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10 International Moving Tips For A Smooth Move Overseas

Havana Dauncey
· August 25, 2023
10 International Moving Tips For A Smooth Move Overseas

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Are you ready to set sail and start your next adventure across the sea? Well, with almost 1 million South Africans living outside of South Africa, you certainly aren’t the only one.

Emigrating overseas is no small task — it takes a lot of research, money, preparation and stress, but boy, is it worth it in the end!

To help make your move as smooth as possible, here are our top 10 international moving tips…

Top 10 International Moving Tips You Need to Know

1. Chat With An Immigration Official

Unfortunately, moving to a new country isn’t as simple as moving yourself and all your belongings from A to B — there’s quite a lot of painful admin that comes with it.

Each country has their own immigration rules and regulations that you must abide by. But don’t worry, you don’t have to do it alone.

Fortunately, there are people called immigration officials whose job it is to help give you all the information you need — from tax laws and importing policies to visa documents and vaccinations. They ensure you get to your new home legally and with all the correct documents.

2. Choose Your Mode of Transport

Unless you’re able to travel across land to your destination, you’ve got two main transport options when it comes to getting your belongings where they need to go — sea freight or air freight.

The right one for you will depend on your situation, like your budget, timeline and priorities. Here are the advantages of both sea and air freight:

Sea Freight Air Freight
It's substantially cheaper. It's the quickest option.
It’s more eco-friendly. It’s safer and more reliable.
It has a larger capacity for transport.

For some, the extra price tag on air freight is worth the speed, while others may rather save on costs where they can for an already-expensive move.

3. Book in Advance

The earlier you book everything, the better. This could include:

  • Visa appointments

  • Flights and transport

  • Moving services

  • Airport shuttles

Booking all of this far in advance not only saves you money before prices increase, but you also save yourself the crippling anxiety of doing everything last minute.

4. Start Packing Early

Trying to pack up your whole life and ship it across the sea can’t be done in a few weeks — at least without losing your mind.

It’s never too early to start packing, so as you make the decision to move internationally, you can start slowly but surely packing things away. This also gives you enough time to figure out exactly what items you want on you while you travel and which ones can go with the moving service.

5. Downsize as Much as Possible

When you’re moving internationally and starting your new life, the last thing you want is to be carrying dead weight. So while you’re packing, you might as well do some spring cleaning. It might require a bit extra effort but in the long run, will save you money, cargo space plus time packing and unpacking

Some options to dispose of items include:

  • Throwing away.

  • Recycling items that can be recycled.

  • Donating to charities or second-hand stores.

  • Selling on Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace.

  • Giving away to friends and family.

6. Consider Your Pets

Moving with Pets

Here’s the ultimate question — Will precious furry friends be making the trip with you? Immigrating with pets can be frustratingly difficult at times. Here are some things to consider:

7. Make Sure Your Documents Are Up-to-Date

The most important thing and the first thing you should check is if everyone’s passport is valid or expiring soon. Passports can take quite a while to get renewed, so if needed, jump on that renewal process as soon as possible.

Once you know the passports are sorted, then you can make sure everything else is up-to-date and sorted, such as visa or permanent residence, driver’s licence, birth certificates, medical records, insurance cards, school records, etc.

Don’t forget to make backups and copies of all your important documents so that you’re sure to never lose them and can access them on a moment’s notice.

8. Find a Low-Cost Trusted Moving Service

Find Trusted Moving Company

When it comes to moving internationally, you want a moving service that’s both reliable and that doesn’t break the bank.

You can reach out to the top international movers or if you need to move your things into storage, you could use a local service like Wise Move, which connect you with the top-rated, affordable movers offering both local (and international) movers.

9. Don’t Forget Insurance

While you can also hope that everything goes exactly as planned, there are simply some things you can’t control. But you can control whether or not you have insurance to cover and protect your belongings on their long and hard journey across the sea.

Most moving services will offer comprehensive insurance, but it’s important to still discuss the details of your chosen moving company’s insurance and possibly look at getting some extra cover of your own.

10. Prepare For Your New Life (healthcare, schools, banks, phone, address)

To make the transition to your new home as seamless as possible, it’s best to set up your new life as much as possible before you even get there. This may include:

  • Setting up your healthcare and transferring your prescriptions.

  • Finding a new network provider for your phone.

  • Opening new accounts with a local bank.

  • Researching the best schools in the area.

  • Organising your insurance.

  • Changing your permanent address with subscriptions and service providers.

  • Arranging your transport.

  • Locating nearby vets.

  • Signing up for events in your new community.

International Moving FAQS

What Is the Cheapest Way to Move Overseas?

Sea freight is the cheapest choice to move overseas and is in fact 12-16 times cheaper than air freight.

How Much Money Should You Have Before Moving to Another Country?

Moving to another country can cost an average of R300 000, but it’s always good to save at least 10% extra in case of emergencies.

Which Countries Are Easy for South Africans to Immigrate To?

The easiest and most popular countries for South Africans to immigrate to are the UK, Australia, the US, Namibia, Montenegro, Portugal, Panama, Canada, Mauritius and New Zealand.

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