How To Pack To Live Overseas

 

How do you pack to live overseas? Packing for expat life is a lot different than packing to go camping for a weekend, or to a resort for a week. You are becoming an expat, a traveler in a foreign land without most of the familiar comforts of home. How do you prepare for that? What should you bring, and what should you leave behind? This article will help you!

I strongly recommend bringing one suitcase and one carry-on. Nothing else.

You want to prioritize what you pack and how. You want to travel light. You don't want to pay extra airline fees for luggage, and you also want to be able to leave quickly if you need to. Although emergency escapes from your country of choice are very rare, there is another, more practical reason to consider packing light: souvenirs. After a year (or more) of living overseas, you'll have rebuilt your wardrobe and your image and your persona and you'll also have bags full of cool souvenirs and peculiarities from exotic lands that you'll want to bring home. The less stuff you bring with you initially means you have more room to take new stuff home with you.

Your First Month

The first thing you need to plan for when you're packing is the fact that you won't have much cash flow for your first month overseas. The vast majority of schools around the world pay salaries once per month, and they expect you to work for that pay before they hand out the cash. This means that you need to have enough personal supplies to get by for a month. Go buy some deodorant, toothpaste, shaving cream, shampoo, etc. Buy some instant coffee and/or tea bags as well. Don't worry about packing other foodstuffs so long as you keep some savings in cash with you. Food is relatively cheap in most of the world and two hundred dollars should do you fine at the local grocery store.

Go buy some deodorant, toothpaste, shaving cream, shampoo, etc. Buy some instant coffee and/or tea bags as well. Don't worry about packing other foodstuffs so long as you keep some savings in cash with you. Food is relatively cheap in most of the world and two hundred dollars should do you fine at the local grocery store.

Clothing

When it comes to clothing, you need to pack strategically. You don't want to weigh yourself down with your entire wardrobe, and clothing is a lot cheaper in most other countries. Your clothing tastes are also bound to change as you become more acclimatized to the local fashion scene (this means dressing nicer and classier in most places). Buying clothing will be no problem for you once you get that income coming in. Until then, however, you'll need enough clothes to get through the week. Pack four or five shirts business casual shirts you can wear to work, a couple of casual weekend shirts, and three or four pairs of pants (or skirts) you can rotate throughout the week. Go buy a couple of packs of underwear and, for the ladies, make sure you have a few decent bras you can wear comfortably. You may find that your size isn't easy to come by, especially in Asian countries. You'll also want about 10 pairs of socks.

Your clothing tastes are also bound to change as you become more acclimatized to the local fashion scene (this means dressing nicer and classier in most places). Buying clothing will be no problem for you once you get that income coming in. Until then, however, you'll need enough clothes to get through the week. Pack four or five shirts business casual shirts you can wear to work, a couple of casual weekend shirts, and three or four pairs of pants (or skirts) you can rotate throughout the week. Go buy a couple of packs of underwear and, for the ladies, make sure you have a few decent bras you can wear comfortably. You may find that your size isn't easy to come by, especially in Asian countries. You'll also want about 10 pairs of socks.

Pack four or five shirts business casual shirts you can wear to work, a couple of casual weekend shirts, and three or four pairs of pants (or skirts) you can rotate throughout the week. Go buy a couple of packs of underwear and, for the ladies, make sure you have a few decent bras you can wear comfortably. You may find that your size isn't easy to come by, especially in Asian countries. You'll also want about 10 pairs of socks.

Go buy a couple of packs of underwear and, for the ladies, make sure you have a few decent bras you can wear comfortably. You may find that your size isn't easy to come by, especially in Asian countries. You'll also want about 10 pairs of socks.

For footwear, I recommend bringing one pair of business-casual shoes for work, and a pair of sneakers for your down time. You can pick up all the other shoes you need.

Personal Junk

I consider anything that's not necessary to get through your first month as "junk". Of course, I don't mean that your photos of grandma and that beer opener from that awesome concert are meant for the trash, it's just that these things aren't going to help you travel and settle into your new home.

You need to seriously consider the emotional value of such items and determine if you really need them or not.

I'm against bringing too much non-essential junk from home. Your goal is to fit everything into one suitcase and one carry-on. You don't need photo albums or decor for your apartment because you'll soon have your place decorated to your liking from local markets and stores.

Keep the books at home and get yourself a Kindle instead.

If there is anything that you have a deep emotional connection to and you must bring it with you, then make sure it's small enough to fit in your carry-on (never put invaluable items in your checked luggage, unless it's something they won't allow through security). Otherwise, put all your personal mementos in a box at home or rent a safety deposit box for a year and stash everything there.

Remember, your main focus is just to get through the first month in your new home. After that you'll be able to buy clothing, toiletries, decor and everything else you need, for a lot cheaper than you would at home!

Let's review:

  • You want one checked bag and one carry-on bag
  • Pack enough toiletries for a month
  • Pack enough clothing to get through a work week and a weekend
  • Pack enough underwear for a week
  • Ladies, buy new comfortable bras
  • Pack 10 pairs of socks
  • Bring instant coffee and tea bags
  • Leave all your personal junk at home

You're all ready to live overseas for a year!

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