How to Prepare for a Big Move

How to Prepare for a Big Move

Preparing for big changes, especially if you know they’re coming takes some planning – not just physically but mentally and emotionally too. My big change was leaving Thailand for a new life in Spain, so here’s how I prepared for it.

Change is good

We all know change is good for us, but when it comes down to it, it’s sometimes easier to remain in our comfort zones. That warm place where everything is hunky dory, you’re having a ball and living your life happily. Why upset the apple cart when it’s like this? For me, change is a challenge and something that will give me new opportunities to help me develop and grow into the best version of myself.

That’s why I decided to leave my Thai life for a new life in Spain. It hasn’t quite worked out how I planned and I find myself back in my hometown but everything happens for the best, for a reason – right?

What it’s all about

  • Get out of your comfort zone and make some changes, particularly if you’re not happy with your current situation
  • If it doesn’t work, take a step sideways to reassess before you make your first move

Decide if this is what you want

I finally made the decision to leave my home in Bangkok. It’s a decision that didn’t come easy, Thailand was my home for almost 10 years and I honestly thought I’d stay there forever. I was vocal about this move a year before I left and I told my family and closest friends that I was planning on leaving, but I had to be sure that it was what I wanted.

It was a massive step for me, I never thought I would hear myself actually say that I wanted to leave, but I want to be closer to my family and friends and to be able to see them more regularly. Although everyone loves me being close and I love seeing them, I could not have moved just for this reason. I simply have to follow my own path. It’s my life and I intend to live it the way I want, so I’m happy. Life is far too short to be anything else.

How to prepare for a big move
Follow your own path in life

What it’s all about

  • Make sure it’s what YOU want. It’s your life and you must do what makes YOU happy

Save money

For me, this was an obvious must-do when I was planning to leave Thailand. There were flights to book, things to ship home, hotels to book, and the list goes on. I frantically saved my money for almost a year before I left, so when I arrived in Spain, I could take time to explore before starting work again.

How to prepare for a big move
Save your cash

Living in Thailand, it’s a lot cheaper to live, so saving money each month was easier for me, but wherever you are there are ways to put aside money for your bigger plans. And that’s the key thing. If you’re planning a big move that should be bigger and more important than buying clothes, going out all the time or whatever else you spend money on. Work out how much money you realistically need to survive each month and as soon as you get paid, put the rest away and don’t be tempted to spend it. If you do, ask yourself, do you really need the thing you are about to buy? Probably not! Plus, another advantage from saving is that if anything unexpected happens, you’ll have money in your bank to deal with it.

What it’s all about

  • Think of your end goal and imagine your new life

Make a pros and cons list

If you’re like me, you’ll love making lists. I have to-do lists, shopping lists, lists of blog posts I’m going to write about – I just love a good list. There weren’t any exceptions before I moved countries – I made a pros and cons list.

How to prepare for a big move
Pros and cons list

These kind of lists are great if you’re unsure about something. They help you focus and to see whether you have more things in favour of your decision or more things against.

Some of my pros:

  • New start
  • New places/country to explore
  • New job
  • New people
  • Closer to friends and family
  • Good weather (pleasant days rather than profusely sweating from the humidity)

Some of my cons:

  • More expensive
  • No Chris ( a really good friend of mine who I’ll miss terribly because for the past 4 years he has been such an influence and a big part of my life)
  • The unknown (also exciting)
  • No job

If your cons list is bigger than your pros list, then it may be wise to rethink your decision (or add a few more pros) 😉

What it’s all about

  • Think about your decision by making a pros and cons list. It may help to make things clearer – either way

Do your research

Unless you’re returning to your home country, it really does pay to do some research about your new destination, even if you’re just going on holiday it’s good to know about what you can see and do in a country.

But, moving to a new country requires more research into things like the cost of living, accommodation, visa requirements, schools, career prospects etc.

How to prepare for a big move
Do your research

I decided I was moving to Spain, but I’d only been to Marbella and Ibiza before, so I really didn’t know which region I was going to go to. I found Valencia and the more I read about it I realised that this might be the place for me. For one, it’s still very Spanish, unlike its more touristy neighbours of Barcelona and Alicante. There are hundreds of museums, art exhibitions, and an impressive arts and science centre. There’s an old river bed that runs through the centre of the city which has been turned in a park, and there are miles of coastline with stunning beaches. Plus, hiking and skiing in the mountains, natural swimming pools and an efficient metro system to get around. Sounds idyllic, right?

It was! Valencia is a beautiful country and I can still see myself living there, but knowing what I know now, I probably should have gone and did my research there. Yes, I looked into accommodation before I got there, but it wasn’t until I was in the city that I found out it was much more difficult to find somewhere to live.

How to prepare for a big move
Valencia

I also found out that hardly anyone speaks English which only added to my stress levels when I was there. I learned a few words of Spanish, but not to the level that I needed it. The fact that people don’t speak English usually presents itself as an exciting challenge for me, but I guess this time it was just too much on top of the emotional strain of moving to a new country.

How to prepare for a big move
Learn the language

What it’s all about

  • Do extensive research about the ins and outs of your chosen destination
  • Learn the language to ease you into the way of life

Have a plan B (and C and D)

Planning is good, it helps us to prepare or look forward to things. However, it’s all very well having a plan in the first place, but what if something unforeseen happens and your plans go out of the window?

I’ve always been a planner! Whether that’s planning a holiday, something to do at the weekend, or moving countries – I simply love planning.

I planned to leave Thailand at the end of last year and I planned to make a new life in Spain. I left Thailand, as planned, 🙂 spent 10 days in Hikkaduwa, 10 days in the UK, and I was soon on my merry way to Valencia.

How to prepare for a big move
Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

I stayed at a hotel for a week and I hoped that I would find an apartment within that time. I didn’t! Because I don’t have income in Spain, the landlords were asking for a lot of money up front, so I came back to the UK to reassess things and rethink my next move.

However, even before I arrived in Valencia, there was something else that prompted me to make a plan B – BREXIT! Who knows what will happen with that, I think even the people in charge are clueless! In any case, when the UK leaves the EU next month maybe I (and countless others) won’t be able to live in Europe as easy as we can now. I prefer to remain positive and think that not much will change, but let’s see!

How to prepare for a big move
Be positive

So, my plan B was (is) to live in the UK and make my base here. Then, if I work remotely I can still travel to other countries to visit and/or work from time to time.

What it’s all about

  • Always make a plan B, C…… in case your first plan doesn’t work out the way you thought it would
  • Keep a positive mind that everything will work out just fine – it’s worked for me on several occasions in the past

Pack well in advance

I’ve had a lot of practice with packing. I’ve done it several times – I went travelling for 10 months, I left for a life in Thailand, I left Thailand to return to the UK for 2 years, I returned to Thailand, and more recently, I left Thailand for a life in Spain. Surprisingly, I find packing for short holidays more difficult that full-on “moving to another country” packing!

But, each time, I started packing well in advance of my departure date. It was stressful enough making all these moves, so the earlier you start to pack the less stressed you will feel with this part of the process.

How to prepare for a big move
Pack well in advance

It’s not just about packing your suitcase (s). It’s also about getting rid of all the stuff you accumulate and it’s astonishing how much of it you actually collect! Of course, it’s a joy to put roots down in your chosen home, but when it comes to leaving, you can’t take it all with you however much you want to. So, you have to be as ruthless as you can – a skill I have honed over the years.

When I started packing up for my departure from Thailand, I began with throwing things away as I moved about my apartment – little things like jewellery, clothes, and things in my drawers that hadn’t seen the light of day since I put them in there. The bigger things took a bit more thought and planning.

I wasn’t getting rid of my books this time! I’ve done this before and I regretted it. I love my books and I’d built up a small collection since I’d arrived back in Thailand in 2014. So, my ruthlessness waned somewhat! I wondered how I was going to take them with me, especially with the restricting weight allowance that airlines give you. A friend told me about Send My Bag – a worldwide luggage shipping service. Their website is easy to use and you can find out up front how much it is going to cost to transport your stuff between countries. I shipped 2 boxes full weighing around 22 kg each filled with my prized possessions. It cost much less than if I’d sent them through the postal service and my boxes arrived home within 3 days!

How to prepare for a big move
My prized possessions

Then there were my clothes. It was easier to be merciless and I happily chucked away items that I hadn’t worn in a long time, those that didn’t fit anymore, or simply because many were not suitable for the European weather. I found a second hand shop in Bangkok that takes old clothing and recreates them into unique products. This provides employment opportunities for the people who live in the slums of Bangkok and financial help to the second hand shop.

What it’s all about

  • Start packing with plenty of time to spare
  • Use Send my bag for cheaper shipping costs
  • Find a local charity shop to donate old clothing items

The little things

When you’re moving to a new country, you need to take care of the little things too.

How to prepare for a big move
To do checklist

All the planning and preparation to leave Thailand served me well. Now, I’m in the throes of preparing for my next move! 🙂

What measures have you taken to prepare for a big move in your life?

16 Replies to “How to Prepare for a Big Move”

  1. A valuable advice. When I had my big move, I rented out my house and donated most of my stuff. I packed light.
    Worry about the Brexit. You should have taken ANY job in Valencia just to get the ID number.

    1. I have never been worried about Brexit in regard to living in Spain.I know if affects lots of people, including my best friend, but my plan B was always to live in the UK and travel to different countries to live/work. I got my NIE number when I was in Spain, but that still doesn’t mean I can live there, but at least one positive came out of my stay there 🙂

        1. Yes, having the NIE helps in some ways, but I’m taking time out to decide what I am going to do next. Not even the people in the know what’s going to happen 😉 x

  2. I do hope your transition from Thailand back to the UK/Spain is becoming easier. Any decision when it comes to lifestyle changes is never easy! Nothing like a new challenge

  3. Great article Gill!

    Although I’m not sure that I agree with packing well in advance…I guess if you can then it’s great. But, I’m one of these people that regardless of where I’m going or for how long, I pack the night before and it doesn’t take me long. 🙂

    The last big move was from Australia in 2014 for longterm travel and marooned in Italy for a few years (as you know) – could be worse. 😉

    I have to say, it was a mad rush organising everything in Oz to leave as we also had to let out our house and left that up to the agent.

    You should come and visit me before I leave Italy. 😉

    1. Thanks Nilla, sorry for the delay in replying! Wow, I have to pack way before, not if I’m going on holiday, but a big move like the one I have just done, that was started many many weeks before my departure. Yes, I would love to come and see you, I replied to your message on FB, maybe July?? What are your plans for this year?? xxx

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