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There are few events in life as time, labor, and money intensive as moving. It seems like no matter how many times you pack up your stuff to move it, there is always more of it than you thought. And no matter how many precautions you take, something always seems to get lost, damaged or broken. Buying boxes, packing tape, and those little Styrofoam peanuts, hiring movers, renting a van – all of these things cost money and require you to do a little bit of research. Whether you are moving across the street or across the world, everything from packing up your belongings to making sure your mail gets forwarded takes time, effort, and forethought.
Moving internationally brings with it a whole new host of problems. Do you ship your items or sell them all or put them in storage? Do you find a job once you’ve moved or try to land it in advance? Do you rent a house in your new home country or buy one?
While there is no way to completely remove the stress and anxiety that comes with moving, there are a number of ways to reduce that stress. Below are some tips to help you with your move.
1. Make a plan. Getting ready for a move can feel overwhelming. There is so much to do, and seemingly never enough time to do it. It can feel like you will never be able to get everything done in time. To alleviate the stress, make a plan. It doesn’t need to be complex. Simply decide the order you’ll take care of things and schedule your errands for open business hours. Keep a running list of what needs to get done, and then work those items into your plan.
2. Stay organized. Whether you decide to bring your belongings with you, sell them, or store them, good organization will help you stay sane. Make sure you have plenty of boxes, packing supplies, and tape. Pack up one room at a time, with similar things being packed together (e.g. silverware with dishes, shoes with clothing, etc.)
3. Take care of logistics before leaving. When you move, it is important that you update all of your accounts with your new information. Make sure you change your credit card billing address, have your mail forwarded to your new home, and change any subscription information for magazines. Doing these things from the U.S. will be significantly easier than doing them from South America.
4. Know where you’re going. Some people might think they will find permanent accommodations once they get to Colombia, but this is likely to add stress to the move. How can you forward your mail if you don’t know where it’s going? Know where you are staying for at least the first month. Consider finding an apartment rental for a month or so to stay in while you search for a more permanent home.
5. Work with a real estate agent who speaks fluent English. Unless your Spanish is top notch, you may find that working with non-fluent English speakers is tough. Find a real estate agent online or through references who speaks fluent English and can do your legwork for you. A real estate agent will help you with local Colombian real estate laws, transfer money without paying too much in taxes, and with any other questions you may have.
About the Author: Adam Franklin is an expat living and working in South America, specializing in homes for sale and stress-free relocation. When he’s not working, Adam loves backpacking, rock climbing and surfing.