What I’ve Learned Through An International Move

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Making my way to Sweden.

Hello from Malmö, Sweden! While I have loved being here for the past week, it has been a hell of a journey.

In my 26 years I have lived in 10 different places, so I’ve moved around plenty. I’ve packed up everything from a car to a moving truck, but nothing has been quite like this move — all the way from little Bend, Oregon to Malmö, Sweden!

Honestly, moving abroad has been one of the most stressful things I have done in my whole life. That has partly been because of the timeline. Nick and I started exploring the possibility of moving abroad in January, and just 9 months later, we moved to Sweden. But hey, you can have a baby in 9 months, so I guess this isn’t the craziest thing to happen in such a short amount of time.

During those 9 short months, we started saving, Nick networked with recruiters, we flew out to Sweden for a job interview, I finished my MBA, Nick got a job offer, we applied for visas, I moved to Bend to live with Nick, we sold the things that didn’t matter to us, we packed the things that did, we said goodbye to friends and family, we hired movers, we sold Nick’s car, we watched our belongings get packed up to be shipped out, we drove down to LA, we waited for our visas to be processed, we booked flights, we got Clea a pet passport, we sold my car, we flew to Copenhagen with a cat, we cleared customs, we got our residence IDs, and we moved into a temporary apartment. And those are just the big pieces worth mentioning.

So, as you may imagine, it has been quite a learning experience for me. And today I wanted to share my biggest takeaways with you.

  1. Get Advice – And ask questions. This is a massive endeavor, and you are in for a rude awakening if you aren’t sure what you are in for. Start talking with people who have moved internationally, and read everything you can (congrats on already starting this step!). When you are in the thick of it, it is so nice to have people to call upon.
  2. Plan Early – While we made it work on such a short timeline, you could save yourself some stress by starting the process earlier. Stop buying things, sell what you don’t need little by little, begin getting quotes from moving companies, factor in buffer time for your visas to be approved (ours took a month longer than expected!), etc. For the most important things, begin researching now. Moving an animal to a new country can take months if you need certain vaccines or veterinarian sign-offs. Applying for domestic partnership privileges may require living together for a certain time or having “shared economy.” So make sure you have some sort of legally or financially documented relationship with the person you are moving with. Oh, and find your movers before you start packing – likely customs will require that the company package everything themselves.
  3. Purge – And then purge again. This is a great opportunity to turn minimalist. Only bring the absolute most important things and sell the rest. But do research how expensive big ticket items are to replace, such as furniture. If you have a company relocating you, then it might be more affordable to ship high-quality furniture.
  4. Avoid Contracts – You will have to cancel everything. Well…except maybe Netflix. But your health insurance, car insurance, and cell phone plans have got to go. And of course internet, leases, and utilities. So be wary of signing up for any contracts if you are seriously thinking of moving abroad. And if you buy a new iPhone, make sure it can be used in Europe too (take it in to an Apple store and they will help you out!).
  5. Embrace the Unknown – At times it felt like my whole life was up in the air. I was selling my belongings, gave up my apartment without knowing when I could leave the country, and didn’t know where I would be working once I got to Sweden. It was sTrESSful with a capital TESS. But it made me so positive that this move was what I wanted because I never considered giving up.
  6. Have a Partner – This is my biggest tip: Have a partner. Having Nick right there with me to make big decisions, help with costs, offer support, and give a hug was the most helpful thing during this move. We really got each other through it. And while we could have done it solo, the end result was so much more rewarding together.

So all in all…Worth it? Definitely.

-TM

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