It’s moving season. Do you know where your belongings are?

Your globally mobile employees face all kinds of challenges. Do they know how to make the most of their household goods shipments? Here are some key questions.

  • Does your company have a shipment allowance, either by weight or volume? Anyone packing up a home should know what it is so that they can plan accordingly.
  • What are the costs involved, and who will pay for what? Think not only about the actual shipment, but possible storage needs in the home country and delivery/set-up in the host country.
  • Will host country climate affect decisions about what to take? Extreme temperatures and humidity levels can harm sensitive items like art, textiles, and some furniture.
  • What is the electrical standard? Will your appliances work in your new home, or will you need adapters/transformers?
  • What is the size of your new living space, including storage for off-season items?
  • What clothing will you need? The local business style will dictate work attire. Culture and protocol determine whether you need formalwear, for example. And again, climate plays a large role in some locations – especially if it is very different from home.
  • Do you have children? What will they need, both for practical use and comfort/familiarity?
  • What’s available in your host country? Sometimes it’s smarter to acquire certain things abroad rather than ship them, assuming local prices and selection are favorable.
  • Will you be returning home or traveling on to a different country at the end of this assignment?
  • What are the customs regulations? How might they affect what you can bring?
  • On a related note, have you thoroughly cleaned everything you’re shipping? Customs inspections can be held up if items are dirty, especially things that literally come into contact with soil – such as lawn/garden pieces or golf clubs.

With these things in mind, deciding what to bring typically involves these choices: 

— Take it with you 
— Sell it (tag sale or online) 
— Donate it 
— Store it (not an option for everyone, but in some cases it makes sense)

How about some help? 
Many shippers provide online calculators that make it easy to assess, room by room, what you’re shipping and how much container space you need, then deliver cost estimates and pick-up/delivery schedules. 

Numerous apps help with part or all of the packing/shipping process. Some provide features that let you catalog what’s in each box, for example, and print corresponding bar code labels that help you find items when unpacking.

Of course, Living Abroad’s own International Move Planner assists on a larger scale, with a step-by-step checklist, reminders, and links to host country content that helps you prepare yourself not only for packing, but also for arrival and successful living.

by Ellen Harris, GMS, International Product Director, Living Abroad