Methinks our Weekend Warrior Saturday may be winding down in terms of packing tips for moving to London, just short of rolling up your sleeves and actually doing it.
But there are other things you can do to prepare for an international move beyond the physical packing and shipping of your goods, things that one of our fabulous Londonistas, Leah, has titled, “The little details” on our London Living discussion board. As of when she was at the 6-month mark prior to her London move, she was already diligently thinking through the miscellaneous stuff that seems small individually but all adds up. Inspired by and expanding on her list, some important domestic tasks to tick off that list by the time you move are:
— Redirect mail – It may be possible to have your mail forwarded internationally, but likely at greater expense than the charge for forwarding domestically, and you may want to inquire about this in person at the post office—the otherwise-simple online form may not be so simple if it doesn’t contain all the same address fields consistent with UK format. The United States Postal Service, for instance, doesn’t provide an international option for mail forwarding unless it’s a U.S. territory or you’re in the military—I just tried it with no luck, but if anyone reading this has successfully redirected their mail abroad, please do share your experience!
I personally have my mail forwarded to my parents’ address and visit home often enough to collect it from there—at this point, it’s usually just junk mail, catalogs, or credit card/bank statements that I receive electronically anyway. Regardless, you will definitely want to contact your important third parties with your new address or a trusted permanent one in your home country to receive ongoing mail.
— In the case of credit cards, you’ll want to hold onto your existing ones, as acquiring one in the UK requires time to build a credit history over here. It will therefore be imperative to phone them and notify of your change in international address so that they don’t flag your international charges as fraud!
— Cancel your newspaper & close utility accounts – Unlike credit cards, you’ll definitely need to cease your relationship with your local utilities. Notify your gas, electricity, cable, telephone, and, if necessary, water providers of when you’ll be closing your account. Soon enough, you’ll be greeted into the family of British Gas, Thames Water, and British Telecom :).
— Sort out local bank account – you may decide to close your local account, but strongly consider keeping it in the event your move is only temporary and/or you have ongoing local obligations. For example, my husband and I both still have our bank accounts since we know we’ll eventually be returning to the States. We also have mortgage payments and student loans payable in USD that continue to draw from these accounts. It’s also just handy to have on hand for anything that comes up at home, in case of emergency. That being said, in today’s economic climate, accumulating savings in the UK that is denominated in GBP is beneficial. Poor, tanking US Dollar :(.
— Give notice to your landlord, if you’re presently renting. Contact an estate agent if you own and are selling. Enlist a property manager if you own and are renting out to tenants. This would be a worthy blog post unto itself in the future, so remind me to revisit this at more length!
While these items help tie up loose ends on your local end, I’ll follow up on this brief list next week with the little things that’ll help you once on the other side of the pond.