Even though we’ve not been given a “firm” departure date for London, my rough calculations now have us at about the 10 week mark. Although I’m very familiar with the preparations involved with a domestic relocation, I’m finding that there’s simply not enough hours in the day to thoroughly prepare for a move to another continent. Then again, I’m not sure that it was ever designed to be a simple process, especially considering the warranted security requirements that have increased over the past decade on a global scale.
I am appreciative of the process to be sure, but the miles of endless red tape have left what few functioning brain cells I have remaining working some serious overtime.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve learned to a much greater extent of just how cluttered my life really has become. I think the light bulb went off about three weeks ago, as I began the process of trying to locate the vital personal records that are required for a passport application. Eleven years of mounting paperwork clutter, ranging from important things like bank statements, retirement fund statements and tax returns, to the most trivial of things such as 2nd grade report cards, have all been non-systematically transferred into a number of unmarked medium-sized cardboard boxes that occupy an unfinished utility room in my basement. Having to filtering through 11 years worth of this crap has more or less come as a result of my unwillingness to embrace the paperless movement that just about everyone conformed to several years ago. But not us. No, we need everything in writing and on a real piece of official paper, even if it was a reminder slip back in 2002 that our son’s lunch account at school needed money.
Besides coming to the realization that we’ve turned into pack ratting rodents, I’ve also learned that all of the must-have services that we can’t possibly live without have become too numerous to mention. For instance – take our cellphones. We’re only a family of four, but for whatever reason we have no fewer than 15 spare cellphones lying around the house, and all of them work just fine. But we just can’t say no to the newer “free” upgrades that come out every six months, of which, mind you, are anything but free. As a result, the 2-year contract agreements are always renewing every single year, which becomes extremely significant when you learn about the early termination penalties. Verizon Wireless has been great to deal with over the years, but I’m guessing that my opinion of them will change in 60 days when I account for 4 early-termination fees what will amount to roughly $1000.
Then there’s the issue of our furry creatures that we can’t live without. I love my dogs and they’re definitely a part of our family, but relocating them to another country with us will require more paperwork and official documentation than all of the family members combined. And the red tape involved with getting all of the pet documentation (which includes obtaining a required official clearance document from the United States Department of Agriculture) is a process that can take several months to complete, meaning that if you have pets and expect to take them with you to another country – you would be advised to start the process the moment you learn that you’re relocating! And if it happens to be a spur-of-the-moment move? Good luck finding someone who would be eager to take care of your pets and assuming the burden of preparing your pets to be sent over to you long after you’ve already arrived at your new locale. Thankfully we’ve stayed on top of keeping our dogs properly certified and immunized, but the process is still a lengthy and complicated one. We won’t even talk about the expense of having those pets join us on the flight over…
Beyond the most obvious things, there are also other things that aren’t so obvious but also have to be considered. Those things range from getting medical records prepared and transferred to a different health facility at the new destination, to things like finding a caretaker to tend to your home back in the states (if you own a home and decide to keep your house). Do you keep the electricity on while you’re away? What about your homeowners insurance policy? What changes might need to be implemented to account for the dwelling being unoccupied? The same goes for personal automobiles… do you keep them or sell them while you’re away? Or do you spend the several thousands of dollars to have them shipped to your new location? How much will it cost to store them in a safe and secure building if you do decide to keep them? Do you downgrade your auto insurance policy since they’re not in use? What about having them registered by the state each year? Do you just turn in your tags and not register them, even though you might need them if you come back for occasional summer vacations?
This is just a small, small sampling of literally hundreds of things that I’m currently in the process of tending to, with only 10 weeks left to see them through. Throw in a quick visit to my family over 600 miles away, a quick visit to my wife’s family 2 hours away, and a week of house hunting in London prior to our official move… I just don’t know how it’ll all get done, but it must.
That feeling that most people who’ve waited until the last minute get on December 18th, with only 6 more shopping days until Christmas? Welcome to my world. That’s what I’ve got to look forward to, basically for the next 70 days.
Ho, Ho, Ho.