How to leave your old life in 3 steps
I started off to my new life in Phuket and I’ve never been there before. “Stupid” you might think. “All in!” is what I think. I always knew that I wanted to leave home again and this time I wanted to stay away longer. I prepared my expatriation for over 7 months while working a full time job; I needed to sell or give away everything I had. Surprisingly, this was the easiest part. Paperwork – that really freaked me out after 7 months of researching, running to citizen offices before work, and rushing to embassies during my lunch break. However, I still somehow managed to squeeze friends and social life in between everything. It not only cost me hundreds of nerves but also nights of sleep. Many days I just had some snacks, as well it did cost me honorable skills of acting as some days have been just smashing. But if I am honest I just remember small things of all the “pain” as all I have done was totally worth it – and as soon I stepped out of the plane onto Phuket – pain has gone and I forgot about all those hours of stress and suddenly was refreshed again. But what do you need to prepare if you leave your country for good? Where do you find information? I want to share as much information as possible, as for me it was hard to research helpful information on this topic. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to contact me or comment on my facebook page.
In this article I want to tell you the 3 biggest steps of how to leave your old life, so let’s get started with all that fun:
1| PAPERWORK FOR YOUR NEW DESTINATION
VISA (and how to find the right one)
I highly recommend to first go to either your local embassy (eg. in Berlin) and talk about what you want to do at your new destination, which visa you need and which visa you actually can get (this does not have to be the same as sometimes embassies in other countries are not allowed to give away certain visas. This always depends on the actual law situation).
A good way to find some information is to look through the embassys’ website. Looking for the right embassy? Here is a collection of all embassies in Berlin.
If you are way too busy to do it by yourself, get an agency to do it for you.
Find some of them here.
Make sure you have copies done of everything, even if an agency is doing all the paperwork for you, I highly recommend to read the actual visa regulations of the country just in case you will be asked at the airport. For any working visa please make sure to get as much information upfront as possible.
HEALTH INSURANCE (you definitely need one!)
Let’s say you leave for Cambodia and your stay will be at least 18 months. There are different possibilities of how you can be insured, most important is: to be insured.
#1 Stay registered in Germany & keep your German health insurance
This is pretty easy, but maybe a more expensive one. You need to have a german valid address and pay your health insurance; however, you will also need to add a longterm travel and health insurance to cover your travel. Most insurances cover up to 60 or 90 days per year outside of Germany, but as you want to stay longer make sure to buy the extension plan.
#2 Stay registered in Germany & quit your German health insurance and get an expat insurance
Well this says it all – almost. There are different providers (such as Allianz, Hansemerkur etc.) or even special offers for expatriates such as ‘expatriate Versicherung‘ or world nomads you can choose from. Make sure it suits all your needs.
#3 Do not stay registered in Germany and buy local Health Insurance
Ask your company! Most of them have group insurances, which is cheaper but have the same offers as a normal one. You are a freelancer? Ask in local but international hospitals, some of them sell ‘discount cards,’ you can also buy local insurances from a local broker – ask colleages or the girl at the cashier in a supernarket if she knows a good one (i am serious. This is how I find good people – ask the others even if you dont know them). The most important requirement of a health insurance are inpatient treatments. So make sure they are included and as well treatments of higher costs such as surgeries, physio therapist after an accident etc.
Make sure this is valid for at least the next 3-5 years (as well as having enough free pages left). You really dont want to care about getting a new passport somewhere in Hindukush when you could just do this back home, right?
INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS LICENCE
Get one. It’s 15 Euros, well invested and will help you in your new destination to get around first. If you need to get a local DL then, you will have it far easier if you already bring an international driver license with you. Any citizen office in Germany is very (!) happy to help you out with this.
2| PAPERWORK FOR LEAVING YOUR CURRENT COUNTRY (in this case: Germany)
This is probably one of those things you will try to get around for as long as you can – don’t do it! Start as early as you can. Quit all contracts, inform all citizen offices, talk to your health insurance and so on. It will take – let’s say – a while. If you are in Germany then you will be glad to have enough time to fight all the letters you will receive (or those letters you never received but should have) and do all the phone calls within the same time zone. So let’s see what is most important to do:
NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL
You need to quit all your contracts – and I know we love to have contracts. So make sure to send out the letters on time to quit your:
- mobile phone & landline (included app subscription, spotify or any music subscription you pay monthly)
- fitness / sport studio, dance classes or similar activities
- insurances (personal, car, accident, legal protection, liability, traffic … )
- magazines / newspaper / porn or any other entertainment magazine yo ordered
- lotto (seriously. If you didn’t win yet, well…)
- online streaming services
- online shopping cards
- credit cards and extra bank accounts you don’t need anymore (don’t forget to transfer your money to the main account)
SELLING YOUR BELONGINGS
That is probably the most exciting part – I mean you really gonna do that! Whoop! Ok I know, selling your personal stuff might be a little sad as well but don’t worry. First of all, you will make tons of people pretty happy with your stuff; second, you will have new personal belongings which will make you happy; and third, Hell Yes! you leave your life!! Best reason ever to get rid of your things. So where can you sell it and get some money out of it? Try these places:
- car (automobile.de , Autoscout24.de etc. )
- furniture (classifieds in newspaper, free ads, ebay Kleinanzeigen, ebay, flea market)
- clothes (fleamarket, ebay, dawanda, kleiderkreisel etc.)
3| RESEARCH FOR YOUR NEW DESTINATION
Tip of the century: do not search for anything you want to buy online without looking at it in person as soon you arrive! Why? You might buy a trouser, a pair of shoes, or a hair dryer online, alright. But let’s say you need a flat or place to live. You want to rent one and believe me – you can have as many emails as you want saying you rent the place and paid a deposit, there are some countries where our rules don’t work. As well you might find out that your nice 2 room apartment with that glossy floor in reality is only one room, moldy, and dark somewhere in the other corner of the city. So I know we all love the internet and for sure I am up for short term rentals like Airbnb or if you book hostels/hotels at agoda.com. But even if you found the nicest place to stay ever just check it out in person, you never know which surprise is waiting for you!
Short term/Holiday: www.agoda.com (I just love it. The reviews are exactly what you’ll find at those places and you collect reward points with your bookings)
Longterm: classifieds, local newspaper (as well online) – please make sure to have a look at them before booking. To find rentals in countries in SE Asia it’s always a good idea to just drive around and see where a sign saying “for rent” is hanging around. You can’t miss them!
Local newspapers, classifieds, local facebook groups, signs at cars/bikes – there are plenty ways to find a new vehicle for you. Make sure to test drive the car/bike and if possible get it checked by a mechanic. Even more important: check all papers and get a contract which says you are the official buyer of this vehicle and allowed to drive and own it.
If you don’t have work yet it’s time to get some, at least if you don’t have your own business. So again we are at those places where you can look for work:
digital jobs can be found in several facebook groups such as https://www.facebook.com/Connect.me.now.international
Craigslist! Its THE classifieds place to be, for any inquiry you may have – so let’s see what you can find there.
Another place which is known worldwide is http://www.gumtree.com and is another classifieds page
Google “classifieds” and your new destination – you will find probably an own page for their local classifieds as well as a job section.
I hope this information will help you to get through all the paperwork in the first step. Feel free to place all your open questions, I am happy to answer them!
If this is not enough for you and you are ready to become a digital nomad then I am glad to recommend you Conni’s e-book. With www.planetbackpack.de she has one of the most successful german travel blogs out there in the world wide web – so if anyone can tell you how to become a digital nomad, it’s Conni. Get all information on her new e-book (written in German) here: http://www.conni.me/digitalenomaden/
Other questions? No matter what, you are always invited to ask anything, just comment in the field below and I am happy to answer. Do you have also some great tips what to prepare for your longterm travels? I would love to hear them, just comment below!
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