Preparing to move overseas is time-consuming. Between the stacks of paperwork, the packing, the planning, the hunt for a place to live, I feel as though I've done so much and yet so little.
That's where this series, "The Expat Adventures" comes into play. Aaron and I are obviously really, really new at this whole expat thing, but I'm hoping maybe one little nugget of information will prove helpful to someone else who is planning a move abroad. Maybe? Can't hurt anyhow.
First thing we've learned? Start as early as possible. With everything.
Of course, visas are the biggest hurdle to get through and naturally we couldn't start on those without Aaron's handy, dandy student number, which the school doesn't send out until two to three months before school starts. (Ironically, school for him starts exactly two months from today, which is why visas are on my mind!) Once we got the student number, we (he really) began working on the mountain of paperwork required for the visas. Of course, there is still more to do before we submit the paperwork (including biometrics) but at least we have begun the process and there is an end in sight.
Starting early with the packing and organizing is also key. Our goal is to take only the barest minimum of items that will fit into our suitcases. We're opting to store our boxes (full of books and memorabilia) and a few pieces of furniture and household goods for when we get back. I'm slowly weeding through items to determine what we need to keep or what we can sell or donate and purchase when we return. I've also made a list of items to buy over there, such as a rain jacket, wellies, and a new umbrella so I don't have to stuff them in my suitcase and lose precious space. (Also, I'm not positive that the clothing in South Carolina is quite up to par with Scottish weather.)
Lastly, flat hunting. I plan to do a later post (after we procured a flat) on the process but thus far I can safely say, it is a very different process from renting an apartment in the states. I've spent hours searching for nice neighborhoods, googling routes to and from the school, searching for nearby grocery stores, and looking at safety records for various areas of the city. I've researched additional fees that come with renting a flat in the UK, the best letting companies, and the average costs of flats. I've emailed letting agents, always double checking my emails in the hopes that I don't sound like an ignorant American. Once our leave date gets closer, I will set up appointments with agents to view flats, as renting sight unseen is less then savory.
There is still so much to do in these remaining two months, but I think (and hope) we've gotten a good start on the process!