Move a House as an Expat


Move a House as an Expat: What do I need to do to prepare to move house as an expat?

Moving abroad is starting a whole new life. You say goodbye to your friends and family, immerse yourself in another culture, and figure out what personal possessions need to make the move. There are steps you can take to make this process easier.

Deciding What to Take – and What to leave behind

Practicalities and cost play a major factor. You may not want to part with an heirloom that has been in the family for generations, but does it make sense to pay to bring ordinary furnishings with you?

As a rule of thumb, if you intend to return to your home country within a year, it’s wise to leave the bulk of your possessions behind. Take advantage of the opportunity to sell or give away items that are cluttering up your home. Place the rest in long-term storage, either in a commercially rented space or with a family member or trusted friend.

If you are emigrating for good, pare down your belongings to those you absolutely cannot bear to part with. Consider how you will need to transport those items to your new location. If the costs are in line with your budget, then that part of your task is done. Your efforts then turn to disposing of your remaining possessions. Scope out charities or responsible recycling facilities for items that you cannot sell or give away to family and friends.

Packing medications, especially prescriptions, makes sense, but bringing a year’s supply of shampoo is usually not necessary. Research beforehand what items are and are not available in your new location. If you are moving within the developed world, you will find that many of your favorite brands have made it to international store shelves.

The Internet often proves to be a solution to finding those items that you simply must have but cannot find in your new location. Sure, you will want to have some toiletries available for the first few weeks, just to give yourself a chance to settle in, but otherwise your money is better spent in transporting your child’s favorite toy or your family pet.

Essential Items

Your passport and visa should be in order before you leave, along with a police certificate if your destination requires one.

    You should also have:
  • birth certificates
  • baptismal records (if applicable)
  • medical records
  • transcripts and school records (for yourself and your children, if you are traveling with your family)
  • driver’s licenses
  • insurance records
  • banking records
  • tax records available in hard copy and in electronic form


Customs and import regulations for your new location also figure into what you ultimately bring with you. Many countries place restrictions on vehicle imports or subject cars brought into the country to high tariffs. Plants, animals and food products may also be subject to strict regulations or restrictions.

If you want to bring Fido or Fluffy with you, you’ll need to take care of the details, including obtaining a medical examination and license and registration. Beware that you may not be allowed to bring more exotic pets with you at all. Check with the consulate or embassy of your new country well in advance to avoid a last-minute scramble.

International Moving Companies

Hiring an international moving company to transport your furnishings is often necessary. 



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