Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Six Month Checklist for Moving Abroad

It's February 2020! We plan to be in China in August of 2020, so here is my checklist of  some things to start working on over the next six months. I hope to create more specific monthly goal checklists in the future.

  1. Passports. I want to complete everyone's passport application forms. There are five of us, so this may take some time. My goal is to start buying 1-2 passports per month. Each passport costs about $145. We live in the United States. The cost for the passport book is $110. There is an execution fee of $35, which brings the price total to $145 per person. For more information on United States passports, click HERE
  2. Time to apply for jobs! I have been sending my resume and introduction video to recruiters. I want plenty of time to apply, interview, review contracts, and make decisions about a job. Many schools don't start posting August jobs until March, so I haven't actually applied to any positions yet. I have been making connections with recruiters and getting an idea of the types of jobs available. 
  3. Storage options. I am going to start calling around and getting quotes for a yearly storage rate. I made a list of all of the furniture we will be putting in storage. I have a general idea of how much space we will need. If you have family or friends that can store things for you, even better! With five people and some fairly new furniture pieces, we are going to need a storage unit.  
  4. Visas. Completing the visa application process won't happen until I have accepted a job. What I need to do now is make sure we are saving enough money for each person to purchase a visa. According to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago, Illinois, the cost of a visa is $140. You can find the fee schedule HERE. This is a cost I didn't think about at first, it's good to plan ahead for expenses. 
  5. Downsize. This will be a process! We are a family of five who are not minimalists. I need to go through the house and downsize room by room. What can we give away or sell now? What can we give away or sell right before we leave? Is there anything I can pack up now and prepare for storage? Things like holiday decorations and keepsakes can get packed now. 
  6. Survival Chinese lessons. We are looking at apps and books to help us learn a few Chinese phrases and words. I hope if we start practicing now, we will be able to ask where the bathroom is when we get to China!
  7. Kid Prep. I am preparing the kids for our move. We have been discussing this as a family for months, but now is the time where we are really discussing our plans and what it will be like. For my 19 year old we are talking about what types of things he will do when he arrives. For the little ones we are talking about Chinese culture and reading books about China. 
  8. Budget like a Boss. Through my Teach Abroad Course, I have a few different budget sheets I have been working on. I have been planning for how much money we need to save before we leave to cover the start up living expenses, plane tickets, and any other expenses we might have to plan for. 
  9. Preparing Social Media. I want to document the "how" and much as we document the "fun". On social media I see a lot of people traveling and exploring the world. What I don't know is how they got there. Are they independently wealthy? Did they find a remote job? What is going on behind the scenes? So this is why, six months from our anticipated travel date, I have locked down a website and several social media accounts. 
  10. Animal Arrangements. Some people travel abroad with their pets. We are not going to do this. We have two small dogs who are 9 years old. One has diabetes and requires a lot of medical care. Luckily for us, my mom and dad have agreed to take care of our dogs while we are gone. My mom may have thought I was joking when she agreed to this, but either way the pets are taken care of. So if you have pets and you aren't planning to take them, allow plenty of time to find a long term care placement for them. 
I'm sure there are more things I will add to my lists as I am planning. These are a few things that are at the forefront of my mind right now. Has your family traveled abroad? What did you do to prepare? 

Thank you for following our adventure! -Michelle 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Location! Location!

It's all about the location! China is a large country with so many beautiful cities. Narrowing down a location has been a challenge. Our family talked about it, and we all agreed we want to move somewhere warm and tropical. We want to live near the beach because we love the beach! After a lot of research, we decided Hainan would be a wonderful location for us. The island has so many attractions and excellent weather. We are really interested in the city of Sanya. It has beautiful beaches and is a popular tourist area. 

Beautiful Sanya (Photo credit: Kayak.sg)

Why Hainan, China?

We are looking for a climate that will provide more opportunities for outdoor activities. One of our goals for when we arrive in China is to improve our health. We want our family to be more active and eat healthier foods. Living a life with natural activity is our goal. Walking to local transportation, parks, and even restaurants will be great! Hainan is referred to as the “Hawaii of China” because of its location on the map. Even though the summers may get pretty hot, I will take most of the year being temperate. Maybe we can travel north when I am off work for the summer!

Sanya, Hainan on the map (Photo Credit: worldatlas.com)

Where we move will depend on the job market. I think I have an idea of the salary I need to make to cover the cost of living. I have also thought a lot about the type of job I want. Teaching jobs are available at training centers, kindergartens, international schools, high schools, universities, and more! At the moment my plan is to look for a job at a university. I love teaching my little students, I'm just not sure I am up for that as a full time job. I might change my mind, but for now teaching older students is what I will look for first.

It will be interesting to see where we end up! Thanks for following our adventure! -Michelle

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Big Questions, Short Post

If you don't really feel like reading through all of the pages about who we are and what we are doing... here is a short summary that will answer some of your questions.

Who? We are a family of five from St. Louis, Missouri, in the Midwest, USA.
What? We are putting our belongings in storage and moving our whole family to China!
When? August 2020
Where? Hopefully a warm city with a beach in China
Why? Adventure, Lifestyle Change, Affordability, Financial Relief
How? Planning, Allowing Time, Saving

This is our first post! I thought it would be important if we documented this process from the beginning as much as possible. Some of these details might change, like when and where. I hope things will stay how I plan them as much as possible, but I have learned to go with the flow! Thanks for following our adventure! -Michelle