My friends have always known me as a type of responsible nomad — I’ve moved from Austin to Queens and now live a little east of the Valley in southern California. I’ve also taken off and traveled to several countries outside of the United States where I stayed for weeks, and on a few occasions for several months at a time. I’ve had a few friends ask about moving advice and decided to write a short post for future reference. Here is some of the best advice that I can offer to someone who is considering making a move and needs to know a little about how to get started to make the trip as great as possible.
- Start with a list. I like to start with a sort of stream-of-consciousness (i.e., writing EVERYTHING you can think of) so that the pressure is light to begin; then I prioritize from most to least important, then from most costly to least expensive. It’s important to make sure everything that you own is on the list, so nothing gets forgotten along the way. This will be a great benefit for those who may be making a move overseas and cannot take everything they own with them.
- If you’re moving for a new job, contact the company’s HR department or your personal tax accountant to see if you qualify for work-related deductions. There are quite a few deductions that can be taken for a wide array of situations. These include business expenses, moving expenses, and even credits if you have children. There are even credits for electric cars and solar energy that you may want to check into. The IRS has an informational page that covers this, which you can read here.
- Downsize, downsize, downsize. Follow David Allen’s time-management method (with a transporting twist): if you’ve used it in the last month, keep it (i.e., clothes); if you haven’t used it in six months but may sometime down the line, store it (or ship it later); if it doesn’t satisfy any of those requirements, trash it. Seriously, if something has not been used in that time period, you really will not miss it at all once you move. Downsizing will come in handy when it is time to load a moving truck or a shipping container if moving internationally.
(You can sell all of your belongings, not dissimilar to an Eat, Pray, Love memoir, or you can investigate and find resources to ease the stress of long-distance travel).
- If you have multiple vehicles or are renting a cargo van, analyze what’s best for your trip. Depending on your final destination: i.e., if you’re heading across the country and have multiple vehicles, you have three general options:
- Sell your least favorite vehicle on Craigslist, which might end up being low-balled, sadly. This is something you need to be careful with to avoid meeting the wrong person in a risky location. Always meet potential buyers in a public space and during daylight hours only.
- Phone a friend to travel with you so that they can drive your car. This can work well, but you need to check with your insurance company to be sure they can drive on your insurance policy. You’ll also need to figure out how they will get home once the trip is over.
- Do research on moving companies and always receive at least 3 quotes. If you are moving internationally, you will want to pick a company that specializes in international relocation, like this one.
You can also attach your car/truck/SUV to a rented cargo van — but I do not recommend it. This may work for some, but it can really cause some wear and tear on the vehicle used to tow, and it’s also going to cost extra for general maintenance including an oil change and fuel for the trip. Weigh out the pros and cons (costs and losses — for example, remember that gas may double or even triple with the extra weight added to the cargo). Plus, you may want to avoid driving at night or through quiet deserts (where gas stations are infrequent).
If you are moving internationally, you will benefit from the services of an international car shipping company. You may need to provide proof of vehicle ownership and will most likely have to pay import taxes on top of the shipping fees, but having a personal car when you move is going to be very beneficial when you want to travel quickly or when you do not want to take a taxi or other public transportation.
- Know where your valuables are — and highlight them on your list! This could be social security cards, birth certificates, or other legal documents. You can take the extra measure and make sure they are in a locked filing cabinet. That’s always worked for me. A quick Google search for locked filing cabinets or security boxes should yield some that will work just fine. When you are packing to move abroad, be sure to keep your valuables in your carry-on luggage. It can be risky to place valuable jewelry or money in a shipping container where it can be a temptation for theft. Chances are, if items are missing after an overseas move, they will never be found again.
With enough planning, you can minimize figurative bumps in the road and help ensure that your travels go well. Before you take off to your new home, whether it is local, across the country, or a hop across the ocean, be sure to check the new neighborhood out and find out where you can shop, eat, and head out for a night of fun when you arrive. Overseas moves are handled best by taking a vacation to check the area out ahead of time and to find a rental home before you arrive. Happy travels!