Moving Internationally

And there's a language barrier

Over the years, my husband and I have traveled all over the world. Moving to Germany proved to be the most arduous moves of all time. We had moved several times in the nine years we lived in California including a cross-country move from Ohio to California.

I thought I knew all there was to know about moving but this time, there would be an international mover and a language barrier. Speaking fluent Italian would not help in Germany, or so I thought. But I digress.

When my husband lost his job at the end of 2007 and couldn’t find work, his job became looking for work but there were few positions in his field. We knew we’d have to move at some point but neither of us dreamed we’d be moving out of the country.

After praying for months for a position, the sale of our home was on the horizon. When the house sold, we placed the bulk of our furniture and household goods in storage and moved to a small apartment near the house we sold. I continued to work my part-time job, and he continued to look for work. One job kept presenting itself and included a move to Germany for what would be five years or longer.   Neither of us wanted to move to Germany. But when every opportunity fluttered away except the German position, we knew the solution was clear.

We had two things in our favor: we didn’t have a house to sell and our passports were current. But we needed to sell our cars and put more things in storage. In the space of a few weeks, we considered what was important to ship because we could only ship five thousand pounds. Sounds like a lot but it’s really not. Basic household goods and clothing add up real fast.

The international movers explained our possessions would be in transit for three months. Three months? Now I had another dilemma. We were moving in March which meant we technically were still in winter and would be well into summer before our possessions reached us. Thus, we packed our suitcases with clothing for two seasons.

Since we had already pared down our possessions to two storage pods, I went through our apartment and determined once again, what I could take with us, what we could sell or pitch and what needed to go into storage. Another daunting task.

Next, I realized I needed a whole slew of documents to take with me and luckily I had time to track down all the documents. Planning an international or even a national move? This is a must-have list.

  • Passports
  • Travel documents
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce papers
  • Child custody papers
  • Adoption papers
  • Driver’s licenses
  • Medical records
  • School/university transcripts
  • Insurance policies and your insurance agent’s contact information
    • Be sure to research international health care coverage at least three months before departure
  • Tax records and your accountant’s contact information
  • Power of attorney, last will and testament and your attorney’s contact information
  • Bank statements and your banker’s telephone number
  • Shipping company documents and contact information
  • Storage facility documents and contact information

Download copies of moving checklists if you know your move is soon and work through the checklist. Some items on checklists that movers provide will be not applicable to your family but the lists are invaluable.

If you have planned or have moved across the nation or across continents, what are some things you wish you’d have known to make your move go smoother?



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