I certainly was not expecting to be selling furniture and packing our rented house up at the end of last year. I did not foresee us leaving our expat abode for a good couple of years to come.
It happened on a quiet evening while sitting at our compound pool watching the kids swim. Steve turned to me and with a quizzical look asked how I would feel about going back home? It was not the question I was expecting him to ask, but without hesitation and with a broad smile I asked: “When?” We chatted about his resigning a few more times, when would be appropriate and questioned the kids about how they felt about our expat home, their schools and friends and then subtly found out how they would feel about going home. They did not hesitate, with a resounding YES all round we started making arrangements.
The first call to action was when to resign, this needed to be when projects were completed, children were finished the school term, and a new job was secured. Once we had decided on a date, we created our to do list which looked something like this:
1. Resign: Hand in letter of resignation and ensure all relevant parties are informed.
2. Formalities: Find out the formal requirements from the Human Resource or relevant department, there may be check-lists that need to be completed before exit from the company and country may be permitted, this is especially true for the Middle East.
3. Inform family and friends: It is awful for a friend to find out you are leaving via the grapevine. Take the time to call all those close to you and give them the news first hand.
4. Host Country Check List
– Pay all, if any, outstanding traffic fines,
– Cancel TV subscriptions – satellite, terrestrial, etc,
– Cancel landline, ADSL and/or mobile contracts if required,
– Inform health or hotel facilities where you may have gym or other contracts of your departure date,
– Pay off any outstanding debts, e.g. car loans, this may require selling the vehicles,
– Cancel credit cards, this is important as many companies may hold back final payment until credit card/s are cancelled and cleared for up to 30 – 45 days,
– Cancel bank account/s if it is necessary, but ensure that your salary and final payout can be paid into another account,
– Inform doctors, dentists, hairdresser, beauty salon, anyone you have started a professional personal relationship with, that would appreciate being told about your departure,
– Buy any memorabilia well before you are to depart, this will allow you to include the items onto the container,
5. Sell all items you are not taking back: There are a variety of ways that these items can be discarded. If you want to sell the items look for a website or Facebook page, these are the easiest methods to use. Car boot sales, school fetes or street corner sales can also be useful for those items that are cheap and well used. Finally, look for charities in your area that could use or sell these items and support a cause.
6. Obtain removal quotes: Many companies allocate a relocation benefit for expats, often this amount does not cover the full cost. Obtain at least three quotes to compare, check references from previous clients to ensure a good quality move. Ask for delicate items to be crated and insurance for loss or breakage. Certain companies will pay for air freight costs, this however does not mean that you have to use air freight, obtain three air freight quotes and present these to the company, you can then pay for the cost over and above this quote for a container.
7. Pets: This is a tough one, we took our two cats across the continent with us, only to find that they disappeared after moving into our compound. It was devastating for the family, I wished that we had found a home for them and left them in our home country. However, if you do want to take your animals to your host country or back to your home country there are relocation specialists who will assist. Ensure that they are certified to take your hairy family members, contact previous clients and obtain references, go into their offices to see exactly how everything works.
8. The Help: This could be anyone who is helping you out in your home, from babysitting, cleaning, ironing, nursing help, to gardening. Each country is different in their level of help in the home. In Vietnam you will have all the help you need in your home, even a driver; while in the UK or America help is much more expensive and the expat is less likely to be able to afford these services. However, if you do have help ensure that everyone is given notice, paid accordingly and if a new job is required to stay in the country and a Residence Permit, that these are acquired before you leave.
9. Packing: Whether you have to pack yourself or the removal company is doing it for you, mark and number all the boxes, and have a checklist to go through when the boxes are being packed and unpacked. This is vitally important to ensure that you can check that everything has been delivered and to find necessities on the other side, ensure you can find the bedding, towels and basics for that first night in your new home.
10. Saying goodbye: Have a party or smaller get togethers to say goodbye to all your friends, this is especially important for the children. Get contact details such as Email and Skype Addresses, Facebook and Twitter connections.
I will discuss what to expect when you arrive home in my next blog post.
Good Luck and enjoy the trip home.
Denise is an Expat and Marketing Manager at http://www.xpatulator.com/ a website that provides cost of living index information and calculates what you need to earn in a different location to compensate for cost of living, hardship, and exchange rate differences.