Planning & Packing for a Move Abroad

Updated: Feb 13, 2020

Planning a move abroad is a significant undertaking that requires a great deal of thoughtful consideration. Once you have finalized a move overseas and started to put everything in place that you will need for a new life abroad, you should momentarily divert your attention away from the exciting new life that awaits and concentrate on your current life in the present. There will be a significant amount of organizational and administrative tasks that you will need to carry out in order to fully tie up any existing commitments before you start afresh elsewhere. The last thing you want to do is to arrive in a new country with a large number of issues outstanding from your previous life at home. For this reason, planning your relocation is crucial.

This section is aimed at helping you to identify some of the things you will need to consider when planning a move abroad. Through providing you with high-level details of some of the actions you will need to take prior to your move, we hope that we can assist your transition to be as stress free as possible. Some of the areas we will cover are as follows:

Banking, money & taxes: Appropriate management of your finances will be critical to ensuring that you can enjoy your new life abroad without leaving a mess behind you. This section contains information about a number of areas you should consider when planning a move abroad.

House: If you own your own property you will need to make a decision as to whether you should sell your house or rent it out. A number of key factors may impact such a decision and we hope that this section can assist you to do what’s best for you and your family.

Language: Learning the language of your destination country may assist your transition. We provide some hints and taking language requirements into consideration when planning your move abroad.

Family: How can you best prepare your family for the move abroad? We provide some ideas and advice for planning your relocation and ensuring that all members of your family are fully prepared for what awaits them.

Packing For a Move Abroad

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.

Electronic Equipment

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.

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