The Organization Organization Blog

International Move

I’ve recently received a messages our Facebook page for some insight into cross international moving. Having lived in Switzerland and helping a client move to Canada not too long ago, I decided to turn it into a post! See my Top 5 Tips for International Moves below.

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#1: Plan and then pack

I suggest organizing your packing from least used to most used room. It could be something like the following order: living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom. Start with your living room; books, picture frames, memorabilia. Move on to the kitchen; leave out enough just for you and maybe one more to use but then pack the rest. Bedroom next; clothes, shoes, purses, and the like. Bathroom last; throw out what you are not bringing with you and pack what you need to get you through your travels.

#2: Don’t bring EVERYTHING.
You’re moving across the world and you just can’t bring it all! This is a great opportunity to downsize, purge and make some extra cash by selling items, or give your unnecessary items new life somewhere else by donating. Here are “My 4 S’s” for moving:

  • Sell: Working, bulky appliances; Books you have not touched in the last year; Clothes and accessories you have not worn in the last year. Since you are moving to another country, electrical currents and plugs are usually different – so these won’t work anyway.
  • Shred: Personal records (that may have SSN or DOB info) that you have not already turned digital; Taxes older than 7 years; Bank statements.
  • Ship: The majority of your clothes (especially the ones that are not for the next season – i.e. if it’s summer right now, ship your winter clothes and bring your summer clothes in your suitcases on the plane); Books; Minimal home decor (like picture frames and other sentimental items); Minimal kitchen and appliances that would be cheaper to bring than to buy brand new.
  • Store: Memorabilia like photo albums, things of sentimental value that you will not display in your home; Clothes and accessories that do not go along with the place you are moving to (i.e. snowboard and gear if you are moving to a tropical place)

#3: Notify the necessary people
Don’t forget to change your address and forward your mail with USPS. It’s helpful if you have a family member who can receive your mail in your home country while you are away.  E-mail your family and closest friends your address and updated contact information. Notify your bank of your overseas status – very important so that your transactions aren’t denied – and ask what their typical policy is for international banking. Schedule the cancellation of your phone, cable, and internet provider.

#4: Do your due diligence on moving companies
As you research moving companies, make sure you read REAL reviews (not testimonials on the company website) on places like Yelp. This will help you paint the most real picture for how it is to work with that moving company. Contact and get quotes from at least three (3) moving companies. Clarify their insurance requirements – some companies will not insure any items you pack yourself, but there can sometimes be ways around this. Get everything in writing – I try to use email instead of phone as much as possible so their is a conversation trail. Ask about how they assist with customs and define pick-up and drop-off locations.

#5: Google it!
You will find a lot of insider tips for moving to a specific country just by Google searching “How to move to ________” Some of the most important tips, especially for international moves, are in regards to visas and other travel documentation. Who better to learn from than those who have done it before and made the mistakes for you?! Here are some we found for the UK: UK Yankee, WikiHow to move to England, ExPat Arrivals.


Have you moved internationally? What were the biggest challenges you faced and how did you solve them? We love learning, so let us know in the comments below!

Jiliane Patriarca

Jiliane is the founder of The Organization Organization, a San Francisco-Bay Area based professional organizing company. After years of working in a variety of industries (food service, health care, financial planning, and communication), she realized that she had gravitated towards the same thing at every single job… organizing! Now she uses her super-powers to help people feel less stressed and cluttered, by transforming their space. It’s her mission to help people become more efficient and productive, so that they can have more time to do the things that make them happy.