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.
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.
They don't even say "oot." IT'S A POLITE LIE!
For anyone considering a transoceanic move, I have some important lessons.
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."
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.
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.
"IT'S NOT LIKE YOU NEED ANY UNDERWEAR, YOU SPEND SO MUCH TIME WITH THAT SLAG IN THE OFFICE!"
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
"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."
Don't Have Pets
Don't be responsible for any other living thing. (That's actually a federal regulation for Cracked columnists.) We brought two cats to the U.K., and it would have been less hassle to invade part of the coast and declare it a sovereign feline nation. It would have been less expensive to irradiate them and ship them as nuclear research materials. Their tickets cost more than ours. I was seriously tempted to shave them and claim that Make A Wish was sending two horrifyingly sick infants to see Big Ben.
He's always wanted to meat Danger Mouse.
When you arrive at cargo shipping, unless your pet is a Time Lord, you'll be told its cage is not big enough. And even if you do turn up with a TARDIS, they'll tell you to go back and get one from a more recent series with a bigger control room. It doesn't matter if your pet has a guest room and hot tub in there. Snoopy's kennel wouldn't be big enough for these guys.
The only upside is that while waiting in the Animal Reception Center on the other end, you'll see a dog reunited with its owners. This is the happiest moment on Earth. Sitting in this room would turn Nietzsche into Dr. Seuss. The dog explodes with joy as it tries to be happy in every direction at once, projecting a zone of sheer grin for several meters. Enjoy this as much as possible, because your cats know that you're the prick who stuck them in boxes and cast them into a vibrating hell for half of a day.
"Your bed? Pissed on. Your clothes? Pissed on. Hell, I'm even gonna piss on the folks who owe you money."
Planes Are Great
On short trips, the plane takes you to a destination. On long trips, the plane is the destination. It's the promised land, the place you go when you've completed all your trials and tribulations on Earth, and now it's in someone else's hands as you take comfort in the heavens. Long-distance flights are an aerodynamic afterlife.
They can't play harps, but they do serve whiskey, which is way better.
It's a glorious reward and recuperation break -- filled with comfort and promises of happiness - so it's a pity you'll instantly fall into unaware oblivion. A disturbing but entirely physical turn for our afterlife analogy.
You Should Start Earlier
However early you think you've started preparing to move, start earlier. It's far too easy to sit back and chill, because you've organized the sale of the TV. TVs are self-moving! Leave the door open on evening and bang! - no TV. If you even have anything to sit on you are way behind on moving preparation. If I had a time machine, I'd go back and crash it into my old flat so that I had less stuff to deal with.
This is why I'm going to turn my new home into a fortress, as soon as I find one. Because I'm refusing to move again until I become rich enough to either:
A) Hire someone to deal with moving,
B) Set fire to my old home, strolling towards a new country without looking back as it explodes, or
C) Hire someone to set fire to my old home the very second they see me moving toward an airport.
For more moving advice, check out 6 Reasons Your Plans to Move Abroad Might Not Work Out and 5 Reasons Moving Sucks (And Costs) More Than You Expect.
Luke also spent a week Trying To Repair Non-alcoholic Beer, explains why Die Hard Is Really A Romantic Movie, and looks at broken batarangs and self-destructing discs in The 4 Worst Video Game Collector's Editions..