Moving Day: 3 Keys to Make Your Move Overseas Go Smoothly

November 8, 2011


It’s a big deal to move across the street, let alone half way across the world.  I’ve lost track of the many moves I’ve made over the years but it is probably more than two dozen, including two moves overseas (and back) to Egypt and to Macedonia.

Oh, no, it's time to move again.

In honor of the Converge Worldwide missionary family who is moving overseas today, I want to post a few thoughts I have on moving, sorting and storing your goods to the glory of God.  These ideas are born from personal experience and have helped others that I coach.

Store as Little as Possible

If you have a permanent and cost effective place to store your goods, you are in great shape.  Otherwise, most people need to rent storage or place their things in another’s care.  If this is your situation, store only those things that you absolutely must keep such as keepsakes, family heirlooms and personal records.  You are limited in what you can keep because of cost, protection of goods and accessibility.

If you have lots of nice things and can’t store them safely, figure out the best way to sell them to get some value.  Or you can give a lot of your stuff away.  In both of our moves, we had garage sales and gave away lots of stuff to people who needed it more than we did.

I have come back to boxes I packed ten years earlier and wondered “Why in the world did I keep this stuff”?  After we returned the first time from overseas and I went back through our stuff, I realized that I saved too many things.  At the time I sorted it, I thought it was significant.  Living without it for several years and then seeing it again showed me that I didn’t need it.

Whatever you store, make sure it is organized.

Take Only What You Can’t Reasonably Buy in Your New Location

You’ll be able to buy most things in your new location.  If not, you are probably in the jungle, and you won’t need most of your things in the jungle anyway.

Unless you are keeping a home for yourself, I’d encourage you to get rid of most of your belongings like furniture, kitchenware and garage and yard tools.  You can always start over.  You have no idea how long you’ll be overseas and it is easier to gain more stuff than it is to walk away from stuff you’ve had for a long time.

The days of using shippers are over for a lot of people due to cost, hassles and inefficiencies.  Seriously consider carrying your worldly goods with you on that plane.  Paying $100 for an extra bag will force you to only bring the essentials.

Take Time to Make Wise Decisions Regarding Your Possessions

I remember in the last weeks before the big moves taking lots of time to painstakingly go through stuff.  It is really hard, knowing what to keep.  You need time and common sense to sort because you are emotionally attached to many of your belongings.  Ask a trusted and wise friend to help you sort and toss.

Don't be afraid to toss.

I give you permission to toss.  A thing is called a thing for a reason.  Keep a few special things that are vital in maintaining your memories.  The rest should be sold, thrown out or given away.  Don’t let things possess your soul.  Use this move as an opportunity to get away from materialism and the possessing of things.

Other Considerations and Questions

  • Ask people on the field where you are going what is available and what you should bring. Trust them.
  • Say goodbyes ahead of time.  Don’t let people put you off with busy schedules then stress you out with a visit the day before you leave.
  • Sell or rent your home?  It’s an important decision unique to each person. Do some research and get some advice. Decide then act decisively.
  • Find out about how immigration and customs work in your new country. Don’t just show up with a crate load.
  • Allow each child to pack one bag for essentials (clothing, pictures, books, really special item) and one bag for play things.  This is where electronic play devices pay dividends (Xbox 360, Play Station, Wii, etc.).
  • Take only a few favorite books. Buy a digital reader like a Kindle.  You won’t be reading your library in a foreign culture.
  • Ask a friend or family member with a truck to take you to the airport and have a back up plan.
  • Have someone lined up with a truck to pick you up at the airport in your new country.
  • Take your vital personal records and leave copies with a trusted friend or family member.

What are some other moving tips and issues to consider?

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4 Comments on “Moving Day: 3 Keys to Make Your Move Overseas Go Smoothly”

  1. Dawn Baggett Says:

    Thanks! Just the kind of info I was looking for as we plan our first move in over 20 years.


  2. Jon Says:

    Thanks Brian, Really reinforces some of things we’ve been hearing and thinking ourselves!


    • Brian Stankich Says:

      You got it, Jon. The thing that helps me is to break the big pic down into smaller pieces and then tackle them one at a time. Hope your upcoming move goes well.



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