Whether you’re moving overseas permanently or for a temporary period of time, one of the biggest headaches is organizing your belongings. Naturally, you would like the furniture or personal effects you own to arrive at your destination in one piece. There are a few simple rules you can follow that can help to do this.
What’s being moved and what is being left behind?
Whether you’re moving overseas permanently or short-term, the first step you need to take is to go through everything you own and decide what to keep and what to get rid of. It is important that you do this before you arrange for the moving company to come in and make a quote. If there are items you will use up to the last minute but will not take with you, mark them clearly, so your moving consultant knows not to include them in the space requirements or quotation.
The next stage depends on whether you are moving permanently or on a temporary basis.
- Temporary moves may mean that you can leave items behind in self storage facilities. However, it is always important to consider what items are time-relevant (i.e. if you’re storing your children’s toys and they will be three years older when you return, it’s not really worth the expense of storing these items).
- Permanent moves will require a good hard look at what you own, love and don’t really need anymore. You can save yourself hundreds if not thousands of dollars by taking a realistic approach when sorting through your belongings. After a few overseas moves and quite some domestic, I take the approach that if it’s not sentimental and I haven’t used it for more than two years – it’s time to say goodbye.
When deciding what to take with you, you will need to get a good idea of the type of accommodation that will be available to you in your destination country. You may be leaving a house with good square footage to move into a much smaller apartment. In Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and parts of the Middle East, accommodation rates are at a premium and you may not have the budget to acquire the same space you have now.
If you need to leave some of your furniture and belongings behind, or want to store your belongings while you work out the logistics in your new country – try self storage units and facilities. Your moving company may have this service available or you may find a reasonably priced local self storage company who can help you with your requirements.
Lastly, take the time to research the customs website of your destination country. Some may have restrictions or warnings about the types of goods that will require inspection (adding costs) and possibly fumigation. For example, if you are taking plastic containers overseas and also have a large amount of wooden furnishings you may be subject to fumigation at the receiving port. Plastic absorbs the chemicals from the fumigation and will not be suitable to hold any future food products.
Logistics of your move overseas.
You will need to engage a moving company; your best option is to work with one that can also arrange for customs clearance and delivery at your destination. Many companies have overseas affiliates or subsidiaries making the transition of your belongings less impeded.
Work with a company who has experience with your destination country, each country has their own customs regulations and you need someone who can advise you from experience. Also ask if they can arrange the insurance for your belongings.
The next stage will be to have an agent from the moving company come in and assess the space you will require (i.e. part of, full use of either a 20ft or 40ft container). For smaller loads, usually the moving company can arrange for your goods to share a container with someone else who has space – saving you money.
For both insurance and documentary purposes you will need to prepare a full inventory of all the belongings you are moving. This comes down to counting how many CD’s, DVD’s, books you own, etc. Along with the quantities, you will also need to assess the value of each of these items so that you can ensure the insurance will cover the worst case scenario.
Note that fridges and freezers are not recommended to be moved overseas. Electrical items may not be insured, especially the more fragile items such as TV’s and stereo systems. Check with your insurer and your moving company.
During your inventory process, it is a good time to decide whether you need to airfreight any items for immediate use, pack certain more valuable and fragile items in your suitcases or take another serious look at just how much stuff you’re keeping. Remember also that you have the option to use a self storage unit or keep belongings with family and friends (who don’t mind looking after them).
Warning: never take logic for granted! You will not be able to move food overseas, so ensure that you have already removed all of these types of items before the packers arrive. Secondly, check your house and ensure that all teapots, coffeepots, jugs, plant pots, etc. are all empty of their contents. It has been known for packers to pack these items complete with liquid and contents inside.
Mark clearly any items that you do not want to be packed or, even better, move them all to one room, garage or location with a sign saying that they are not to be packed.
If you are allowed to pack your belongings, you will need to ensure that the packing meets shipping standards. A handy tip is to mark the boxes with the type of destination room you want them to go in (i.e. study, “Tommy's room”, storage, etc.). When you’re ready to receive your belongings at the other end, post signs on the doors of the receiving rooms (i.e. study, “Tommy’s room”, storage).
Items such as towels, blankets and sheets make great padding and protection for more fragile belongings. If you are doing the packing, you can follow a simple rule – heaviest items on the bottom, most fragile on the top with a good thickness of padding between the sides, bottom and top of the boxes. Lastly, remember that a person at some stage is going to carry the boxes – 40kg of books in one box is not advisable!
With some planning, logic and preparation, your move overseas can be made a lot simpler. There will be so many logistical items you will be working on to make the move, so it’s important you contract a moving company that can remove as many headaches as possible.
Examples of customs restrictions overseas:
In 2006 in Singapore, a man in his twenties was detained in prison because his brother has packed pornographic videos in his container as a joke. The shipment was from the Netherlands, pornographic material is banned in Singapore – this gentleman had to wait months while in detention for the mistake to be explained.
Bringing alcohol into most of the Middle East is banned, as you will need a license to buy and consume alcohol – time to leave those precious bottles of wine and spirits with a lucky friend.
Jason Kay recommends you find a self storage unit at EasyStorageSearch.com. You can also purchase discount moving boxes and compare moving companies.