How to make sure the cost of your international move isn’t a shock

An overseas move can be a very expensive thing to do, every expat and expat-to-be probably knows or suspects that, but are we all really au fait with some of the less obvious costs. To help avoid overseas move “sticker shock”, here’s a run-down of the obvious and hidden costs of an international move…

The most significant criteria that affect the cost of an overseas move are: how many people are moving; what you are taking with you; where you are moving to; and how quickly you want to move – we all know that anything done at speed costs more.

How many people?

The more people, the more stuff and the more boxes there will be. You can’t reduce the people (!) so you need to reduce the stuff, which leads on to…

What are you taking?

Do you have a few boxes and suitcases; do you want to take everything except large electrical appliances and large furniture; or do you want to move the entire contents of your house? These are all key questions you need to ask yourself and your family members. A big move like this is a great time to clear clutter and simplify your life. In doing so you will reduce the cost of an overseas move. If you have children who are resisting clearing their cupboards, bribe them! Offer them a deal: if they significantly clear out old toys and clutter you will replace it with something they currently want once you arrive at the new home. Believe me, I know that one works from personal experience moving internationally with two children.

Where are you going?

Clearly a move across France is going to cost less than a move from France to the USA. Choose your moving help wisely, sometimes it costs less to move locally with a local company, but not always. Get three quotes from removal companies whatever your destination.

How quickly do you need to move?

Whether you send a letter or move to a new house internationally, it’s going to cost more if you try to do it quickly. So, bear in mind that the longer the lead time you give a relocation or removal company the better the quote for the cost of doing it will be.

Other major but less obvious factors that will affect the cost of your international move are:


A removal company will have insurance, but it’s wise to have your own too, just to make doubly sure everything is completely covered in case of major accidents.

Travel costs

If you’re moving a big distance, you’ll need to factor in airfares for you and your family.

Visas and medicals

Some countries will require a medical before entry and visas. The cost of both can be surprisingly high, so it’s important to add them to your budget.

Exchange rates

It’s more than likely that your move will trigger a change in your everyday currency. Assuming that’s the case, it may be worthwhile contacting a currency exchange company to help secure the best rates of exchange ahead of your move for things like a rental deposit, a deposit on a house purchase and school fees.


Even if you manage to significantly de-clutter, there may be times when storage is needed. But think carefully, the cost of storage is high, and it may not be worth storing appliances, for example, or large, replaceable furniture.

Local taxes and import duties

Ask your removal company to provide you with all the import duties well before you and they pack your things. It could, or even should, have an important impact on what you decide to take.

Rental deposit and first month

If you are renting, remember to factor into your costs the first month’s rent and the deposit, which could be as much as a month-and-half’s rent.

Related article

Ten tips to help you choose a reliable international moving company

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