Things To Do Before You Move To Europe – A Helpful Checklist from Experienced Expats
Get your finances sorted out ahead of time
How much money are you going to need? Make sure your research the living expenses of the country you are moving to and check with the embassy to find out how much money you going to need to have before you enter the country.
Is anyone helping you? If you are going to receive money from other parties (sponsors, parents), collect letters that confirm the delivery dates, amounts, and your agreement terms.
Do you have contracts lined up? If so have copies of whatever contractual work agreements you might have secured either overseas or at home. If you have arrangements with home-based publications or companies to do freelance jobs but don’t have official agreements, then you may want to have your clients sign a letter of intent. A letter of intent, unlike a contract, doesn’t legally bind anyone. However, it provides outside authorities with a frame of reference.
Make sure you can easily access your money
Speak to bank requirements, plan out your inputs and outputs, and at home prepare your accounts so they meet your needs.
Get your accounts set up. I have three accounts set up: my “home account” where I deposit a fixed amount that covers monthly withdrawals (visa card, insurance, storage), my “foreign account” where I collect funds for my time abroad; and finally a “professional account” where I deposit the money that I earn through work. The professional account is helpful for income tax purposes and makes it possible for you to calculate your yearly revenue.
Obtain a local bank card. You should avoid using your home bank card for withdrawing cash since you will incur high transaction fees. Instead, open a local account and make arrangements for money to be transferred from your home account that will cover all of your living expenses. Each transfer will be charged a fee. Keep in mind that the fewer transactions that are made, the easier it will be for you to monitor and manage your cash flow.
Stay in contact. Be sure to obtain access to both phone and online banking systems so that your finances can be administered from afar. If possible, just work with one bank. If your credit cards and accounts are with the same institution it will make it easier for you to make transfers and payments. Even better, request that your bank assign a personal adviser to you who you can directly contact whenever you need to.
Apply for your visa
All European counties require you to either hold a student or work visa for stays that are over three months. Contact the country’s embassy where you planning to stay six months in advance at least. At a minimum, you are going to be required to have: proof of your financial independence, your most recent three bank statements, the address where you will be living, a work offer, or school enrollment certification (not an acceptance certificate).
Keep in mind a student visa will not necessarily guarantee that you can work in Europe. Contact each consulate and ask them about the laws in their country. Working traveler volunteer and paid programs, frequently organized by private organizations, are available for seasonal or summer jobs in certain European countries. A few very specialised people are granted the EU Blue Card.
You will need to have insurance coverage for unexpected events, trip cancellations, accidents, and healthcare needs. Budget £500 to £1,500 a year for insurance. World Nomads has an excellent deal for long-term travelers and students for their traveling needs.
Before you go have your health checked
Get appointments scheduled with your primary healthcare provider, your eye doctor, and your dentists, before you go. It is a lot easier dealing with health procedures when you are at home instead of waiting until you go abroad and having to deal with insurance reimbursements. Make arrangements for having sufficient supplies of all of your prescription medications (including any contraception pills if necessary).
Make sure your driver’s license is updated
Your driving license is not going to be recognized by every European country. For example, Germany and Spain require you to obtain a valid international driving license before you can lease a vehicle. These licenses are inexpensive and can be obtained through AAA and other places in large cities. Any valid driver’s license is accepted by Britain and France accepts licenses from certain states.
Renew your credit cards and IDs
You don’t be stuck with expired credit cards while abroad. When you leave make sure you have updated credit cards, health insurance cards, driver’s licenses, and passports.
Important: Once you have collected everything that you need, make photocopies of all the cards and official documents that you are going to take with you. Make two copies! It includes cards, agreements, birth certificates, insurance, a plane ticket, and most importantly, the third page of your passport. A copy should be left at home with friends or family – and the second set of copies should be with you and kept separately from the original documents.
Consider having a power of attorney
The last time I was planning to go abroad, a bank representative recommended that I obtain a power of attorney. It was a very smart move to make. When it was time to send my storage company a check, get things settled with my car insurance, or pay outstanding bills, the personal administrator that I had appointed was able to handle everything without any hassles. If you are going abroad for longer than six months it is definitely worth considering.
Get your mail sorted
Be sure to put in a change of address with every institution you deal with: relevant governmental departments, clubs, schools, and banks. Your mail can also be directed by the postal service. In all situations, the best thing to do is probably to maintain a home address and get someone to collect your mail.
Take electrical plug adapters with you
While Britain runs on 230 volts, Europe runs on 220 volts, so most likely you will need to ensure you have the right converters for the various shaped plugs. Each country has its very own electric usage requirements, and also some places have multiple types of sockets, voltages, and plugs.
Bring a gift from home and offer it to your hosts
Take a few souvenirs from home with you (cards, pins, sweets). When you meet a helpful person, they will appreciate your nice gesture.
While abroad, be prepared to join expat or meetup groups, and also be prepared to become friends with some locals
Although fellow expats abroad might provide much-needed support and be really helpful, to truly experience your European move, try making friends with locals if you can. In most situations, they will be very interested in your home country and your life.
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