Wednesday, 4 December 2013

How to prepare to leave home (in a foreign country).

I'm currently in the process of folding my entire life into a cardboard box. After having spent the last twelve months living in France, the time has come for me to finally return to Australia, with about double the possessions I originally came over with (I honestly do not know how that happened). At the moment I'm trying to navigate the mine field that is closing down a former life and re-opening a new one, while trying not to leave anything behind.

I've decided to ship most of my possessions home. But, as I started packing away my life last night, it's not as easy as I first thought. It's not only hard to choose what you want to keep and what you won't mind not seeing for a few months, but it's tough choosing enough clothes to sustain two different seasons at their extremes. I'll be leaving France at the end of December, in the dead of winter, to return to Australia, in the heat of summer. This means I can't just pack all of my summer clothes away as if I don't need them anymore, because I do, just not yet. In fact, when I finally had all of my possessions packed away, I realised I'm shipping more winter possessions than summer. 

Getting all of my possessions home isn't the only stressful thing to work out though. I'm going through the process of shutting my entire life in France down. That means draining bank accounts of money and shutting them down, cancelling my phone subscription, figuring out who's sending me junk mail and stopping it, letting the government know I won't need their monthly benefits anymore, contacting my landlord to get my deposit returned, setting up a new phone account in my new home, searching for jobs in the Sydney area, and the list goes on. Even down to 'Visit H&M and get that nice jumper you like' (there are many nice jumpers in H&M, I don't even remember which one I was thinking about when I wrote that… Nonetheless, we don't have H&M in Australia, so I've scheduled in one last trip). 

Here's a look at how I've organised my final few weeks here:

Three months before: Set up a date with a shipping company to drop and pick boxes up from your house (it's really handy if the shipping company you go with provides their own cardboard boxes). Shipping companies can give you a round about date when your stuff will arrive at its destination, so whatever date you choose is up to you (keep in mind, most take about 6-8 weeks).

One month before: Make sure all temporary accounts are up and running. For example, I have an Australian travel money card and SIM card which will both come into play once my French accounts are shut down.

Three weeks before: Start shutting down accounts, i.e. bank, phone, government, etc. Three weeks should be plenty of time to shut them down allowing for one mishap (which will NOT happen).

One week before: Start opening accounts in your new home. This includes ordering new phones and such online so they will be ready for you when you get there.

Three days before: Wash (if anything needs it) and pack for good. This includes everything you own, even things you're planning on wearing over the final days. If you have one, pack a smaller backpack and live out of that for the final few days so you don't have to keep rifling through your larger suitcase.

Two days before: Grab any last minute purchases from any favourite stores/gifts for friends and family back home

The day before: Enjoy your old home. Don't forget to schedule time in to just enjoy your favourite spots. If you're not going to be returning for a while, you'll regret not spending at least a little time in places that have meant something to you.

The day of: Don't freak out. If you keep your head, everything will be fine.

+ If you need to, don't forget to set up a meeting/final inspection with your landlord a few days before!

P.S. The awesome world map up the top came from here

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