So, you are going to live abroad long term. Congratulations! The expat life can be a great one but it takes a lot of planning to make sure things go smoothly and you stay safe, healthy, and accident-free. The to-do list can begin to look quite daunting, but we’re here to help you find a method to your madness.
Let’s begin with some basic health and safety information about long term, expatriate living.
According to a recent article in the International Travel & Health Insurance Journal, 80% of expatriates are concerned about accessing quality healthcare while living abroad, but only 42% actually make a plan for healthcare. No matter what is taking you to live abroad as an expat, be it a search for new adventure, education, volunteerism or work, you need to put the priority on preventing any travel or medical mishaps. But if an unexpected emergency does arise, you want to be able to handle it quickly and efficiently, all while keeping your financial risk low.
“While travel insurance isn’t a cure-all, there are many ways that it can help people during difficult, unexpected travel mishaps or emergencies.”
Wouldn’t it be nice to know what steps to take, or how to properly prepare yourself for settling into life as an expat? Yes, it would. Let us help you prepare for your long term trip with this checklist of things that need to be done 90, 60, and 30 days prior to departure.
1. 90 days before becoming an expat
By now, you should have read up on your destination to learn about visa requirements, local laws, customs, and medical care in your host country. You’ll also want to begin keeping your eye on travel warnings and travel alerts. A great resource for these things is travel.state.gov.
Are you up-to-date on your vaccinations? Does your host country require any additional vaccinations? You can find out about health precautions and recommended vaccinations through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Some vaccines require a series of injections so you’ll want to visit your doctor to begin this process at least 90 days prior to departing on your trip.
Do your friends and family know you’ll be moving abroad? They may want to throw you a going away party, or at least say “see you soon!”. Share your new address with them and let them know how they can get in contact with you while you’re living as an expat.
2. 60 days before becoming an expat
Notify your bank and credit card companies to let them know that you’ll be living overseas. Depending on the financial institution, you may need to cancel cards or get new ones. Check exchange rates for your destination so that you can budget properly. It’s also a good idea to do research on using cash, debit/credit cards, and ATMs abroad.
Visit your family practitioner to get an updated copy of your medical records. Keep these on file as you travel. If you are bringing any medications, you will want to get a letter from your doctor. Some countries have strict laws that effect even over-the-counter medications so read about your destination on the travel.state.gov website
Make sure you have a valid travel insurance policy. As an expat, we recommend that you purchase a supplemental travel insurance policy that will cover you up to 365 consecutive days and one that you can easily renew while living abroad. A good travel insurance policy will cover medical costs and emergency evacuation.
3. 30 days before becoming an expat
Change your address with the post office and reroute your mail. If you’re sending your mail to a friend or family member’s house, ask them to forward you any important documents to your new, international address.
Make sure you have living essentials packed in your suitcase. Document what’s packed, and in which bag, by taking photos of each suitcases contents.
Say goodbye to friends and family!