First of all, a big thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy of my e-book! As some of you have been asking, if you are an existing or previous client of mine, I am offering the e-book for $29. Please email me directly if you would like a copy!
Moving on, as promised, here are all my tips for packing up and moving to a different country. By no means am I an expert, but I have done this more times than most, so am happy to share my experiences.
1. Pick a destination and research short-term and long-term visas
This is obviously the most important part! I moved to Sydney for a job opportunity, and I moved to London as I wanted to be in an English-speaking country in Europe.
I am now in Rome temporarily, but I will be in Italy for the next three months, and then likely Croatia for the following three months. I plan on moving between countries for as long as I can. It’s difficult to try to answer the question “where do you live?”, as I don’t have a real place to call home.
As an Australian citizen, I am luckily part of the approved list of countries which are allowed to travel freely around Europe. As I explained in this post, I can spend up to 90 days in a Schengen region as a tourist without a visa. This does not give me any rights as a citizen – I cannot work, claim benefits, receive health care, and so on.
When I find a city/country I would like to stay in, I plan on applying for another working holiday visa (which I originally had in England), as that will give me one to two years to live there, depending on the country.
If you are open-minded about where to live, I highly recommend this website. It gives you a rough idea of the monthly costs of living like a nomad, as well as helpful information such as internet speed, average weather and safety level.
2. Find accommodation
Although it would be fabulous to stay in a hotel room every night of the week, my budget will just not allow that! I am using Airbnb, for the most part, to stay in flatshare-type housing.
For those of you who do not know, Airbnb is a service where people can list their private housing – either single rooms or entire properties – and travellers can stay for short periods of time. It is cheaper than a hotel and, if you are flat-sharing, it gives you the chance to make friends with locals. I would highly recommend emailing the host before you make a booking, to make sure you are a good fit together, and read the reviews!
You can filter the properties based on what you are looking for. My must-haves are a bed (not a pull-out sofa!), wi-fi and a space to work, use of the kitchen (a lot of places will try to charge you extra for this, so watch out!) and air-conditioning in the summer months. I also don’t want to live with more than three other people.
I like staying in places that are close to the city, but not directly in the tourist areas. I know this makes me a hypocrite, but I hate tourists and I want to be as far away from them as possible.
My current place, for example, is a 30-35 minute walk to the city centre of Rome. I don’t need to go into the city every day, and I prefer to be away from the crowds and experience more authentic Roman life. The downside is that, if you are not familiar with the neighbourhoods, you may find yourself in a bad area.
My area is very trendy and good for drinking and eating out, but it’s right on the edge of a ghetto. I have basic markets and shops near me, but the nearest butcher and cheese shop, for example, are a 20 minute walk away. I did research the area in advance (in particular, always research the nearby public transport links!) so I knew what I was getting into, but you will never know completely what an area is like until you can experience it first-hand.
In some places, I am happy to – and would even prefer to – stay in a hostel. While this sounds like a nightmare to some, it is actually pretty fun! Every time I have stayed in a hostel I have met some awesome people, some of whom I still keep in contact with now. You will never be lonely and you will always find someone who can speak your language.
The downsides to staying in a hostel are that you will have limited privacy as you will have to share a room with several other people and, depending on the hostel, you might not be able to prepare your own meals. I would not want to stay in a hostel for more than two weeks at a time.
Surprisingly enough, the cost of renting private accommodation through Airbnb compared to staying in a backpacker’s hostel is basically equal. Italy isn’t exactly known as a cheap country, yet I am still paying half what I was in London for rent/groceries/eating out.
With Airbnb, the longer you stay the less you pay. It’s not uncommon to see rooms listed for, say, 250 euros a week or 500 euros a month. So, if you can, stay for a month!
3. Research the logistics of daily life and start learning the language, if necessary
As soon as I knew I was moving to Rome, I immediately began learning Italian. I study for one hour every day, which is not nearly enough, but good enough to get by. It is true that when you immerse yourself in a new language, you learn faster, but it helps to have a basic understanding before you arrive.
As I mentioned, I am not in the city centre and therefore hardly anyone speaks English. I can either sit at home and cry in frustration, or I can get out and try my hardest to speak the language. It is true that local people really do appreciate the fact that you simply try.
When I said I had not researched Rome, I meant in terms of tourist things. I researched the heck out of my neighbourhood, and how to live on a daily basis. I am not here on a 24/7 holiday; I am still working, going to the gym, and doing normal daily things, so securing those things are more important to me than mapping out a route to the Colosseum.
The truth is, I can live almost anywhere so long as I have an internet connection and, because I’ve done this a few times, I know exactly what I need to get by. I am as low maintenance as they come: if you told me tomorrow that I had to spend the next three months in Romania, I’d say “cool”.
If you are planning on staying in one country on a long-term basis, I highly recommend researching some companies in your career field and emailing them in advance of your arrival.
4. Notify all the appropriate bodies in your home country
In your current country, you will need to cancel all your contracts (utilities, mobile phone, etc) and lease agreements, and notify the government for tax purposes. I have kept my UK bank account open, but I have to notify my bank of my whereabouts so they do not freeze my account. I also have an address in both Australia and the UK where I can direct my mail to.
Before I left, I also made a bunch of appointments: a check-up at the doctor and dentist, a hair cut, an eye-check, etc. I also ordered an 18 month supply of contact lenses, and 6-12 months’ worth of the antibiotics/vitamins I take daily. Sure, I can get these things on the road, but it is a heck of a lot easier for me not to have to worry about it.
And, yes, given the drama I have had with my eye over the past two years, I have taken out travel insurance!
I have kept my UK phone contract, as I still have 18 months left (!), and it also enables me to use my phone and data when I first arrive in a new country. However, my phone is unlocked so, as soon as I arrived in Italy, I bought a local sim as it is much cheaper. As a tip to anyone visiting Italy, you will need to show them your passport to get a sim card.
I have now done three major moves with one main suitcase and one carry-on, so some could say I’m an expert at condensing my life into a small area.
This recent move marked the first time I actually bothered to ship some of my belongings home. This made the move infinitely easier!
The hardest move I ever did was from Sydney to London, and I had a 30kg baggage allowance, plus golf clubs and a carry-on. I remember being at the airport, with a bag which was somehow 8kg over the limit, sobbing hysterically as I threw my most beloved possessions away. I had already gotten rid of about 80 per cent of my stuff, so it just felt cruel to have to get rid of more.
But you know what it taught me? Stuff is just stuff. I honestly cannot even remember a single thing I cried about getting rid of. As long as I have my passport, my bank card and my glasses, the rest can be replaced! What is infinitely more valuable than having 20 pairs of shoes is the memories I am creating instead.
Given that I shipped two boxes home this time, packing was a piece of cake! I purposely chose not to upgrade my luggage allowance, and stuck with 23kg. Good old Easyjet only allows you a single carry-on item, so I wasn’t even allowed to hold my handbag. Instead of bitching about it, I took it as a positive – I’m going to be moving around a lot over the foreseeable future, and the less stuff I have to lug around, the better.
I have packed mostly summer clothes, with one jumper, one cardigan, two spring/autumn jackets and one winter coat. I actually don’t own a pair of jeans or trousers, so I just packed thick stockings to wear under my summer dresses when the temperature drops.
I have three pairs of shorts, four skirts, seven shirts, 12 casual dresses, six fancier dresses (you never know!) and 12 tops. Absolutely everything I brought can be dressed up or down – it needs to earn its place in my case! I also have about two weeks’ worth of underwear and three bikinis.
I have four pairs of gym shorts/tights and six gym shirts. Most of them have built-in bras, so I only had to bring one sports bra.
Shoes take up an awful amount of room! Luckily I am not a “shoe girl” at all, so I did not mind saying goodbye to most of my shoes. I have two pairs of flats, one pair of flip-flops, one pair of wedges, one pair of stilettos, one pair of winter boots and my lifting shoes.
Miscellaneous other items include my laptop, one handbag, one clutch purse, my lifting belt, my client file (I am old school and write everything out by hand, which is a bit silly considering this thing weighs 1.9kg!), my French notebook, my Italian notebook, my training notebook, a microfibre travel towel (absolute lifesaver in terms of space!) and some toiletries. I am lucky that I don’t wear a lot of make up or use a lot of skincare products, as everything just fits into one bag. I only brought ONE book with me, which is just blasphemy.
My golden rule is: if in doubt, leave it out! There should be absolutely no doubt in your mind that you are going to wear/use absolutely everything in your suitcase. When you write it out, it sounds like I have a lot – and I do! Living out of one bag also makes it very easy to avoid the sales at this time of year, as I know that if I buy anything it means I will have to throw away something else.
This is ridiculously long and I’m sure I’ve missed some things, but hopefully this helps anyone who is looking to move.
Have you ever considered the nomad life? Where would you travel to?