The past few weeks have been a slightly crazy whirlwind of applying for new passports, visa’s, seemingly endless paperwork, exciting new work opportunities, sorting through clothing, organising and selling furniture, opening and sorting through countless boxes of home and kitchen wares, etc, and of course trying to decide what to take back to Paris with me with just a 20kg bag limit!
I know I can buy another bag, but there is a rather weird thrill/challenge in trying to move to another country with the best of the best of my clothing, some books and of course anything I will need to continue my work while there and only use the 20kg limit.
But, thankfully after my three months in Paris I came back home with such a better idea of what I really needed while being overseas and what I need to do to keep my business running smoothly. I shared a post on Instagram of my wardrobe over the weekend of me starting my packing for mon la rentrée a Paris - and a lovely comment was left wanting me to share a few of my tips for how I’m packing to move overseas. It of course all depends on how long you’re planning to be overseas, and what you’re wanting to take. But I thought I’d share a little below how I have managed to pack, and also organise everything to move to another country. In just one suitcase…for now. x
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This is the very first thing you are going to have to organise. You can of course visit most counties on a 30 day holiday visa, but if you are wanting to live somewhere, it’s best to organise your visa before you start planning anything else. I can only advise on applying for a French visa on an Australian passport while living in New Zealand - but for me the process was really easy. Well aside from having to fly back to Auckland from Paris at the very last minute to apply for my Visa, as you’re unable to apply for a French visa in France. That aside, it’s thankfully not an overly complicated process, but it is a stressful one and you do need to organise a lot. Everything from up to date passports, flights, insurance, current bank statements, sometimes health records, etc. My best advice is get in touch with your embassy, also the embassy to the country you’re wanting to apply to - call and ask all the questions you need to. Then be incredibly organised with your dossier, follow the steps with a fine tooth comb, apply, and fingers crossed your visa arrives as quickly as mine did.
Furniture, home and kitchenwares
For me this was really hard to organise - I found it at first very difficult to look at the items that were apart of my marriage and see them in a neutral and ‘new’ light. And then something switched in me, and it was almost simple to organise. Anything that was hard to look at, didn’t bring me joy, or I had multiples of the same thing was either sold, donated or gifted to friends and family. I went from having enough ‘stuff’ to easily fill a three bedroom home, to now only having about 5 boxes of items and a wardrobe and office carefully curated with my favourite clothes, books and art. I then divided home and kitchen items into a few categories and boxes, kitchen pieces that I’d like to take with me soon to Paris, kitchen pieces that I can take only if I have a kitchen with an oven (it’s rare!) and then pieces that I’m not worried about leaving in storage, but if I one day had the space I’d bring them with me. It’s been such a interesting challenge trying to ‘predict’ what you will want and need in the future - all I can say is that I’m incredibly fortunate to have such wonderful parents who are ok with me storing my curated collection at their home until I’m ready for it one day.
If you are wanting to seriously downsize - there are a few options, either sell everything and start again. Or edit, edit again and then edit again. It’s a horrible job, but you’ll get to the end of it feeling so light, free and you’ll know that everything that you own is yours and you want it in your life.
One of my most asked questions is what I’m going to do for work while in Paris. I’m incredibly fortunate that over the past few years I have been able to shift my work completely online. It’s of course been years of hard work to get to this point, and after last year I had to financially start again, but the pay off of those enormous work days is absolutely incredible. What it means is that as long as I have internet and my iPhone and laptop I am able to continue consulting with my clients and look after their social media and of course continue the ongoing journey of my life and Made From Scratch. I remember saying to myself about 3 years ago how amazing it would be if I could work anywhere in the world as long as I had a phone and internet connection. It was just a random goal, but, it’s so funny how life turns out, as that’s exactly what I’m doing now. However, I will also be applying to a French language school and would love to find some work in a patisserie or cafe, so we will see how it all turns out.
For those who are in the position of having their work online, or are wanting to be able to work online, my best advice is to find an accountant who understands what you’re wanting to do. From there you will have a much clearer idea of what you’re able to manage financially while overseas, and also keep track of all of the nitty gritty sides of your business - like GST, tax, etc.
Also, take the time to shift as much physical paper work to an online storage service. I spent weeks going through all of my paperwork and organising my Dropbox folders - it was incredibly tedious, but it was fantastic as I was not only able to have a big clean out, but I am now able to share my Xero and Dropbox folders with my accountant and she can easily see all of my business expenses, etc. I also did the same with my clients, we work exclusively out of Trello, Dropbox and Skype, and it’s amazing, even though we’re in completely different timezones we’re still able to keep up to date with everything that’s happening and business runs just as it would as if I was in New Zealand.
Clothing, makeup, toiletries and shoes…
This part of packing stresses me out more than anything - I will happily organise any paperwork over having to decide what piece of clothing is best to take. But, thankfully after my time in Paris, I now know what pieces I wore the most, how much space I have to store my clothing in while there, and the subtle art of mixing and matching your classics into as many new outfits as possible. That of course doesn’t make it any easier, especially as I will be flying into Paris during a heatwave but then in a few weeks/months time it will be a lot colder. So my packing this time is all about layers, being able to mix and match my outfits as much as possible - but also take some nice dresses, etc for those special nights out.
My Mum gave me the best advice (as they always do) which is to pack the things that you normally wear everyday, then add in a few extra pieces that you love as you will want to wear to break the boredom of wearing mostly the same thing every day. So think classic pieces, but add in a few extras. My next piece of advice is to start packing about a week before you go - put everything that you’d like to take onto a spare bed, or floor space that won’t be run over by a puppy, and then add or take away any piece as you see either don’t want, or want, over the coming days. Then try and edit it down even further when you pack your bag for the final time.
Toiletries and make up weigh an absolute tonne - so I now only take my absolute minimal amount of makeup and toiletries. I took so much with me last time, but now I don’t see the point in packing soap, toothpaste, shampoo, etc, because you’ll no doubt buy it all in your first grocery shop. Plus, there really is nothing more annoying than a shampoo exploding throughout your suitcase. It’s hard, but try and take the bare minimum.
Shoes. HA. This is one area of my wardrobe I over indulge in. But because I’m not back-packing or moving around a lot, I don’t see the issue in taking a few pairs of heels, ballet flats, trainers and sandals. You will wear through your everyday shoes so quickly while walking around all day, so it’s ok to have a few options, and it’s better for your shoes if you let them have a break between long days of walking - I would alternate between either my ballet flats, nike free running shoes (which also double as my gym/running shoes, but are nice enough to wear during the day). Oh, a small packing tip, I also don’t pack my shoes and big jackets into my main suitcase - I will pack them into a weekend back and carry them onto the plane with me. That way you have a little more space in your main suitcase for any extra pieces you might like.
This is also a tough one to organise, but if you have put most of your paper life into dropbox folder, it will be a lot easier to manage. But it of course also depends on how long you’re planning to be overseas, and how much you’re wanting to close in your home country. Because I work for myself, I have kept all of my New Zealand bank accounts opened, but I have canceled my health insurance for while I’m away and replaced it with travel/health insurance. This is a tricky one to advise on, because it all depends on how long you’re going to be away for. But do make sure that you have any offical documents you might need birth certificates, etc, certified copies of them, plus copies of your passport, visas and current bank statements. My dossier seems to be growing by the day, but at least I know that I have everything if I was to ever need it.
And last but not least. Try not to worry too much about the clothing and stuff that you’re taking, if you have forgotten something you can always buy it over there. And of course, just look forward to the wonderful new adventure that you’re about to embark on. It’s so daunting to pack up and move somewhere new, but it’s so exciting and incredibly freeing knowing that you’re able to live a life out of a heavy curated suitcase. And I’m also completely ok with the idea that I will no doubt be flying to Paris with one suitcase and possibly returning with two one day. For those who have moved overseas, I’d love to hear how you organised/sell everything to start a beautiful new journey. x