As long term expats, we know a thing or two about moving to another. All the members of our team have traveled extensively and lived in all parts of this great globe from Singapore to Spain to South Africa. If you’re wondering what are the things to buy when moving to a new country, we’ve gathered our combined experiences and created this brief but useful list.
Moving to a new country is both terrifying and exciting at the same time, and doing the admin can be a daunting experience while dealing with all the emotions. So sit back, relax and let us do the heavy thinking for you. Here are some ideas of things to buy when moving to a new country.
Furniture for your new place
No doubt one of the first things to organize when living abroad is your accommodation. You may want to rent an apartment or buy a house in your new country, but no matter which option you choose, the first of the things to buy when moving to a new country is some furniture. This could be a gradual process as you start collecting appliances after your arrival but there are a few must-haves to get before you move in if they don’t come with the property. You’ll most likely need a bed, refrigerator and some form of desk, table and chair combination.
See if there are any second hand sites in your new country or even Facebook groups. This is a great way to save money and you never know what treasures you might find. There could even be items of furniture that were bought and never used. If you don’t like the idea of second hand goods, do some research on the best furniture stores in your area. Are there international brands like Ikea or Muji or are there some awesome local stores that you can shop at. Find out how long delivery takes and what the fees are so that it can arrive the same day as you.
Voltage converters & outlet adapters
This may seem like a no-brainer, but with everything else going on these are very simple items that are easily forgotten and very much needed. It can be such a nuisance to arrive in your new country and get out your charger for your laptop, only to discover that the plug doesn’t fit in the socket. A true face-palm moment many of us have experienced.
To save yourself some pain, make sure you purchase a reliable voltage converter, as well as outlet adapter. In fact, buy a few as they don’t take up much space or weight. It’s always best to buy them locally and not at the airport, as prices are hiked up quite a bit at airport stores. You also may not find the correct convertor you need for your destination. Multi converters are better so that you don’t have to worry if you purchased the correct voltage or plug fitting. You could choose to buy these in your new country, but trust us when we say it’s a nuisance to try and hunt for an electronics store when you don’t even know how the new transportation system works.
Speaking about adapters, you should also gather all of the must-have electronic items you’ll need before you go. You will actually need to decide what to bring with and what to let go of as traveling with bulky electronic items can be extremely expensive, oftentimes more so than just purchasing a new one. You absolutely need your cellphone, laptop and curling iron, but do you really need to bring the washing machine?
One of my friends immigrated from Dubai to Seoul and brought her 50” Samsung TV with her only to find out that a new one was cheaper in South Korea as it is the home of Samsung after all. You never know, you may even be able to get rid of electronic items you don’t need by donating it to a charity or making some additional cash for your move. For computing, you could always try to find online stores that have so many choices of laptops and desktops for sale where you could find some really cool deals.
We would highly recommend spending a bit extra on premium luggage that purchasing a single item carrier. The reason for this is that you’re probably going to be doing a whole lot of traveling after you arrive. You’ll be exploring your new found home whenever you get the chance and you’ll be making trips back home to see family and friends at least once a year. So forking out a bit more cash can really make a big difference.
Expensive luggage also helps to protect your goods from being damaged or stolen while in transit. We’ve traveled even short distances from Seoul to Jeju and during this brief journey the contents of the bag on top of ours broke and leaked stinky kimchi juice all over our luggage. Lucky we had a hard shell and none of our clothing or electronics were destroyed. We recommend Tumi, American Tourister, Samsonite or Victorinox.
Prescriptions & VPN services
Some things in your new country may be a little bit different. If you’re moving to Shanghai for example, you may be shocked to find that a lot of your social media accounts are blocked due to government restrictions. Even many of the apps we take for granted like Skype or Whatsapp could be disabled, as we found out in Dubai when we tried to call our parents. Finding a good VPN that works well is essential to keep up with your life back home, so that you can relax in comfort as you’ll be able to Netflix, keeping you mentally healthy.
You’ll also need to get all your prescriptions ahead of time, as well as coming up with a game plan for how to get refills. Your health is the most important thing, so find this out early on and do not leave it till the last minute. Find some expat groups on Facebook and ask them how to get certain medicine or if it’s even available in your new country. People are super friendly in these groups as they’re all in the same boat as you and have been through it all before.
All the Insurance
Make sure you’re covered with the right insurance
Make sure to know if there is essential health insurance you will need when you arrive in your new country. It’s also good to see if your current insurance works abroad and how long it will last. My South African health insurance, for example, only worked for three months after leaving the country, so I needed to find alternative travel insurance when I did my 6-month Southeast Asia trip. Lucky I did as I got very sick both in Bali and Siem Reap.
If you are moving due to work, see if your company will contribute toward insurance. If you are traveling out of your new country, remember to check if your local insurance provider covers you while on your travels. If not, we highly recommend World Nomads or long term insurance from Safety Wing.
Bring something from your hometown
Culture shock and missing home are two big factors of living abroad. The biggest advice is to first and foremost learn how to let go of things you are attached to. Holding anger and resentment because you can’t get your favorite hot sauce will only create more stress and anger, which you will not need.
That being said, if there are a few very personal items that make you truly happy, bring enough of it with you when you move as this can be very comforting when you miss home. Of all the things you need to buy when moving to a new country, these are the most important as everything else can be purchased at your new home. I bring a few invaluable items with me like some framed photos of my family, a small teddy bear and a few items of South African food with me which I savor for a miserable day. Remember to make sure the items from home are allowed into your new country before to avoid disappointment.
Modes of transport
Understand the transportation system in your new country and if you’ll need to buy a car or motorbike to get around. The public transportation in Seoul, for example, is brilliant and there is no need for a car. But when we lived in Los Angeles, it was almost impossible to get around without an automobile. We also learned about the insurance and driver’s license we needed in order to make the purchase in our new home.
Find out where the local DMV is and all the documents you need in order to take your driver’s license exams and purchase your new vehicle. Also learn how to avoid scams from shady used car salesmen by using rating apps like Yelp. Also learn the laws of being a vehicle owner, for example, in the United States you have a period where you can return the vehicle after it is purchased if there is something clearly wrong with it. Dig deep into the law and make sure you know your rights as they may differ from your country of origin.
- Check if you need a visa, get help processing it at iVisa.
- Never ever leave without travel insurance. Get affordable coverage from World Nomads or long term insurance from Safety Wing.
- I find all of my flights on KAYAK. Check their Deals section too.
- Search for all your transportation between destinations on the trusted travel booking platform Bookaway.
- I book all my day trips and tours via GetYourGuide, they are the best and their tours are refundable up to 24h in advance.
- Get USD35 off your first booking with Airbnb.
- Compare hotels EVERYWHERE at HotelsCombined and book with Booking.com.
- Compare car rental prices at Rentalcars.com