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8.10.2009

The To-Do List: Preparing to Live Abroad for a Year


My family and I will move to Barbados on September 1 and live there for a year. In order to make this transition smooth, we've kept a running list of things to do on a Google Doc spreadsheet. I've worked with the U.S Embassy in Barbados on some of this, and that has been great. I've also worked with my CIES contact in Washington D.C. and that, too, has been terrific.

Until I start to take my own photos, I'll borrow shots from the internet of where we're headed. This one is from Panoramio and is by Terry Andrews.

Here's a list of some of the more pressing things we've been taking care of in the past weeks:

Vehicle - To take a car or to not take a car. Shipping our vehicle seemed to be an option for a moment and we even fantasized about bringing the kayaks and bikes. However, the more we delved into the matter, the more it seemed cost prohibitive and/or impossible. There is an age restriction of four years for cars imported into Barbados. Ours is ten years old. The other issue would be duties. I never got a really solid answer, but it may be as much as 61 percent of the value of the vehicle. Here is the page that I went by.

What we will do for a car is rent one long-term. I got the name of a mechanic who does this through the person at the UWI that I am working with.

School for the kids - Public vs. Private. We decided on a private school option, the Learning Solutions campus. School will start right away for the children. They are mixed between excited and dread but mostly they are filled with happy anticipation.
Place to live - If you're going all the way to paradise, might as well try to be near the water. As I reported before, we went to Barbados and looked at a bunch of housing options. We settled on one that we love and got that all taken care of. It was very easy to find housing on-line. There were photos, email addresses and phone numbers.

Clothes and shoes - The average temperature is 85° F. We will want to have light clothing but not too casual. The kids will need school clothes. We are buying Keens, sun protection shirts, and shorts (not cargo shorts). When we visited in May, we saw a notice at the airport that there was a restriction on wearing camouflage attire. We will not bring any camo.

Airline tickets and luggage - We got our airline tickets on American Airlines. Jet Blue has a very low fare from JFK to Barbados but it does not start until October 1. As for the luggage, we can bring only two checked bags and one carry-on with us. Checked bags can weigh up to 50 pounds, carry-on can be 40 pounds. We will need to be frugal and conscientious with what we decide to bring.

Diplomatic pouch - We sent four boxes of books and articles via the Fulbright diplomatic pouch. Each weighed 50 pounds and the cost was about $80 total. These boxes get sent by 'media rate' to Washington D.C. and then are forwarded to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados. Utilizing this benefit was important given the weight restrictions on our flight. This shipment was done three weeks before departure.

Phone calls - We will suspend our U.S. cell phone numbers but keep our land-line operating with a message to call our Skype number (same area code). After a paid for the Skype number for a year ($60) I heard about MagicJack, a device that allows you to make calls from your PC through the internet ... for free. Sounds too good to be true so I will need to check this out and report back. The Magicjack costs $39 which includes the first year's service cost. The next year will cost $19. When we get to Barbados, we'll get cell phones.

Visa and passport - We all have passports but we all need to get a visa. This should not be a problem we just need to bring five passport photos of ourselves, a birth certificate, and the kid's vaccination records. I have a working visa while in Barbados.

Medical insurance - I get extra medical coverage through the Fulbright. The family needed to get extra coverage for international travel and emergency medical evacuation coverage.

Miscellaneous items - software for the kids, renting the house, storing the cars(s) and removing the license plate, finding temporary homes for the pets, finding a gardener to keep up the lawn and clean the leaves, buy snorkel gear, new (sun) glasses prescription, medical and dental appointments, hair cuts, and on and on.
This last shot is also from Panoramio and is by jamesbell07. It clarifies the reason for the SPF shirts, snorkel gear and flotation devices. And sun screen.

1 comment:

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