Tips For International Moves And What We'd Do Differently Next Time
Moving internationally with a toddler and an almost 20 pound cat is no easy matter, guys. But I'm writing you from the flip side, so we've made it and (I think) all of our stuff has made it too. So, I'd definitely write this move to Florence as a success in my book.
However, we hit a few bumps along the road (and a cat who pooped within 20 minutes of our first flight!) and certainly have room for improvement next time around. Though there is no way possible to know what to expect from any move, especially an international move, there are some things you can do to make your transition easier. Here's what I've learned from my third international move, my tips, and what my family and I'd do differently next time. Hopefully you'll find a few tips in here if you too are moving internationally.
Tips for International Moves
- Moving, whether to a different apartment, different city, or different country is not cheap -- even if you only have a suitcase or two full of possessions. Please don't believe anyone who says it is because transportation (getting from place a to place b), boxes and tape, and even buying new spices costs some serious dough. My biggest (and I think most important) tip for moving, especially for international moves, is to save money ahead of time. Save even more than you think you need because in reality, you'll probably underestimate the cost of moving (we certainly have every time and this is country #3 for me!). As a family of 3 plus a cat, we spent approximately 2,000 EUR on transportation, luggage fees, and pet fees. We also spent additional money shipping items by post from Lithuania to Italy.
- Speaking of a pet, if you are moving internationally with a furry friend, you'll need to get a pet passport, a tracking chip, updated vaccines, and to call the airline following your reservation to secure a place for your pet. I'll write a whole post dedicated to moving with a pet soon! Feel free to message me if you have questions!
- Sell any unused or unnecessary items early. We sold and donated a ton of baby clothes and baby toys that were too small for Baby ISO, some of the limited furniture we had (crib and highchair), and books. We then saved this money up and put it towards our moving costs. In addition to the money earned from selling things, getting rid of things really helps with packing.
- If possible, try to stop purchasing books and instead rent from the library, borrow from friends, or invest in an e-reader. Books are what really put us over weight with this move, so I'm definitely going to be borrowing from the library and J is going to switch to an e-reader soon.
- Know whether you'll be moving into a company provided apartment or if you need to find an apartment yourself. Also, consider whether you'll be purchasing furniture or if you'll be able to find a fully-furnished apartment. In Vilnius, many apartments come completely furnished, but in Florence, we really struggled to find something furnished (although we did see some so furnished we would have had no room to move). We ended up finding something partially furnished and purchased some things at the local Ikea. Again, this is something that saving up money before the move can really help with.
- Don't feel stupid asking questions! I found a few Facebook groups and bloggers based in Florence and asked each a few questions to help me prepare for our move. There is no need to feel shy about this as many people were in the same boat as you when they were moving here. Likewise, if you have questions for me about moving to Yunnan Province, China; Vilnius, Lithuania; or Florence, Italy, I'm super happy to help; feel free to shoot me an email at email@example.com or a message via Facebook.
- Learn the visa/residence card process, even if you think your employment will be taking care of that for you and your "dependents." Me being super organized to the point of being obsessive in this has really saved us a ton of headaches and money. Here is the residency process for Lithuania in case you are wondering.
- Stay in touch with friends after you move. I know it can be easy to get caught up in a new city, family life, and your job, but I feel that it is so important to stay in touch with friends you've gotten to know at home. I'm not perfect at all, but I'm doing my best to stay in touch with friends in the US, China, and Lithuania, and with technology like Skype, email, WeChat, and What'sApp, it has never been easier.
How We Messed Up
- We thought we didn't have a ton of stuff, so we decided that we'd only ship a couple of extra boxes via the regular post. Although each box didn't cost a ton, we had WAY more stuff than we thought (books and toys are heavy, people), which means we ended up sending 10 boxes! So next time, we'd opt to use a shipping service to ship our stuff.
- If you are moving for work, I have to suggest finding out the details on exactly what support to expect from your new job. We REALLY over-anticipated the amount of support we'd be getting this time around based upon our past experiences, but every job is different and so is the support given. When considering a move, this is something that I'd or J would (depending on who was employed) ask about with future employers. Also, do yourself a favor and get whatever they've offered you in writing via email or your in contract. That way you can refer to it if problems do happen to arise.
I know I have other readers who have made international moves. What do you guys think should be added to this list? What are ways that you would improve your moving situation next time?