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Don’t make the mistake of packing these items when you move abroad

boxes ready for an international move
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14 Jan 2021

What domestic goods should I bring when I move abroad?

When you plan your international move you can make significant savings by not bringing anything that you don’t need in your new life. But how do you decide which items to leave behind? Here are some ideas to get you started as you cull your possessions ahead of an international move.

Don’t pack prohibited items

In certain countries it is against the law to import some quite surprising items. For example, did you know that Kinder Surprise eggs are illegal in the United States; and that you cannot import homemade food into Australia? Don’t pack these items – the risk is that they will be discovered by customs and confiscated, causing delays.

The list of prohibited items varies by country, and you should get specific advice from your move co-ordinator or a customs broker. You can also find information on the country’s customs or border force website.

You may not need seasonal clothing in your new life abroad

Are you moving to sunnier climes for the benefits of hotter drier summers and warmer winters? Check the annual temperatures for each month and decide whether you’ll need your down jackets and snow boots.

White goods and small electricals may not work in your new country of residence

Many white goods and small electricals manufactured for the UK market will not work in other countries because of voltage difference. So it is often better to purchase these in your new country of residence.

Is it worth paying ship bulky bedding when you move abroad?

Beds, mattresses and bedding vary in size around the world, which means your UK sheets and duvets may not be quite right for your new home, particularly if it is furnished or you are buying new beds and mattresses. Also, bedding designed to keep you toasty warm in winter may be uncomfortable to use if the climate is much warmer than that of the UK. If you’re due new bedding anyway, or you didn’t pay much for your duvets and pillows, consider binning them and starting afresh at your destination.

Don’t pay to freight boxes that you haven’t unpacked from your last move

As any good declutterer will tell you, if you haven’t unpacked a box since your last house move, you probably don’t need the items inside, and it is certainly not worth paying to ship them.

You can buy generic furniture at your destination

Expensive furniture, or pieces that you have upholstered or re-finished yourself are often worth moving. But if you are not particularly attached to your furniture and it all came from Ikea you may find that it is much cheaper to buy new furniture at your destination. As a general rule, ask yourself: ‘Will it be more expensive to ship it than to buy it new at my destination?’

Get a rough figure for the cost per cubic metre for moving personal belongings by dividing the cost of your move by the volume of the shipping container you will be using. Then you can roughly estimate the cost of moving each item. For smaller items, bear in mind that you can get about eight tea-chest sized boxes into a cubic metre.

Speak with your move co-ordinator, or get advice from the expat community about how easy it is to obtain furniture to work out whether you want to ship or buy new.

And if your move is temporary…

If you are not moving abroad forever, consider whether some of your belongings might be safer left behind. Antique furniture, for example, may not tolerate high temperatures and fluctuating humidity. Pianos, too, can be moved, but are notoriously temperamental and expensive to ship. Consider whether your heirlooms would be safer left behind in Blighty, either with a trusted friend or in a climate-controlled storage unit.

Benefits of decluttering before you move

As well as making the move itself simpler and cheaper, decluttering could also reduce your insurance costs, as the value of your personal effects will be lower – you will need shipping insurance when you move so get a quote from Insure Your Move.

We hope these pointers will help as you plan your new life in a new country.