International Relocation: Short-Term versus Long-Term Considerations

Moving overseas comes with a wealth of hurdles to jump, but we go through all the hassle because of the adventures that await us at the end of the journey. Of course, moving overseas isn’t nearly as straightforward as moving across town, or even across the country. There are more logistics to consider in an overseas move, which specifically affect what you take and how you pack up your household goods. Specifically in terms of international relocations, one of the biggest factors in each decision will be the duration of your time overseas. Here’s what we mean:


Short-Term vs Long-Term 

A short-term overseas move isn’t necessarily the same as what you’d consider short-term back home. Stateside, a short-term move may be a couple weeks to a few months, maybe a year. Moving overseas, however, a short-term relocation is generally somewhere in the range of a year up to five years. The bigger difference isn’t necessarily the length of time you’re away, it’s the mindset. What we mean is that, generally, with a short-term international relocation, you’ll know it has a set end date. Maybe you’ll be overseas until a project is done, or maybe it’s a contract to work for a certain length of time. Whatever the case, short-term international relocations generally come with a fairly clear ending, at which point you know you’ll be heading back to the States. At the very least, this category of overseas move usually comes with the assumption that you’ll be heading back stateside sooner or later.

Conversely, a long-term international relocation is generally going to be one with an indefinite ending. This can include scenarios such as being transferred to a different office location for an undetermined amount of time, or it could be an ex-patriate scenario, in which you don’t actually plan to return to your home country. Since this subset of international moves comes with a different set of expectations, it can pretty drastically affect how you choose to handle the packing up and moving process.


International Relocation Logistics

Once you know you’ll be moving overseas, the biggest question—or, rather, the biggest umbrella of questions—is what to do with everything you have. And, as we’ve already alluded to, many of the decisions you’ll need to make may very well hinge on whether you’re leaving for a specific amount of time or if you have no intentions of coming back. As a very basic example, here’s a pretty straightforward question: what are you going to do with your home? If you don’t own your current abode, that’s less of a conundrum. But, if you do own your home, will you be selling it before you leave the country, or will you try to find someone to rent it out? If you know you’ll be back in a year or two, renting it will mean you have somewhere to come back to when you’re done with your overseas stint. Of course, if you don’t have plans to come back, or you don’t know whether you’ll return, selling your home will give you more of a cushion in your savings, which can then help your transition to the new country.


Packing and Moving

Not only will you have to figure out what to do with your home, but you’ll also need to sort out what to do with everything in it. And, again, the length of and expectations about your international relocation can have a pretty major impact on the decisions you make throughout the packing and moving process. A few of the common considerations are:


More often than not, an overseas move means you’ll be going somewhere with different plugs and potentially a different voltage. Here in the U.S., we use a 120 volt system, but most European countries tend to be in the 220 volt range. Even with a plug converter, plugging an American-made appliance into a socket in Germany could have some adverse effects. Either your new country won’t have a high enough voltage to power the appliance, or it will have far too much, which can both fry the appliance and negatively affect the home’s electrical setup as a whole. Of course, there’s also the consideration that international moving expenses are usually charged by weight, so you may not want to take your appliances anyway. However, if you know you’ll be back in a year or two, it may be worthwhile to take that nice, new washer and dryer set and put them in storage, leave them with family, or leave them in your home, if you’re renting it out. The length of time you’ll be gone and your plans for your home will have a pretty big impact on what you choose to do with all your appliances.


Oversized Items

Another big concern is which of your household goods you’ll take with you, which you’ll get rid of, and whether there is anything you’ll want to keep but leave stateside. For example, if you’re going overseas for a year or two, you may not want to haul all of your furniture back and forth across the ocean. Not only will that get pricey quickly, but any oversized pieces you own may be too large to even fit in your new home. If you’re only going for a short-term relocation, you may want to keep your furniture and store it or leave it in your home to come back to. If you don’t plan on returning, you’ll then have to decide what’s worth keeping and shipping, and what isn’t.


Priceless & Irreplaceable Items

That box of artwork from when your children were young may be among your most prized possessions. If something were to happen to that box of memories, there would be no way to get it back, and there’s no way to put a monetary value on it. When you try to move with family heirlooms, art, and other irreplaceable items, though, that’s essentially what you’re doing. Your international moving service will help you pack up and ship any of those priceless items you want, but be warned: if something happens to them in transit, at best you’ll get some sort of monetary compensation. If there isn’t a way for you to carry those things with you on the airplane, you’re trusting those irreplaceable things to the vagaries of shipping freight travel. These are the items you’ll want to think long and hard about transporting, no matter how long you’ll be gone. Of course, if you know you’ll be returning stateside sooner or later, it may be easier to leave those things in storage or with someone you trust. If you’re moving for an indeterminate amount of time, you know which items to give extra care in packing.


International Relocation Assistance

No matter how long your planned move will last, getting experienced, knowledgeable help can make the process much easier on you as well as minimize risks. At Customer Advocate, we want to help you find the best services possible, which is why we created our merchant services reviews platform. Each review and every company hosted on site has been verified by our team, so you can trust that what you see is as accurate as possible. Make sure your international relocation is as easy as possible; find the best moving services and more with Customer Advocate!

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