Beginners Guide to Moving to KAUST – Part 2

By | August 14, 2011

In the last few weeks, several people have reached out to me after reading my blog to say that they are moving to KAUST soon and that my blog posts have been helpful in their own planning. So, I thought I’d put together a few thoughts on some of my lessons learned from moving here.

This is a three part series: Part 1 covering the time before the move, Part 2 covering moving day(s), and Part 3 covering the first few weeks at KAUST.

I’d love your input on my guide. What have I missed? What did I get wrong? Feel free to add your ideas in the comments below.

Image Courtesy Yousef Raffah on Flickr

Moving Day

Congrats! It’s time to move! Here are a few of our lessons learned for the time between when the movers come to take your stuff away and arriving at KAUST on your first day in the Kingdom.

Things and Stuff

It’s important to be ready for the movers. You’ll want to know ahead of time where every thing in your house is going, what you’ll need with you, and what can get to you in a few weeks time.

  • Be organized. Pick spaces in your house where you place the stuff that’s getting to Saudi via different methods (luggage, air freight, sea freight). Our guest room was for the stuff coming with us on the plane, the living room for the air freight and the kitchen for the sea freight. This helped the movers and it helped us.
  • Pack wisely. You’ll be amazed about the decisions you’ve made about stuff once you get here. Our air shipment arrived the other day and we had packed hoodies and sweatpants in air shipment, but not the dog’s favorite toy. We’re desperate for the toy, and the hoodies have gone into deep storage! Here are a few items we couldn’t have lived without/wish we had brought on the plane with us: computers, router, chargers and wires, unlocked cell phones, bathing suits, water bottles, backpack, sandals, camera. Update Oct 2013: Also, keep in mind that your shipment will not be sent until you are issued an iqama (residence permit), so it will be awhile before you see your stuff again – plan for this!
  • Bring several months of prescriptions with you on the plane… just to be on the safe side.
  • This one is important: Don’t put your passport in your air or sea shipment!!
  • Women: it’s best to travel in an abaya. If you already have one, be sure to bring it in your hand luggage. It may make it easier to get through immigration.
  • Pack a few snacks for the airplane. You’ll probably want a snack between the time you land and the time you make it to a place with food (your first stop once you get on campus is your new house – no food there!).
  • Pack some tissue in your hand luggage. You might not have toilet paper in the airport or at your house.
  • Your new house should have new sheets on the beds and utensils in the kitchen, so once you get there you can take a nap and order food to be delivered (Here’s the food delivery website). The KAUST tap water is safe to drink.
  • UPDATE October 2013: Pack the maximum number of bags allowed by the airline on your flight with you. This way you have more when you arrive. Bonus points if you distribute each persons’ clothes among all your bags in case one (or more) gets delayed en-route.

What should I be doing?

Packing, inventorying, and sorting! But besides that:

  • Be good to your movers and they will be good to your stuff! Offer them soft drinks and pizza, for instance.
  • Make time to see your closest friends or family the night before your move.
  • Make sure to close out all your final bills in your home country. It’s easier to do that while you’re still there.
  • Take a tour of your town before you go!
  • At the airport and in customs: Women will probably find it simpler if they don’t speak to the airline reps/customs officials unless they speak to you first.
  • Once you reach your house: Inspect your house before signing anything. You need to be comfortable with your house before you accept it.

What to expect when you get off the plane

If you haven’t had the chance to visit KAUST before you move here, it may be hard to know what to expect upon your arrival. I’m sure there are variations for every move depending on a lot of factors (including job grade), but here’s how it happened for us.

When we got off the plane, we were greeted by two nice men. One was from KAUST and the other was a cab driver. The man from KAUST instructed us to go to our house then report to our move coordinator in building 16 (the administration building). We then got in the cab and drove an hour north to KAUST.

Once going through KAUST security, we were escorted to our house where several reps from the housing office met us. They gave us a bunch of welcome paperwork with information about busses, facilities and amenities etc. They also showed us around our new home and had us sign some paperwork.

When they left, we then had time to take a nap which was such a bonus. And, as I said before, there were even new sheets and towels on the bed when we got here! We then walked up to building 16, talked to HR, and grabbed some food.

I had feared the first day’s unknowns before we arrived, but now that I look back, it was all really relaxed and easy!

Are you moving to KAUST? What are the unknowns for you? I’m happy to help shed some light if I can!