Today marks our first day in Tonga, one year ago.
Arriving at 2am. Excited. Tired. Curious. Wired. We hadn’t had time to get nervous.
Three and a half weeks earlier – half weeks, even half hours, being of great importance – we’d heard my husband had been awarded the role. And how soon could we be there?
Most people book their holidays with more notice than that. Still, we felt up for the challenge.
RB checked with his current employer, they accepted three weeks’ notice.
I checked with my current clients, they were happy to see me in person once more, then continue via Skype for some.
Our girls had less than three weeks of school term to go before Easter break.
The relocation overseas countdown – and our checklist – began.
- Interview two rental agencies for house and sign with one.
- Book flights.
- Attend the pre-booked health coaching conference in Sydney, away for 5 days, whoops.
- Book medical appointments for immunisations – nothing available until 4 days before our flights!
- Research sea vs air freight options and book.
- Research and book storage shed.
- Clean the house for rental photos.
- Research and book removalist.
- Research long-term travel / medical insurance.
- Research freight insurance – not possible as we packed ourselves, and only part-container.
- Sort out everything into piles to sell / donate / ditch / sea freight / suitcases / storage.
- Sell the car.
- Sell the motorbike.
- List large items of furniture for sale on gumtree.
- Hold garage sale for remainder.
- Donate car loads to op shop.
- Stock up on twice as much tape and boxes as you thought needed – still ran out.
- Pack hundreds of boxes.
- With help of removalist transfer it all into storage shed.
- Get immunisations.
- Clean house so it sparkles.
- Find new homes for the chickens and chicks, only a few weeks old.
- Advise bank and credit card providers of travel plans.
- Arrange mail redirection.
- Cancel or transfer household utilities – power, gas, water, landline.
- Change mobile phone and mobile internet plans.
- Yes! One day remains for farewells.
Did I mention that we were all at work or school full-time until just before we left?
No wonder sleep was neglected toward the end. Still, I much prefer it to having months or years in limbo land.
What did we learn?
- We have too much stuff. I wrote about that here. Next time I would store less – and relocate with less. Tonga is a little different to most places, but generally I’d suggest taking the bare minimum and buying as you find you really need it. Sea freight is more affordable than air, most the time, however also involves considerable effort and cost to clear at your destination.
- Go to a travel doctor for immunisations. I was trying to save a little money and a lot of time by going local. The adjoining pharmacy didn’t have what we needed, nor did the others in our area. We had to order it in, and the doctor squeezed us in for a second appointment before the practice opened – on the same day as our flight.
- Ask for help. We eventually had to when I was waking at 2am due to an overactive mind, lying there frustrated for an hour, then getting up and cleaning (or packing or internet research) in an attempt to make the deadlines. Friends and family knew of our situation and were happy to help.
- Consider one person going ahead while the other finalises in the last location. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and I think we chose the right path for us a year ago, but next time there might be a less-stressful choice. Of course, another option is to ensure the lead-time to be in the new location is sufficient and achievable.
- When you leave a house for rental, it needs to be really clean – but it doesn’t need to sparkle. Even my mum – and the rental manager – suggested I went above and beyond.
- If you’ve been seeking overseas employment and disappointingly it hasn’t been forthcoming, invest in a new washing machine, floor rug and day-old chicks all on the same day. The offer may well arrive the next day.
I’d love to hear your insights. How long did you have to relocate? What do you think would be the hardest part of relocating? What items would be on your checklist that were not on mine? Was your relocation overseas, interstate or across town?
Of course, if you are considering moving, and would like to know more about how I could support you to do so, get in touch right away so we can chat about the options.