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Tips For Relocating to Another Country

By October 17, 2016 Organsation and Planning, Travel
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Its been awhile since my last post, because I have been busy moving all the way across the world from Auckland, New Zealand, to London!  For a number of reasons it was a particularly crazy time leading up to the move, but we made it!  Here is how I got organized…

 

Arranging Work

In the interest of keeping a stable income going,  you may want to organise a job before moving.  It is becoming more and more common to interview by skype or phone these days, which is exactly what I did in order to secure a job prior to booking a flight.  So consider updating your Linkedin profile, joining up with a recruitment agency, looking at job advertisements and following up any potential contacts you may have well in advance.

Work permits/visas can take months to arrange, so look into what is required and apply well in advance.  Also, if applicable, check if there are any particular professional qualification/registration requirements you need to fulfil to work in the country you are moving to.

Once you have accepted a job, liaise with the HR department to see what paperwork they need to get you all signed up, put on the payroll and set up with computer access etc to avoid delays in starting work and getting paid once you arrive.

 

Booking flights

Check the baggage allowance and cost of adding additional bags before booking…(we unwittingly booked with an airline that only allowed 23kg per person, whereas some other airlines allow 43kg).

When selecting travel dates, allow enough time after arrival to pick up your work visa, get a phone simcard/plan, set up a bank account, find somewhere to live, set up utilities, set up house etc before you have to start work.

Remember to arrange any other special requirements to make your flight as comfortable as possible (dietary requirements, bassinet seat etc).  The flight from Auckland to London long! About 36 hours to travel what is pretty much halfway around the world and we were lucky to be able to book front-row seats with extra leg room.

What to take

If you are not moving permanently, it may not be cost-effective to take everything you own over and then bring it back again.  Most friends and colleagues we spoke to who had moved to another country for a couple of years suggested taking only personal items and then renting a furnished place or buying new household items after arriving.

 

Lists, lists, lists…

Depending on what else is going on in your life, there may be a LOT to organise!  Avoid the stress of having to remember what needs doing by keeping “To-Do” lists and adding to them whenever you think of something.  I had 7 different to-do lists (two have been adapted below) all written on a giant piece of paper so I could cross things off as they got done!

 

A Checklist of Things to do to Pack-Up House may include…

-finding a storage unit (Doing a little shopping around pays off; storage can be really expensive.  We did the maths and figured out that at quite a few of places, the price over 2 years would be higher than the value of our belongings)

-sell or donate unwanted items (this will help to keep storage costs down by allowing you to hire a smaller unit)

-finish any renovations/fix-ups to get your house ready for rent/sale if applicable

-organise the rental/sale of your house if applicable

-buy boxes and packing tape

-pack things up for storage and for the move (Label the boxes to make things easier to find later on)

-hire a trailer to transport boxes to storage

 

A Checklist of  Contacts to Notify may include…

-utilities providers; gas, electricity, water, internet

-bank

-family and friends

-healthcare providers

-any TV or magazine subscriptions

 

The flight over –relax, indulge and enjoy!

You did it! Everything is packed you and you have made it to the airport and checked in your bulging bags!   It’s going to be a bit busy getting set up again on the other end, so, after check-in it’s time to “check-out” for a bit and enjoy!  Have a much-deserved cup of coffee and sweet treat in the airport, do some duty-free shopping, buy a book… Then enjoy the in-flight service and the chance to sit back, watch movies and relax.

I love Lisa Eldriges’s “Long Haul Beauty Regime”  video for inspiration on how to make your flight a relaxing spa-like experience (you can find the link here).  (Though truth be told I have never managed to actually do anything like it, and more often than not end up scrambling onto the plane exhausted, sleep-deprived and capable of little more than watching movies like a zombie/sleeping like a mummy…but it is a lovely idea.)

 

Bon Voyage and safe travels!

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Captivating Casares (and nearby localities)…

By July 11, 2016 Sparkle, Magic and Wonderment, Travel
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When we planned our trip to Andalusia, in the south of Spain, we became intrigued by the idea of Casares, a fortified Arabian settlement of beautiful white-washed dwellings strategically nestled in the mountain-tops with a strong wall and sheer drops protecting the town.  Having hired a car with mobile Wifi, we were able to have a very free-flowing and spontaneous road-trip in Andalusia, deciding our route and plans as we went, booking accommodation online as we approached a town we wanted to spend the night in.

We planned to visit Casares as a day trip, because there appeared to be only one small inn in the town itself,  and Casares is close enough to many other towns.

So we decided to spend the night before in Sabinillas, at the Hotel Dona Luisa on the  beautiful Costa Del Sol. We rose early, eager to start the day.  After a leisurely breakfast, we walked out onto the beach and were greeted by a breath-taking sunrise, as the first rays of sunlight diffused orange and gold above the water. There was something very special about being up at the crack of dawn.  The prospect of the whole day, filled with promise stretched out before us.  A day with nothing to do but please ourselves.

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We bumped into some fellow tourists who suggested that a trip to nearby Castellar de la Frontera would be well worth the time.   It was a beautiful day so we took the suggested detour through the sun-drenched, mountainous landscape and found ourselves exploring a delightful little town.  There were charming winding cobblestone streets where ceramic vendors displayed their wares and weathered stone buildings reaching up towards a brilliantly blue sky.

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By now it was lunchtime and there didn’t appear to be many places to stop for a meal in this beautiful but isolated spot.  Actually just one tiny pub as far as we could tell…

So we went in.  There were very few tables and no one inside except one young bartender.  We resigned ourselves to the prospect of a simple and probably not very tasty lunch and asked for a few tapas.  Next thing we knew, our host brought out plate after plate of mouth-watering dishes, made with seemingly the simplest fresh ingredients but assembled and seasoned with such flair as to be unbelievably delicious.  The showstopper was the tastiest chorizo sausage which he dramatically set aflame before us!  We agreed that somehow the adventure of stumbling upon this gem of an eatery in the most unexpected spot made it one of the best and most special meals we had ever had.

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We expressed our appreciation as best we could in broken Spanish and finally headed to Casares.  The numerous white buildings clustered like gems in the mountains were everything we had hoped to see as we approached.  As we took a closer look on foot we saw that the town was immaculately kept.  Even the cemetary was beautiful.  We wandered up towards the highest point and past some castle ruins and  a church.

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By now, the sun was setting and we had found the perfect spot to admire the town.  From our vantage point above the village we heard the strains of habitation at dusk from below.  The voices and foot-steps of children playing in the streets, dogs barking, the breeze in the trees, birds, the occasional motorbike winding through the streets and the church bells ringing…

Watching the town from a distance, there was a stillness in the air, and we all fell silent, deep in our own thoughts.   I thought about how it was almost as if we had lived the best parts of a lifetime in one day.  From when the day was young and full of possibility at dawn, to a care-free day filled with adventures, spontenaeity, surprise and wonderful food shared in good company in amazing surroundings.  Then the end of the day.  The white buildings glowed in the last rays of the sun, as memories of this incredible day continue to glow and bring a smile to our faces well after the trip has ended.

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My Trip to Carcassonne in Southern France -it was magical!

By January 4, 2016 French Inspired, Sparkle, Magic and Wonderment, Travel
Carcassonne at dusk.  (image from wikipaedia)

I have been lucky enough to have had many magical moments on overseas holidays.  However some stand out in my memories more than others.  Carcassonne is a charming hilltop town in the Languedoc-Rousillon region of Southern France, surrounded by a medieval fortress.  We were a travelling party of 5 and had hired a car to take a road trip, driving from town to town.  We loved seeing the landscape of gently rolling hills and green countryside as we travelled.  As we were travelling in a car we were able to stop to pick poppies in a field which we had never seen growing wild before and take lots of photos and practice our French on the locals!

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We stayed in a little hotel just outside the city walls of Carcasonne and had a breath-taking view of the medieval town, which certainly seemed take on a magical quality as it lit up at dusk (see above).  Immediately we began talking about how this conjured up romanticised visions of princesses and knights, and of the medieval citizens scurrying behind the safety of the city walls and closing the gates to protect the town…

It was a chilly, grey and drizzly evening, but already enchanted by this charming town, we were completely un-deterred and we put on our winter coats. armed ourselves with umbrellas and set off walking into the town.  The town shops were still open, but the wet cobblestone streets were empty and there were no other tourists to be seen.  It was as if we had the town to ourselves.  We ducked into a cosily lit sweet shop and spent a happy 20 minutes marvelling over the variety of and selecting some to sample before braving the rain again.

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We wandered around, and came across, among other sights, a square, a beautiful church with stained glass windows lit up by candles,   a well, and a poster exalting the local dish, Cassoulet!

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By now the light was fading and we looked for somewhere to have dinner.  We were welcomed by the owner of a charming country pub and climbed the stone stairs to the restaurant on the upper floor.  The room was delightfully warm and lit by candles and a crackling fire.  The waiter was hospitable, charming and of course knowledgeable about wine.  We did order the famed cassoulet, a provincial dish of duck leg, sausage and haricot beans cooked in a clay pot.  The warm and hearty meal was the perfect end to a magical fairy tale of a day.

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