The logical follow-up to my last post is a post about the things which went right during my move– and there were many! It’s easier to focus on the things which brought me unneeded stress, but there were quite a few things I did which made my life less stressful as well. Here’s the list:
1) Let your work/family/friends know well in advance. This has many benefits– you will then have enough time to deal with anything work-related which you need to do, and it will give everyone close to you a chance to fully absorb the fact that you’re leaving for a while. I’m pretty sure I started telling people about this trip in March 2013– that’s almost a full year ago!
2) Do not take more than one piece of checked baggage, if you can help it. Also try and cut down on your carryon baggage, but this may not be possible depending on what you’re taking. Paying $100 or more to take an extra piece of luggage is unnecessary unless you’re bringing specialized clothing or equipment with you. You can buy what you need here, if you have to.
3) Sort out the important paperwork early. Get your visa(s) at least two months in advance. Make sure your passport will be good for the entire duration of your trip, plus 6-12 months afterwards. Get your plane tickets sorted at least a month in advance. These are the major things which you’ll need, everything else is secondary. In my case, the NZ visa office was closed for the entire Christmas break, plus a good chunk of January, so it was absolutely necessary for me to get my visa before Christmas, not after.
4) Start saving your money as soon as possible. Big trips like this aren’t cheap, even if you can pay for your plane tickets and accommodations in advance. Expect a couple of hundred dollars in set up costs and initial transportation, plus any advances you’ll have to give for renting a place and/or opening a bank account (i.e. opening a bank account here requires that I go to the bank with $500 in cash to deposit immediately).
5) Sort out your finances so that everything you need can be done electronically. If you’re still depending on branches for anything… re-organize your finances so you don’t have to. Being able to do everything electronically will save you a ton of hassles later. Ideally, even after you set up a local bank account (at a branch, usually), you won’t need to visit it for anything other than ATM usage. Also on that note, regular cheques will be pretty much useless overseas, so don’t bring them. Bring travellers’ cheques if you have to, or VISA prepaid cards if you don’t want to use your regular credit cards while you’re waiting for a bank account.
It’s funny, while I was writing this post, I thought of points 11-13 for the other post (of things I would do differently). But it’s ok, everyone will make their own mistakes (including myself), regardless of how many points I put into the other post ;).
In other news, I’ve found both an apartment and a coworking space, so I’ll be out of this hostel on Monday. It really hasn’t been a bad experience, by any means, but I wouldn’t recommend staying in a dorm in a hostel for longer than a week. Sharing a room with 3-7 other people starts wearing on you really quickly, plus you’re sharing the bathroom and showers and kitchen with tons more people… my new place has its own bathroom, shower, bar fridge, and microwave. It’s going to feel super quiet after getting used to this place!
The coworking space is going to be interesting too. I’ve never coworked before (they call it “office sharing” here), but the new space is spacious and quiet and bright. Lots of cool people and companies currently working there. It’s about 10 minutes from my apartment. The only thing about coworking here is that it’s pretty pricey (starting from $400/month), but it’s better than being cooped up in my apartment all day, and it’s a great opportunity to meet other people and companies here. It also encourages me to spend more time outside :P.
Now that all of that has been sorted, it’s a huge load off my mind. Apartment hunting is stressful at best, even when you have lots of notice– trying to cram it into 3-7 days was a Bad Time. Some of my hostel roommates are still looking for apartments, even though some of them have been here for two weeks or more! I wasn’t so worried about the coworking space (worst case scenario, I worked from coffeeshops for a few days), but it’s good to have that sorted as well. The next thing I’m going to be looking at will be rock climbing gyms in this area :D.
Talk to you all again soon!
P.S. If you have problems leaving a comment, let me know– I tested out the comments myself after a couple of people said they were getting 403 errors, but I couldn’t replicate any issues (typical technical support response, I know). Hopefully that was a temporary issue…