When it comes to moving your home, wrapping your head around the idea can be tough. From the small things like the kitchen junk drawer to the bigger things like the family car or an heirloom chest of drawers, moving presents some unique challenges.
This is particularly the case when you’re moving overseas or to some exotic new locale. Luckily, moving doesn’t need to be nearly as painful as all of that. By understanding how to make moving even the large, awkward items easy, it’s simple to take an overseas move and make it into a snap.
One of the easiest ways to facilitate an overseas move is to hire shipping couriers. These companies, which specialize in international shipping and parcel delivery, can upscale their operations to help would-be expats get all of their belongings overseas.
While you may visualize a large UPS box carrying your items to a foreign country, that isn't actually how shipping couriers work. Instead, you contract a shipping carrier to take your household items, like furniture, tables, chairs, televisions, and even a personal vehicle and ship it in a large shipping container.
Typically, this is done with the help of an overseas ship, although it can also be executed via land or air. Sea transport is the cheapest and, as such, it’s what most expats opt for.
Depending on your budget and timeline, you can also hire a shipping courier to pack, transport, deliver, and unpack your shipping container, although many people choose to handle these responsibilities on their own.
The first thing you’ll want to do when preparing for an overseas move is to arrange for a courier. This will help influence your packing style and will make it easy to cull your belongings according to how much space you have to ship items.
Once you’ve arranged for a courier, it’s time to begin packing your household items for the move. Here are some simple tips for most of the things in your home:
Regardless of where you’re planning to move, there are a few steps you’ll have to take to get your move underway. Follow these steps for a simple, streamlined process:
1. Register with your home embassy
Any time you’re planning to move overseas, you’ll need to register with your home embassy. Countries like the U.S. have the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and many other nations have similar programs available. While these may not seem needed, it’s a smart idea to be sure that you’ve equipped yourself with every helpful program available. Be sure to register for these programs before your big move, since the paperwork can take weeks to months to be processed.
2. Consider cultural differences
Some places in the world have vastly different dress codes, cultural norms, or traditions than the country you’re moving from. Unless you’ve traveled extensively in your new location before or are very familiar with these differences, now is the time to get accustomed to them. Take some time to read up on the cultural or societal differences in the place you’ll be moving to and prepare yourself to purchase any clothing you’ll need to fit in with the culture. You may find it helpful to speak with locals, or to buy a guidebook on the country you’ll be living in.
3. Get any needed vaccinations
One large part of moving to a foreign country that many people overlook is vaccinations. Certain areas of the world have not yet eradicated certain diseases that may be obsolete elsewhere, so it’s important for would-be expats to get the shots they need before they touch down.Keep in mind that some vaccinations take time to take effect, so it’s wise to visit the doctor at least a few weeks before you plan to get on the plane or boat to your new destination.When you visit your doctor, you’ll also need to secure proof of all existing vaccines to show that you’ve been vaccinated against certain things. This will help you streamline your paperwork upon entering the new country.
4. Learn to speak the language (or at least some of it)
While it may be unrealistic for you to learn Mandarin or Arabic before your big move, it’s wise to learn at least a few conversational phrases to help you get by. Things like “Hello,” “Goodbye,” and asking for directions or how much something is are all great phrases to know, and it’s wise to bone up on these things before your move. To do this, look for a local language class, take an online course, or consider investing in a guidebook to help you learn important words and phrases.
5. Get rid of unneeded household items
As you begin planning and packing for your move, one thing you’ll need to do is get rid of any household items you don’t need. In addition to streamlining your move from start to finish, this will also make it easier to pack and unpack. It may also decrease your transport expenses since most shipping couriers determine the price based on cubic feet or weight of items moved.
When it comes to moving overseas, the list of things to do is just as long as the list of things not to do. Luckily, if you can avoid the following things, you’ll save yourself a series of headaches as your move gets underway:
1. Get into a packing rush
Moving overseas is a huge job, and it’s important to leave yourself enough time to do it right. If you start packing too late, everything becomes a rush, and you risk missing out on opportunities, forgetting things, getting hasty, and neglecting to find the best price on things like moving services and shipping couriers. Luckily, this is easy to avoid. For best results, start packing at least a month before your big move. This gives you ample time to get everything in order and helps ensure that you won’t find yourself in a pinch when the big day finally comes around.
2. Choose the first courier you find
Overseas moving and shipping is a big market, and there are plenty of people who would love to help you do it. Because of this, many shipping couriers price themselves very competitively, and it’s often possible to find quotes that are cheaper than the first option you come across. With this in mind, be sure not to jump on the first courier you find. Explore some other options and get quotes from various places. In addition to helping you save money, you might also find a courier that offers better services or a more comprehensive package to make moving easier for you.
3. Take things you don’t need
In addition to making a move more expensive, taking things you don’t need overseas will simply complicate your unpacking process. Consider this: homes in many parts of the world are smaller than those in America, Canada, and some European countries, and heading to a foreign destination with your entire household in town may wind up a stressful experience. To avoid this, cull some of your belongings before you go. While you should keep everything you’ll need to furnish your new home, it’s smart to think long and hard about what you must bring with you and what you can easily replace once you arrive at your new destination.
4. Get rid of everything
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some to-be expats decide they don’t want to take anything, and they yard sale their entire home before moving to their new destination. While this is a smart approach for some (students going abroad to study, for example), it can result in disaster for individuals and families who are moving overseas to work or establish a new home. In many parts of the world, apartments and homes that are rented as “unfurnished” are just that – completely unfurnished. Even down to the kitchen appliances and light fixtures. If you arrive at one of these homes without any of your own furnishings or accessories, you could soon find yourself in a very expensive and stressful situation. Avoid this by being discerning about what you will and will not take, and avoiding the impulse to sell everything and start fresh. While this may sound like a romantic idea, it’s often more stress than it’s worth.
5. Assume you won’t need additional services
Some to-be expats make a critical mistake when arranging for the shipping of their households: they believe they don’t need any of the extra services a courier offers. While things like delivery and unpacking may seem unnecessary when you’re still in the comfort of your old home, they can be a life-saver in your new destination. While most expats assume that moving overseas will be a significant shift, few are prepared for the level of stress and difficulty the first few weeks abroad can bring. In this situation, the last thing you need is to worry about driving down to the port and attempting to bring your shipping container home by yourself! With this in mind, take the time to consider which additional services may be beneficial before you decide you don’t need any of them. In addition to helping to streamline your move, this will also take some of the burdens off of your shoulders when you first arrive in your new company.
From hiring a courier and packing your household to getting on that plane or ship, moving abroad is an incredibly exciting experience. Unfortunately, most people lose track of that excitement because they’re so worried about packing and unpacking. While there’s no doubt that moving overseas is a large project, these simple tips can help you make it more manageable than ever before. From learning how to pack your furniture and household goods to deciding which shipping method is right for you, there are dozens of things you can do to streamline the moving process and ensure that you enjoy the most simplified possible version of your move. Regardless of whether you’re going to Tahiti or Italy, moving shouldn’t be a stressful process. By learning how to move overseas properly and implementing the tips, tricks, and tactics that the pros do, you can ensure a happy moving experience and a good transition into your new home, new life, and new country! When all of this falls into place, it’s easy to adjust to your new lifestyle without worrying about the lingering responsibilities of your move, or struggling to replace broken or damaged items. All you have to do is get to work exploring your new city!