buy before moving abroad

If you’ve never lived in another country, or never even been to that country before, it can be really difficult to pack for your move abroad. In my years living in various countries, I’ve learned what things I really wish I had bought in the US and what things I can find in every country I travel to.

Here are six things you NEED to buy before moving abroad to a new country.

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1. Buy Before Moving Abroad- Medicine:

buy before moving abroad

If you’re prone to headaches that you like to cure with Advil or if you like Benedryl for allergies etc. be sure to pick some up before your big move. It can be difficult to find the same medicines as the ones you are used to in other countries. Also, these over the counter medicines can be much more expensive depending on where you are going.

If you take any prescriptions, see if your doctor/insurance can possibly give you a year supply. I made this mistake of not doing this and having my dad send me my prescriptions. They once got stopped by the Germans custom office and I was fined for illegally having medicine shipped into the country. Oops!

2. Buy Before Moving Abroad- Cosmetics:

buy before moving abroad

If you like a special kind of toothpaste, deodorant, makeup etc. buy it before you go to another country. I always buy my favorite deodorant and some Burt’s Bees products I like while in the US, because I’ve never been able to find the same products abroad.

As far as makeup, most countries carry the general companies like Maybelline, Loreal, and Covergirl. If you go to a department store you will likely be able to find high-end products, such as Chanel and Dior. If you like products by smaller companies, I would suggest hitting up Sephora before your move. It’s an excuse to go shopping. 🙂

3. Buy Before Moving Abroad- Technology:

buy before moving abroad

If you have been putting off buying a new laptop, now is the time to do it. Technology is not nearly as cheap abroad as it is in the US.

Last time I was in the US I bought a GoPro and an unlocked smartphone.

To connect your phone to a phone provider in another country you must have your phone unlocked. You may be able to get your cell phone unlocked from your service provider, but they are not always super cooperative about it.

IPhones especially can be a problem. Even if you get your iPhone unlocked, it is not easy to insert a new SIM card into one. I love Apple products, but for abroad life, I prefer going with an android. It makes switching SIM cards as I move much easier.

If you’re ready for a new phone anyway I recommend the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. It’s a super nice phone and takes amazing pictures (and if you’re living abroad you’re going to want to take some killer photos to make everyone at home jealous).

PS: In the stores here in Costa Rica the price is double what it costs on Amazon….ridiculousness!

4. Buy Before Moving Abroad- Food from Home:

buy before moving abroad

Obviously you may not know what food another country may carry, but I guarantee you anything that is international will cost more in another country. I frequently stock up on Annies mac & cheese, Reeses, and Sam Adams beer when I’m in the states because I know it’s nearly impossible to find these in other countries and I’m kind of obsessed.

Just make sure to check what types of food you are allowed to bring into the country. Different countries have different policies about that.

5.Buy Before Moving Abroad- Books/ Travel Guides:

buy before moving abroad

It is much easier to get books/ travel guides in your own language in your own country than it will be to find them in a country with a different language.

Even Amazon has a much smaller selection of English books abroad.

Yes, books take up valuable weight in your suitcase, but if you know you are going to do some traveling, I recommend at least bringing a few travel guides if you like to use them.

I personally really like Lonely Planet guides.

How cute is this little guy?

6. Buy Before Moving Abroad- Universal Adapter/ Converter:

buy before moving abroad

Yes, you can buy an adapter in any country, but personally I like to buy one before I leave my home country.

There’s nothing worse than arriving in a new country after a long travel to discover that you can’t plug-in your laptop because you don’t have the correct adapter. I recommend a universal one so you never have to worry about buying one again.

I bought this one from Loop because it comes in fun colors and includes a dual USB charger.

Bonus: Travel Insurance:

Save yourself some trouble before you move abroad and buy travel insurance. I personally always use World Nomads because they cover pretty much everything. It would be horrible to get to your new country and find out your luggage never made it. Travel insurance will allow you to be reimbursed for your missing items. It’s so worth the price!


I hope this list helped you out! If you have any questions about things you are wondering if you should buy before moving abroad, just ask me in the comments below. I’m happy to help you out!





  1. Not sure where Jill shopped but In the U.K. All pharmacies sell spray,roll on and stick deodorant..even most supermarket have a wide selection.

  2. I enjoyed this article. I studied abroad in England for 6 months and got there to find that -even though I’m not picky about my deodorant – I prefer stick deodorant and all they had over there was spray! It was a struggle. I am revisiting some blogs as I make the move to Australia for a year working as an Au Pair and I want to remind myself what to buy before I go 🙂 thanks for the helpful tips!

    One more thing, I would suggest bringing or buying a reusable water bottle. I remember buying disposable water bottles wherever I went (I traveled a lot). It adds up, $2 at a gas station in the middle of nowhere France, $2.50 in Denmark, $1.50 from a man on the street in Italy. The list goes on, and the price adds up 🙁

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