How to Decide What to Pack for Your Overseas Move

Person packing for an overseas trip with passport

Sirinarth Mekvorawuth / Eye Em / Getty Images 

When you're getting ready to move overseas, some of the biggest decisions will be what to take with you and what to leave behind. While it's usually suggested that people scale down possessions as much as possible before a move, international moves are a little different.


There are questions you can ask yourself before moving and after you've done your research. This should include how long you're planning on being away. If this is a permanent move, then taking essentials and items with emotional value, is important. If you're going to be away for six months to a year, then many of your belongings can be stored or left with family or friends. Remember, if you choose to leave your stuff with others, it can be hard to pick it up again.

Take What You Need

Once you have a rough idea of how long you'll be gone, next decide what you'll need to make a new home in another country feel like home. Often times this will include framed photos, but it can also include different pieces of furniture like chairs or desks. So, look around you and try to decide which things in your home make you feel relaxed and at ease. Moving overseas is difficult. It'll take a while for you to feel like you're at home, so it's a good idea to try to create a true, comfortable, and familiar sense of belonging in your new space.


Other restrictions could be imposed by the country you're moving to; import fees and duty costs could apply. Some countries will have restrictions on what is allowed across their border, which often applies to things like plants, flammables, etc. Find out before you move what you're allowed to import into your new country and what you'll need to leave behind before you figure out how to ship your things. Try contacting the country's consulate or official website to find out about import restrictions and duties that might apply. 


Another factor in deciding what should be moved and what should stay is climate. Living in tropical climates may not be good for antiques and some artwork. On the other hand, dry climates can also damage fine furnishings. Find out before you move by researching your new country

Living Accommodations

Research what kind of accommodation you can expect. If rental costs are extremely high, you may be moving into a smaller home or apartment. Or perhaps your company is providing you with paid accommodation that will be fully furnished, such as corporate housing. If this is the case, ask for the size and layout of the home so you can see if and what pieces will fit and what is included in the rental.


After deciding the key pieces that will move with you, check into shipping costs and shipping options. This may alter your decisions somewhat, but again, try to imagine your new home and what you need in it. Sometimes the extra cost of shipping is worth it. If you're being transferred through work or have just signed a contract with a new company, find out their stipulations about moving households. Some have restrictions on the amount you can take and others will pay only a portion of the cost.

After all of this, try to enjoy the moment. You're about to head off on a whole new adventure—a journey that many will never take and one that is a chance of a lifetime!