Moving overseas requires a substantial amount of arranging and planning. Are you sure you have kept all important issues in mind? Here's a handy checklist to help you remember what needs to be done before you board the plane
Months before you leave:
- Inform your closest family and friends about your plans. Let them get used to the idea that you will be leaving their daily life. Don't tell too many people about your plans yet. The move is still months away and plans may change for whatever reason. You don't want to have to explain to so many people why you are now suddenly not moving overseas anymore.
- If you don't intend to keep your house, cancel the lease/rent or put it up for sale. Get an agent.
1 Month before you leave:
- Cancel your phone subscription
- Cancel your newspaper subscription
- Cancel magazine subscriptions
- Cancel cable TV / Internet subscriptions
- Cancel any standing bank transfer arrangements
- Arrange Expat Medical Insurance.
- Arrange for your car to be sold just before you leave.
- If you plan to keep your house, put it up for rent.
- Arrange for someone to act as landlord of your house. Being a landlord while overseas is a big headache.
- Stop using any form of drugs. If you like to light up, sniff or pop back some pills once in a while, stop now. Traces of drugs remain in your blood for weeks and if you are tested and found positive in Singapore, you can be tried as if you used drugs here. Drug users and dealers face some of the toughest penalties here, including death penalty. Do not underestimate this point! Obviously, we are not talking about prescription drugs here.
Weeks before you leave:
- Start making a list of all people, companies and other parties whom you need to send a change of address. You probably don't have a new address in Singapore yet, so it's best to arrange for your mail to be sent to family or a good friend. Arrange also that any mail that is accidentally still sent your old address is automatically redirected to your temporary address.
- Get quotations from at least 3 international moving companies to arrange for your move. Prices may differ and if you have any fragile items, the moving company may want to come to your house first to assess the difficulty of packing/storing/moving.
- If you are taking your furniture with you, use the opportunity to do some serious spring cleaning. Throw away what you haven't used for 6 months. Remember that every cubic meter of stuff you move to Singapore costs around S$1000. Ask yourself whether it's worth it for some of your stuff.
- Arrange a garage sale to sell your unwanted stuff.
- Check with the Singapore embassy in your country whether you need a visa to get into Singapore. Most countries do not need a visa, but if you need one, this may take some time. Arrange this well before you leave.
- Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the day you plan to enter Singapore. Most countries in Asia require passports to be valid for at least 6 more months.
- Settle all debts or make solid arrangements regarding paybacks of debts. Settle all outstanding (traffic) fines. Make sure you have paid all your local taxes. Leave no financial holes: this may stab you in the back while you are at customs on your first home leave.
- Start arranging for schooling for your children in Singapore. Many popular international schools may have waiting lists so it's wise to check this well in advance.
- Start visiting friends you want to see before you leave. Don't put this off too long: you will be extremely busy planning and arranging last-minute things in the days before you leave, so you won't have time for friends.
- Start collecting all the paperwork you will need in Singapore. This includes (for both you and your wife)
- Passport (at least valid for 6 more months)
- Drivers licence
- School diplomas
- University/college diplomas
- Updated resume
- Letters of recommendation / testimonials
- Copies of your previous employment contracts
- Passport photo's
You will need all these items to apply for your employment pass when you arrive in Singapore.
Furthermore, you will need
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Your children's birth certificates
- Dental records
- Medical records
- A return ticket (do not buy a one-way ticket to Singapore until you have an employment pass)
- Book your flights
1 week before you leave:
- If you have children, organize a kids party so your kids can say goodbye to their friends. Don't go to McDonald's or some other prefab party place, have the party at home. Put some effort into this. It's an emotional and stressful time for your kids too.
- Start packing your bags. Make sure any clothing you want to take with you is clean. Also pack your most important parts of your administration. You will have to go through all sorts of official activities such as opening bank accounts, getting a phone etc. and your container will not arrive until next month. Make sure you have all the paperwork you need with you.
2 days before you leave:
- Visit your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, other people you care about. You don't have to stay long, just 30 minutes is enough. They will understand that you are very busy and stressed and that you have loads of people to see. They will appreciate the fact that you thought of them and came by to see them one last time before you leave
- Complete packing your bags
- Go out with all your best friends and get drunk. Leave with a bang. If you're single: don't fool around, the last thing you need is to get a crush on someone while the plane is already warming up its engines.
1 day before you leave:
- Recover from your farewell party hangover. Take things easy today. You will wake up and see the world with different eyes: tomorrow this won't be your world anymore. Enjoy that warm glow of excitement going through your body. Have lunch in your favorite restaurant one more time
- Prepare your arrival in Singapore. Read our First Nights in Singapore section
- Have dinner and spend the evening with your parents, brothers and sisters. Have a good glass of wine but take it easy with the booze. Go to bed early.
The big day!
- Cry at the airport, even if you're a guy. It's normal. It is the best sign of affection for and to the people you hold dear and are about to leave behind in 30 minutes.
- Make sure you have a pen with you.
- Do not buy tax-free cigarettes at the airport. You are not allowed to bring any tax-free tobacco into Singapore. Expect a $500 fine for one carton of cigarettes they find on you.
- Enter the plane, sit back and relax. Order a drink. This is the start of a terrific adventure.
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