When the ckecklist keeps getting longer and longer

It's been three months since I decided to leave the country and start a new adventure. Three months full of planning and organizing and making lists and more lists. And there seems to be no end to it.

Now I only have four weeks left and there seems to be so much that still needs to be done. Am I going to get it all done on time? Right now I wonder... I've been living on a construction site for weeks now selling furniture, packing boxes, throwing stuff out. But still my appt is full of things - even though I'm moving out in two weeks.

I feel like I'm going crazy. Especially when things don't work out the way they were planned. It's amazing what you have to keep in mind when you're quitting your job, giving up your appartment and "just" want to take some time off. Whenever you think "Now I've got it all figured out" something new comes your way that you haven't thought off at all.

For all of you who are planning to do the same or are thinking about doing that in the future here is my - probably still not complete - TO-DO-LIST (in alphabetical order):

Appartment: If you have rented an appt just like me make sure to end that contract on time. In Germany you usually have a three-month-notice. If you want to leave before that you either have to find someone who takes over right after you move out or you'll be stuck with the payment anyway.

Bank account: Make sure your bank account suits your needs when going abroad. I had to change mine for several reasons. The main one of course was money - I switched to DKB, Deutsche Kreditbank, because my bank account with them is free of charge, I get a free Visa Card AND I can get cash at ATMs worldwide without paying any fees. Make sure you tell ALL companies like mobile company, your employer, insurance companies etc that you have a new bank account so you don't get in trouble for not making payments.

Car: I was lucky enough to be able to sell mine to a friend. But even that takes time and paperwork. The ADAC has a good example for a contract (PDF) when selling your car to another private owner. Once everything is settled you have to tell your insurance company and the office where your car was registered. They should automatically delegate all paperwork, documents and payments to the new owner. I'm yet to find if it's really that uncomplicated.

Clubs/Organisations: Are you paying any membership fees? Tell them you're going early enough and check what payments you can cancel.

Contact lenses: Take some with you so you can last the first few months. That should give you enough time to check out whether you can get the same product abroad or if you have to re-order from your home country.

Documents: Make copies of anything that is important. Store one copy with the person you chose will be your contact person for mail and other important matters. He/she should be able to contact you at once if something happens - and vice versa (see Mail). Store one copy online where you know you always have access to - for instance GMX has that offer. Important documents are insurance policies, plane tickets, visa, ...

Driver's License: Depending on your home country and the country of your destination your national driver's license might be accepted abroad. However it's recommended and in many cases even compulsive to get an international driver's license. You need a valid passport picture and should apply five to six weeks prior to your departure. It will cost you 15 Euros.

Employment Center: Since I'm not earning money in Germany to make my living nor am paying taxes or anything in Germany I have to sign off here as well, let them know where I'm going, for how long and promise them I'll call as soon as I get back and let them know my status of employment after my return.

Furniture: If you're selling your household like I did start early enough. Ask friends and relatives if they need anything. Advertise on notice boards like the ones at uni or online, use small ads like with Ebay where it's usually free. Anything you can't get rid off there is household clearance. They will have a look at what's left, tell you what they need and what they will pay you and then come by and pick it up. You won't get a lot but it's better than throwing things away that are still in good shape.

GEZ: In Germany you have to pay when owning a TV, radio, computer with TV, car radio, ... - not necessary when you're not in the country so sign off with the GEZ.

Health Insurance: Most policies are not valid during long-term stays in another country. I was able to shut my insurance policy down for the duration of my absence. All it needs is a phone call when I come back and I will be insured in Germany again. As for my time in New Zealand I will have to get a private insurance that includes health, casualty and insurance against damage to third parties. Those are the most important ones that you definitely will need. I will buy an insurance package with STA Travel that includes all these.

Immunisation: Are there any severe medical problems in the country of your destination? Do you need to get any vaccinations? Check on time with your doctor because for some health issues you need more than one shot.

Insurance: Check with your financial advisor what insurance policies you definitely need to keep when going abroad and get rid of those you'd pay for without any benefit such as household insurance (not necessary if you give up your appt). Also check which of your policies are valid in foreign countries at all and for which you need a substitue anyway.

Mail: Decide who you want your mail being forwarded to in case you forgot someone who still sends letters etc to your old place after you have moved out. Usually that'll be your parents. I chose a friend of mine because my mom neither has internet nor knows how to work the computer. So if something urgent occurred she wouldn't be able to inform me instantly.

Place of Residence: I was told I have two options. I can either keep a German adress - like my mom's - but then whenever something occurs I have to contact the registration office of that city. Doesn't make sense with a twelve hour time difference. So I went for option number two: I'm leaving Germany completely, I'll give the German authorities a New Zealand address so that when something happens abroad I can contact the German Embassy overseas.

Telephone: Unfortunately in Germany you can't cancel your contracts for mobile phones before the official end. With O2 I was at least able to shut my contract down for one year. I have to continue paying when I get back and of course the contract will be extended for another year. With Vodafone however even that wasn't possible. So I'm trying to get my mom to take over that contract.

TV/Cable: Another contract you have to cancel early enough. Usually it's four weeks notice, sometimes more.

Visa: Get the right visa for whatever you will be doing and apply early enough! For New Zealand I got the Working Holiday Visa which I had to apply for online. It took a few days until the visa was granted, it cost 65 Euros and I had to pay with credit card.

If you can think of anything else that is not on the list - please let me know.


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