Expat Life

Expat Guide: Moving to a New City Checklist

brooke cesky
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Moving to a New City Checklist

1. Clean your apartment (yourself)

Moving into a new place is never really moving into a new place. The first and most important thing you can do to ensure you start off on the right foot is to completely clean your apartment yourself, even if it has already been left clean for you. That way you can ensure you get all the cobwebs and rid the place of old energy.

2. Unpack

An obvious one, but one that deserves a few points of discussion. When unpacking, be sure to first consider where you want everything to be placed in your new home. The first way to do this could be to arrange the furniture in a way that suits your needs and desires. Just be sure not to rush it – try new things and see what works best in your new space. When you begin unpacking everything, be sure to do it properly. Find a new home for everything inside your new home, fold clothes diligently, organise your chaos and begin to make this house a home!

3. Your First Grocery Shop

I’m not kidding when I say you should allocate a few hours to this task. Doing a first grocery shop can be done in two ways – mediocre or flippin’ amazing. Stick with the old cliche and walk yourself up and down each and every single aisle, ensuring you have everything you think you will need in your new home. It will save unnecessary return trips the same day.

4. Set up your utilities

Power, water, etc. Get it sorted straight away. If you don’t speak the language, consider asking a neighbour or anyone you might know (friend, colleague) to assist in this area as it can sometimes be difficult, depending on the country you are residing.

5. Connect

Oh, the digital age. The unavoidable digital age.

Love it or hate it, technology is as much a part of as our lives as H20. Shop around for the best phone connection and get your wi-fi up and running straight away – it’s a life saver when you need to google “how to boil an egg” and a range of other embarrassing firsts.

6. Keep an expenses report

 For peace of mind, it’s a good idea to get a grasp of your expenditures early on. WOW recommends creating an expenses report from the get go so you can monitor how much the move has cost you and ensure you’re sticking to your budget. After all, there’s nothing more overwhelming than finding yourself completely off track with budgeting and scrounging for money to get by.

7. Integrate with your Community

One of the most surprising factors about moving abroad to live in Germany was just how many Berliners reached out to me within days of arriving. Before I even had time to think, I was getting dozens of emails from readers eager to show me around their city or meet for a coffee and chat. AMEN! I thought. This is going to be find after all! I’ll keep you updated on that front. But I’m looking forward to meeting people in my new city – readers and strangers alike!

8. Change your postal address 

Now that you’re settling into your new place, it’s time to think about the logistics. Be sure to change your address and ensure you’re actually receiving your mail as well. This can be a little difficult in a new city as the process is invariably different. Case in point: not putting my name on the front door buzzer resulted in many packages being returned to sender and some not very happy senders of my packages (woops!)… so be sure to look into it.

9. Find your locals

Not people – just yet. I’m talking your local coffee shop, local brunch haunt, local running track and anything else that might be important to you. Explore your immediate vicinity and you’ll be feeling at home in no time!

10. Create and emergency contacts list

Doctors, Ambulance, Dentists, Embassies… anything and everything you’ll need to know to avert a crisis.


Also in the preventative realm, don’t forget to insure your house and belongings! This is the best way to ensure you have peace of mind whilst not at home and even more so if you’re travelling throughout your new region. 

12. Get a library card

Whether you’re trying to learn a new language or just trying to learn full stop, you can do so at a much better rate by doing the obvious (yet often overlooked) and getting a library card. 

13. Sign up for language lessons

But if you really want to learn the language, sign up for language lessons – pronto!

14. Join a gym or try something new

Whether it’s going to your favourite gym class twice a week or trying out a new yoga class, don’t forget to get outdoors and see/meet new people. If you don’t enjoy it, you never have to return… no harm no foul.

15. Socialise & Explore your new city

And last but certainly not least – don’t forget to explore your city, socialise with the locals, and make a life for yourself in your new city! This is where the fun begins!

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  • rmconroy94@gmail.com'
    Rob Conroy
    April 17, 2016 at 6:46 am

    Wish I’d have had this when I moved to Melbourne 2 years ago. Will definitely use it when I move out of my parents again!

  • YolandaMurray@yopmail.com'
    Man with Van Maida Vale Ltd.
    September 14, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    Great tips! You should explore your new city. It was first thing I have done when I went in London. I took a bus and just traveled and looked around. It was a great idea. I hope I was useful. Best regards!

  • samantha.chumbley11@yopmail.com'
    June 30, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    I’m moving in just two months, and on top of that it’s my first moving, so these tips will be very useful for me. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  • supercheapboxes@gmail.com'
    June 29, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    Create a box or bag of items that you need to have easy excess on move day. Verify your move time and date with your moving company. As a New City client, you will receive a confirmation call 2-3 days before your move to confirm that all of your information is accurate and to answer any questions.

  • boxngoboxes1@gmail.com'
    June 25, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Avoid mixing items from different rooms in the same box. Use wardrobe boxes to make closets easier to pack. Clothes in drawers can be placed in suitcases.

  • cimber.adams@yopmail.com'
    Cimber Adams
    May 7, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    Love these advices! I am moving to a new city next month because of my work and I am so exciting! I prefer to feel the excitement than to give my soul to the worries. I think that the moving itself could be represented as a real adventure. everything is new and for the first time in your new home and you could start everything from the very beginning and to make this place yours. Thank you for this inspiring article!

  • cnkrieg@gmail.com'
    Christine Krieg
    April 24, 2015 at 7:40 am

    Love your articles. Very insightful. I am traveling like you long-term and staying in places anywhere from 2-6 months. Leaving Costa Rica in a week and will be in Greece in two weeks. planning on two months there, then 2-3 months in Berlin. I am not new to this lifestyle, but was wondering if you can share tips on finding local rentals. I am finding Airbnb to be on the pricey side and “vacation rentals” to be completely over the top. Craigslist is also certainly a source but limited on 2-3 month rentals.

    Thanks much!

  • wineandwandering@gmail.com'
    April 10, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Love it! I would love to move to Berlin, it’s one of my favourite cities. Hope you’re enjoying it thus far!
    xo Sarah | wineandwandering.com

  • allison@sheseestheworld.com'
    November 13, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Great list!
    Definitely some good tips for my upcoming move to London! Reading this got me itching to get on that plane!

  • nancydavolio6@gmail.com'
    Best holiday destinations
    November 11, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Great list. these are wonderful tips. thanks for sharing nice views.

  • expathealthcareonline@gmail.com'
    November 6, 2014 at 2:44 am

    Interesting list but I would be one of those people who will completely overlook the use of a library card. It’s been a long time since I last used a library. Whilst socialising and exploring your new city, people are bound to meet new people and learn something new everyday. That’s why joining local communities or your native background communities for example can aid you in feeling more comfortable around your new experiences and peers! Thanks!

  • info@busy-living.com'
    October 27, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    great comprehensive checklist there. have fun in berlin, make the most of it!

  • share@flyingthenest.tv'
    Jessica Valentine
    October 26, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Thanks for the great checklist Brooke. I am about to head off from Australia to go live in Canada for the next year! Will be keeping all your tips in mind 🙂

  • info@white-rooms.be'
    October 26, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Great comments, great list…

  • adelaide.haynes@hotmail.com'
    October 26, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    The travel bug bit me hard last year when I lived in London!
    I’m currently studying but can’t wait to graduate and move somewhere (maybe Edinburgh or Tokyo) and start a life there, after all, why not?!
    I know you get nominated for awards and are living the dream, but I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award! I had so much fun doing it and thought I’d let you know how much of an influence and inspiration you’ve been to my blogging!
    Goodluck with everything!

  • christina@currentlyexploring.com'
    October 26, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    yes! getting a library card and riding the local transit lines (time permitting) to get to know the true character of neighborhoods are at the top of my list when exploring a new place for an extended period. great list!


  • karen@littleblackshell.com'
    Karen Farber
    October 26, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    How cool! This check-list makes me want to move to a new city! haha It’s so exciting 🙂


  • laneeger@gmail.com'
    LEE @ Modern Granola
    October 26, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Great checklist! I recently moved to a new place, so all of this definitely resonated with me. Hope you’re having fun in your new home!

  • Johannaw@outlook.com'
    Johanna W
    October 26, 2014 at 4:27 am

    Good tips! It can be daunting but getting settled and unpacking properly help. I’m only 10 days in to a move from England to Barcelona. Oops I’d forgotten insurance – thank you! I’ve found studying a map before I left has really helped. I felt like I understood how everything fitted together before I got there and google street view is great when house hunting from afar! http://www.visionsofjohanna.org

  • awanderlustblog@OUTLOOK.COM'
    October 26, 2014 at 1:40 am

    great checklist http://thewanderlusthasgotme.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/cool-bars-in-london.html do you speak german? glad the berliners have reached out to you

  • Expat Guide: Moving to a New City Checklist - W...
    October 24, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    […] So you're ready to become an expat? Here's your moving to a new city checklist with everything you need to do when you move to a new city as an expat list..  […]

  • lifeinthefashionlanee@gmail.com'
    October 24, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Love this haha, how to boil an egg! 🙂 it definitely takes time to get used to a new place, hope you are enjoying it Brooke x


  • checkoutfashion@gmail.com'
    check out fashion
    October 24, 2014 at 8:50 am

    congrats for your great blog.
    i love to travel too and in my blog i talk about it to. Take a look and tell me what you think.
    some day i will live in another city, i think and hope 😉
    i wish you all the best.


  • tran.bao.ta@gmail.com'
    October 24, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Great checklist! I move around a lot and each time I learn to have less stuff.

  • hollietye@talesbytye.com'
    October 24, 2014 at 7:07 am

    I love this! Extremely helpful. Have fun in Germany 🙂


  • awanderlustforlife@gmail.com'
    Jessica C. (A Wanderlust For Life)
    October 24, 2014 at 4:15 am

    Love this! (And especially love the Amsterdam photo at the top) We have a temporary home in Amsterdam but will be looking for our own apartment soon and I think this is still relevant. Even if you move into a new neighborhood you need to do a lot of these things. I’ve watched a few of your videos and love that you are making it home even though you are only there for a few months. I bet it feels very comfortable to do that! Can’t wait until we are able to do it too.

  • christine.suffredini@gmail.com'
    October 24, 2014 at 3:07 am

    Great list! Although it makes me want to move somewhere new (again). It always takes me months to unpack, though! I’m such a procrastinator.


  • finevado@gmail.com'
    October 24, 2014 at 1:54 am

    Hey Brooke!

    Nice check list, I’ve just moved to a new city and fortunately, I’ve nothing forgotten.

    Good luck in your new city 😉

  • chloelikestotalk@gmail.com'
    October 24, 2014 at 12:03 am

    All this AND- before you go, always always always check if there’s a requirement to register with local authorities wherever you’re going. As I’m sure you’ve found in Germany you are required to register your presence with local government and it can be difficult to get anything done without that paper work. This is also true of some parts of Spain and I think France, as I’m sure it may be in a number of other countries.

    Good luck in Berlin, I loved Germany so much- I spent some time living in Leipzig, which is about 90 mins on the train from you, would highly recommend it for a day visit!

  • travelsofadam@gmail.com'
    October 23, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Great tip to get a library card – just wish they were free here in Berlin!

  • rianneverkamman@hotmail.com'
    October 23, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Great list! I moved a lot the past years, but always in my own country. I can imagine that it can be a struggle arranging things in a new country!

  • anca@happydeco.ro'
    October 23, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    You are so wise…it’s clear that travelling takes out the best in people 🙂 I moved in January to Munich and yes…it was difficult in a new country and with a language I didn’t speak. But Germany has so many things to offer, that is all worth it. Enjoy your time here or…viel Spaß!

  • beer_svenja@yahoo.de'
    October 23, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    These are such good tips. It’s so exiting to move to a new city, especially in a new country, that people often forget meeting new friends and exploring is not the only important point on the to-do-list.

  • amber.freelance@gmail.com'
    Amber Rhodes
    October 23, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    It must have been crazy weird for you to do these things, such as arranging furniture and seriously unpacking after so long living out of a suitcase. What a lovely change! Good luck with your new home!

  • endlesspostcards@gmail.com'
    Deepti @ Endless Postcards
    October 23, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Great advice! I want to live abroad for at least a year (right now I’m dreaming about Spain), and it’ll help to keep this in mind. Looking forward to finding brunch places that sell a lot of tapas!!

  • luc.pilz@gmail.com'
    Lucy @ The Wanderlust Scout
    October 23, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Insurance, walking around the area to get a bearing of the new town and language classes would be my top tips too

    Good luck with the new town – Germany is amazing to live it!

    Lucy x

  • sara.c.barnes@gmail.com'
    October 23, 2014 at 9:42 am

    These are great tips for moving in general! I followed a lot of them myself when I moved from Detroit to Nashville. Good luck!!


  • Petra.chappell@gmail.com'
    October 23, 2014 at 8:54 am

    These are such great tips! We have recently moved to Vancouver, Canada from New Zealand so have just done a lot of the same things.
    If you’re interested, check out our recent post on all you need to know about moving to Canada!

  • marieking32@gmail.com'
    Marie @ Marie Away
    October 23, 2014 at 8:37 am

    Great list. It’s easy to forget the small things (like changing your mailing address!). I’ve lived in a few different cities and have always managed to forget some of these important steps time after time. Definitely best to get most of this stuff out of the way ASAP. Internet (which can take forever in most places) and utilities are definitely my top priorities.


  • valerie.s@live.nl'
    October 23, 2014 at 8:06 am

    I want to live in London for half a year and these tips do come in handy! Thank you 🙂
    Btw I really enjoy watching your Berlin vlogs!

    x Valerie | Valerie Randomness

  • maria.nieto013@gmail.com'
    October 23, 2014 at 8:05 am

    I think these are wonderful tips! I’ve recently moved (temporarily) to Vienna and I completely understand how it feels 🙂

    xx M.

  • wakahi@googlemail.com'
    October 23, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Hey Brooke,
    Thanks for this checklist – great and true stuff! Seems you have really arrived here now.
    Welcome to Germany!! I’m not that often in Berlin but if you ever want to visit the beautiful town of Erfurt which is (in my opinion) missing in your most-romantic-European-cities list, contact me and I’ll show you round. It’s the capital of Thuringia and not that far from Berlin.