Young couple in are next to a moving truck and boxes, blue cargo container, using a boat to transport their belongings

Packing for an Overseas Move

One of the biggest challenges of an overseas move is packing for it. Most people cannot pack their whole lives into a couple of suitcases, so orchestrating an overseas move takes some planning.  Here are our tips for success:

Select your moving company

One of the first steps, when preparing for an overseas move, is to find an international moving company . Compare the companies’ pricing, policies, insurance coverage, and guarantees, and be sure to check references. While pricing is important, keep in mind that the cheapest moving company is not necessarily the best. Don’t leave this till the last minute – most international movers need several weeks to make arrangements!

Get packing

Once you have a mover, you need to get on with the actual packing. You probably won’t be able to take all of your possessions on an international move, so your first decision will be what to bring and what to leave behind. Use this time as an opportunity to get rid of all that old junk that just takes up space; anything that you must keep but cannot pack should go into storage. When making your selections, remember: the more stuff you have, the more you will pay to move or store it.

Deciding what to bring is crucial. Bulky and impersonal items like furniture can be replaced in your new home and then re-sold upon departure. Also, leave behind most appliances and electronics that will not work with the different voltage levels outside of North America; locally-purchased appliances are a better choice. Moving is expensive but moving overseas is very expensive, so the less you bring the more money you will save.

You should pack enough toiletries and medicines to last you for a few months. You don’t want to be without the essentials, and it can take a while to find replacements overseas or to receive orders shipped from home. Personal electronics like laptop computers, cell phones, and music players are often more expensive overseas and should also be packed – do some research before moving, to see how much they will cost, and take into account currency differences.

Hiring professional movers to pack your goods may help in protecting them against loss or damage in transit. In addition, some insurance companies require professional packing services, as a condition for issuing their insurance plans.  Therefore, hiring professionals to do this stage could allow you to purchase a more tailored or broader insurance plan.

Bring a Bit of Home With You

Psychologically, the most important of all is to make sure you pack some objects that give you a sense of home – you might need them if you have a bout of culture shock. These can be as simple as a few favorite books or a collection of photographs.

When it comes time to pack and move, be as involved as possible. No matter how reputable the moving company, it is a good idea to be around while they’re packing up your life. You can minimize errors in packing and will know for sure where everything is going. Keep inventory lists for each box. If anything gets lost or broken in transit, you will need these records.

No matter what you decide to pack, be sure to keep some personal items out of the boxes and with you. Your possessions probably won’t get to your destination as quickly as you do, so there will be a period of time when you can’t access your things. This can be for only a matter of days or it can be as long as several months. This is a good advice for any move, but for an international move, it’s critical because of the distance and complexity involved.