7 Things No One Tells You About Moving to a New Country

We at Cracked are experts at moving house. Often at great speed, barely ahead of grizzled detectives we've pushed over the edge. (They were easier to push because they had nothing to lose, and so weren't carrying much.) When people send us mail they just follow the trail of chiefs' desks cracked by someone slamming down their badge and gun. For express delivery they toss it in the back of a speeding police car.

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Brockway's alarm clock

Brockway has already covered the delights of moving, but that was a move within a country. The only border was the karmic fault lines between L.A. and places where the human soul doesn't dissolve. For the full moving experience you need to cross the planet. I recently transplanted my entire life from Toronto to Oxford, England. Because I was sick and tired of nobody having an accent.

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They don't even say "oot." IT'S A POLITE LIE!

For anyone considering a transoceanic move, I have some important lessons.

#7. Get Rid of Stuff Right Now

As soon as you decide where you're going, pick up something precious and hurl it out the window. This will get you into the right attitude for what comes next. If you break the window, even better, as the increasing discomfort will motivate you to move and also make things easier for thieves. Or as I now call them, "Helpful Crap-Moving Buddies."

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Zero moving fees!

I divided my belongings into "Stuff I Want to Bring Bring" and "Stuff I Can Sell," and only a day before the flight realized this left a third quantity: "Crap" A vast quantity. It's the missing matter of the universe. It's not "dark" matter, it was just covered in dust and stacked on shelves behind useful things and ignored for so long that even quantum mechanics had forgotten it was there.

You'll invite friends round to take whatever they want. That's the wrong attitude. They'll only take the cool stuff you could shift on Craigslist anyway. You need to lock them in your house, Saw-style, with a pressure plate-activated door that only opens when they carry sufficient weight out of your home.

#6. Camp at Home

Pitch a tent in your sitting room and start burning furniture for warmth. This has the twin benefits of making anywhere you go look good and constantly reducing the volume of crap you'll have to deal with.

"Forget that new job. Let's just stay home and capture door-to-door marketers for food."

This simple life means you can sell/give away everything in your house. Because anything kept to the last minute will go unsold. Unsold to assholes who say they definitely want it and then call back five hours before your flight to demand you drive it to a small town you've never heard of despite living in the country for almost a decade. Which you couldn't do even if you had a car, were able to drive, didn't hate them now, and weren't currently pressure-testing your relationship by playing five-dimensional clothing Tetris with three-dimensional suitcases.

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#5. The Real Work is Paperwork

The government doesn't care when you move within a country, because you're still their problem either way. And there's a decent chance you'll disappear into a drifter's "organic leather" collection on the way. You can drive from New York to San Francisco with nothing but a convertible and an almost-fatal lack of need for your own time.

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Continuing in a straight line, using up irreplaceable fluids that were once life, realizing the metaphor of life as a highway is a little bit too accurate.

It's a bit more complicated when two people from different countries move from a third country to a fourth. That's enough for a World Cup qualifier bracket, and I think we involved as many support staff. When you try to enter a country, they understand that the pen is mightier than the sword and use that fact to mount an armed defense. Because both blades and paperwork can kill you with a thousand cuts. This is now standard. The last people to move across this kind of distance without an effective Masters in Form-Filling did it because they were carrying M1 Garands, which I can't recommend these days, no matter how frustrating the paperwork gets.

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This is my rifle, this is my gun! It ain't no use for fillin' T1s!

We spent weeks murdering trees, ritually defacing their flesh with ink to satisfy the arcane gods of bureaucracy, a ceremony that revealed some bizarre things. For example, I discovered that I'm British.

Rather, I'm dual-citizenship Irish and British. A nationality isn't normally something you discover late in life, finding a Union Jack stuffed down the back of the shamrocked sofa of your citizenship. When Ireland went through one of its standard "NO WORK ANYWHERE" periods, my father engaged the standard Irish crisis-response of "LEAVE." Mum went to keep him company, and did such a good job she earned that job description. We later returned to the Emerald Isle to make sure I was fitted with the best possible accent.

Conversely my wife, the Lovely Lady X, learned that earning a Ph.D. in genetics in English from an English-speaking university in an English-speaking country for a quite extraordinarily English (and member of the Royal Society) professor doesn't prove that you can speak English. They suspected that she completed her doctorate in advanced developmental biology through crude charades and interpretive dance.

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"I'm portraying tissue-specific chromatin remodeling complexes!"

Also, for security purposes all border staff are kept in sealed boxes, communicating with the outside world only through a complicated system of knocks and body odors. Making it impossible for them to pick up the phone for thirty seconds to check if someone speaks English. Or if an entire University speaks English. So we delayed our move for an entire season while she sat on an elementary English exam.

#4. Money is Fuel

Money is obviously important when planning a move. You need to carefully calculate how much money you'll need to pay all your expenses, add a bit for unexpected problems, then double that and pray it's enough. Money is the fuel that makes the trip possible, but this isn't fuel like a gas tank. This is fuel like a game of F-Zero, where you need to constantly fire boosters to get past every unexpected obstacle and power shields against unexpected disasters.

And next time I'm moving in a Fire Stingray.

My Valentine's present for the Lovely Lady X wasn't chocolates or jewelry - it was paying the overweight shipping fee on two suitcases. Because our marriage would have sooner survived opening a Pandoran box of Hellraiser puzzle-cubes than any of those suitcases again.

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"I could save space by removing his sweaters and only packing HIS HEAD."

In the final stages of this life-changing event, you realize that material belongings don't bring happiness. In fact, they actively stress-murder happiness when dealing with trans-pacific shipping. So you'll need money to replace all the belongings you spent the last hour filing in a big heap under "Screw it."

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Luke McKinney

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