A family packing up their belongings in cardboard boxes.

Moving is always a challenge, but moving overseas or internationally can be even more stressful! Here are some tips for preparing for an overseas move:

Check on Legal Requirements

Moving internationally may require paperwork, additional fees, and legal processes. Whether you are planning a short term move or permanent move, consider speaking to an immigration lawyer to make sure you are prepared logistically and financially.

Start Planning Early

You know that feeling, a couple days before a move, when you feel like you still have an unimaginable amount of work left to do? That feeling is even worse when you’re planning an international move. Start planning as soon as you know the move is happening (even if you don’t have a precise date yet!).

Minimize Where You Can

The fact of the matter is that we can have a tendency to accumulate a lot of stuff, and especially if you haven’t moved in several years or more, you will probably find a lot of things tucked away. In the past, we’ve written about moving to smaller homes, mobile living, and minimalism, all of which may give you ideas on how to decide what to keep and what not to keep. You may also make different choices for permanent versus short term moves: if you are planning to move for a couple years and then expect to return, you may wish to strip down and maintain a minimalist lifestyle while you are abroad. If your move is permanent, you might instead choose to slim down and then purchase new items as needed in your new home.

Let Everyone Participate

A big move may be exciting or overwhelming (or both!) to some members of your family, but make sure that everyone is involved, especially when it comes to making decisions about what to keep. A child who is sad to be leaving may want to cling to everything they own, but if you respond by making all decisions for them, they may find it much more difficult to adjust. Consider allowing everyone to choose one large item, for example, and having one or two boxes per person that is their “no questions asked” items. This gives children (and sentimental adults) the opportunity to pare down but also select items that may not be practical, but have emotional value for them.

Consider Storage, Donation, and Gifts to Friends for Large Items

You probably will be leaving a lot of things behind, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw everything away or try to sell it all! A tag sale is a great way to get rid of lots of little things, and maybe the occasional piece of large furniture, but what about the special items, heirlooms, antiques, and any big items that you can’t find a home for?

For large furniture without sentimental value, consider donating to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore or similar. For items that are valuable or family pieces, you may be able to store for a reasonable price if you commit to a long term rental. In addition, you may have friends or family members who would be willing to care for certain items until you return or are able to ship them to you.

A long distance move is always a lot to juggle, but you can do it! Whether you need help with planning or labor, contact us to find out how we can help!

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