Most people dread moving day. Moving day is the culmination of what has typically been a very stressful lead-up period where you’ve been trying to combine your regular everyday life with that of sorting, purging and packing. And if that isn’t enough, you’ve most likely had extra of everything else to do too, such as endless phone calls to cancel or start services, and mountains of paperwork to sort, file and fill out. It seems that regardless of how prepared you are or how long in advance you start planning, there is always more to do and not enough time to do it.
I remember my first move when I was going off to college. I had rented an apartment off campus so actually needed to bring a few things for my ‘household’. I packed up my clothes and records, a mattress and the rest of my stuff into my parents’ station wagon and then off we went. No need for a big moving truck, no worries about where to sleep before unpacking. We hauled my few belongings up to my 7th floor apartment – which was nothing more than a 200 ft² room with a kitchenette along one wall and a bathroom – and finished furnishing in a matter of a couple of hours.
It’s safe to say that moving internationally, as I did many years later, is more of a logistical challenge. It takes a lot of advance planning and it’s hard to know what to expect or how it will work on the other end. There is the timing of the arrival of goods and people and the uncertainty of how to set up a functional home in the best way possible: how do you get utilities started, which is the best cable service, what about Internet, how do you make sure that is up and running right away? There are many practical matters to consider and the actual move is just one of them. To top it all off, the whole undertaking is expensive.
Often with an international move, you have limited space in your shipping container so you have to give some serious consideration to what you are bringing. Deciding what stays and what goes is time consuming and it can be emotionally difficult. In addition, you have to decide on what to do with the things you are not bringing – are you selling, donating, storing or just tossing? Some things, such as electronics, may be pointless to even consider, as they won’t work anyway (at least not without adapters and converters) which means you’ll have to make a plan for how to replace them.
I have gone through a few international moves by now and each time I’ve learned something new. Here are a few things I try to keep in mind:
Label everything – what stays, what goes, whose box it is, what’s inside – just go nuts with the marker and write it all down. It will make moving in and unpacking so much easier.
Have a plan for where to stay the first night or two. If it’s in your new home, then make sure you know where your ‘sleepover essentials’ are.
Set a daily goal – both for packing and unpacking. Having a goal can help when feeling overwhelmed, and it also gives you a chance to be ‘done for the day’.
Lastly, try to mix the ‘chores of moving in’ with some neighborhood exploration and maybe even make an effort to introduce yourself to your new neighbors. Some neighborly love can go a long way when you are new in town!
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