Guest Post by Matt Woodley Moving overseas is a great adventure, whether it's for work, pleasure, or family reasons. With cheap airfares, more of us than ever are traveling to new places, meeting new people and embracing different cultures — to the point we decide to leave our home countries behind. However, with such a big undertaking comes many opportunities for mistakes. Packing up and moving your life abroad comes with a ton of complications. With that in mind, we've put together this guide on the top 10 mistakes people make when moving overseas. Thinking of taking the plunge? Here are our 10 mistakes to avoid: 1. Losing money when moving money Transferring money to your new country is a necessary part of your move. It's believed moving money through personal accounts and your regular bank is the safest way to transfer money overseas. However, a far more cost-effective way to send money abroad is via a dedicated money transfer company. Consumers are more empowered to take advantage of the lower (or no) fees, which some international money transfer services provide. To ensure you’re getting the best exchange rate with a minimal charge, it’s important to keep an eye on changing rates. Strike while rates are favourable using a trustworthy transfer service with low fees. 2. Not doing your research We're all guilty of assuming things about certain aspects of a country, such as the climate and culture. How many times have you turned up on holiday to a town or hotel that's totally different from what you saw online? Moving your whole life to somewhere new is no different. It's best to take your time and look through all the finer details. A good starting point is to research the weather, social behaviours, average homes, and day-to-day aspects of your new life. This can extend to employment, lifestyle, transport, and education. Researching your region or city helps you focus on planning the early stages of your move. You'll be more relaxed if you gain prior knowledge and a link to an expat community. People can dive straight in and expect to pick it up as they go, which is very risky. 3. Using a bad relocation service When you move and decide to bring your possessions with you, they're shipped around the globe, are handled at different ports, and spend time in storage. You want to sleep easy with the knowledge that it's all waiting for you on the other side. When moving abroad, it's recommended to use a recognized trade body. You want to be certain the relocation company has professional experience and appropriate terms and conditions. If you ignore this and go with a less reputable company, there's an increased risk of your belongings going missing or getting damaged — a big added expense and stress. 4. Choosing the wrong health plan It's incredibly important to research the laws surrounding healthcare in your new country. In many places, foreign nationals aren't entitled to subsidized or free health care. If you opt for cheap insurance or a basic plan, it may end up offering inadequate cover when you need it. This can lead to the need to purchase additional coverage if illness or injury strikes. Limited health coverage can make it more expensive in the long run because you'll need to pay for your medical expenses out-of-pocket. 5. Buying property too soon There's nothing wrong with diving in and buying a property, but it doesn't hurt to take a bit of time and rent first. Even if you rent for a few weeks or months, it will help you decide what's best for you and give you time to look at other options. You will get a good idea regarding what you want and what you don’t want from a property, both in terms of property type and the location. You might love your new pad, but find your neighbours difficult or decide you'd rather be in a different area. Also, bear in mind the rules regarding foreigners buying property in your new country. There are sometimes regulations around this. 6. Not budgeting well It can be easy to underestimate the amount of money you need when moving overseas. In your planning, you need to set a reasonable budget for the costs of moving. Thanks to the internet, you should be able to find the average costs for food, travel, visas, accommodation, removal services, insurance, and immunizations. When you decide how much money you're going to need, we recommend adding a chunk more just to be safe. Plan for unforeseen circumstances and have a bit extra stashed away. 7. Not managing your time Moving abroad is time-consuming. You might have been planning your move for months, but suddenly it creeps up on you. You'll be surprised how fast time can go when the moving date comes around. If you create a regimented schedule, you can add a list of jobs that need doing and start ticking them off as you go. Set a deadline date for packing up your house, buying insurance and necessities, and finding a new job. If you don't bother with a plan, you could find yourself panicking and unprepared. 8. Rushing your move It's natural to get ahead of yourself when you've decided you're ready to move. It's an exciting time! But before cementing your plans, think a bit deeper about your decision. You may find yourself in a rush to start a new life and fall in love with a new place, but a two-week trip to another country versus living there are two very different things. It's wise to visit your new destination as many times as possible and view it through the eyes of a local or expat. Consider that you'll be far away from family, friends, and home comforts. Once you have taken off your rose-tinted glasses, you might feel differently. 9. Visiting home too soon Although there's nothing wrong with heading back to see friends or family, it can be damaging if done too soon. Regular trips between home and away might make you feel unsettled and lost. Remaining grounded is imperative if you've moved your family overseas. If you've taken children out of school and away from their friends, the last thing you want to do is unsettle them and shake up their new foundations. 10. Moving for the wrong reasons Think very carefully about why you want to move before you do it. Relocation is a dream for many, but the reality can be very different. Settling down permanently in a foreign place is hard work. If you want to escape from your normal life, it might be hard to find your place immediately in another country. If you have a passion for your new country and believe you'll lead a better professional and social life, by all means, go for it! However, it's important to remember that not all is what it seems, and you shouldn't set your expectations too high. Ready to live overseas? With something as life-changing as a move overseas, there's bound to be some obstacles. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the trials and tribulations faced by some expats. If you thoroughly consider your decision, make a solid plan, and handle the necessities gradually, you'll make your move smooth and easy. Bon voyage! Matt Woodley is the founder of MoverFocus and is a veteran of the moving industry and a recognized moving expert. Matt holds a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) majoring in Finance and Marketing and Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Economics and History. He also has completed the EiM (Essentials in International Moving) course from the FIDI Academy.
Have you ever had to hire a moving service to help with your move? The process of hiring a mover may seem simple, but in the end, choosing the wrong one can have unpleasant consequences. Some of the most common complaints found in customer reviews relate to hidden fees, scams, and damaged goods.To help people avoid these moving pitfalls, we asked some experts in the moving industry for some insights. Here is what they have to say: What are the most common hidden fees? For those who do not have the ability to move all of their things by themselves, hiring a moving service is super important. Before doing so, there are some things that you should take into consideration. Luis Perez, Founder and CEO of Remoov, warns, "Very few things are more stressful during the moving process than being charged more than you anticipated paying." Here are some of the most common hidden, or extra fees that our panel of experts has identified: You can end up with extra fees for everything from the number of stairs to the time of day, not to mention supplies, heavy items, etc. How you can protect yourself against unexpected costs is to ensure that you discuss and ask questions before starting the move. — Ryan Carrigan, Cofounder of moveBuddha Delayed delivery — Especially during the busy summer months, moving companies can take longer to deliver than usual. Many customers expect their items right away and don't plan for delivery lag time. This can add a lot of cost to your move if you have to stay in a hotel or go out and buy emergency supplies while waiting. Packing materials — If you plan on preparing and packing fragile items like flat-screen TVs or glass table tops, make sure you meet the mover's packing standards. We often see people pack these items improperly only to be charged a lot in packing fees when the movers have to repack them on moving day. Always ask the moving company about packing requirements. Shuttle truck — For those moving without a specific delivery address, there is a chance that when you find a place to live the 53-foot moving truck won't be able to park there. This means a smaller, shuttle truck will be required to do the local delivery. Shuttle truck fees can run hundreds of dollars. Make sure to get the price of the shuttle truck ahead of time in case you end up needing it. — Craig Oshrin, Coldwell Banker and Sushee Perumal, MaxSold Sometimes moving companies will adjust their costs based on travel time, weight of a shipment if going across state lines, or moving supplies. — Lior Rachmany, CEO of Dumbo Moving + Storage Excessive carry charge — If your movers can not park their moving truck in front of your building or house and they have to carry you items down the street, you could be looking at an extra charge. The greater the distance the movers have to carry your items, the longer your move will take (and the more difficult the move becomes) and that will cause the movers to be late to other moves that day. Assembling/disassembling fees — Assembling and disassembling is an extra service that is usually offered by your moving company. If you want any furniture assembled or reassembled like a bookcase, bunk beds, Murphy beds, or an entertainment center. So make sure to take stock of everything that needs to be disassembled or you would like to be disassembled for you when you do your moving consultation so the movers will know beforehand what tools to take on their job. Bulky or heavy items — If you have any items that need special handling please make sure to inform your moving company before the day of your move. There is usually an extra fee for certain items because they are more difficult to move and protect. For example, chandeliers, pianos, or pool tables require special handling and crating. Last minute cancellation — Moving companies usually require a least a four-day notice for a cancellation of the move. Towards the end of the month, moving companies are at their busiest and may require a few more days’ notice to avoid a cancellation fee. — Sara Cifani, Dumpsters.com Some moving companies charge extra to move common appliances like refrigerators and washing machines and large items like hot tubs or pool tables. Fees for large items should especially be considered when moving in or out of a high-rise apartment where movers will need to navigate stairs or elevators. What are the most common frustrations people have with moving companies? Moving companies are not always upfront concerning ensuring cargo content make sure you are clear on what is covered versus what is not. Some companies won't cover boxes that are packed by the owner. — Oshrin and Perumal Each moving service handles specific charges differently. Here are some of the red flags to look out for: If a company changes the price last minute or if a company charges by the box or the number of items you put in the moving truck. Usually moving companies charge by the pound, and they have to give you a quote in the beginning. Make sure this is the case. Do your research and make sure that loading and unloading are included in your service. — Top Removals Some moving companies may roll packing services up into their quote. This means that your quote will be much higher than you are hoping it to be if you plan to do all of the packing yourself. Make sure your moving company quotes the cost for your packing services separately. — Mike Glanz, CEO and Cofounder of HireAHelper In what ways do moving services take advantage of you? You typically get what you pay for when it comes to moving services. The benefits of going with a professional moving company is that they usually have adequate insurance and also a tried and tested claims process if anything does go awry. Hiring a man with a van from Gumtree to do a move can often end in tears. We know of countless people who have skimped on the moving costs for expensive or one-off pieces off furniture and ended up getting burned whenever they weren’t adequately insured. — David Ewart, Director at Pavilion Broadway Besides taking too much money for the moving service, these are the most common signs that the moving company is a scam: False promises Wrong handling of your inventory Using bad-quality moving equipment and supplies Shady moving contract Bad communication skills Lack of flexibility when offering a moving service — Rachmany Some moving companies might ask you to pay a deposit upfront or to sign a blank contract. Payment should not be made until the moving service is completed. Also, a trustworthy moving company will review all of the costs before asking you to sign so you can verify that the fees and anticipated moving dates are correct. — Cifani Rogue moving companies will often employ the "hostage" tactic — where they load your belongings into their truck, then suddenly demand an above-quoted price and keep your belongings under lock and key until you pay up. The U.S. Federal Government reports that 36 million people move every year, and one in 10 will report that their moving company is holding their furniture "hostage" for suddenly higher service fees. — Glanz How can you make sure that you are never swindled by a moving company? In order to avoid a moving scam, the best advice is to give yourself time and find a moving company you can trust. When preparing for the move, it’s always better to start on time. Enough time to prepare for relocation will offer you more opportunities and help you avoid a moving scam. — Rachmany First, talk or walk through the complete scope of service as well as the pick-up/drop-off locations, then get in writing any additional fees. Also ask for recommendations, of course, or check out online reviews. — Perez Verify the mover's claims, credentials, and professional memberships — Scammers and fly-by-night operators won't be able to substantiate a good reputation. Ask for proof of licenses, insurance, etc. Get it in writing — Get three written estimates from different movers based on visits to your home. Though most professional movers do give quotes over the phone, it’s still a good idea to get written documentation of all the services you are receiving. If an estimate seems too good to be true, it likely is. If at any point the services change, whether on your part or the part of the professional, ensure that these changes are documented and understood by both parties. — Lisa Schiller, Better Business Bureau A smart first step is to take a moving inventory. A reliable company will help you make a room-by-room list, including all of the items that need to be moved. This helps you to avoid losing items and calculate an accurate estimate. — Cifani To ensure that you never get swindled by a moving company, consider the following: Check for reviews and complaints through a neutral third party like the BBB, HireAHelper.com, or the AMSA ProMover program. Get a quote in writing with a clear understanding of every possible extra charge. The cheapest quote up front might end up costing thousands more in travel fees, gas surcharges, or anything else rogue movers can dream up to charge for. Book with someone that offers Full-Value Replacement Coverage. The industry's most basic and common form of insurance is Standard Repair Coverage. This level of insurance only offers $0.60 per pound per item towards replacement or repair. Heaven forbid the movers drop your 30-pound, $500 flat screen TV. With standard coverage, you’d only see an $18 check to cover your broken $500 TV. Most reputable moving services will offer another form of insurance, called Full-Value Replacement Coverage, which covers (just like it sounds) the full value of every item listed in your inventory. This coverage is generally available as a paid upgrade but is relatively cheap. — Glanz What should you do if the moving company damages your belongings? Unfortunately moving personal and household effects, short or long distance, is not an exact science — things can and do wrong. Most movers will offer insurance, check the policy through to see what is and isn't covered, or speak to your own broker, but the key takeaway here is having some form of insurance. If you are a risk taker maybe just go for loss only (which means just that — the complete consignment is lost) or if you're the cautious type go for full cover, including breakage and individual loss. Yes, of course you'll pay a premium, over and above the removal cost, but it's like you insure your car. You don't plan on having an accident, but in the event that you do you are covered and won't personally bear the financial cost.If you don't want insurance, check the mover's contract to see what, if any, liability they have if they destroy your possessions. Most moving companies will contract out of any liability, howsoever caused unless willful negligence (which is unlikely).Your state or country will have some sort of Consumer Guarantee enshrined in law so check that out too. Remember that you are paying the movers to move your goods from A to B and get them there in the same condition, so they do have a responsibility in law to provide the service at a reasonable standard that you have contracted them for. How far you get though with compensation will depend on the contract you've signed with the mover. — Matt Woodley, Founder of Moverfocus A mistake a lot of customers make is they sign the delivery paperwork stating all items were delivered in good condition before actually inspecting all their belongings. Be sure to notate any damage prior to signing the delivery documents. — Carrigan It is of the utmost importance for the customer to inspect the shipment with the movers before and after the job. If upon delivery the customers goods have been damaged, they should note it on the bill of lading or inventory, somewhere on the multipart move day documents that both the mover and the client will retain a copy of. Do not wait for after the movers leave to inspect your shipment. You will need to sign off on receipt of the goods, and any damage or loss needs to be noted ASAP on delivery. — Nancy Zafrani, General Manager of Oz Moving and Storage
Do you enjoy the process of moving? I didn’t think so. Moving is a tedious, and at times disheartening, process. Have you ever broken a family heirloom while moving? Have you ever hurt your back lugging a couch up a flight of stairs? Have you ever paid for moving services, and then discovered you could have saved hundreds, or even thousands, if you had just researched a bit more? Everybody makes mistakes, but hopefully the following advice will help you avoid the most common moving mistakes in the future. Red flags Many people are scared to move. It can mean changing schools, finding new doctors, starting over in a new neighborhood, and identifying the best route for your new commute. It is often helpful to hire a moving service to help your move go a bit smoother. Sharone Ben-Harosh, founder and CEO of FlatRate Moving, suggests three red flags to look out for when looking for a moving service to help with your relocation: A company responds very quickly with low rates and few other details Often this means that there are complications like low-quality services or hidden details that will end up jacking up the price. A moving service that doesn’t ask questionsIf the moving service that you talk to doesn’t ask questions about possible expensive items, you may have reason to be concerned. It is important for the company to know how many large pieces of fragile furniture you have in order to give you an accurate quote. A company that doesn’t send someone to your homeIn order to give an accurate quote, it is important that a representative visits the home to gauge the volume of items needing to be moved, the number of fragile items present, etc. If the company that you reach out to does not provide this complimentary service, you should be sure to itemize every item that you will be moving and provide that before an official quote is made to ensure accurate pricing. Kate Hart of Fantastic Removals agrees that low initial prices can be misleading. When asked what to avoid while moving, she said, “Cheap moving quotes. Most often they come from companies that offer services of very poor quality which are also uninsured in some cases. In addition to this, such businesses do not invest in quality customer support so the whole experience of working with them turns into a nightmare quite often.” Be present Regardless of what moving service that you may decide to hire, it is important that you are present during the moving process. It is not uncommon for moving services to help with the packing process and if you are not there, the chance of damage to your belongings and household goods is much higher. There is also a chance that your things will get lost and that some items that you have decided not to take will be packed anyway. Timing The moving process inevitably will take longer than you would like it to. That's just the nature of the beast. That being said, there are some things that you can do to make sure that you are able to get through your move in a timely fashion. Harosh recommends that you start the packing process early. Give yourself about a week before the move is scheduled to take place to start packing up the house. The sooner you start, the better prepared you will be. Jennifer Doran of Liberty Moving suggests that you break the packing process up into tasks. Start one room at a time. This will not only help you get everything packed, but it will also help you keep everything organized so that the unpacking process will be easier. Hart suggests that long before boxes are packed into the truck, you plan for traffic. If you live in the city, think about the traffic you might encounter on the roads as you start the trek to your new place of residence. If you are moving to another state, it is also possible that there will be accidents or other delays on the interstate. If you plan for this, you will be much less frustrated when you do encounter these hold-ups. Packing Putting your entire material life into boxes and into a truck is not only time-consuming, but it is also a very tiring process. Doran offers the following tip for successful packing: Pay for supplies, don’t skimp — Good-quality packing materials are important to the success of your move. If you use old boxes, it is possible that they will bend and/or break under the pressure of other boxes and the contents of the box can be damaged. Don’t overfill boxes — The more you put into a box, the heavier it gets. Are you asking for your back to go out on you? As you start stacking boxes in the moving truck, the weight could also cause other boxes to collapse and therefore cause damage. Label correctly — As you are packing your things, label each box clearly with the content that it holds. If you do this, you will be able to quickly figure out where things go when you unpack, and you will save a significant amount of time. Don’t over-stack — Tall stacks of boxes not only are at risk of crushing the boxes on the bottom, but they are also at risk of falling over and damaging fragile items. Don’t rush — The faster that you pack, the less organized the boxes will be. Packing is like playing a game of blokus. The more organized and well-packed the box, the better chance it has of receiving no damage during the relocation. Get moving You now have the tools to ensure that your next move is a positive experience. If you need help finding a local moving service, see this list of moving services with customer reviews to help you.