How to Plan for an International Move

Many people who move abroad wonder how high the cost of the international move will be. We will look at several of the expected and unexpected expenses that you may encounter and how to plan for an international move, as well as how you can save money. 

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1. Moving & Transportation Costs

The highest one-off cost you will face is hiring an international moving company to move your goods from your home country your new home in another country.  Moving and transportation costs and how to plan for an international move.

The cost is usually based on several significant factors:

  • Container Size: The bigger the container, the more expensive it will be. This applies to both weight and volume. Sharing a box can reduce this fee if you don’t have enough goods for a full load.
  • Distance: The further the move is, the more expensive it will be.
  • Itinerary: Some destinations are quite common, while others are quite rare. For example, international crossings between Canada and the United States or within Europe are frequent. These routes will be cheaper due to competition, compared to less popular destinations.
  • Mode of Transportation: The way you choose to move your goods is the most significant factor in the final price you will pay. Sea shipping is the cheapest option, while air shipping is the most costly. Trucks always perform the first and last stages of any move, regardless of the method used between them.

Considering that sea freight is the cheapest option, some people try to go directly with the sea freight company. Most of these companies are not equipped to provide point to point assistance.  you will need to work with a dedicated moving company who will coordinate getting your house packed, loaded, and hauled away.  They are responsible for contracting with the shipping company if going overseas and finding a trucking company to pick up your goods at the dock, deliver, and unpack in your new home

Typical costs: Starting at $1,000 (£750; €900) and can easily exceed $10,000 for longer distances.

2. Packing & Unpacking Costs

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Although not all moving companies charge extra for packing and unpacking, many do. Depending on the country you are moving to.

The reason for this is that some countries’ customs documents require the moving company to take responsibility for imported goods and make sure that nothing illegal is being shipped.

Illegal items include obvious things, such as drugs and weapons, but may also include things you may not be aware of, such as individual plants or animals. Moving companies caught breaking the law may be fined or disbarred.

If you want to avoid or reduce these costs, make sure you talk to your company representative and see what your options are. Sometimes you can save money by packing things yourself. However, leave the boxes open for inspection. Depending on the country rules you can always decide to unpack yourself in your new home to save on expenses.

Finally, keep in mind that packing material such as boxes, bubble wrap, and tape can be expensive.  You can save money by finding used boxes, go to your local grocery store and see if they will give you their empty boxes.  You can also use newspaper or rags in place of bubble wrap.  Little things can make a big difference in the final cost. 

Typical cost: Starting at $100 (£75, £90). Usually, several hundred dollars. 

3. Storage Costs

When moving abroad, you may find that in addition to the usual costs of hauling, you will have to pay for storage. This is because it can be challenging to coordinate your move date with the delivery dates used by international shipping companies. 

Therefore, while your goods are not in transit, they will have to be stored somewhere. Make sure that you remember this when setting expectations regarding when your goods will be delivered.

You may also want to keep your cargo in storage while you are looking for a place to live in your new country.  

4.Customs Duty Charges & Taxes

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Another small cost to consider before you move is the customs duties in the country you are moving to. In some countries, such as the United States, most household goods are allowed to be shipped duty-free. 

While countries like the United Kingdom have more complicated rules, depending on where you move from. For example, moving from within the EU is free of duties, while moving from outside the EU may result in duties and taxes that you can claim back. 

Most often, customs duties and taxes are levied based on the value of the goods themselves. 

Typical Value: Anywhere from free to almost unlimited depending on the value and type of goods you intend to take with you. 

5. Visa Fees

When you move to another country for work or studies, you usually have to apply for a visa unless you move within the EU, which allows you to travel between visa-free countries. Work and study visas are almost always associated with a lot of paperwork and sometimes quite substantial fees. 

For instance, in the UK, some visas cost over £1,000 ($1,300; €1,200). Keep in mind that this fee has to be paid each time you renew your visa. This can significantly increase your total costs and should be something you should consider.

Typical price: Free within the EU and varies from country to country. However, it can reach several thousand dollars per visa.

6. Housing Costs

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Probably the highest cost in your new country will be housing. However, keep in mind that the way housing works and the taxes and fees associated with it can vary significantly from country to country. 

In the United States, for example, property prices outside of major coastal cities are meager. However, you will still have to pay property taxes every year based on the value of your property, but only if you own it. They range from 0.28% in Hawaii to 2.29% in New Jersey.

On the other hand, countries like the UK do not have direct property taxes. Instead, you pay stamp duty when possessing property, which can be up to 12% of the purchase price (buyer pays the entire fee, the seller does not). Besides, both homeowners and tenants must pay an annual municipal tax based on the value of the property in 1991. On average it is about £1,200 ($1,600; €1,400) per year.

It is, therefore, not worth merely looking at the purchase and/or rental price when looking at a property. Make sure you understand all the fees, duties, and taxes that you will be responsible for. 

Typical Costs: It depends entirely on the country. However, taxes are usually at least $1,000 per year and can be much higher in countries with higher real estate tax regimes. 

7. Other Costs

Finally, when you move abroad, you need to consider several other expenses. This may include things like buying new furniture if you are moving from a country where furnished apartments are not typical, like in the United States or Canada.

Even if you own your furniture, you may have to buy new appliances as different countries use different voltage and/or plug sockets. Using the wrong type of appliances can damage your electrical system, so always check before you move. 

You may also need new clothes if you move from a cold area to a warm area or vice versa. To find out more about these types of costs, it is best if you learn more about the specific country you are moving to.

To sum up

For many who are considering a move abroad knowing how to plan for an international move is critical.  This will allow you to relive some of the stress of the unknown and get what you expect out of the adventure vs challenges at every turn.  We have researched and through personal experience have put together the expected and unexpected expenses you may face and how you can save money. So take head of this advice things when you consider the costs that are associated with an international move.

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