A list of things and notes that members have come up with to help people prepare for the big move across the Atlantic:-
- Get a copy of the kids medical records from your GP
- Get a copy of the kids vaccination history from your GP
- Get a copy of your medical records from your GP
- Get a copy of your vaccination history from your GP
- Google "<name of your state> school vaccination requirements"
- Arrange to get those jabs that your child is missing (they will NOT be allowed in school in most states without an uptodate vaccination history)
- Get an annual physical
- Get an annual dental visit
- Get an annual eye exam
- Get a copy of your new employer (USA) health insurance plan. Read the fine print to see what is covered and what is not (really--it's that important you should do it now).
- Get a copy of your kids academic transcripts.
- Get a copy of the curriculum plan for the next X year(s) (if your move is temporary, so they can keep up)
- Get a copy of your diploma
- Get a copy of your transcript
- Get your transcript converted by a conversion service (if needed).
- Make a copy of your passport, at least the cover page.
- Make a copy of your visa
- Scan a copy of the above and email it someone you trust (for emergency purposes)
- Get copies of your birth certificate (pack an original, not a Xerox)
- Get copies of your marriage certificates (pack an original, not a Xerox)
- Get copies of your recent tax records
- Turn off / cancel the electricity service
- Turn off / cancel the gas service.
- Turn off / cancel the water service
- Turn off / cancel the trash pickup
- Cancel the newspaper
- Cancel the magazines
- Cancel your mobile phone
- Cancel your telephone
- Cancel the Internet
- Cancel the satellite TV
- Unsubscribe from UK-only email 'spam' (i.e. Easyjet, Asda, and other mail you won't need and will make you homesick)
- Cancel store credit cards
- Cancel car insurance
- KEEP one UK bank account and one UK credit card for emergency purposes
- Change your address with the Post
- Lock all windows
- Set timers on some lights
- Lock all doors
- Turn off the water heater
- Turn off the heat
- Turn off the a/c
- Turn off the water
- Arrange for someone to check on your house
- Make copies of your keys for a trusted neighbour
- Sell/donate your TV
- Sell/donate your electric tools
- Sell/donate your old furniture
- Sell/donate your electric kitchen appliances
- Sell/donate your electric personal appliances (hair dryer, curler, electric toothbrush)
- Sell/donate old clothes
- Sell/donate old toys
- Sell/donate your car
- Rent a car for the last week of your trip (drop it off at the airport)
- Buy speciality sauces, foods or toiletries that you cannot live without.
- Buy spare underwear (for the first week unpacking, when laundry is the last thing on your unpacking mind)
- Buy new luggage (I recommend duffel bags--stores more and you can stuff things in it)
You can do the mail forwarding from your old UK house from the US - if you don't know where you will be living. Or you can have it redirected to a friends house and then when you have the new address can ring up the Royal Mail redirection team and change the address its redirected too. You can also renew over the phone for 2 years in total so don't feel you have to do it all in one go before you leave.
As you make the list, break it into groups of things. For example:
- Things to do this week.
- Things to do in the next month.
- Things to do in the last week.
- Things to do on the last day.
There are several things that have to be sorted first before you can start thinking about what to pack. The way you move will affect what you take, and your long term plans may affect what you keep. For example, is your move:
- Temporary, keeping a house in the UK.
- Temporary, but giving up your home in the UK.
- Permanent (more or less) but keeping a home in the UK.
- Permanent and no turning back as no home in the UK.
In addition, you need to answer some timing questions. For example, are you:
- Moving immediately with nothing but suitcases.
- Moving immediately with the container to come later on the boat.
- Shipping the container and then arriving at the same time as the boat.
The different ways in which you move affect what things you should think about packing and where (plane or boat). For example, if you are coming over with just your suitcases, it might be wise to consider bringing over a pan, or a cup and saucer or a tea kettle so you have something to cook with when you land in your new home. If everything is going on a boat, then you have to consider how you will eat / take a shower / etc (live in the UK) while you wait for that boat to arrive.
For many expats, basically what happens is a great dividing of your personal belongings. Some of the items will fall into the sell / give away category, and some are keepsakes or valuable and you want to hold on to them. Whether the disposable items are what you live on in the UK while the boat is taking your 'good stuff' over to the states, or whether the disposable stuff is going to the US and the good stuff is staying at home pending your eventual return depends a bit on how you answered the first set of questions.
Basically, you are going to need to sort items into different piles.
- Going, on the boat.
- Going, on the plane.
- Going, to your folks house / storage.
- Going to the donation center / ebay / trash can.
- Staying in your home (if your home is staying put).
Now, with all that said, here are a few specifics about various items.
- Bedding is a different size here and duvets are far LESS commonplace than in the UK. If you like to sleep with a duvet then consider bringing some and covers for them. If you ship an English bed you may wish to bring bedding in that size too.
- Regarding tools - the construction of houses here 'tends' to be far less long lasting than in the UK (ie often a wood construction). The electrical powertools in the UK are often far more heavy duty because they need to be to drill in brick walls etc. Obviously your power tools will likely NOT work over here - but dont just be tempted to run to a hardware store and buy a similar heavy duty piece of kit when you get here. A much more lightweight piece of kit will likely be all you need to do most 'DIY' jobs around the new home.
- If you do a lot of cooking in the UK and have lots of UK cookbooks/recipes that you will bring - make sure you have a couple of UK measuring jugs - as the UK pint measurement is 20fl oz - which is different to the US pint measurement )16fl oz) and it makes it easier if you can measure the right 'pint' for English recipes. Also things like steam pudding basins and mince pie sized tins or yorkshire pudding tins can be hard to find - so consider bringing one of these if you use them ever in the UK and want to carry on in the US.
- Crockery etc - Not to bring on the plane - you can pick up cheap stuff in Walmart to last a few weeks till your stuff arrives such as plastic/paper picnic stuff and can eat a lot of takeaways too till you get going. If your company gives you any air freight you could stick a box of stuff in there as that will arrive sooner than sea freight. A can and bottle opener are worth bringing for that first couple of days though.
- Contacts - Start a new address book with everyones address and email and tel number that you can take with you on the day so you have everyones details asap. Or if you have an online accessible email account like yahoo - save all your contacts into the online contacts folder so you can find the details online. Its also worth considering writing all your UK utility companies/direct debits takers, their contact numbers/ your account numbers etc - onto a piece of paper you can take with you. then if there is any issue once you have left - you can contact them to sort it out with minimal hassle.
- Find a site like Delicious where you can save all your bookmarked sites - so that whilst your computer is shipped you can still borrow a pc and find all your regular favourites/bookmark sites.
- What not to bring - Remember that stuff like cleaning material or food or booze can't be shipped (can take some food and boozer in your suitcase) so start to use it up or give it away over time so you have less to worry about on the day. Give a box of half used cleaning materials to the kids nursery for example. Either have a party and drink all your booze or chose whom you will donate it to. Start to eat the stuff in your freezer now so it gets emptier.
- Small electronics are basically worthless over here. You'll need a voltage convertor (not just a plug convertor) and things like extension cords, clock radios, hair dryers, clothing irons, etc are generally quite a bit cheaper to buy here in the US. Major electrical items, such as TV's and Computers are addressed in a different WIKI article. But generally the advice is to sell it in the UK and buy new stuff in the US.
- Placemats and coat hangers. No, you don't have to make a special section for placemats and coat hangers in the shipping container, but they are mentioned just to illuminate a point: everything you don't bring is something you will eventually need to replace, either by buying a new one or by doing without. So as you pack this that and the other thing, you start to get a bit tired and say "heck, we don't need a torch or a placemat or dish sponge or toilet brush or tin opener or whatever--we'll just get them when we arrive." But falling into this trap can actually turn out to be rather expensive. You can spend several hundred or even thousands of dollars on "tiny little things" that you didn't bring but eventually find out you need (or want). Many expat packages actually have a small amount of cash for just these sort of incidentals that occur when you have a move.
AS much in advance as possible - Start to go through all your cupboards and drawers/wardrobes and attic and shed /garage etc.
Put into seperate piles:-
- stuff you are taking with you
- stuff you will be leaving in the house for the new buyer/tenant
- stuff that is worth selling to dealers/ebay/ carboot etc
- stuff that is not worth selling but useful to friends/family/neighbours etc
- stuff to throw as its broken/decrepit etc
- stuff to give away - for charity shops or freecycle etc.
As each pile grows then take it up the charity shop - or to the dump or round your friends house etc- so that the piles remain manageable.
The sooner you do this the easier it is as its likely you wont finish and the remained will just get junked or packed (depending on how much you can take).
Planning your goodbyes
Make a list of everyone that needs to be seen.
Arrange the list to include:
- People you have to travel to see (i.e. home-bound gran, friends far away)
- People you need to see whenever
- People you should see the day you leave (close family)
Make a list of places you want to visit.
- A romantic spot where you met your spouse.
- A place important to your family (show the kids where your parents lived, or the hospital they were born in)
- A place that is familiar (your local, a restaurant)
- Touristy things you've never done (a museum, a park).
- Places you will miss when gone.
A general note:
- A going away party is a good idea. It not only allows you to see a number of people at once, but it is also good to bring in casual acquaintances that you should probably say goodbye to (but whom don't warrant a trip to visit). It also puts you in control--you set the date, time and place, not 100s of various competing parties.
- Set a 'fake' departure day, 24-48 hours before your actual departure. This is the date everything is packed (giving you time for yourselves and emergencies) but it's also a date at which no one will bother you, giving you more freedom to visit those who are close to you. Many folks insist on seeing you the DAY you leave (yea, seriously) and will be offended if you don't come over for a cuppa one hour before your flight leaves.