Familiarise yourself with the websites and agencies that offer the type of property you’re after. For example, I used Gumtree in the US, Spareroom and Easyroomate in the UK and Domain and Realestate here in Australia.
  • Local knowledge: If you’re not sure where to look, ask the locals! They’ll be able to point you in the right direction. For example, in China, I went through a local agent which was a necessity considering my poor level of Mandarin.

3. Get moving

The question here is how much do you have vs. how much do you need? If you’re anything like me, you find it easier to accumulate things than to get rid of them. But you have to be ruthless – and/or perhaps consider using storage facilities. If Mum and Dad’s garage is a valid option, by all means, go for it! Just don’t tell them I said so though.

The truth is moving items whether it is locally, nationally or especially internationally can be very expensive. Plus, you’ll be able to buy most things you need once you arrive at your destination. That option will often be better, cheaper and give you a wonderful excuse to go shopping.

Once you know what you’re taking with you, the dreaded packing begins. Ask around to see if you can get boxes or suitcases from friends, family members or local businesses.

Then, arrange for your belongings to be transported to your destination by boat, air, truck or in the back of your car. For our upcoming move, I used a comparison website which helps you obtain several quotes from different moving companies. That way, you can compare their offers by looking at their proposed price, time as well as the reviews other customers have left.

4. Change your address

Unless you’re lucky enough not to get snail mail anymore, this is a step that can’t be overlooked. Here is my current list which you can use as a starting point to create your own:

  • Banks
  • Insurance
  • Pension
  • Visa
  • Business
  • Phone
  • Car
  • Gym

One way to remember which ones should be on your list is to keep an eye on the mail you receive during the month prior to your move.

5. Make it home

Being in a new place doesn’t mean that it will feel like home to you right away.

All of the wonderful people I’ve interviewed on Be Beyond Borders so far have had their own definition of where or what home actually is. Some find it in a place, others in people and a handful find it in themselves. Not only is it very personal, that sense of belonging can also change over time.

On a more tangible note, I personally like to buy a few items that make the place I live in feel cosy and comfortable. They don’t have to cost much to have an impact. Often, I head to the closest IKEA and end up going for the same items as I had before on the other side of the world.

That’s just me though. It’s up to you to try different things and see what makes you feel at home away from home. Then all that will be left is to do is organise an amazing housewarming party! Don’t forget my invite 😉

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