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4 Tips to Start Planning an International Relocation

Since we’ve made the decision to move to Morocco, and made it public, one of the most frequent things I’ve heard is, “that’s so great, I really wish WE could do that.”  Not everyone is jumping to go to Morocco but a lot of people are jumping to live somewhere else, whether that’s their spouse’s native country or simply another destination.
I have to tell you something;

There’s nothing special about us.

Honestly, we don’t have buckets of money sitting around (I sure wish we did!).  We’re not any more adventurous than you, we don’t have a magic ball that’s letting us know everything will be alright.  We hope it will, but it might not. What we do know is that it was now or never.  

We reached a fork in the road.  

One fork led us to stay in the US and walk down that path.  The other led us back to Morocco.  We sat at that intersection for a long time.  


We went back and forth for years really.  But then we knew if we didn’t do it now, if it wasn’t this year, it wasn’t going to happen until our kids were grown. Based on all of our experiences here are our tips for moving overseas.

Do you know how hard it is to find a Moroccan school to accept a pre-teen that doesn’t speak the languages that are taught? Darn near impossible.  Not to mention the older our kids get, the more difficult learning other languages becomes.  So we knew it had to be now before it was too late.  

Our goal has always been to have our children speak Arabic and hopefully French and have a relationship with MarocBaba’s family. That’s why we’re moving, I wanted to do more with this post than just explain how we got to our decision.  I want to share some practical advice on how to plan a move – with the first steps.

Relocation Planning 101

1. Decide 

This was the biggest obstacle and also the greatest thing that happened.  Once we firmly decided we were going to move, things started to fall into place.  I know how serendipitous that sounds but it’s true. We were able to move forward and make plans, and things just started to happen.  Before our final decision, there were giant obstacles that faced us at every turn, it was one thing after another, and that caused us a lot of turmoil. Truly just making a decision and setting a time frame is a crucially important first step.

2. Debt Reduction 

Chances are you’ve got debt, we do too.  While we’d love to have none, that’s just not reality.  We, however do not have any credit card debt, no mortgage to pay, and we will be selling our vehicles.  If you want to move abroad at some point, I highly recommend starting now to eliminate any and all debt you have. This gives you a lot more space and freedom to make financial decisions with a lighter load.

Have a Security Fund  

Start building your security fund today.  

In addition to the money set aside that is part of our monthly budget, we also have an amount of money that is for backup.  This is the money we plan to use to do some traveling, help to buy a car when we’re there, and serve as a backup fund should we need it. Whether your plan is to move in 6 months or 6 years you can start contributing to this right now.

How Much Do You Need?

There’s no single answer for this but if you’re in the process of actively trying to figure out a budget and costs associated. I highly recommend my relocation budgeting tool. It will walk you through nearly every cost you’ll encounter and give you plenty to think about!

3. Research Everything

This is really important.  You do need to do some research as you make plans.  Determine how much you need to have for your monthly budget in the new country.  Decide if your skills are transferable to the local workforce, or if you would be able to work remotely.  This is a real option. Or, will you be living off of savings?  Many families make this decision though it’s really not viable as a long-term solution.

I suggest drawing up a list of all the potential issues you may face and then start researching and tackling them one by one. Planning for a move means that you’re also planning for all the things that can stand in your way. Eliminate as many as you can or at least have a start on finding the solutions.

Get Your Paperwork in Order

One of the most important things to do when moving abroad is to make sure that you are well aware of exactly which forms, documents and paperwork you will need. You may even need to apply for certain permits and visas before you actually move to your new country. In some cases it might not be possible to live somewhere for more than a short period of time. These are all things you need to consider and prepare for BEFORE you leave.

If you do not know exactly what you will need, and by when, then it may cause some serious delays to your move and problems down the line. This can affect things such as getting a job, accommodation, registering yourself (and your children, if you have any) in your new place of residence.

If you find that you are unable to figure all of the legal stuff out then it is worth hiring an immigration lawyer. If you are moving under a company then ask them for advice and help, they make even be able to provide you with a lawyer free of charge.

This can then make the process as easy as possible for you, allowing you to focus on everything else that you need to sort out. 

Sort out your living situation

Although it is not always possible to take a long term rental contract, or even buy, a new home in your new country before you move you can rent a place for a month or two. This will allow you enough time to explore the new area and learn where you want to live.

Perhaps there’s a certain part of town that appeals to you more – you won’t know until you get there. Having leeway with your living situation means that you can take your time choosing somewhere that you will feel most comfortable.

4. Sort and ship your belongings

Many of us collect a lot of items and belongings over the years that we are not necessarily that attached to. So, a top international moving tip is to sort through everything you own. You have to do something with all of it!

If you have large pieces of furniture that you do not like, old clothes, books, really anything, then consider having a garage sale or giving things away to charity. Not only will this make the packing process easier but you can raise some extra money, do a good deed and also save time, money and effort on shipping your things abroad.

The less you have to move abroad with the easier everything will be. Of course, you do not need to get rid of everything you own! You can always find a storage unit in your hometown if you are unsure of whether or not to keep something. We weren’t sure how long our move would be so in the beginning we moved a lot to a storage container for a year. Then we reassessed things.

The main idea is that the less you need to ship the better. You can always buy new furniture when you set up your new home.

A lot of people have said they dream about this lifestyle but xyz won’t allow them to do it.  If this is truly what you want, then you have to make it a priority and just do it.  One of the biggest motivators for me was that I don’t want to look back and wonder what if.  Or to regret that when we had the chance we let it pass us by. Implementing these steps won’t set you back – if anything they’ll put you financially in a better place – and if you decide not to go that’s ok too!

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How Can You Afford a Global Lifestyle? 10 Bloggers Share Their Story.

Monday 24th of March 2014

[…] lifestyle possible. Before taking the jump I highly consider reading this post I wrote on 4 Tips to Start Planning an International Relocation.  These tips really helped us get started. But, our way certainly isn’t the only way.  Here are […]

S Susan

Monday 10th of June 2013

Hi, just found your blog. Brave move. Me and my husband are thinking of moving to Palestine or Jordan. Well, that might never happend, we'll see. May I ask how old your children are? What are their feelings? My children are 10 and 12 and the 12yr old wouldn't be happy if we moved. And their Arabic is not very good, their English somewhat better. I am afraid that they wouldn't manage school. And work is difficult. May I ask if you plan to find work before you leave or will you be looking when you have moved?/ S Susan

Amanda Mouttaki

Monday 10th of June 2013

Hi - thanks for visiting. My boys are 6 and 9, and the 9 year old is the one who was most hesitant. My husband and I knew if we didn't go soon it wouldn't happen. My boys do not have much Arabic - this is our #1 reason for moving. We have found a school that will work with them to offer more support, but it was very, very hard to find. As for work, both my husband and I work from home and our jobs are transportable - another reason we were able to make this happen. Our cost of living will be cut at least in half - making it more manageable. Maybe consider a 3-6 month visit, they would be able to get more language and see if it's possible for your family more long term. Best of luck with whatever decision you make!

Vanessa, DeSuMama

Thursday 30th of May 2013

I am 100% sending this post to my husband. He's lived all over the world (played professional basketball) and isn't as convinced as I am that we need to relocate to South America. But I want to be there SOO bad! You are such an inspiration, Amanda... thank you!

Amanda Mouttaki

Saturday 1st of June 2013

The feeling is mutual dear! We went back and forth for a long time, sometimes my husband was ready to go, and I wasn't and vice versa. Now we're knee deep and both looking at each other wondering what we've gotten ourselves into. You can totally do this (if you choose!)


Tuesday 14th of May 2013

Amanda....Oh my gosh! What an incredible adventure! I'm so happy for you!!!


Sunday 12th of May 2013

Good for you, Amanda! The only other thing I would add is to connect with an expat community. Even though you have family there, it is nice to make new friends and have people to talk to when you get homesick. Looking forward to connecting with you in Morocco or Paris. As you know, I took my first trip to Marrakech last November during a lengthy stay in Paris and am ready to experience Casablanca. The funny thing about moving out of the country sometimes is that you will see some people more AFTER you move than you did on US soil. LOL Enjoy the journey.