Expat Guide – All You Need To Know About Relocating Anywhere In The World
Relocating, especially for first-timers, can be a truly hassling experience. You may have a lot of doubts about what to do. Which relocation company should you engage? What documents are required? How do you make it easier for your kids? Well, if you need to relocate soon but are not sure where to begin, do not fret as we have a whole list of answers to your questions. You may also find this relocation checklist useful if you are a first-timer!
1. Fundamental Relocation Inquiries
a) Can you hire someone to help you relocate?
Yes, you can hire relocation companies to help you relocate abroad. Their services include packing, loading and unloading your items. Below is a list of the best international relocation companies that you can contact in different countries:
- Relocation Companies in Singapore
- Relocation Companies in Hong Kong
- Relocation Companies in United Kingdom
- Relocation Companies in Australia
b) What is a relocation service?
A relocation service is a business that helps relocators move their belongings domestically or internationally.
c) What can I expect in a relocation service?
Relocation services include:
- Relocation consultation; they help answer your questions
- Packing service
- Customs clearance
- Delivery from your house to port and final destination
- Unpacking of goods
d) What does the relocation process involve?
The relocation process begins with things concerning:
- Your pre-departure research
- Your actions during the pre-departure – such as cancelling current subscriptions, settling your child’s school matter and looking for relocators. Here’s a list of things you need to do before you move.
- Settling in
- Feeling like you belong
e) How long does an international relocation take?
There is no straightforward answer as it depends on which country you are moving to and from where, how many items you are moving and how you are moving your items. If you use a relocation company, it can help save you time and money as they are more efficient and will keep you in the loop on how long it will take until your items arrive the destination country.
f) What is the difference between relocation, removalist and moving companies?
Moving companies are businesses who do house moving locally. The difference between moving companies and international relocation companies is customs clearance. International relocation moves your belongings overseas. Removalist companies are the same as international relocation companies.
g) Do relocation companies move by air or sea?
Typically relocation companies move by sea. However, there are also air freight options, depending on the customers’ requirements.
h) Can I relocate my car or entertainment equipment overseas?
Generally, it is possible but it depends on the country you are entering. Every country has its own policies regarding cars and entertainment equipment in their respective country.
i) Can you hire international relocation companies to move just a few items?
Yes, chat with our relocation buddy at Moovaz and we’ll help you find the best solution.
j) How to choose the right international relocation company?
- Do your research – compare what different people have reviewed about the different relocation companies including their quotations.
- Do not settle for what you first see – ask for quotations from more than 3 relocation companies.
- Check if the relocation company’s business is officially and legally registered – Beware of red flags – proper relocation companies would not have hidden fees and would not ask for cash deposits. Verify the company’s address to make sure that it exists and is a registered company.
- Compare – When you are comparing the quotations, be mindful of the respective inclusions and exclusions such as storage fees and cargo insurance.
a) What do I need to prepare before a relocation?
You need to prepare the following items:
- Visa arrangement for the destination country you are moving to.
- Plan out your child’s academic arrangements.
- Find new accommodation options. Take into account what the good neighbourhoods to move in to are. You can reach out to housing agents to ease the process.
- Arrange your finances by researching on which banks to open an account in, money transfer options, income and how much taxes you will need to pay.
- Cancel your current subscriptions in your origin country.
- Settle current matters such as telco and insurance.
- Make a list of things you would like to bring over for your move.
- Search for a house relocation company to assist you with the move.
b) What is the minimum shipment volume that can be relocated?
Different relocation companies will have different volume requirements. Check with the respective relocation companies on this matter.
c) Do I need to prepare boxes or will it be prepared for me?
If you are moving with a relocation company, then the boxes will be provided for you. It will be packed by professionals as relocation companies adhere to the standards required for goods to cross international borders.
d) How do I quickly declutter my house before moving out?
- Have a strategy – Start with one room at a time
- Chuck out the obvious trash – reduce the amount of stuff first such as throwing out broken items, expired coupons, old packaging
- Make piles – put your items into piles based on the different rooms you have. For example, utensils go into the kitchen pile while toys go into the kid’s room pile
- Organise the remaining clutter – put the remaining clutter into a Donate box, Fix/Mend box and Recycle box
- You can also check out Marie Kondo’s decluttering advice here.
e) What documents do I need to prepare before an international relocation?
You will need:
- Work permit
- Visa for you and your family
- Birth certificate
- School records
- Medical records
- Insurance card
- Marriage certificates
f) How can I have a stress-free relocation experience?
- Start early – time is not always in your favour. So by starting early, approximately 8-12 weeks before relocating you can get things more organized.
- Stay organized – plan out what needs to be done in accordance with when you need to do it by.
- Get rid of the clutter – you will feel better and more organised by following these steps on how to quickly declutter.
- Get some help – whether it is friends, family or relocation companies, it is always best to get more hands to help out.
- Treat yourself – relocating is always an emotional and stressful experience, so you need to make sure that you get enough rest and eat well. Plan special nights specifically for you or also time to bond with family and friends before your leave.
g) Do you have any packing tips?
Keep in mind the following:
- Customs restrictions. Every country considers different things illegal. Do not forget to check what are and are not allowed into the country you are relocating to.
- Check all your items before and after you have packed them
- Keep your personal items in your carry-on
- Here are other tips that can make your relocation trouble- and worry-free
h) What are popular countries expats relocate to?
Here are some popular countries expats relocate to:
i) When should I start packing before a relocation?
- 1.5 Months before your relocation: clean out your house and decide which items you want to keep and bring, along with what items you want to discard and donate. Organise a garage sale as a means to discard your items.
- 1 Month before your relocation: Start labelling your items and take pictures of the contents in every box you pack your items into. Start packing the items that you barely use such as decor and belongings in the storage room.
- 2 Weeks before your relocation: Coordinate important documents such as bills, insurance, visas, bank account and bills.
- 1 Week before your relocation: Finish packing your unimportant belongings. Start packing a box of items you will need from now until the day of moving out. Items can include cleaning supplies, clothes, cutlery and toilet paper. Separate the essential items you would need when flying out.
- 1 Day before your relocation: Clean out your house and throw out perishable food items from your freezer and fridge. Label the items you are leaving.
j) Do I need cargo insurance before I relocate?
Yes. It covers:
- Damaged items from door to door.
- Lost items from door to door.
Be mindful that cargo insurance will only cover items packed by an international packing crew. Please read the terms and conditions of the cargo insurance contract before agreeing to it.
k) What should I consider when moving to a new country?
You will need to consider these things when moving to a new country:
- Public transport options the destination country has.
- Decide if you want to spend on private transportation instead.
- Temporary accommodation options if the lease on your permanent accommodation does not coincide with your flight arrival.
- Search for jobs available in the destination country.
- Healthcare options.
a) How long do I have to wait for my package to arrive?
This is dependent on a few factors:
- Whether you are doing consolidation (co-sharing container). If you choose this option you may have to wait longer for your package to arrive.
- The distance from the origin country to the destination country.
b) How can I keep track of my package?
Some companies provide a user dashboard where you can track your shipments. If the company does not provide this, then you can request a shipment tracking ID. Even if you have either or, the best way to track your shipment is to request regular updates from the international relocation company.
c) Who do I contact for any inquiries on my package?
You need to contact the relocation company you decided to work with.
d) What happens if my items are damaged during the transportation process?
If your items are damaged during shipment and you have purchased insurance, it will be covered by insurance. Here are the types of insurance and what it will cover:
- Value Inventory Insurance; it insures every individual item you relocate, if any item is damaged or lost, you can claim for any individual damaged item.
- Lump-Sum Insurance; it insures the entire shipment for a certain value. But once you claim for the damaged items, it depends on what the insurance company determines the value of the damaged items to be.
a) Do international relocation companies offer storage?
Yes, they do. Be mindful of the terms of storage and if there are any additional charges to be paid. You can also buy more storage if you need extra time before you settle in.
b) Do you have any tips when moving into a new home?
Settle functional needs such as:
- Get a key to your new house
- Go to the bank and open an account
- Finalise your child’s school requirements
- Determine transportation options
- Get sim cards for your family
- Purchase household necessities
- Setup your home connectivity
- Clean up your new home
- Settle utilities
c) What are some tips about living abroad?
- One of the most important tips when living abroad is to mentally prepare for the change. You can do this by reading about the country you are relocating to.
- Manage your expectations. Visiting a country as a tourist and living there are two completely different experiences. To know what to expect, talk to the locals and expats living in the country. Analyse their different views, the ups and downs of their personal takeaways.
- Learn the language. Take classes to familiarise yourself with the locals.
- Learn tips on dealing with culture shock. It is easy to feel left out when moving to a new place, but you need to come to terms with the fact that differences are simply differences. You need to accept this as a natural occurrence and that people can find similarities within differences.
- Make new friends. Join a club or a communal activity in order to push yourself out there and meet new people.
- Immerse yourself in the local culture. Try out their national cuisines, visit museums, learn the cultural norms.
d) Can expats buy property while living abroad?
This depends on the country you are moving to. For instance, the regulations for foreigners to own property in Singapore are very restrictive. While the regulations for foreigners to own property in Malaysia are more relaxed. It is suggested that you read the regulations of owning property in the country you plan to relocate to.
e) What are the challenges of moving to a new country?
- Social integration and networking may be difficult when moving to a new place
- Finding a new home and school
- Adapting to the new culture and language
Read these tips on how to ease your transition living abroad.
f) Do you have any wealth management tips?
Managing your finances and bank accounts can be challenging when you are relocating. You can use a multi-currency app to ease the transition between currencies and bank accounts – click here to read more about multi-currency apps.
a) What is the average relocation cost?
The average relocation cost depends on the volume, destination and moving type of the items you are relocating. For instance, if you are sending a full load container (equivalent to a one-to-two bedroom apartment) from Singapore to Melbourne, it would cost between S$5,500 to S$7,000. If you are sending a half load container (equivalent to a one-bedroom apartment) from Singapore to Melbourne, it would cost between S$5,100 to S$5,800.
b) What is a closing cost?
Closing costs are related to the purchase and sale of houses after paying the purchase price.
c) Do relocation companies pay closing costs?
No, they do not.
d) How can I relocate cheaply?
You can relocate cheaply by asking for help from friends and family and handling the packing and unpacking yourself. But, this comes at a cost because you will be wasting your time and energy for going cheap when you could have hired an international relocation company to handle the whole relocation process for you. Although it may not be ‘cheap’, you will be getting value for your money.
e) What expenses do I need to expect when moving?
- Cost of a relocation company
- Storage costs
- Start-up and closing costs of your rented or bought accommodation
- Utility costs of your new home
- Your children’s school fees
- Purchasing household necessities
- Insurance costs
- Internet and cable costs
f) How much do I need to spend on insurance?
This depends on whether you are using the full value inventory or the lump sum insurance. In the industry, people pay between 2.5-3.5% of a premium on insurance. For instance, if you are moving a 3-bedroom apartment worth S$9,000, you are typically spending a S$270 premium for insuring it. Do bear in mind, that the premiums you pay, depends on the value of your items.
6. Relocating with family
a) How do I ease the international relocation for my children?
- Mentally prepare them for the move, discuss the move with them
- Allow them to express their emotions towards the relocation
- Get to know your neighbours
- Practice open communication that facilitates them expressing their emotions on the move
- Enquire with your child’s school if they have a transition program for new students
- Read here to help ease your child’s moving stress and anxiety
b) What are Third Culture Kids?
Third Culture Kids are children who have spent most of their childhood living abroad than in their native country.
c) What schools are good for my children?
You can choose to enrol your child in an international school where there are many expat children of different nationalities from all over the world. This option is good if you want your child to study through an international education program. However, school fees may be rather expensive. An alternative choice is to enrol your child into a local school. Typically, local schools are cheaper than in international schools. However, in certain countries, the national education level may not be on par with the quality you may desire.
d) Do you have tips about moving an aged family member overseas?
- Attend to their medical needs
- Seek extra help where necessary
- Talk to your travel agent and inform them regarding your aged family member’s condition
- Read here to help ease moving for the whole family, including aged members
e) What expenses do I need to prepare for my family’s relocation?
Leave some money on the side as you will need to prepare for expenses such as schooling, your child’s insurance, daily expenses for groceries and other household necessities, healthcare, to name a few.
7. Relocating with pets
a) Can I relocate with my pets?
Yes, you can. Keep in mind that there are certain requirements that need to be made in order for you to relocate with your pet. Read this to know how you can internationally relocate with your pet.
b) How do I make moving easy for my pets?
- Keep your pets away from the stress on the moving day itself. Pets can get overwhelmed if there is a lot happening at once. It is best to keep them in a quiet place.
- Move into your new house before you relocate your pet; keep them to a specific part of your new home so that they can slowly adjust to their new environment
c) How do I relocate my pets internationally?
- Plan at least 3 months before your relocation; it is frightening for pets to move around. Organise with the relocation company beforehand to make it easier for your pet and yourself.
- Check the pet import laws for the country you are moving to
- Talk to your vet and check if it is safe and your pet is in a healthy condition to be relocated.
- Prepare all the relevant and completed documents needed
- Make your pet feel comfortable by leaving treats in their crate so that they will be familiar with it
d) Can I visit my pet in quarantine?
Generally, it is possible, but it depends on the national regulations of the country you are bringing your pet in to.
e) What do I need to prepare before my pets relocation?
The requirements vary and depend on the country you are moving your pet to. Generally, your pet will need:
- Rabies Titer Test
- Health Certificate
- Import Licensing
- Ticks and Tapeworm Treatment
f) What is a pet quarantine?
It is when pets are confined due to health reasons imposed by the government animal control department of the country you are moving to.
8. Employment Relocation
a) Is moving for a job worth it?
This depends on what you are hoping to achieve and what your personal goals are. If your personal goal is global exposure, then relocating overseas for employment is a good option for you.
b) What is a relocation package?
A relocation package is when an employer covers the employee’s work-related moving expenses.
c) How much time does an employer give an employee time to relocate?
This depends on the urgency of your job assignment. It can vary between 1 to 4 months.
d) How do I get a job in another country?
- Search for your international jobs online
- Get a foreign transfer from the company you are currently working at
- Localise your resume to suit the country you are applying for a job to
- Read here for tips on how to land a job before your move
e) What is included in a job relocation package?
Your company may help you pay the full or partial amount for any of the below offerings:
- A trip to your soon to be new home; it will include transportation and hotel costs
- Renting a new home; this includes closing costs and related expenses when renting a house
- Job search help for your spouse/partner; only some companies offer this, you may have to double-check with your company
- Moving; your company may pay for the moving expenses incurred and for relocation companies
f) What is a lump sum relocation package?
A lump sum relocation package is the budget your company gives you to spend on the relocation expenses which will be reimbursed back to you.
g) Is a relocation allowance taxable?
Typically, the leftover relocation allowances after deducting the relocation expenses are taxable.