Thursday, June 25, 2015

Let's do this again

I apologize for my panic attack yesterday. It turns out the heat probably got to me (our swamp cooler wasn't working but I didn't know it) and all I really needed was a cold Dr. Pepper.

We're good. I'm sorry.

But it is an accurate representation of the stress that will occasionally overcome a person who is relocating their entire family by airplane for a year. It happens. And it too shall pass.

To make it up to you, I thought I'd make a list of some things a person needs to take care of when they leave the country for an extended period. This is actually USEFUL information.

PASSPORT. It takes about 6 weeks. You make one payment for the passport and a second payment to the place that receives the paperwork for you, most likely the post office. You can avoid the second payment if you drive to Denver and do it in person. Probably cheaper to go to the post office.

You need the passport before you can apply for a VISA.

VISA. The visa is obtained from the consulate of the country you'll be visiting. A simple work visa can be fill-out online. But we need a research visa and had to submit everything by mail. It was a LOT of paperwork. Proof of citizenship, income, health insurance, etc. My husband organized everything very tidy in the package and I think it helped with the processing. We received our approval in only 2 weeks but we were told to expect it to take 2-3 months. We were VERY relieved because we were pushing the deadline.

INTERNATIONAL DRIVER'S LICENSE. This is weird but you don't get this from any government agency. You get this from AAA. You take your current driver's license along with 2 copies of your passport photo, pay $15, and viola. I wish I had called them sooner because it is only good for one year so I was trying to wait until the last possible minute to go get it. But I found out you can schedule when it becomes valid. You can get it up to 6 months in advance. You have to make sure your U.S. license is not going to expire while you're gone (mine is) because then your international license will be invalid at the same time. And if you think you don't like going to the DMV now…just make sure you don't have to deal with them from across the globe!

If you need to renew your license before you leave then…

RENEWING YOUR DRIVER'S LICENSE EARLY. You aren't allowed to renew your license sooner than 6 months early without a reason. For me, I have to take in the letter my husband's employer wrote explaining his sabbatical leave. Then I also have to take my marriage license to show that I'm going where he goes. Then they'll let me renew. Kinda weird they won't LET you do it early. I'm scratching my head wondering where the potential danger is in that. But, whatever.

IMMUNIZATIONS. Check with the country you are traveling to about what immunizations are required and what documents you'll need to validate your immunizations.

PROOF OF INCOME AND GOOD CREDIT. We are trying to rent a home in a country where we have no credit history. Our credit here is *excellent* but they don't know that there. I have copies of our recent bank statements, mortgage payments, and paystubs to show our financial stability. I can use these to convince someone to rent to me. I'll let you know if it works!

CREDIT CARDS. Guess what, my American Express is NOT the card I'll be using most. It is always billed as the traveler's card, but when we used it to pay for our visa, we accrued an international transaction fee. So the card works, but we had to pay 3% on top of the charge. We are getting the Chase Saphire card. It earns 1% on all transactions and if we spend $4,000 in the first 3 months we get a $400 bonus! I'm pretty sure we can cover that. Yikes.

CELL PHONES. You'll want to check with your carrier about if you phone works in the country you'll be going to. Chances are it does, but it may cost $2 a minute. Our iPhones will work there, but we have to get a new carrier in Australia. We are hoping we can get a new SIM card to slip in.

HEALTH INSURANCE. Our health plan doesn't give us good coverage when we are out of the area, so we are switching to a different plan with the same company. The coverage stays the same, but our premium will be doubling. Nice.

HOMEOWNER'S INSURANCE. We are renting our home so we need different kinds of coverage. If we were leaving it vacant we'd also need to make some changes. Give them a call.

CANCEL MAGAZINES, NEWSPAPER, MAIL. You can take care of this months in advance. You can choose when they get canceled and most of them time you can also schedule when they will resume again all at the same time. Forward the mail to your home to someone you trust so you don't miss important things that may come your way--tax notices, inheritance checks, publisher's clearing house.

SCHOOL. We are still figuring out the online school options for the kids. I don't really want to enroll in online schools because they insist on a certain number of hours a day and days in a year. I'd like to find some curriculum that will just direct their learning. We may do some independent study packets before we go.

ELECTRIC ADAPTERS. You probably will need adapters if you plan to plug in something electric where you are traveling. I got some from Amazon fairly cheaply.

PAYING BILLS/PAPERLESS STATEMENTS. Figure out how you'll pay bills while you're away. Most people pay bills from their bank online, but you need to be sure you can find out how much to pay. Bills won't be mailed to you overseas. If your mail is forwarded to a friend you can have them send you the total. Or you can ask the utility companies to automatically deduct the money from your bank account. I don't really like that system, so I'll be having a friend send me the totals each month.

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