Expert Tips for an Expat Move – Moving Day

moving day

This is the third and final instalment of our series of tips on moving overseas. I have teamed up with Mel Carruthers, professional organiser and seasoned expat, to get her expert advice.

We have already covered tips on getting organised and getting packed up. Now for the last piece in the puzzle – moving day.

This comes around so quickly. I was certain we had three weeks left till the end of school and nearly had a panic attack this morning when I checked the calendar and realised it was only two! If you are anything like me (and, for your sanity, let’s hope you aren’t) then this is the stage you have to keep everything written down otherwise it’s forgotten. I feel like my head is so full right now that I can’t store anything more in there. A bit like our shipping container…

If you are about to move, I wish you all the luck in the world, wherever in the world you are going. And of all the pieces of advice from Mel, the first one for me is the most important and one I bang on about a lot. And no,  it’s not always easy, but the important things in life rarely are.


Tips for Moving Day

After all the decluttering, packing and goodbyes, the day of the move finally arrives. You may be relieved, apprehensive, sad, excited… or all the above! Here are some tips that will help you to have a more organised moving day.

First of all, be kind

If moving home is one of the most stressful things you can do, then moving countries makes it to the top of the stress list. So, my number one rule on moving day, and beyond, is to be kind to yourself, kind to each other, and kind to the people who are helping you move.


  • Plan: Ahead of time, make sure you know what to do when you lock up for the last time. If you have sold your property, have a plan in place with the estate agent. If you were renting, make sure you and the landlord have agreed the process for leaving on the last day. Agree what to do with the water and power supplies, taking inventory and what to do with the keys once you have locked the door.


  • Final check: Lock the windows, check taps are turned off and plugs out. Check cupboards and wardrobes to ensure nothing has been left behind. Even if you’ve already done it once, check again just to be sure!


  • Book transport: If you are leaving by plane, book your transport to the airport ahead of time. Whether it’s a friend, taxi or tuk-tuk, make sure everyone knows the plan – including the number of suitcases that you’ll be taking with you!


  • Leave time: You may want to take some last photos of your home, say goodbye to friends, or grab a snack at your favourite café on the way past. Leave enough time on moving day to incorporate these moments – it’s important to make some last memories of the country that has been your home for the past few years.

moving day


What to take with you


  • Valuables: If you are travelling by plane, take your valuables with you in your hand luggage and keep them with you at all times.


  • Paperwork: Keep important documents like birth and marriage certificates, pet relocation documentation, insurance policies etc. in a folder in your hand luggage. The rest of the paperwork can go in the hold, but make sure you have scans of everything on your computer. (Backed up of course!)


  • Clothing: Pack enough clothes for the weeks until your shipment arrives at your new home, but remember that you can wash them! Depending on your destination, you may also be tempted to buy new clothes to fit your new environment, so keep this in mind when packing.


  • Toys: Your new location will provide plenty of opportunities for exploring and making new friends, so keep toys to a minimum. Take a few toys to occupy the children during the journey, and maybe even consider a new-to-them toy or book for the journey to take their minds off the emotions of leaving.


  • Electronics: Remember to travel with your laptops and relevant chargers. You’ll need these on arrival for research, communication and keeping the children (and you) entertained until the TV is installed. A universal, international plug adapter is a must!


  • Medications: Check that you have all your family’s medications in your hand luggage, together with relevant prescriptions in case you are asked for them at customs. Be aware of medication regulations in the country you are going to and ensure you have the right paperwork.


  • Currency: Change some currency ahead of time so that you arrive in your new country with enough money for taxi fares, tips, coffees and a takeaway – you’ll need it!


  • Destination details: Whether you are going straight to your own new home, a hotel or a company apartment, make sure you have the address, contact phone number and a location map. Arrange transport ahead of time so that you have less to worry about on arrival. If you are travelling with a lot of suitcases, plan accordingly to make sure there is enough room for everyone and everything.


On arrival


  • Take some time to recover from the stress of the past weeks. For some this may mean taking it easy – sleeping late, eating takeaway, and taking a few days to chill out. Other families may feel more comfortable getting straight back into a routine, even if a new country means that routine is somewhat different to what you were used to! Decide as a family what works best for you, and start to build your new life together as a team.


  • On your first morning, find your nearest supermarket, pharmacy and park. It will help you to get your bearings, and once you know where to find food, medicine and recreation, you’ll feel more confident! If you are relying on taxis, add the number of a recommended taxi company to that list.


  • Seasoned expats will know how first impressions of a new place can change over time, once you get to know your new neighbourhood and make new friends. After the stress of the move, you will be tired and emotional. Don’t let your first impressions set the tone of the rest of your stay in your new country, but instead recognise that you’ll get used to your new surroundings and keep positive! Enjoy exploring your new home, seek out new foods and experiences, and have fun as a family. The first few days before “normality” sneaks in can feel like a holiday, so make the most of it!

moving day


That’s not all! For more tips on moving overseas, here’s the Making Here Home guide to decluttering, plus part 1 and part 2 in this series with Mel.

If you have children, you might also want to check out Expat Move With Kids? and, children or not, here are my 8 Essentials For a Successful Expat Move

About Mel Carruthers

organising a move overseasWith over 20 years’ experience working in museums, charities and law firms in the UK and UAE, I understand how decluttering your physical space and implementing systems can take away the overwhelm. I recently returned to Scotland after 12 years living in Dubai, with my husband, our son, three cats and an ever-expanding family of Lego mini-figures.

Instagram: @more_organised

Facebook: @moreorganised
+44 (0)7526 955846


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