What Are the Top 10 Things Teachers Should Do in Preparation for an Overseas Move?

Getting ready for an overseas move can be a seemingly overwhelming task.  My hunch is not many of us  get a good night’s sleep the evening before take off.  From arranging for visas to forwarding mail and halting newspaper delivery, there just seems to be a million-and-one things that need attention before we can “get out of  Dodge”.

If you’re an old hand at international moves, you’ve learned some valuable lessons. Here’s an opportunity to offer sound advice for  teachers new, and not so new, to the international teaching circuit. Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is all about.

Have something to add to this conversation? To participate you will be asked to create a 5 character (minimum)  user name.  Entering an email address is optional.

9 thoughts on “What Are the Top 10 Things Teachers Should Do in Preparation for an Overseas Move?

  1. I taught more than 10 years ago, but I think the advice stills holds… Do not come over so *** (fill in the blank – Americanized, Canadianized etc) that you are not open to
    (1) eating local foods
    (2) adopting local customs (i.e. in Malaysia – you point with your thumb – to point with your pointer finger is considered rude)
    (3) – Don’t be too proud or brand loyal – replace your favorite home brand with an acceptable replacement (i.e. local cough medicine over Vicks – it may be even better!)
    (4) I agree with someone above — copy all important docs and leave home with family
    (5) Research the country before hand – CIA has a factbook website.
    (6) Hopefully the school set up a moving buddy program so you can email someone already in that country.
    (7) IMPORTANT – When I moved to Malaysia – for whatever stupid reason I insisted on taking almost all my belongings – 6 huge duffel bag suitcases later I arrived. What a pain! Try to limit your suitcases to under 4 as a single person and you will be fine!
    (8) go over with a LIST of good websites for teaching materials rather than a suitcase full. Bring pen drives etc of your teaching assignments – as someone mentioned above. Scan and email yourself the good stuff. Don’t lug it over!
    (9) try to connect with other new people going over there to work too. If you become friendly, agree to be roommates. You can always go solo the 2nd year of your contract when you have accumulated some spare $. We had exact 1 week to find roommates in Malaysia and it ended up very badly between us three ladies. Enemies in fact by the end of year 1.

    (10) medical stuff – bring all meds – if you cannot (I am now a diabetic) – get a medical reference for a good (perhaps western style) hospital/medical/physician resource there.

    .. Hope this helps – Wendy


  2. Be positive. Try to give the best impression you can when you first arrive. Accept that life will be different, sometimes more different than you could have imagined. Be open to and embrace the local culture, but never forget where you come from. You’ll become a more wholistic person. Learn to be clever in your search requests on the internet, sometimes it is your only resource. Be happy, you’re going to have an incredible experience. If the school isn’t what you hope, remember you do this for the children. Make them your complete and total focus. And don’t forget to congratulate yourself on taking that next huge step in your life. You’re going to love it!


  3. (1) Look into Capitol One credit card, which does not have a surcharge for purchases in foreign currency
    (2) Re electronic devices, e.g., computers, PDA’s, etc., whose AC power supply is based on 110 voltage, most countries are 220 volts. Purchase a power adapter to protect your device or upgrade your device. Most devices today have a range between 100-240 volts.
    (3) If possible, try to live in and interact with a neighborhood of your host country. The neighbors are likely to “watch over” you because they will now who you are.
    (4) If you bring children and plan to move them many times with you to different places around the world, be aware of the “third culture kid” effect.
    (5) Learn about how the health care, banking, and transportation systems work. One can be easily frustrated by them.
    (6) Look all directions before crossing or walking along the streets and sidewalks (if any). There may be holes in the ground, exposed wires (“hot” or not), buckled pavement, uneven surfaces and steps–all of these may be factors in falling accidents or being hit by vehicles (motorized or not).
    (7) Understand the political dynamics and cultural idiosyncrasies, in order to minimize unexpected or surprising behaviors from host country citizens.
    (8) Have a sense about how long you should stay at your new assignment. End your experience on a high note.
    (9) Be aware that your school will ask you by January during your last year of your two-year contract about “your intentions” for the following year. Do not assume that you have to commit yourself immediately if you are not certain or want to move on. Seek approval for a chance to attend a job fair or an extension until March to decide (while you may be seeking other options).
    (10) Download free software (Mac or PC) from http://www.skype.com in order to communicate without cost with family and friends via computer (“telephony”). You can also integrate with a web cam. You make conference calls but expect some “lag time” with more people on Skype.


  4. Set up an accessible email account (ie gmail) with a reputable provider. Scan important documents and email them to yourself


  5. I agree with the above comments. We moved from The Netherlands to Curacao, from Curacao to Saudi Arabia and now to Malawi. We lived in each country about 4 to 5 years, so there is enough time to feel at home instead of feeling constantly on the move. Our kids (4 and 5) became true travellers and already have a broader vision of the world than I had when I was their age.


    1. Hi Elles, I was wondering what school your kids may have attended in Saudi? Would it be the British International School in Jeddah? If so, or a similar school, what were their experiences? Thanks.


  6. I’ve found it useful to call my credit card companies and let them know I’ll be using my card in whatever region I’ll be living in. (One day the card is used in say, Duluth, the next day in Bogotá. It can set off some alarm bells. Chase is particularly bad is this way.)

    Make copies of every important piece of paper, card, document you have. Take one set of copies with you, leave the other with family.

    Go easy on the pre-trip purchases. You’d be surprised what you can buy in your new home and how much cheaper it is. That being said- do your homework. Some things might be much more expensive, poor quality, or not available in your new country. (Peanut butter and socks!) Almost every country has some sort of expat internet posting board. Find it and don’t be shy.

    Depending on where you are going, teaching materials might be hard to come by or order. Bring as much of that as you can. (You can always have a pair of pants made, but not that map of the world or favorite children’s book.)

    This will depend on your school and location, but the money you spend getting set up can add up (deposits, phones, TV, internet, beer, sheets…). Make sure you’ve got a financial cushion.

    For me connecting with people ‘over there’ before I leave has been the best move. Through the Thorn Tree, expat boards, teachers already there, I ask a lot of questions. A lot of questions.

    Finally, sell it all or give it away before you go. Face it, you won’t be coming home.


  7. I’m making my first international move sunday. I’m going to Taiwan and I’d love to hear any tricks or tips from people who’ve done this before! Thanks.



  8. 1) Make a will and make sure family has a copy.
    2) Set up all bank accounts for online access (and make sure all bank cards/credit cards are up to date).
    3) Make sure you have enough proper clothes/over-the-counter medication/prescriptions to last a year.
    4) Make sure all electronic and computer equipment is up to date and with parts.
    5) Get a collection of books and videos for children.
    6) Get a moving date set up early.
    7) Make sure passports/ drivers are up to date. Get an international drivers permit and get extra pictures of yourself for documents.
    8)Get all bills paid off early if you can and shut down everything.
    9) Relax, it’s supposed to be stressful.
    10) Have a going away party for closure.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.