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Top 7 Common Mistakes Expats Make When Moving Overseas

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Overseas moving is a major venture that requires a great deal of planning, preparation and careful consideration. It is not a decision to make quickly, and it is not a kind of move that you plan at a last minute. Moving overseas can be exciting, but if you're expecting a smooth transition to an idyllic new life, you might be disappointed. There are certainly many things that can go wrong when moving to another country.

Common Mistakes Expats make when moving overseas

However, with a little research, right planning and organization its completely possible to make your move successful. Here are some of the common mistakes that an expat makes when moving overseas, keep reading them so you can avoid common pitfalls that occur during international relocation.

Not doing enough research about your destination

Many expats make mistakes for not having enough knowledge about their destination country to decide if they really want to move there. So, when you're planning a move to a new country, take some time to properly research your destination country and find out their custom regulations, culture, living conditions and all the things that are important to your day-to-day life.

Keep in mind that most countries prohibit the importation of alcohol, firearms and perishables and taking pets to abroad may be subject to regulation. So, before you plan ahead, research the custom regulations for your destination country and know everything well in advance. Here are some important things you must know when you're moving internationally.

  • What you can/can't bring into the new country?
  • How you're going to transport all your belongings?
  • What duties or taxes you'll have to pay on your goods?
  • How much will transportation cost?
  • What areas are best to live in?
  • Are you able to take your pets to your new country?

Choosing the wrong international moving company

When you're moving overseas, the safety of your belongings is crucial. So, take time to research and choose the best company that suits your needs and preferences. Also, make sure that your chosen removal company is fully licensed and are expert in packing and preparing your belongings for overseas moving. Here are some important questions you need to ask international movers.

  • How much experience do you have with international moving?
  • How many international moves you have handled in the past year?
  • How are your rates determined?
  • How you'll transport my belongings?

Also, you should research the background check on a moving company to find out if they have any outstanding complaints with unsatisfied customers. Check their record on the Better Business Bureau website and verify their licensing credentials. Remember, any company that performs international moves should be registered with the Federal Maritime Commission, have a Freight Forwarder permit and be a member of the FIDI Global Alliance.

Not planning the move / Lack of adequate planning

Even a domestic move requires a great deal of planning and preparation--international relocation requires even more. It may also get expensive, so before you start packing, create a list of belongings you need to move to keep moving costs manageable.

Also, make sure you have all pertinent documents ready, such as your passport, visa application, medical records, birth certificate, marriage certificate, current driver's license, vet records for pets and any other necessary paperwork. You can contact U.S. embassy in your destination country to find out more information about what documents you'll need to live and work there.

Once you know what you're going to bring with you, start planning a schedule what needs to be done -- plan your flight several days after the movers are supposed to arrive to pick up your shipment. The earlier this is done the better, as you'll be less prepared to make further mistakes if everything is planned and organized well in advance.

Not packing correctly

If you're transporting majority of your belongings with an international relocation company, make sure your items are properly packed and secured during transit. There are certain items you'll want to pack yourself to take with you on the plane - important documents, clothes, toiletries, jewelry, medication and anything of extreme value, etc. Keep your luggage set aside and make sure to inform the movers that you're taking it with you.

You may also opt to put some of your belongings into temporary storage before your move. Make sure these items are set aside and labeled short-term storage to avoid any confusion. Anything that you don't want to bring with you can be locked away in a separate room.

Note: Don't forget to dispose of any hazardous materials or anything prohibited during shipping. Find out how to dispose of these items properly by calling your local recycling office or the nearest Environmental Protection Agency office.

Not staying connected to the movers

Some situations that are out of control - bad weather during transport, accident to the vehicle, traffic or shipment issues. So, make sure there is a way for the moving company to contact you during your travel.

If you won't be able to take calls on your cell phone at any time, provide them with an email address. In case of any problems with your shipment, it is imperative that the company can reach you right away. You can also give them the contact information of a trusted relative or friend to contact in case you are temporarily unreachable.

Not making financial decisions wisely

Many expats make the mistake of underestimating their financial needs when moving abroad. Estimating the total cost of the move is relatively based on the company you're hiring, things you're moving and the mode of transport. But you'll also have to think of all the initial costs in your destination country, such as cost of living, cost of transportation, costs of a new vehicle or car rentals, the cost of decorating and furnishing your new home and so on. While you're still planning your move, you need to start budgeting early to know how much all this will cost.

Read our guide tips for moving internationally for cheap to get more information.

Moving overseas for the wrong reasons

Moving overseas is often romanticized, but you need to think properly why you want to settle down there. Because day-to-day life is often very different than being a tourist, and there are plenty of things you will need to consider when moving abroad.

  • Cost of living
  • Learning new languages in a short span
  • Adjusting to the country's culture
  • No guarantee of getting a good position in that country
  • Safety issues

Many expats have the dream of living in another country at least for some time during their lifetime. And with a good reason like to experience new working culture, there are so many benefits. But if you are not relocating for a job, you should know how easy will it be for you to get a work permit or find a job there? What about the language barrier? The food? The customs? If you just make move to another country and decide that you hate it and wish to return, it is quite an expensive mistake to fix.

So, before moving overseas, you should ask your friends or relatives about the country's culture, and if possible visit several times to be sure that you will be happily immersed in this new culture. It will also help you become adjusted to your new life and home quicker and easier.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on April 5, 2013

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