I’ve spent most of today in ‘headless chicken’ mode trying to organise the finer details of our move overseas. Frankly I think my emotions are coping fairly well considering the enormity of the plunge we’re about to take! In the last few hours I’ve learnt that nothing about moving abroad is simple or cheap and wanted to share my experience with those considering the same. If you’re the free-spirited type who dreams of jetting off on a wing and a prayer this post is for you…
Be careful what you sign!
It turns out we have to give SIX MONTHS notice on our rental contract, despite being tenants since 2012!
We’ve signed a new rental agreement each year since we moved in. Each rental agreement was valid for one year and expired on the 15th of December. Each time we signed a new agreement, we unwittingly committed ourselves to staying in the property for a minimum of six months. We’re also required to give two months notice. We read the small print the year we moved in but took to signing each contract thereafter in a blasé manner. We arrogantly assumed that when the time came to leave, our long length of service and flawless track record as tenants would affectively nullify the terms and conditions of what we’d signed.
To their praise, our lettings agency and landlord have been fantastic. They’ve agreed to let us break the conditions of our contract on the premise they find someone to fill the property, so we’ve given a month’s notice. Given the colossal scale of London’s housing shortage this shouldn’t be a problem. However, if they fail to find a new tenant we’ll be responsible for paying the rent until they do, up until June 15th. This serves to put an expensive dampener on our exciting plans.
Whether you’re already planning your move abroad or simply an aspiring expat, be aware of any contractual obligations you may have and try to shackle yourself to as little as possible. Have a Pay and Go phone and don’t buy your car on credit. Most companies won’t allow you to get out of your contract early. If you own a property this will serve to complicate your situation further. If you plan to sell, be sure to put your property on the market well ahead of your move. If you wish to rent your property, be sure to check the terms of your mortgage agreement to ensure you aren’t breaking the conditions outlined by your provider. This all sounds obvious but is so often overlooked, both at the time of signing the paperwork and in the thrilling haze of celebrating your relocation plans with family and friends.
Be Ruthless With What You Want to Keep
One of the advantages of living in a flat the size of a rabbit hutch is that we haven’t had much opportunity to accumulate lots of stuff over the years. Or at least I haven’t. My husband, unlike me, is a legendary hoarder. During past clear-outs I’ve stumbled across just about everything, including payslips dating as far back as ten years and a little box of rosary beads despite claims he is an atheist.
Unsurprisingly, it turns out moving abroad is nothing less than extortionate. Our matchbox flat, not including the bed, two wardrobes and storage units we bought when we moved in, will cost approximately two grand to ship across the Atlantic! I’m currently rubbing my hands together with glee. This means my hoarder husband needs to clear out the stacks of old paperwork and junk which have swallowed our cupboards whole for the past three years. We simply cannot afford to take everything with us.
My strategy for sorting out my things is to organise them into three piles I’ve named Bin, Keep, Donate and Store. I’ll get rid of what isn’t necessary to keep – ‘Bin’, bring a small amount of things with me to St Lucia – ‘Keep’, ‘Donate’ a few things to charity and ‘Store’ my winter clothes at my parents.
All-in-all my stress levels have seen better days. On the plus side our flights will probably be booked by the end of the week and we’ve just learnt Pav’s training will be in Grenada. That means we’ll get to see another country in the Caribbean before flying on to our permanent home in St Lucia. That’ll satisfy my wanderlust desires nicely!