Relocation for work – part 1, basics

Indeed Alice was indeed silent lately… Well, lots of things have been going on in the past two months. I received the info that I was successful in an interview process and got a job in Germany. Meaning reallocation! Meaning all spare time all spare time had to be invested into organising the move. Now how do you do that?

Hey, there is the opportunity… but you need to relocate. FAB WHERE DO I SIGN?

What to do if you get an offer to relocate to a different country or city for work? Well, a wise man once told me – never say no to an opportunity. He was absolutely right! When four years ago I got the offer to relocate to Hong Kong for an assignment I didn’t hesitate a moment to say YES. If it’s a temporary assignment or a permanent relocation, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of.

Firstly – yes, you are leaving everything you build so far behind you. Secondly – yes, you also leave all your friends and family behind you. Thirdly – yes, you are changing your entire life and need to build everything from scratch again. 

It definitely is easier if you are single, don’t have any kids, pets, loans etc. However, when I made my decision about moving to HK I was in a relationship. Did I discuss it with my now ex-husband? Nope, I did not. Why? Because a long time ago I concluded that my career is more important to me than any relationships… including marriage. Men come and go; true friends stay despite any distance… opportunities don’t. If you don’t grab an opportunity, you might regret it and ask yourself the question repeatedly – what if? Furthermore, I noticed that there is a social stigma if a woman does something for her career. She is labelled as a selfish bitch. If a man gets an opportunity to relocate somewhere for work, he is considered a hero that does the best for him and his family. One way or another choice is yours 😉

Now, when you get the chance to relocate for work – assignment or permanent there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind and which you need to take care of. Funny, the whole February as I was preparing for my relocation it was a one big flashback 😀

What? Where? How?

New home for at least two years

When I told my friends that I’m moving countries, most of them made big eyes asking – how can you leave everything behind? Some said it takes lots of courage to start everything from scratch. Well, courage or not relocation is stressful.

When I was relocating to HK four years ago, my mind was so occupied with things to do that I nearly caused a car accident. I didn’t see the car on the left when leaving my driveway… Luckily the guy hit the brakes, and nothing happened. This time nothing like this happened as I don’t own a car anymore 😛

One thing is sure you can’t manage a whole international move yourself, you need help. As I was changing roles within the company, I work for hence the company was helping with getting all the formalities sorted. At least they tried as there were many hiccups along the way. 

After I got my contract mid Jan’22 it turned out that it was missing the international transfer point and my current employment history acknowledgement. Well, the corrected version didn’t arrive for the next month… bummer as I had to hand in my resignation from the current role by the end of Jan’22 for my notice period to start from 1st Feb. Yup I did take a huge risk handing in my resignation without the proper contract in hand. On the other hand, I did have A CONTRACT it just wasn’t the right one and time was running away. 

I didn’t hear anything from HR until the first week of February. In the second week of Feb I started receiving messages and phone calls from all relevant parties who were supposed to be engaged in the move – tax briefing, shipment briefing, relocation services and so on and so on. In other words, I made it my top priority to organise the whole move and everything that goes with it in three weeks. Impossible you might think… nope I moved to HK in 10 days… so three weeks was more than enough time 😉

You could say, big deal, organising a move in three weeks when you have a bunch of people helping you. True… however all that needs to be coordinated and sometimes getting answers or declarations from people is quite difficult. Imagine a jigsaw puzzle, if one piece gets lost you are doomed. That was the most stressful bit… to come up with a proper sequence when things should happen and confirm everything with different parties. 

Just thinking… if you are relocating for work most international companies offer their new or existing employees international transfer help. If not, it’s always good to search online for that kind of service as really doing it all by yourself is exhausting. Let’s take the immigration, work permit etc. stuff. I didn’t need that in Germany as coming from an EU member state has its advantages; however, moving to HK required lots of paperwork to be done. So, don’t be a cheapskate and invest in international move services, it will save you lots of work and stress. 

Packing

My life in boxes
And more boxes

This is mostly the biggest part of the move. Your whole life will be put in boxes and shipped away to the new place. Even if you get help from a moving company, it doesn’t mean that you can sit down, relax and watch others do the job. No way! Before the moving company comes to pack your stuff you need to prepare. Meaning go through your things and throw away what you don’t need. I know it’s tough to throw away your clothes and shoes… however it’s necessary. Went through my wardrobe and after that asked my friend Joanna if she would like to adopt some of my clothes… and she did. Same as my friend Mag. She fancied my Bermudas and a Hawaiian short 😀 The rest of the clothes which I didn’t need any more I threw into a used clothes container.

Apart from clothes I threw away most of my old nail polishes, nearly used up face creams and all that stuff that was lying in my drawer, but I didn’t use it for the past six months. Funny enough you should get rid of things you don’t use anymore regularly however you wait for a move to do that. Good thing is there will be less to pack and what’s even better, less to unpack 😉

A hint from my end. In case you live in a rented apartment and there are things like pots, pans, plates etc. that already were in the apartment before you moved in, segregate your things from those before the moving company comes in. To make it easier for the moving company to pack stuff I took out all my belongings from the kitchen cupboards and put it on the countertop so the guys know what should be packed and what not. 

In case your relocation includes staying at a serviced apartment for some time before finding your own apartment please keep in mind that you must pack enough stuff for that time… and you need to do it before the moving company comes in. Basically, I packed all my knickers, socks and cosmetics. For clothes, I took something for every occasion. Packing experience from travelling was a huge benefit here. However, at the airport it was a bit… ehem… odd. My main luggage was 3kg overweight and my carry-on 5 kg overweight. However, the nice man at the counter said – yeah, I don’t care if you are moving countries or whatever. Besides, don’t even say such things as this can make the situation even worse… but just go… go. My friends Joanna who was accompanying me to the airport told me not to justify myself only say thank you to the nice man at the counter and go 😀

Well, as expected my mind was everywhere and nowhere during the whole packing and moving activities. In the end I left my wallet with everything in it in my backpack. Forgot to take it out and guess what?! The guys from the moving company put my backpack in a box and shipped it over to Germany. Luckily, I had my passport ready and my credit and debit card was mapped to my phone… so no harm done apart from the  – o shiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttt…. I left my wallet. Another thing is I called the moving company and today they brought my wallet back… yup to my new apartment in Düsseldorf 😀 Yup sometimes I have more luck than brain. All in all, everything is OK.

Cleaning

Highly important! If you are renting an apartment sooner or later, you need to give back the keys. Well, don’t be an animal and give back the apartment nice and clean. Meaning at least a month before moving start emptying the fridge and refrigerator. Try not to throw away food, only use it all up. Don’t do huge grocery shopping, buy only what you need for breakfast/lunch/dinner. Some pretty good, glazed ribs came out from my emptying fridge activities. As the portion was way too big for one person, I’ve invited my friend Konrad over for dinner… judging by the sounds he was making during eating – ahhhhh, ohhh, it’s so good I assume he liked it 😛

Give stuff away. My Mum took most of my spices, olive oils and cashew nuts butter. Main thing is, try not to waste food. As hard as I tried to use everything up… the evening before moving out Mum and dad visited me and brought home made herrings in a jar.  I had some and put the jar into the fridge. My parents were supposed to take it back, but we all forgot about the herring jar. I gave back the apartment on Friday and the following Monday something hit my mind that the jar is probably still in the fridge. Wrote to the nice guy who was taking the keys from me and told him that the herrings are still there and if he could throw those away <facepalm>. Surprisingly he did that already. 

Anyway… think it’s normal that little things slip your mind. Nobody’s perfect. 

However, before you hand in the apartment you live in,  take time to vacuum, mop the floors, wash the windows, clean the bathroom, and do some dusting. It’s simply a nice thing to do, don’t you think?

Besides packing and cleaning there is one more important thing you need to remember before you hit the door. Medical appointments. Take the time to do basic blood tests and visit all the doctors you always planned to but never had the time to do it. Now it’s the time. Moving abroad knowing that your body is perfectly fine is crucial. I went to the cardiologist as I had chest pain for the past two months and thought that something was wrong with my heart. The doctor did some tests and eventually said that I have a beautiful heart. My friends Joanna added to this – pity it’s also so cold 😛

It turned out that the reason for my chest pain is not the heart but the pleura. If you are dehydrated the pleura lamella can stick together while breathing and cause chest pain. Man was I relieved it’s not the heart. The doctor said that with my intensive sport lifestyle I should drink much more water and take magnesium and potassium.

Fly away… one of the last classes at the fabulous Chodz Na Pole dance studio

Right… done with the basics… next time I’ll focus on the fun part of moving – leaving drinks, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, last training, last workshops, last of everything before you move countries. It does sound like a fun part of moving however deep down it’s not always amusing. On the contrary it’s the saddest thing ever… and your liver suffers the most.

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