So you’re moving abroad! Living and working in another country is a major—and rewarding—step, but full immersion in the customs, culture and ways of another country will mean taking some time to adjust.
One way to make the transition easier is to have familiar items in your new surroundings. Depending on how long you plan to stay, you can either pack up all your belongings or pick a few choice items to travel with you and your family to your new destination. The sooner you make your new abode feel like home, the less you’ll feel like a fish-out-of-water.
Streamline your to-do lists with guidance from ex-pats and experts who successfully made the move themselves. Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you prepare for the big move:
- Less is definitely more when moving abroad. Be extremely picky about what you bring with you to your new home. Make an inventory of all your (and your family’s) belongings and cull the list to the items that you absolutely need in your new home if the move isn’t permanent (or for a long period of time).
- It may be less expensive to buy new furniture than shipping Grandma’s old 12-piece dining room set across the ocean. Also, the more stuff you bring with you, the more items that are exposed to potential damage.
- Pack only the items that are near, dear, or essential. Store items you can’t bear to part with, but won’t need while you’re living in another country. Sell, donate, and throw away the rest.
- Leave it to the professionals. Unlike a simple move down the street, where items can be tossed haphazardly into a box in the backseat of your car, or even a move across country on the back of a moving truck, international moving requires much more careful planning, wrapping and packing.
- Professional moving companies know best how to pack items to prevent breakage or damage during the long and bumpy trip. They also know which boxes and materials are best suited for overseas travel.
How to ship your things
- Get details on shipping regulations and customs. Duties may need to be paid on items you ship into the country, even if you don’t plan on reselling it. Also, just because you want to bring the fruitwood carving into the country doesn’t mean that the country will allow non-native flora and fauna to enter. Speak to a customs agent about the rules and procedures about what is permitted, what will be taxed and any other special shipping regulations that you’ll have to keep in mind when packing and preparing for your move.
- Find the right shipping company. The difference between a smooth and pleasant move and a painful and harrowing experience can come down to picking the right shipping company. As you are relying on the company to help pack your heirlooms and move it thousands of miles away, you want to make sure that the one you choose will treat your belongings and your family with respect and care that they deserve.
In these circumstances, don’t look for the lowest bidder. Compare prices, but also compare reputations and get recommendations from reliable sources.
- Shipping cars and other large items can be done, but consider whether or not it’s worth it. When it comes to very large belongings, like pianos, appliances, and cars, ask yourself if you really need that particular item. If it’s replaceable, buying a new one at your destination may be easier (and possibly cheaper), than shipping the item(s).
If you find that the item is irreplaceable, for sentimental or practical reasons, ask your shipping company and customs about details on how to ship it internationally. For example, if you plan on shipping a car, you may have to prepare it for weather temperature extremes.
This exciting and busy period of your life can be overwhelming with details to handle. Figuring out visas, banking, and mail, while trying to decide what to pack and ship versus what to store and throw away can be overwhelming. Reduce your shipping and packing woes with this list of these tips on how to pack and ship your belongings overseas.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer and avid traveller. When she was little she moved with her entire family from Colombia to the USA, so she knows how exciting but troublesome a big move can be. She currently lives in Los Angeles working with Dunkel Bros.