Harriet Mitchell, Head of US Dealing, is no stranger to moving. From London, UK to Washington D.C. and now Austin, Texas, she’s been through some big moves. Here she offers her personal experience and cost-saving tips for moving to a different country.
When I decided to make the move from London to start a new job in the US, my mind immediately started whirring with all the logistics and emotions that come with such a life-changing decision.
What should I do first? To be honest, it made me want to crawl under the covers and not come out until I had to get on the plane… but that wasn’t going to help.
So what was the first thing I did? I purchased a new American hairdryer and moved my good food subscription to go to my work address… all extremely important things, but perhaps not what I needed to address first.
That’s when I realized I needed a plan.
Start by taking stock of your possessions to decide what you want to move and what you will need to sell. I owned a car and a house in London, so I started asking friends and family if anyone would rent my house from me. Luckily, a good friend and her fiancé were looking for a place and the timeline suited them. That box was ticked and I felt far less stressed.
My car I gave to my Dad, who found a small dealership to buy it from me – this freed up some extra cash to use towards shipping costs. Moving costs really do add up.
I was making a long-term move, so I knew I would need to ship a lot of my possessions. Shipping was one of the biggest worries for me, as it can be really expensive and I was worried my things may get damaged. I shopped around for a reputable and affordable shipper. I contacted 3 different companies and I also asked friends for recommendations. In the end I didn’t go with the cheapest, I went with the one with the best service (after all, they’d be taking care of my whole life’s possessions!). The movers arrived a couple of days before I was flying out, packed up my possessions, agreed on a date for everything to arrive in the US, and off my stuff went!
The actual move
The next big step was figuring out where I would live. I was going to an entirely new city and country that I knew would be very different from London. I decided that I would rent an apartment (or flat, as we like to call it back home) and started doing my research.
I was lucky when it came to renting an apartment. I had a friend with similar requirements/likes to mine who was already renting in a building in Washington D.C. and there was an apartment available two doors down from her. So that was a done deal… well, after some back and forth with the building management first. Because I didn’t have any credit history in the US, I had to put down two months’ deposit. If you don’t know anyone in your new city, I would recommend renting somewhere on a short-term lease so you have time to check out where you want to live and get a bank account set up.
So after all my good byes I was finally on the plane, crying my eyes out and thinking, “What am I doing!”
Arriving was exciting and scary all at the same time. Here I was in a strange country and city, without a bank account, no mobile phone, and an empty apartment. But by planning the move out step by step, asking friends and family for help, and doing lots of research on my own, I was well prepared for what I needed to do.
When you’re moving countries, you’re not only moving possessions but also moving your money so you have funds available in your new home. Many people don’t plan fully for this step or think their only option is to exchange large amounts of cash at the airport at one of those foreign exchange kiosks. But that can mean you’re losing money on exchange rates and forced to carry lots of cash. Another option is to use your bank, but more often than not, the rate won’t be great and when it’s your life’s savings, you want someone to talk you through how it works – you don’t want to push the wrong button and send your money to the wrong place or into the wrong currency.
In my case, I knew I wanted to transfer over savings from London to D.C., so I talked to my personal account manager, Matt, at World First USA, Inc. The company helped me move my money across the pond, and it was so easy! I booked my transaction on the app, and on my second day in D.C., I had dollars to spend, right in my new bank account, without losing money on exchange rates!
Once I had money in my account and a mobile phone, I felt so much better. I felt I had arrived!
Moving to a new country is stressful and expensive, but moving your savings doesn’t have to be! Get started on your international move with Word First USA, Inc.