When moving overseas, there are a myriad of things to think about. I constantly have different thoughts float around my head. Which moisturiser should I take on the plane? How much can I sell our washing machine for? Should I buy a coat now or wait until we get there?
It’s hard to keep track of everything; I have so many lists, most of which I’ve forgotten I’ve written. As a bit of a nerd, I love my Excel spreadsheets. Before getting everything organised, start one of these. It doesn’t matter if it’s formal or casual – it’s just a place to keep all of your thoughts and organise them into a meaningful, actionable plan.
How should you set it up? I recommend using one spreadsheet for everything, with different tabs for each type of information.
Thoughts: Use this tab to record any thoughts that you don’t know how to categorise or organise yet. It will prevent you from forgetting anything. When I’m at work, I have been writing down my thoughts on sticky notes then bringing them home to add to the spreadsheet.
Finances: This tab will be the most complex (but still very simple on the endless scale of Excel’s capabilities) in terms of formulas. Jump into your online banking and put your current savings right at the top. Create two columns; one with expected incoming money (salary, bond refund, sale of any personal items) and expenses (rent, food) in the other column. These amounts should represent anything up until the date of your move. I have then converted the balance of this into pounds using the current exchange rate. In another section, do the same for your expenses and incoming money expected for after you’ve moved overseas. Unfortunately, I can’t be paid at my new job until February so I worked out how much money I needed in those first two months. Luckily, my amount left after expenses in Australia (then converted to pounds) will cover this – phew! If it doesn’t, or if you don’t have a job lined up for your arrival, it’s time to start saving!
Things to do: This is where you list everything you need to do before you leave. Visit the doctor, buy a suitcase, cancel your phone plan and anything else you physically need to do.
Calendar: I’ve created a weekly calendar for the few months leading up to departure, as well as a daily calendar for the final few weeks. Take everything from your “things to do” list and add them into the calendar list. You can then check things off (such a good feeling) or move them around as you make appointments and they actually occur.
Packing: My packing list is split into two – cabin and checked baggage. I’ve written up a comprehensive list of everything I will need on the plane as well as all the clothes/items I don’t want to give away. As I’m putting these into my suitcase (or pile on the floor) I check them off the list. If my bag gets to the point where it’s too heavy, I can easily look at the list and find a specific non-essential item to remove, rather than tipping everything out and starting again.
Your things: This tab should be a list of all of your household items. I have listed all of our possessions in a table with these headings: category (furniture, clothes), item, keep, sell, throw out, cost to buy and who is buying. This has allowed me to think logically about which items we would try to sell and how much money we could potentially gain. I also intended to sell quite a bit of our furniture to my brother, who was moving out of college at the same time we were leaving, so his name appeared quite frequently in the “who is buying” column. Thanks bro!
Flights: One of the most stressful things about making the move was choosing flights. We had to wait until our visas were approved before booking flights – to ensure that they were approved and to confirm the start date was the date we had nominated – so while we were waiting, we kept track of all the different options. I constructed a table with the following headings: airline, departure time, stops, stopover times, arrival time, baggage allowances and of course price.
Travel information: Once you’ve booked your flights, hotels, insurance and other transport, include all the details here. If you’re doing travelling before you settle, you can create an itinerary here.
Another great way to store and share information is to create a Facebook group. While you’re researching, it’s very easy to copy and paste a link to the group to investigate further at a later time or to reference when you’re at your destination.
Do you have any other tips for getting organised? I’m all about the lists, but if you have a different strategy, let me know!