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Tips for packing your house for an international move

Packing Your House For An International Move

With moving house being one of life’s most stressful events, we’ve put together some tips for packing your house for an international move.

Moving house has been found to be one of life’s most stressful events, ranking above starting a new job or even divorce! In a survey of 2,000 people by energy company E.on , 61 percent said that moving house was the single most stressful thing they had gone through. A local move may be tough enough, but imagine moving your whole life overseas at the same time and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The process of packing your house for an international move doesn’t need to be a trial though. In fact, it can present a real opportunity to evaluate what’s important in your home and what possessions really mean something to you.  Getting organized and starting early is the key to success when it comes to an international move. Here are some tips get you started:

  1. What to take and what to leave

No matter how much you love your things, it’s probably not necessary to move every single item in your house overseas with you. Remember, you will actually have to pay money to move your things overseas, whether your bill is measured by weight or the amount of space it takes up in a shipping container. Either way, the more things you move, the more it will cost you financially. Carefully consider which possessions are essential and which ones you think you can leave behind. Essential items needn’t be just functional things you need, but may be those things which make you feel happy and ‘at home.’ Functional items are actually the easiest to replace anywhere in the world, but things personal just to you and your family are unique.

When choosing what to leave behind, decide whether you want to keep them for your return, or if you can get rid of them permanently. If you need to, organize storage of your things with a family member, or rent a storage unit. Everything else can be donated to charity or sold.

  1. Think about what type of accommodation you’ll have overseas

You might be moving from a large house in the Australian suburbs to a small high-rise apartment common to many parts of the world. Common expat destinations like Singapore, Dubai and cities in China are built-up, with dense populations that live vertically in small spaces. Houses in these areas are available, but rare and costly. Will you be able to fit all of your furniture if you end up moving into a smaller living space? The expense of transporting your belongings half way across the world will hardly seem worth it if you’re forced to rent unaffordable accommodation just to house it all, or if you are forced to get rid of your things after they arrive, simple because you don’t have sufficient space.

You may also be able to rent a furnished apartment or house, particularly in places with a large expat market. If you’d still like your “special” pieces of furniture with you, consider taking partly-furnished accommodation, with provided bed, white goods, sofa and even a TV. Negotiate with your landlord if you want certain furnishings included. In China, for example, most rental apartments are partly furnished, and they are available in Dubai, Singapore and almost every other popular expat destination.

  1. Research the local customs regulations

When planning what to pack, find out if there are any items which actually aren’t legally allowed in your new country. Most countries have some form of customs regulations which delineate what can and can’t be brought in. Some items may be permitted through customs, but only after going through a treatment for pests or living cells. Wooden furniture for example, may need to go through a pesticide treatment. Seemingly harmless objects like wicker baskets, candles, craft supplies or even Christmas decorations can come under scrutiny, depending on your destination. Checking the local customs rules before you even start to pack could save you a real headache when you and your things arrive.  And, of course, if you are moving home to Australia, then we all know the problems Australian customs can create.

packing your house for an international move

  1. Number and label boxes

Both for your own sanity and for an easy customs process, number your boxes. This is how professional removalists do it and it’s the simplest way to keep track of your things. You’ll easily be able to tell if a box is missing and it provides a quick reference in case of any problems.

  1. Create an inventory/packing list

To go with your numbered boxes, write up a packing list which lists all of your numbered boxes and their contents. This will not only help you to keep track of your possessions and where they are, but will help you speed up the customs process once your things arrive at the destination.  Also label the material from which your things are made, for even speedier customs success.

  1. Pack possible customs risks together

If you have any items which may require attention by customs officials, pack them together in the same few boxes. You probably don’t want strangers opening all of your boxes and rooting through them just to find a few specific items, so make things easy on them and yourself by grouping these things into similar categories for packing. Customs are usually concerned with plant or animal materials that could affect the local ecosystem, but every country has its own rules so get to know them before you start to pack.

  1. Buy solid boxes

Picking up leftover boxes at the supermarket or greengrocer might be fine when packing your house for a move to a neighbouring suburb, but this time your things will be making a journey across the world, so something a bit sturdier is needed for packing your things. Buy sturdy cardboard boxes designed to be used for moving house, as these will better protect your things and are less likely to break. You will also be able to choose the sizes that best suit your possessions for efficient packing.

  1. Fragile items and packing materials

Most of the damage which occurs when packing your house and moving is due to vibration of your things during the moving process. The more empty space you leave in your boxes, the more likely your things are to move around, resulting in breakages. Minimize damage by keeping your boxes as full as possible and using packing materials to cushion your items. Professionals typically use bubble wrap and packing paper, but these will add both expense and weight. You will have to pay not only for the packing materials themselves, but if you’re shipping your things by weight, it could add expense there too. Try using your existing clothes, socks and blankets to wrap up fragile items or things likely to break, as much as you are comfortable doing so.

  1. Distribute weight evenly

Try to keep each box to a manageable weight. It might seem efficient to pack all of your books in one box and all of your clothes in another, but this will probably result in one really light box and one box so heavy that nobody can lift it! Boxes that are overpacked with heavy things are more likely to break when picked up, and you sure don’t want all of your books falling out during the transit process. Try to distribute weight evenly so that they are easy for you and the removalists to handle.

  1. Keep essential items and paperwork with you

Any paperwork or travel documents should be kept in your personal luggage so that you can access it quickly and easily. You will need your passport with you during travel, but after arrival, you may need to deal with documentation for your visa or other local processes. For example, in China you need to register your local address with the local police station within 24 hours; your hotel might take care of this for you, but if you’re not saying in a hotel, you may need to present your own documents. It’s always a good idea to have these papers on you, as you never know what surprises your new country is going to spring on you, especially when it comes to bureaucratic matters.

Other essential items could include medicine, comfort items for children, your accommodation details and, of course, money.

  1. Medical matters

If you or a family member is on prescription medication, make sure to take a few months’ supply with you.  Before you get to know the local medical system, you can’t be 100% sure what medications will be available, how to get them or how much they may cost. Where medication is concerned, it’s better to have extra than to run out before you can get more. Before leaving, visit your local doctor to get an advance supply. Also be sure to ask for the generic name of the medication, in case your brand is unavailable in your new country.

An international move should be a hopeful and joyous experience, not a stressful one. You are starting a new beginning, so when packing your house, try to take only the things which you think you need or really want with you in your new life overseas. When packing your house, stay organized and document all of your belongings thoroughly for an easy moving process. Get on top of your packing early and you’ll be able to put your energy into the memories you can create in your new home, rather than the stress of leaving the your one.

Are you preparing for an international move?  Before you start packing your house, save money by comparing multiple quotes for international removals…

Complete the form below and Triglobal will arrange for up to five qualified international removal companies to provide a free, no obligation quote for your international move based on the details you provide.  You will then be contacted directly by each international removal company with details of their quote for you to start comparing the best deal. By completing the form below, you agree to sharing your information and contact details with Triglobal and the selected removal companies.

About the author

Australian Expat Investor Contributor

These articles have been written by an Australian Expat Investor Contributor. Please see their details in the relevant post. The views expressed in the article are his or her own and may not reflect the views of The Australian Expat Investor. If you are interested in contributing an article or story to The Australian Expat Investor please visit our contact page.

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