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Top 8 mistakes expats make when moving overseas

Moving overseas can be stressful enough without making mistakes. Here's a guide to the 8 most common mistakes and how to avoid making them

Written by Ehi Enaboifo on 24 November 2014

Moving overseas is usually one of the biggest decisions and transitions in life. There are many factors to consider and incorporate and if the whole process isn’t properly thought through and planned, then your overseas dream can quickly turn into a nightmare.

To help you avoid mistakes and experience as smooth a transition as possible, here are the top 8 mistakes expats make when relocating abroad.

1. Lack of research

Research is the most important part of relocating abroad. As it’s such a big move, it is vital for you to know absolutely everything well in advance. Important aspects to look into include:

  • What you can/can’t take with you – Some countries prohibit you from bringing certain items such as alcohol and food items
  • How you’re going to move your belongings – Start looking into international removals firms as early as possible. It’s important to know the ins and outs on everything
  • Pricing and budgeting – How much will flights cost, how much will transportation cost etc...
  • Accommodation – Will you need to downsize? What areas are best to live in?
  • Are you able to take your pet(s) with you? What vaccines/medical documents do they need? Read our guide to taking your pet abroad >

2. Poor organisation

As with research, poor organisation is often an aspect, which causes expats to make mistakes.

As soon as you know when you’re moving and where, you should start organising things such as the relocation of your belongings, what you’re going to take with you and what you’re going to leave behind. The earlier this is done the better, as you’ll be less inclined to make further mistakes if everything is organised and sorted well in advance.

3. Time Management

Although you may have planned to move months in advance, you’ll be surprised how quickly your moving date can approach. For this reason, it is important for you to manage your time effectively. Start getting things done early, and only leave tasks till the last minute if they cannot be done earlier.

Once you have arrived you may be surprised at how long certain things take, for example how long it will take for your shipped belongings to arrive. For this reason, it is important to manage your time effectively

4. Not packing correctly

If you’re sending a large majority of your stuff with a removals company, there is a possibility that you’ll arrive before your belongings do. Therefore, it is important to factor this into your packing. Your suitcases should include everyday and work clothes, as well as toiletries etc. To be safe you should pack clothes to last you a few weeks, that way you’ll be covered if your belongings are delayed for any reason.

In addition to this, it’s important to pack sensibly. For example, if you’re moving somewhere hot, there’s no need to take your entire winter wardrobe.

5. Insufficient budget

Expats often underestimate just how much it’ll cost to relocate. As previously mentioned, moving abroad contains many variables, so as part of your research and organisation you should start budgeting early. You should also have some money saved, to cover anything unexpected, which may occur.

6. Choosing the wrong removals company

As previously touched on, the organisation of your removals company is an important factor of your international move. As you may be sending the entirety of your belongings, it’s important to know that they are in the best hands. Many expats often choose the cheapest option; due to the other high costs they may already be experiencing. This usually isn’t the best approach. Instead, you should look into factors such as, previous customer feedback and ratings, experience and most importantly, what kind of insurance the company offers.

7. Poor communication

It’s not uncommon for expats to only talk to the removals company to arrange the move and then not keep them updated. This can lead to problems, if you wish to add anything to your load, as the company may have only allocated space for everything you initially stated.
To avoid this, you should try and maintain good lines of communication between yourself and the company. As soon as anything changes, let them know, for example if you’re adding or taking anything out of the shipment. If possible, you should provide the contact details of someone they can reach, should you be unavailable. 

8. Accommodation

It’s important to know where you’ll be living. If possible, you should definitely visit your destination to house hunt and scout potential neighbourhoods. A mistake commonly made by expats is not measuring their furniture before moving, to see if it matches up with the dimensions of their new home. Before you visit, take measurements of everything you’re planning on taking with you, this way you can avoid being stuck with furniture that doesn’t fit.

Guide to finding a home abroad >

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