Long distance moving as the name suggests, can be a very difficult and lengthy process that requires careful planning and a lot of considerations. Many of us have previously moved houses or apartments and know how painstaking it can get when you have to pack everything you have and one by one transport these brown boxes over to the new home where the unpacking begins. It is a process right in between the excitement of making the decision to move and the excitement you feel, once you finally fall on to the warm soft sofa at your new place having completed the move. No matter how hard this may sound, we are all willing to go through it as the feeling of a new beginning is always worth paying the price.
Long distance moving is nothing like moving homes within the same town or City as you can no longer just pay a moving company and be done within a day. By long distance we mean cross country or even to a new country and this process may take many days and even weeks to complete. A lot of planning and scheduling lies ahead.
We will look at common aspects and steps that you need to consider including how to choose a freight forwarder, what to take and what to leave behind, associated costs, useful checklists, how to pack and how to insure your things. If these sound exactly like the thoughts and questions you are having, then just relax and read on…
STEP 1 – DETERMINE YOUR BUDGET
The first thing to consider is your available spend. Surely if your current bankroll is in the red your options will decrease greatly and you may end up having to leave a couple of sofas behind. We don’t want that to happen. So start by calculating your budget. This will give you an idea on where you stand and what your options are. There are many ways to cut costs but there are also unexpected surprises that may arise on the way, so make sure that you are covered if something goes wrong. When setting the budget always leave a little extra aside for such instances, as long distance moving is a complex task and you should leave a margin for error.
STEP 2 – WHAT TO TAKE & WHAT TO LEAVE BEHIND
Some people will find this part quite easy as they either don’t mind leaving everything behind or have plenty of money to buy everything they need new. The others on the other hand cherish their possessions and may find it difficult to part with personal belongings and thus will have plenty to transport when the time comes to move. The best way to go about this is to start by going through all your things and divide them into groups with top priority being 1 and lower priority being 5 (to track this easily you can grab a pen and a pad and write down all the items):
- Items that are an absolute must for surviving in your new place
- Items that are of high value either monetary or sentimental
- Items that are required for comfortable living in your home
- Items that you need and will not be able to buy/replace on arrival
- Everything else
You can add additional categories if you like or switch the existing ones to best suit your needs and personality. The idea is that doing the above exercise gives you a visual map of all your belongings and will assist you in deciding on what to leave behind if there was a need to do so (i.e. if you had to reduce the overall transportation cost). In this circumstance you would start removing items from the low priority group first without affecting the important ones.
STEP 3 – CHOOSING THE MEANS OF SHIPPING YOUR BELONGINGS
The approach to selecting the most appropriate means for shipping over your belongings depends on where you are going. If you are moving cross country, road transport is an option. If however you intend to move overseas you will have to consider sea or air freight options.
This is certainly going to take some time and heavy planning as well as some thorough coordination. You must also know your budget as this will highly depend on it. The most common means of shipping personal belongings overseas is via standard air freight (more expensive but faster) and via sea freight (more economical but time consuming method). Here is a list of points that you should consider when deciding:
- Always get multiple quotes from different sources as prices vary and you could overspend if not careful or don’t research this well enough.
- Approach qualified freight forwarders as they can not only advise you on best option available but also take a lot of the work into their own hands. Overseas freight forwarding deal with customs declarations and packing lists. Unless you want to burden yourself with a lot of paperwork let the agent take care of this for you.
- Consider sharing a container with someone else. Many containers are shipped semi full, which means that you can probably use the remaining space for your belongings at a lower cost. Make sure though that this is done via a reliable source.
- Always compare sea Vs. air freight costs as sometimes one may be more favorable than the other.
- Always make sure your belongings are covered by insurance. It may seem as an unnecessary cost, but believe me things get lost and damaged all the time so it’s a wise precaution measure.
- Some items may not be considered legal in the country of arrival and you must be careful as to what you ship. It is best to have relevant experience service provider to advise and handle this aspect.
- Air freight is normally charge by volume whereas sea freight is charged per container (either 20 or 40 foot)
- Consider storage facilities upon your shipment arrival at the destination. You may not arrive there on time to collect it or you may simply not be able to move into your new home just yet for whatever reason. Unless you want your belongings to be stuck at customs, find a storage unit as it may be required.
- Take into account the legal and tax requirements in the country of destination as additional requirements or charges may apply to the items being shipped. This is very important.
- Some carriers will also have specific requirements and restrictions for carrying certain types of goods. Make sure that any items are recorded so carrier requirements are met. This may also mean that specific packaging will be required in some cases
Overall unless you possess the required knowledge and you are willing to supervise the entire process, it would be best to hire a professional forwarder to coordinate this. There are simply too many things to consider and the potential of things going wrong if you do not check everything thoroughly enough is very high and may end up costing you more.
CROSS COUNTRY MOVING
This is slightly easier than overseas shipping as road transport also becomes an option. It should still not be underestimated as thorough planning and coordination is required if you want to do it right. Do not underestimate the associated costs. Here is a list of things that you should look at when approaching this:
- Contacting various moving companies is a must in order to obtain a wider selection of quotes. You need this to know your options and to identify the most cost effective one.
- Try to select the appropriate time to carry out the move as seasonal weather factors can affect the entire moving process and cost you time and money.
- Take insurance cover into serious consideration as damage and theft are always a threat.
- Consider storage spaces at the arrival destination, just in case you don’t make it there on time or your new house warming party is delayed.
- If you are moving into a location where different tax laws and regulations apply make sure this is taken into account in respect of the items being shipped.
- Make sure you maintain a record of items being dispatched and compare it to what has actually arrived at the destination.
- Make sure that you pack your items safely and as per carrier requirements.
Research is always a valuable tool and you should use it as it will reduce the risk for experiencing any unpleasant issues along the way and you can always hire a professional to manage the process. There are plenty of reputable companies around that can supervise the entire job.
STEP 4 – HOW TO CHOSE THE RIGHT FORWARDER
Whether it is a sea freight forwarder, air freight forwarder, moving company or trucking company that you are trying to select, word of mouth and the internet are your valuable tools as such, offering access to hundreds of relevant companies with customer’s feedback and reviews
Here is a list of items to consider when choosing a forwarder:
- Make sure that the company you intend to hire is a legally registered forwarder. You may come across amazing offers, which are hard to believe and may be tempted to go for it. Before you do so, carry out a quick background check on that company as it could be just another scam.
- Study the offered insurance coverage carefully. Including the fine prints which may seem irrelevant to read.
- Study the offered quotes thoroughly. Make sure that the charges are calculated with correct weights, distance and times.
- No matter how excited you may be to complete the move, take your time finding the right company. Rushing things has the potential of leading to mistakes.
- Speak to people you know personally, who have moved before. Maybe they could suggest a company they trust based on experience.
STEP 5 – UNDERSTANDING & CALCULATING THE MOVING COSTS
The overall moving cost will consist of various charges and it is good to understand what these are. Typical costs that would add up to this figure include but are not limited to:
- Actual freight cost
- Agency fee
- Insurance cover
- Man labor hours
- Vehicle rental
- Storage space rental
- Tracking charges
- Express delivery fees if applicable
Once the quotations start flowing in, you may find some figures and charges that you may not understand entirely. It is necessary to know how these costs are calculated in order to compare them. Typically most offers will be based on distance, weight and time and the service type that you use. Always make sure that the details you provide to the quoting company are valid. Also try to be lenient with the movers’ availability as it may turn out to be cheaper this way if you do the move in a low demand period and ask the moving company to provide you with a specific quote breakdown. This way you can maintain uniformity amongst all the quotes you receive to easily compare.
It is also very important to note that in many cases the overall figure that you will be given are only estimates and not what you will actually end up paying. It is extremely difficult to calculate the exact cost spot on as there are uncontrollable factors that play a big role. Do leave a safety margin within your funds to cover the likely excess from the initial estimate provided as quoted amounts are typically exceeded. Once the final invoice is received, check all the charges thoroughly as if there are additional services added, you should have been informed of it beforehand.
If you decide to take up a level, there are also professional moving contracts which could be arranged, where the moving company will actually inventory all your items and take all necessary steps to ensure an accurate offer. The contract will be your ultimate means of defense if something gets damaged or lost. This may cost you a little bit extra but it is a good option for those not willing to take the chance.
STEP 6 – PACKAGING & LOADING TIPS
How you package your belongings and load them is an important factor which will affect the overall efficiency of your move. Unfortunately you can’t just dump everything into one giant box and have that brought over. You will need to organize your items and package them as per specifications provided by the moving company (Note: different requirements will apply depending on the means of transport). If you don’t mind paying an extra dollar, have the forwarding company do this for you. Otherwise if you are DIY type of person and don’t mind the challenge, here are a few tips that will hopefully make your life slightly easier:
- Try to group the items based on their nature. I.e. furniture, kitchenware, clothes etc. and package them accordingly taking into consideration the fragileness of each item.
- Label all the boxes/crates that you prepare. This will help you when loading them on and unpacking when you arrive.
- Try to pack everything compactly to ensure best utilization of available space. The more efficiently you do this the more you will save.
- Make sure that you add protective material in packages containing fragile items to avoid breakage.
When loading all the boxes into a truck or container (unless this is handled by the forwarder) follow the loading guide below:
- Place items such as refrigerators, dryers & washing machines against the walls of the truck/container.
- Anchor furniture like sofas between other heavy items and turn them on their side.
- Place all the flat objects like mirrors along the side walls.
- Once the heavy objects have been loaded, fill the remainder space with larger boxes.
- Fill the empty spaces in the front section of the truck/container with smaller boxes
- Fill the remaining spaces with soft and other flexible objects.
- Remember to keep heavier items at the bottom of the truck/container and lighter items at the top as that will impact its stability.
Always remember to stay safe when loading your belongings. Take special caution when loading heavy items. If you are having difficulties best consider hiring a professional to do it for you.
STEP 7 – PRE-DEPARTURE CHECKLIST
Now that we have looked at the primary aspects of moving your belongings, we need to consider what else has to be done before you forever close the doors of your old home and get on the way:
- Remember to change your address unless you want all the correspondence addressed to you to pile up at your old home.
- Cancel any contracts that you may have. These typically include electricity, water, TV subscriptions, Internet, newspaper & magazines etc.
- When closing the accounts for utilities ask the companies to carry out the final meter readings to ensure that the correct balance is paid before you depart.
- Make sure that the general utilities are enabled at the destination location (your new home) before you arrive.
- Make sure that you have all the vital travel documents with you.
STEP 8 – PREPARING YOUR CHILDREN FOR THE MOVE
As important as your personal belongings may be and no matter how much work you have ahead of you to arrange all this, you must also consider the needs of your children if they are moving with you. To begin, make sure that you inform them of the move in a correct way. Children may not understand most of your motives so take your time and be patient when speaking to them about this. A good way to start is to hold a family meeting and answer all their questions. It is a lot easier to go through with this in the early stages as ignoring this step may bring out negative behavior from their side which will not make either one of you happier. Consider the following:
- Take into account the age of your children. The younger they are the more comfort and familiarity you will have to provide them with during the move.
- Explain to them clearly why and where you are moving
- Older children will find it more difficult to move as they will have greater social bonds at the existing home. Look at registering them at various social groups at the new location prior to the move. This will re-assure them that they can make new friends on arrival.
- Respect you children’s wishes when packing. They may want to bring along the most useless things. Don’t rush with saying No as they may be of high sentimental value to them.
- Try to get your kids excited for the new location. Do a quick research of the things they like and find similar activities around the place that you are moving to and tell them about it.