Smooth Sailing: How to Organize Your Move Abroad Like a Pro

Posted How-to / March 23, 2023
Gemma Collins

Gemma is an NJ local that has explored all the US states, making her the perfect person to write about moving.

Starting over in a different country can be exhilarating but tough – especially when learning how to organize your move. From navigating the labyrinth of paperwork to coordinating with an overseas shipping company, there’s a lot to juggle. Learn valuable tips and insights to make your relocation like sailing on calm waters.

Moving across the world is no small feat, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tasks and decisions involved. Relocation mistakes can cost you time, money, and unnecessary stress, but with the correct tips, you can avoid pitfalls and have a seamless transition.

The Benefits of Learning How to Organize Your Move Abroad

Taking the time to learn how to organize a move to another country can yield numerous benefits, making the entire process smooth, enjoyable, and ultimately successful. By acquiring such knowledge and skills, you’ll be ready for unique challenges.

Here are some of the key benefits of learning how to organize relocating abroad:

  • Proper organization can help avoid common pitfalls leading to unexpected costs or delays. Planning will provide a clear idea of the services you need, stay on track, and prevent last-minute scrambles that can cause costly mistakes,
  • One of the most significant challenges of international relocation is managing the stress of it. Knowing how to relocate efficiently can alleviate some of this stress, as you’ll have a clear plan and a better understanding of what to expect throughout the process,
  • You can gain valuable insights into the customs, culture, and practical aspects of your new country. This way, you’ll adjust quickly and smoothly to the new surroundings, making it easier to integrate and form connections,
  • Having an inventory of your possessions and a clear packaging and transporting plan reduces the risk of damage or loss during shipping, so your belongings arrive in the same condition they left,

Ultimately, learning how to organize your international relocation will help you approach this experience confidently and with excitement. With the logistical aspects of the move under control, you can focus on embracing the adventure and the opportunities in your new home.

Guaranteed prices for International Moving. No hidden fees or surprises! Get a Quote

Preparing for Your Move – The First Steps

How to prepare to relocate overseas is a common question faced by many prospective expats. The first steps are crucial in setting the foundation for it. Begin by setting a realistic budget, factoring in the costs and your new living expenses.

Save money to relocate by cutting back on unnecessary expenditures, selling items you won’t need, and looking for discounts and deals on services. Next, research the legal requirements for moving to your chosen country, such as visas, work permits, and any necessary vaccinations.

Finally, start learning the local language and familiarize yourself with the culture to make your transition smoother.

Make a Timeline for Your Relocation

When organizing relocation, creating a timeline can ensure that everything proceeds according to plan. Break down the relocation process into smaller tasks and assign deadlines for each.

Start by setting a date for hiring movers, as they often need to be booked months in advance. Include essential tasks such as obtaining the necessary travel documents, booking flights, arranging accommodations, and notifying important parties like your bank, employer, and utility providers. A detailed timeline will help you stay on track and avoid last-minute stress.

Create a Moving Checklist

As you embark on your journey of moving overseas, a relocation to-do list will help you stay organized so no detail is overlooked. Your checklist should include tasks related to packing, logistics, and settling into your new home.

Consider enlisting the help of packing services so your stuff is securely and efficiently prepared for transport. Additionally, include steps like updating your address, transferring or setting up utilities, and learning about local resources, from healthcare providers and schools to transportation.

Research Your New Location

Thorough research on your new location is vital for a successful relocation. Whether you’re moving to Budapest or planning a relocation to the Bahamas, it’s essential to understand the local customs, culture, and lifestyle.

Start by learning about the climate, cost of living, and available housing options. Investigate the job market, education system, and healthcare facilities to ensure they meet your needs and expectations.

Connect with expat communities and forums like Reddit to gather insights from those who already moved. Reddit also has a thread called I Want Out, where people discuss relocating from one specific country to another.

Tips for Downsizing and Decluttering

One of the most important packing tips is to downsize and declutter your belongings. This will save you money on shipping costs and make relocation more manageable.

Begin by sorting through your possessions and deciding which items you truly need and want to bring. Be ruthless in your decision-making – if you haven’t used an item in the past year, it might be time to let it go.

Consider holding a garage sale or using online marketplaces to sell items still in good condition. For items that you don’t sell but don’t want to keep, donate them to local charities, friends, or family members.

Donate or Sell Furniture and Appliances

When preparing for an international move, it’s essential to consider how to ship appliances and furniture. Shipping large items can be expensive, and they may not be compatible with the electrical systems or fit the space in your new home.

Assess the cost and practicality of shipping these items versus purchasing new ones in your destination country. If you decide to leave some behind, consider selling them through online platforms or hosting a garage sale. Alternatively, you can donate them to charitable organizations or to friends and family members.

Properly Dispose of Hazardous Materials

As you declutter and downsize, remember that some items, like hazardous materials, require special disposal care. These may include paint, chemicals, batteries, and electronic waste.

Improper disposal can be harmful to the environment and may even result in fines or penalties. Research local waste management facilities and recycling centers that accept these items. Some communities also host designated collection events for hazardous waste disposal.

Tips for Efficiently Packing and Organizing Your Belongings

Efficient packing and organization are crucial for a successful relocation. Properly packed items are easier to transport, less likely to get damaged, and simpler to unpack. Here are some tips for efficiently packing and organizing:

  • Begin packing as soon as possible to avoid last-minute stress. Starting early allows you to carefully pack your items and stay organized,
  • Invest in sturdy boxes, packing paper, bubble wrap, and packing tape to protect your belongings during transit,
  • Make a detailed inventory of your stuff. This will help you track what you’ve packed and ensure nothing gets misplaced,
  • Organize your items by room or category, like clothing, kitchenware, or electronics. Label each box with its contents and the room it belongs in,
  • Begin by packaging items you rarely use, such as seasonal clothing or decorative pieces. As your relocation date approaches, pack more frequently used items,
  • Employ packing techniques to maximize space and protect your items. For example, roll clothes instead of folding them, nest smaller items inside larger ones, and use towels or linens as padding for fragile items,
  • Wrap breakable items in bubble wrap, paper, or towels, and place them in boxes with plenty of cushioning. Label these boxes as “fragile” so movers handle them with extra care,
  • Pack a box or suitcase with essentials you’ll need immediately upon arrival, from toiletries and clothes to important documents and chargers. Keep this with you in transit for easy access,
  • Avoid overpacking, as this can make boxes difficult to carry and increase the risk of damage. If a box is too heavy, redistribute items to maintain a manageable weight,
  • As you pack, update your inventory list and note changes.

The family in the video below has moved a total of forty-five times. They share their tips on how to efficiently prepare for relocation and organize packaging to make it stress-free.

Hiring an International Moving Company

When learning how to organize for a move, especially if you’re moving abroad alone, one of the essential steps is hiring a reputable company to transport your stuff. To find the right international movers, start by researching and comparing several with experience in your destination country.

Ask friends, family, or online expat forums for recommendations. Request quotes from at least three different companies and compare services, prices, and customer reviews. Your chosen company should be licensed and insured for international moves, so ask questions to clarify their services and policies.

What to Look For in an Overseas Moving Company Contract

Before signing a contract with an international moving company, carefully review the terms and conditions. Some elements to consider when examining a relocation company contract include:

  • Detailed inventory list,
  • Shipping method (Sea or air freight with an estimated delivery date),
  • Insurance coverage,
  • A plan to ship a car overseas with associated requirements, costs, and procedures,
  • Additional services like customs clearance or storage,
  • Payment terms and methods,
  • Cancellation policy,
  • Dispute resolution.

By carefully reviewing your moving company contract and understanding the terms and conditions, you can ensure a smoother moving process and protect your interests during your international relocation.

Preparing for the Move – Non-Packing Edition

While relocation has many aspects, many non-packing tasks get involved when learning how to organize moving internationally. Learn some important non-packing tasks to keep in mind as you prepare for your move abroad.

Double Down on Learning About Your Destination

Invest time in researching your destination country, including its culture, customs, and lifestyle. Look into the best places to live abroad and consider the cost of living, job opportunities, safety, and amenities. Additionally, work on breaking the language barrier by learning the local language or enrolling in language classes.

Change Your Address and Notify Important Parties

Inform relevant parties of your upcoming move, such as banks, insurance providers, utilities, and government agencies. Update your address with these organizations and arrange for mail forwarding services if necessary.

Make Travel Arrangements and Booking Accommodations

Book flights, ground transportation, and temporary accommodations in your new country. When making travel plans, consider the most affordable and convenient options. Pack efficiently for your journey, ensuring you have essential items in your carry-on luggage.

Say Goodbye to Friends and Family

Moving abroad can be an emotional experience, so take the time to say goodbye to loved ones. Host a farewell gathering or spend quality time with friends and family before leaving. As you settle into your new home, remember that you’ll have the opportunity to meet new neighbors and make friends in some of the friendliest countries in the world.

Make Your Moving Arrangements Easier With Sunset International Shipping

Relocating overseas can be a life-changing adventure, but it can also bring its fair share of challenges, from shipping overseas to overcoming culture shock. To ensure a smooth transition, trust the expertise of Sunset International Shipping.

With our comprehensive international moving services, we’ll handle every aspect of your move, allowing you to focus on settling into your new home and embracing exciting new opportunities.

Don’t let relocation logistics overwhelm you; instead, choose the professionals at Sunset International Shipping to guide you every step of the way. Contact us today to start planning and experience the difference a dedicated team can make in your overseas relocation journey.


How Far in Advance Should I Start Organizing My Relocation?

It’s recommended to start your travel plans at least three to six months in advance. This allows you sufficient time to research, plan, and coordinate with moving companies, as well as to gather the necessary documentation and make travel arrangements.

What Are Some Common Mistakes People Make When Organizing Relocation?

Common mistakes include underestimating the time and effort required for everything, failing to research the destination country, not creating a detailed timeline and checklist, procrastinating, and not budgeting accurately for moving expenses and living costs in the new country.

What Is the Best Way to Stay Organized During an International Move?

Create a detailed timeline and checklist, breaking down tasks into smaller, manageable steps. Maintain an inventory of your belongings and keep all important documents in one easily accessible location.

How Do I Make a Relocation Checklist?

Start by listing all the tasks to complete before, during, and after the process. Organize the tasks by category (e.g., packing, legal requirements, travel arrangements) and set deadlines for each task to ensure you stay on track.

Should I Hire a Professional Organizer to Help Me Organize Relocation?

Hiring a professional organizer can be beneficial if you’re overwhelmed by the process or have limited planning time. However, with careful planning and organization, many people can successfully manage relocation without professional assistance.

Can I Organize International Relocation Without the Help of Movers?

While it’s possible to organize it without professional movers, it can be a challenging and time-consuming process. Movers with international relocation experience can greatly simplify the process and reduce the risk of damaged or lost belongings.

How Do I Choose the Right Moving Company?

Research and compare several international moving companies, considering factors like experience, services, pricing, and customer reviews. Request quotes and ask questions to ensure the company meets your needs and requirements.

What Are Some Tips for Organizing My Finances During Relocation?

Create a budget that includes relocation expenses and living costs in your new country. Monitor your spending, save money by cutting back on non-essential expenses, and research options for banking and money transfers in your destination country.

How Can I Avoid Procrastinating When Organizing Moving?

Set deadlines for tasks on your relocation checklist and stick to them. Break tasks into smaller steps, making them more manageable, and consider rewarding yourself for completing them on time.

How Do I Deal With Unexpected Changes During My Plan?

Be prepared to adapt and adjust your plans when unexpected changes occur. Stay organized by updating your timeline and checklist, and maintain open communication with your movers and other parties involved. Remember, flexibility is essential when navigating the challenges of an international relocation.

Get a Quote

    Download Moving Abroad Checklist
    Get a Free Estimate 855-443-4200