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DOs and DON’Ts When Planning an International Relocation

posted: 31/08/2023

Venturing on the journey of international relocation is a life-altering decision that promises many new experiences, challenges, and opportunities. Whether you’re moving for a career, family, or a thirst for adventure, the key to a successful removal lies in thorough planning, cultural sensitivity, and embracing the unknown. Here, we will do a deeper dive into the DOs and DON’Ts of planning an international relocation in the hopes we can make things easier for you.

DOs of International House Removals

Research, Research, Research

research your international relocationThe first step is to get to know your destination country’s culture, customs, and way of life. Every society has norms, traditions, and social etiquette, which can significantly impact daily interactions. Understanding the specifics like greeting, gestures, dining manners, and communication styles will help you blend seamlessly and foster positive relationships.

You should invest some time, identify potential cultural contrasts, and avoid misunderstandings that might arise due to differences in values, traditions, and expectations. Being mindful of them will empower you to communicate effectively and build connections with the locals.

Here are some ways you can prepare yourself:

  • Books and online resources – Read books, articles, and different internet sources about your destination country’s culture. Look for both academic and personal perspectives to gain a comprehensive understanding.
  • Documentaries and films – They can provide an immersive glimpse into daily life, traditions, and historical events.
  • Language learning – Learning a bit of the local language facilitates communication and showcases your willingness to engage with the culture. Language learning apps and courses can be beneficial.
  • Expat and travel blogs – Many expats share their experiences and insights through blogs. These personal accounts can provide practical tips and relatable stories about adapting to a new culture.
  • Local events and communities – Attend cultural events, workshops, and gatherings to experience the culture firsthand. Engaging with local communities can provide a unique perspective and help you form connections.
  • Interact with locals – Connect with locals online through forums or social media platforms. It will help you understand better your future country of residence.

Approach your research with an open and curious mindset. The goal is not to memorise facts but to develop an understanding that will make the relocation and integration processes easier.

Plan Well in Advance

International relocation is challenging work involving many moving parts. Each aspect requires time and attention, from obtaining visas, securing housing, arranging logistics, and bidding farewell to loved ones. Initiating your planning process at least six months before your intended move date provides the necessary lead time to manage these elements without caving to the pressure of a last-minute rush.

Procrastination often breeds stress and uncertainty – two factors that can cast a shadow over what should be an exciting adventure. By planning well in advance, you offer yourself peace of mind. You can navigate each phase of your relocation with a sense of control, ensuring you have the resources, time, and energy to address any challenges.

Life is unpredictable, and international house removals are no exception. Unexpected hiccups – from document delays to unforeseen legal requirements – can arise. Planning well in advance provides a cushion to navigate such situations without derailing your entire move.

Create a Comprehensive Checklist

checklist for your international home moveInternational relocations involve a plethora of chores, deadlines, and intricacies. Without a well-organised plan, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and miss crucial steps. A thorough checklist acts as your personal organiser, ensuring that no detail slips through the cracks and that you approach each job with clarity and purpose.

It reduces stress by breaking down the moving process into manageable tasks. This bite-sized approach helps you tackle one thing at a time, preventing the feeling of being bombarded by an unmanageable workload.

Creating a checklist forces you to prioritise tasks and determine their sequence. Here are some basic outlines of what your list-crafting process should look like:

  • Brainstorm and categorise – Begin by brainstorming all the tasks associated with your international move. Categorise them logically, including paperwork, logistics, housing, finances, and settling-in chores.
  • Set deadlines – Assign deadlines to each task based on their importance and the time required for completion. It will prevent last-minute rushes and ensure a gradual, organised approach.
  • Break down complex jobs – Complicated tasks can be intimidating. Split them into smaller, manageable sub-tasks. For example, under the “Logistics” category, you can have sub-tasks like “Research Moving Companies,” “Obtain Shipping Quotes,” and “Pack Sentimental Items.”
  • Prioritise – Order the jobs within each category based on their urgency. It will let you focus on high-priority tasks and maintain a clear sense of progression.
  • Visual aids – Utilise digital tools, apps, or physical planners to create your checklist. Visual aids can improve your organisational process and make it easy to track your improvement.
  • Regular updates – Regularly review and update your checklist as you go ahead. Celebrate completed tasks and adjust timelines or assignments as necessary.

Declutter and Downsize

clutter at a homeDecluttering and downsizing are not merely about getting rid of things but about making intentional choices about what truly matters to you. As you evaluate your belongings, you can reflect on their significance in your life. This mindful approach allows you to curate a collection of items that align with your values and support your new chapter. Relocating to a new country is an opportunity for a fresh start.

But that is not all. Shipping your belongings to a faraway place can be expensive, and your transport volume directly impacts these costs. By downsizing, you’re simplifying your move and reducing the financial burden. A smaller load translates to lower shipping expenses, leaving you with more resources to invest in your new life.

Follow these steps for effective decluttering:

  • Set intentions – Define your goals for decluttering. Are you seeking to simplify, minimise, or create a clutter-free environment? Setting clear intentions will guide your decisions.
  • Categorise your items – Organise your belongings into categories like clothing, books, electronics, and sentimental items. It will simplify the process and help you address each type systematically.
  • Evaluate items – As you consider each item, ask yourself whether it holds practical or sentimental value. Does it align with your future lifestyle? Does it make you happy? Be honest in your assessments.
  • The KonMari method – Consider adopting the KonMari method, which involves asking whether each item “sparks joy.” This emotional connection can guide your decision-making process.
  • Sorting strategies – Use the “keep, donate, sell, discard” approach. The belongings you choose to keep should genuinely add value to your life.
  • Consider practicality– Assess the usefulness of your old items in your new environment. For instance, if you’re moving to a warmer climate, you may not need an extensive winter clothing collection.

Seek Professional Assistance

International removals involve navigating a labyrinth of legal requirements, from visas and work permits to customs regulations. Professional relocation services are well-versed in these complexities, ensuring you have the necessary documentation, meet deadlines, and adhere to local laws. Their expertise reduces the risk of legal setbacks and delays.

Moving across borders entails intricate logistics, including transportation, customs clearance, and delivery. International moving companies possess the experience and infrastructure to handle these matters efficiently and precisely. From packing your belongings securely to managing shipping routes, their role simplifies the process and minimises potential complications.

Professional assistance is not a one-size-fits-all solution – it’s tailored to your unique needs and circumstances. Moving experts consider your destination, timeline, and specific requirements when planning. This personalised approach ensures that your relocation is managed with the utmost care and attention to detail.

Understand Visa and Legal Requirements

getting a legal consultation about your international relocationEach country has its immigration laws; understanding them is essential for a successful relocation. Research the visa options available for work, study, family reunification, or other purposes. Identify each visa category’s specific requirements, application processes, and deadlines. Initiating the application process well in advance is crucial to avoid last-minute rushes and guarantee you have the necessary documentation by your move date. Delays in visa processing can impact your travel plans and overall relocation timeline.

Visas are one of many important documents you must consider. Understanding work permits is essential if your move is tied to a job opportunity. Research the specific work permit requirements for your profession or industry in your destination country. This includes confirming whether your potential employer must sponsor your work permit and the steps involved.

Some countries require proof of health insurance as part of the visa application process. Research healthcare options in your destination and confirm you have adequate coverage.

Finally, ensure you have all the necessary legal documentation before your move. This may include birth certificates, marriage certificates, academic transcripts, and any other relevant documents. If these documents need to be authenticated or translated, initiate the process well in advance.

Notify Important Third Parties

Moving to a new country doesn’t affect only you but also your network of contacts, affiliations, and responsibilities. Notifying the important parties about your removal ensures everything is in order before departure.

Here is who you need to talk to:

  • Professional connections – Notify your employer and colleagues about your move as early as possible. This will allow your workplace to plan for your departure, assign tasks, and ensure a smooth transition for projects you’re involved in.
  • Educational institutions – If you have children, inform their school, uni or daycare about your move. It will help the seamless transfer of academic records and aid the new school in preparing for their arrival.
  • Financial institutions – Notify your bank, credit card companies, and other financial organisations about your relocation. It will prevent any troubles in your financial transactions and allow you to manage your accounts smoothly.
  • Healthcare providers – Inform your GP and other doctors about your move. This might involve transferring medical records or prescriptions, ensuring you have the necessary medications, and understanding your health insurance coverage in your new location.
  • Subscriptions and services – Notify any subscriptions or services you use regularly, like utility providers, internet services, magazine subscriptions, and streaming platforms. Settle any pending bills and make arrangements for discontinuation or transfer of services.
  • Government agencies – Inform the relevant agencies about your move, especially if you receive benefits or have ongoing legal matters. It will save you from issues related to documentation, benefits, or responsibilities.
  • Personal and social circles – Tell your friends, family, and social circles you plan to relocate. Don’t let them in the dark; they are your biggest supporters.

Pack Smart

packing for an international movePacking strategically isn’t just about fitting items into boxes but maximising efficiency. As you evaluate each item, consider its practicality and relevance in your new environment. This approach ensures you bring belongings that contribute to your new life rather than unnecessary baggage.

Your destination country might have a different climate, culture, and lifestyle than your current one. When packing, consider these factors. Pack clothing suitable for the weather and items that align with local customs and your expected activities. Choose items that are versatile and can serve multiple purposes.

If you need more specific advice, we have created a detailed packing guide you can consult with.

The DON’Ts in International Removals

Now that we have covered what you should do, let’s check what you must avoid when preparing for an international move.


Delaying essential tasks can lead to unnecessary stress. Avoid the pitfalls of procrastination by creating a detailed timeline and adhering to it diligently. Early planning ensures that you’re well-prepared for each phase of your relocation.

Neglect Finances

Underestimating the financial aspects of an international relocation can easily break the bank. Compose a thorough budget containing all costs, from moving and initial settling-in expenses to the unexpected ones.


overpacking for an international house removalThe appeal of familiarity can lead to overpacking, resulting in a logistical nightmare and sky-high costs. Pack only what’s necessary and relevant to your new life, resisting the temptation to bring items you rarely use.

Underestimate the Culture Shock

The emotional impact of adjusting to a new culture is real. Don’t dismiss the potential for culture shock. Prepare yourself by seeking support from expat communities, engaging in local experiences, and practising self-care.

Overlook Health Precautions

Neglecting your health before and after your relocation is thoughtless. Prioritise medical check-ups and necessary vaccinations to ensure your well-being. Research healthcare options in your destination and secure adequate coverage.

Ignore Legalities

You must stick to legal requirements to ensure your smooth transition. Take the time to understand and fulfil all visa, work permit, and documentation obligations. This meticulous approach safeguards you from legal setbacks.

Forget Important Documents

Misplacing or forgetting crucial documents can cause significant trouble. Keep your passport, visa, medical records, and other necessary paperwork in a secure and easily accessible location throughout your journey.

Misjudge the Emotional Impact

It would help not to underestimate the emotional toll of leaving your familiar surroundings. Stay connected to loved ones through technology, practice self-love, and give yourself time to adjust to your new reality.

As you prepare to embark on your international house removal, remember that this transition is not just about changing locations; it’s about embracing a new way of life. Sticking to the DOs and avoiding the DON’Ts outlined in this guide will equip you with the knowledge and mindset necessary for a seamless journey. Fear not; change is inevitable, and it is up to you to decide how you will feel in your new home.

Stephanie Cooper

Stephanie is a content marketing specialist for Top Removals for the past several years. She has extensive experience working with moving companies and knows her audience. Stephanie creates engaging and useful content helping the customers of Top Removals with their struggles and providing them with the most accurate insight.

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