After months, maybe years of planning, you’re finally moving abroad. Whether you're packing up and moving abroad for good, or will be sharing your time between two countries, moving day is an exciting step in your journey. 


While you’ve likely planned everything up to now to the finest detail, you may not have thought about getting through moving day itself with as little stress as possible.

Here, then, is your must-follow list of things to do to make the big day of moving abroad go as smoothly as possible. After all, it will help get your new life in somewhere like France off to the best possible start.


Pack as much as you can in advance

There are two aspects to packing in your case. Unlike a normal trip abroad, you’re not just packing enough things for a week or two; you’re packing up and moving everything you own. You’ll likely have put all your furniture, belongings and clothes into crates, which will probably be on their way to France, Spain, Portugal (or wherever you’re emigrating to) already.

But you need to have thought about what it is you’ll be taking with you when you go on the day, whether that’s by air or sea.


A list of things to keep with you on moving day

  • Change of clothes. Take some spare clothes to change into once you arrive. You can then wash and re-use your clothing until all your kit arrives in containers or with your international removals company from the UK. Remember that on moving day you should wear clothing appropriate for your destination. If buying property abroad means you’re flying to the South of France, there’s probably no need to wear a jumper and an overcoat!
  • Fully-charged mobile phone. Make sure you can stay in contact with friends and relatives at home, especially to let them know when you’ve arrived. Have enough juice on your mobile to contact estate agents or removals people once you’ve arrived at your new home.
  • Laptop and charger. While most of your electronics can be crated up and shipped with your removals people, take your laptop and charger with you on moving day. As soon as you arrive at your new dream home in the sun, you can get on with all the admin and logistics you need to do.
  • All key documentation. You’ll carry your passports, but also take your key personal documentation like birth certificates, driving licenses, insurance documents, property deeds and similar with you as hand luggage, or at least in the aircraft hold. You’ll then guarantee you have them in case of hold-ups with your removals company. As a back-up, scan all your key documents and store them remotely (in the cloud, Dropbox etc.), or email them to yourself, so you always have a copy.
  • All your valuables. Take all your valuables (jewellery etc.) with you on moving day. Never send these as part of your removals shipment.
  • Medication. If you take medication, ensure you have brought enough with you on moving day, and to last several days once you get to your new home. You should already have established how easy it is to get your medication replaced while living abroad.
  • Things to do for the kids. If you’re moving abroad with your kids, ensure they have enough with them to entertain them on moving day, and for a few days at the new home before all your home comforts arrive. They might need toys and games to keep them occupied as you’ll be super busy getting everything ship-shape.
  • Currency. By getting some currency in advance, it’s one less thing for you to worry about once you’ve arrived at your destination. If you need to transfer currency to a bank account in your new country, it is worth getting in contact with a currency broker, such as us, Foreign Currency Direct). We'll will be able to assist you with sending money abroad.
  • Travel plans. To save any stress once you drive off the boat or land at the airport, have details of your onward travel plans, including maps, phone contacts in case of difficulties etc.


Pack the night before you go

To make travel day as stress-free as possible, pack up everything you’re taking with you the day before. Load up as much as you can in the car (if you’re taking it to Europe by boat or Eurotunnel), or leave suitcases by the front door to load up in the taxi or when it’s time to go.

Last-minute packing, or trying to find things, causes irritation you could do without on such an important day.


Your last goodbyes before moving abroad

While buying property overseas is exciting, it can also be sad. You may be upset about leaving friends and family behind. Make sure you leave enough time on moving day to say one last fond farewell to friends, family and neighbours.

You might also like to head off having enjoyed one last trip to your favourite café or pub, a treasured last memory of the life you’re leaving behind.


The best moving abroad tip of all? Make a list!

You might not be a “list” type of person. But believe us when we say this is one day when a list is vital. You’ll want to make a list of all the things you’ll need on moving day (hint: we’ve told you about most of them!), and you should keep referring to it throughout the day.

Its likely things will occur to you while you’re waiting at the airport, or for your ferry, so keep updating the list as you go.


For those who are not moving permanently

Not everyone has sold up for good. Some people plan to live abroad for a couple of years, perhaps for work, or simply a change of scenery. Others might be heading to the sunnier lifestyle of the south of France or Spain for the winter, having bought a holiday home.

While moving day plans don’t change that much for shorter stays, the number of belongings you ship over may not be so large.

The chances are you’ll put a bunch of stuff in storage. Make sure you provide a friend or relative with access to your storage, in case you end up needing to have something sent over.


And finally, enjoy the moving abroad experience

After buying property abroad, the first day of your new life is moving day. While you’ll have some stress, and emotions will be mixed, it’s a day you’ll never forget.

If you’ve planned for it well, the chances are everything will go as smoothly as possible and you can look forward to building new memories in your new home.

Bon voyage!


If you’re thinking about setting up a new life in France or Spain, download our moving to France or moving to Spain guides.


Download our free Moving Abroad Checklist

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