Packing for a move abroad can be somewhat of a dark art but it is crucial that you get it right. Before you start packing all your belongings away ready for shipment to your expat destination, it is worth taking a look through everything you intend to take with you and questioning whether it will really be of use to you in your new life abroad. We have prepared an overview of some of the key areas you should consider.
A key consideration concerning whether or not you should ship all your furniture concerns where you intend to live once you relocate. Many families opt for furnished accommodation when they first move to a new country and, if you intend to do the same, it may be worthwhile placing your furniture into storage for the short term at least.
When packing for a move abroad it's important to consider whether your furniture will be of use in the host country. The furniture you currently use in your home country may not be suitable for that in an apartment or home abroad. If you live in the US, for example, you will probably have a fairly large home with large pieces of furniture. Such pieces will not fit into the average apartment in Asia and, in the event that you do ship them and find you have no use for them, you will struggle to sell them in the overseas destination and may find yourself paying hefty storage fees.
If you are not moving into a furnished house, you will need to decide whether it will be cheaper to ship your existing furniture or buy new pieces while you are out there. It often works out cheaper to buy new; especially if you are only planning on staying away for a couple of years. You will also often find cheap furniture advertised on expat forums by many expats whose contracts have finished and are returning home.
If you plan on selling your house in your home country and are not intending on shipping your furniture to your new location, you will need to put all of your furniture into storage (which will cost you) or you will need to sell it. Both options will need forward planning.
When packing for a move abroad the first thing you need to do is to find out whether or not the equipment you already own will work in the destination overseas. If the new country uses very different electricity outage there will be no point in shipping your electronic belongings and you will be better off selling them before you move.
If you are taking your computer, make sure that everything is backed up before you leave- including all files, music and photos. They can either be backed up on the Internet or onto an external hard drive.
When moving overseas you should ensure that you have all of the paperwork you need to enter the country that you are relocating to, including a passport that is valid for the duration of your contract abroad and your driving license (where applicable). Put these aside when packing and keep them on your person when you travel. You should also ensure that you have your full medical and vaccination records with you, especially if you have an ongoing medical condition.
Many people also take a list of emergency contact numbers for both home and in the expat destination so that, should something go wrong, they can quickly locate help and assistance. Useful numbers include the bank, insurance companies, doctors and travel providers.
If you are taking children with you when you move abroad you should always take a copy of their school records.
What clothing you take really will depend upon any differences between the climate within which you currently live and that which you intend to relocate to. Use your common sense and only ship clothes that you will get some use out of once you have moved abroad. If you are originally from a cold country but are moving somewhere warmer, it is always worth leaving some warm clothes with a family member so that you have something to wear when you return home for a visit.
If you suffer from a medical condition and require regular medication then you should always ensure that you are going to have access to your medication when you arrive in your expat destination. When packing for a move abroad it is advisable to take at least two month’s supply of any regular medications you require.
Do you have a comment about this article, a further question or even a correction? If so please do let us know. We may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all comments will be published, please be nice!
Our Expat's Manual is updated regularly so comments about the article may have already been addressed.