Such a journey into new adventures is exciting and thrilling. It always is, even if it only goes on holiday. More than before going on holiday, I’ve to plan and organise a move abroad. That takes time and lead time. I’ve been able to do this in just under 6 weeks, but I was many years younger then. A comfortable recommendation is three or four months.
Many underestimate this part and have a lot of problems later. Or, even worse, they blame others for their own negligence. Then they need help from people like me who are well organized and informed. Therefore I decided to write this blog post. But I’m far from believing that I’m offering wisdom the last conclusion. But hopefully it can be help to offer suggestions to start or optimize your own planning.
How do we start?
It’s astonishing that many of those who go abroad manage well at work, but aren’t able to do so at home. So if you have a proven system, just use it 😉. (thanks to my husband :-*)
We always start with a calendar/schedule and at the same time with a “collection list”. Here we note every Question from our conversations. You can do this in a notebook or like us in OneNote. The advantage here is that everyone involved has insight and can work on it. So everyone is always up to date. Especially when not everyone is always in one place. This is practical.
Our “collection list” look like this:
Insurance, bank matters, pension insurance, unemployment insurance, inability to work, health insurance, registration address, tax, vaccinations, old flat, new flat, furniture, travel pharmacy, car, moving company, storage, visa, work permit, employment contract, doctor’s appointments for precautions, overview of customs and habits, language learning, etc.
Each point raises further questions and requirements that should be considered. For example, to have certain things and medicines with you as a precaution for the beginning. Ours looks like this:
– Fenistil drops
– Paracetamol 500 mg
– Ibuprofen 600 mg
– Broad-spectrum antibiotic
– Prospan drops
– Dorithricin Neck Tablets
– Berberil Eye Drops
– Refrigerated compresses 2 x
– Elastic bandage, gauze bandages
– Adhesive plasters, wound dressings
Or the question of vaccinations. Here you can see that a seemingly small topic can take on considerable proportions:
- Which vaccinations are needed?
- Can any family doctor do that?
- At what intervals can vaccinations be given?
- Is it one vaccination?
- What protection is already available?
- Who pays the costs?
- Where is my vaccination book? 😉
For Singapore we have decided on the following vaccinations:
- Hepatitis A & B
- Polio, diphtheria, tetanus
- Japanese Enziphalitis
We left malaria at first and decide later whether it’s necessary for Taiwan.
The time schedule
We’ll put that on the schedule at OneNote. So everyone knows what to do and when. Some things get done quickly, others don’t. Some things are still being expanded and new ones are being added. For example, where we place all the appointments for the farewell visits.
Large themes with many questions and activities are handled separately. Otherwise the clarity of the schedule would be lost. We just write the main terms in the schedule at OneNote.
The extended schedule can look like this:
What is done gets a green tick.
Important to know
Often further lists are necessary. For example, question lists to the tax office, the pension insurance company or to the banks. If the salary is paid abroad to a local bank and the residence is no longer in Germany, this can cause some problems.
If you are on an orientation trip, it makes sense to use it to find a new apartment. Therefore I have made a list of requirements to the new apartment, which I sent to the agency in advance. We are not all the same and the agency is not clairvoyant. This is an important point that saves time and nerves.
We always decide relatively quickly what we want to take with us and what has to be sent by plane or container. For both, a detailed list translated into English is necessary for customs.
If you take your partner with you, he or she must terminate his or her employment contract in good time, unless he or she is a freelancer or self-employed person. Then the question of the missing income arises. Also, it is not always the case that the partner receives a work permit in the target country. Or whether two full-time parents are compatible with children.
If you have your own house or apartment, the question arises whether to sell it or rent it for a limited period of time. Both may involve a great deal of effort and/or financial losses. In the case of a rented apartment, subletting or vacancy would be an option. In addition to these considerations, you should always consider where you will live during stays in the home country. Especially families often fly back once or twice a year. -> Who pays the flight costs?
Long flights are very exhausting. An economy flight of more than 10 hours is like a stay in a vegetable box. The regeneration time is much longer. Business flights are not always paid by companies for the partner/family. There is also the option of booking Economy Plus flights and paying the extra costs yourself. According to my research, additional costs of approx. 500 € per route and person are not worthwhile. The available space is hardly bigger and everything else is not much better. In my opinion only the possibility was created to generate more revenue for the airlines. Only with the offers of Singapore Airlines I could make friends. But sleeping is hardly possible here either.
The furniture thing
Whether a dissolution of the flat/house or a renting, at the end the question arises: What do I do with the furniture and the household goods?
Some take all their furniture and household stuff with them. This means that they are sent by ship in a container. This takes about three weeks and you are at your destination without furniture. Or you are at home without furniture for a while…
We move a lot. That has its advantages, but also disadvantages. Or as my great-grandmother used to say:
“Moving three times is like burning down once”.
There is something to it and we have been limiting ourselves for many years to Second Hand and cheap furniture. These are not really numerous and can be quickly dismantled. Our apartment is rather our base and also our workplace. After all, the world out there wants to be explored 😉.
Therefore we pack our things in three suitcases and send four boxes with books and folders by plane. The rest is stored in a storage box. At the destination we live furnished and the most necessary things that might be missing are available in local shops or at IKEA (e.g. Singapore, Beijing). If you are not the type for egg cooker, toaster, food processor, electric juicer etc. now, this works very well.
However, we sent more than we were out with the children. We didn’t have a service apartment and we didn’t want to buy everything new. In the rented accommodation there were curtains, lamps, cupboards, beds, dining room and a kitchen, but nothing else and empty cupboards. At the end we stayed two weeks in the hotel and had to buy the most important things, because there were delays with the delivery of our things.
Duvets and pillows, bed linen, towels, dishes and pots, storage boxes etc., but also ironing board, iron and cleaning utensils were needed. The children wanted toys and of course we only had some of the school supplies with us. In the airplane we had been limited in each case to a piece of luggage of 30 kg. When our things finally came, we had many things doubled. And when we were back in Germany after years and a move in between, our things really looked worn out.
Schools and kindergartens abroad have different requirements than those in the home country. You can read more about this here. Basically once the costs. They should not be underestimated. Not automatically everything is paid. In any case, before signing the contract, make sure that not only the school costs are covered, but also the admission fees.
Each school also has different entry requirements. Admission tests are usually taken.
Here as an example from the German school in Singapore GESS:
- Students who apply for admission to grades 6 to 12 of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program must take an online English test. In some cases, additional tests in mathematics and science are required.
- Students who apply for admission to our German Curriculum Branch will be assessed on the basis of their certificates and grades. In exceptional cases, placement tests may be required for the student’s benefit. In individual cases, the approval of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany is required for admission to grades 11 and 12.
Further requirements must be fulfilled. Here is an excerpt. If you would like to find out more, click here.
As a foreigner in Germany, you cannot automatically disappear for several years. I used to need the document “Gewährung einer Frist zur Wiedereinreise ohne Erlöschen der Aufenthaltsgenehmigung”. Fortunately, this is no longer necessary for Swiss nationals and after my return it is sufficient to apply for a certificate in accordance with the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons.
Shopping for things that we can’t get or can’t get easy. These are very few in Singapore and for some I don’t know if they would be available after all, but it’s easier this way. In any case “souvenirs” from Germany for new friends 😊.
Have you had other experiences or are you missing something here? Then please write to me. 😊