A handy checklist for any future expats to follow or take ideas from when preparing for the arrival of your shipping container.
- Firstly make a list of all items that you are taking in your suitcases, check your baggage allowance with your airline and check whether your visa entitles you to additional complimentary luggage allowance as some airlines offer this.
- Allow yourself plenty of time to get all jobs done, don’t leave too much to do at the last minute especially if you have children to care for as something will always crop up and may delay or put a stop to your tasks for that day. I had some great days where I whizzed through my to-do lists and other days where nothing was done.
- Empty your loft space – a lot of shipping companies ask you to do this in advance. It also helps you get rid of anything you don’t want to take in advance. We chose a sunny day and moved the contents of our loft into our garden to sort then arranged it in the garage
- Ideally arrange to move out one or two days prior to the big day. This really helped us feel completely prepared and organized as we had moved our suitcases out and cleared the house of all of our belongings. This also gives you time to remember anything you may have forgotten about for your checked luggage. We had endless trips back to the house to pick up bits and pieces. This transition of moving in with my parents for a few weeks also helped keep the upheaval for the girls to a minimum.
- And on the topic of children, arrange for someone to look after your children during the two days that the removal men are there. This eliminates the need to have baby paraphernalia all over the house and the risk of necessities being boxed without you noticing. Plus it makes the job much easier for the removal men! It’s enough to juggle the packing process as it is, without the extra chaos that two children bring to the mix.
- Choose any keepsakes or important photos that you couldn’t bear to lose and pack these in advance in your hand luggage. I’ve packed my mum and dad’s wedding photo and their wedding cake topper, my daughters’ baby scan photos and important jewellery as I couldn’t even think about the ship going down and me losing these…
- Scan and arrange your paperwork. We bought two concertina folders to take in our hand luggage and filed both originals and copies of our birth certificates, passports, marriage certificates, driving licenses, landlord references, work references, degree certificates and qualifications, household bills, recent tax documents, bank statements, payslips, car and house rental information and student loans details. We then scanned all of our documents onto our portable hard drive as well as my father in law’s computer so that if we did lose everything then we would have quick access to these when needed.
- Clean clean clean! Clean out everything you can in advance that you are shipping including your vacuum cleaner, any outdoor equipment including tents, bikes, garden furniture and outdoor footwear
- Bubble wrap any of your expensive breakables for added peace of mind. We did this with our Waterford Crystal Glasses as most companies will only use paper to wrap glass and china then place in a crate or mark the box ‘fragile’. Although we are ensured, these were a wedding gift and would be irreplaceable.
- If you have small children, organize their toys into boxes, empty out the batteries and make sure jigsaws have all pieces, play sets are complete etc.
- Go through your junk and clutter cupboards (we all have at least one that everything ends up in!), arrange car boot sales and have all cupboards as clean and tidy as possible
- Pack your suitcases allowing extra space for anything you may have forgotten or will purchase prior to your flight (there will always be something you haven’t thought about…toiletries, nappies, wipes)
- Clean out any kitchen appliances and box if not needed in advance. We did this with our Kitchen Aid and Coffee Machine to free up bench space and to ensure they were properly cleaned out
- Defrost and clean out fridge/freezer appliances that you are taking with you in advance. We defrosted our freezer four days prior to allow for it to be completely dry and allow standing time.
- Decide on a place in your house to place any items you may need access to on moving day but that you don’t want to be put into your container – advise the removal team of this
- Make a list of any items that may need a last minute clean before being packed, kitchen bin, bread bin, toaster…
- Arrive half an hour before your removal team so you can do a last minute walk of the house and double check there isn’t anything else you want to take with you on the flight in a drawer or back of a cupboard
- Relax! All your hard work is done at this point so upon their arrival, keep yourself busy in the garden or garage and enjoy this exciting phase of your big move and new life!