Moving back home after a stint working overseas can be incredibly challenging. Part of it is emotional as you juggle the sadness about leaving the place and people you’ve grown close to over the months. The other part is logistical as you work out how to pack and ship your life across countries, and figure out the nitty-gritty details like where to live.
Even with the support of your company’s relocation system, the experience you built the first time you moved overseas, and helpful guides like ours, it is likely you’ll meet some hiccups along the way. Here are the top 4 things that can go wrong in an international move, and how to either resolve or avoid them.
You might think that since you’re moving back to your home country, you should be familiar with the area and be able to find lodging quite easily. However, things might have changed in the time you spent living overseas.
A few more nightclubs or a new highway in the neighbourhood can contribute to noise pollution. New “in” places to hangout turn out to be quite far from your ideal neighbourhood. Friends and family may also have moved, and you may end up having to commute quite far to spend time with them.
Also, if you didn’t manage to view your new place in person, you would not have a chance to pick up on any flaws or issues with the property – including finding out who your neighbours are and if you like them. While these might seem to be small hassles, they can add up to making your readjustment incredibly difficult.
To avoid this, speak to family, friends or colleagues who live in or around the area you like for their take. If possible, ask them to help view the house before you arrive. On your part, read up extensively on your neighbourhood of choice. In addition to taking note of the facilities around you, also scan the potential travel routes to take to work and to places you might want to frequent, to ensure you are choosing somewhere accessible and convenient.
Overall, it is advisable to find temporary housing options or sign a short-term lease, starting your house hunt properly and in person when you return.
#2 Conflicts with loved ones
A common source of conflict is when you have made plans to stay with your family or friends as an interim arrangement when you first move back. Having lived away from your parents or siblings for so long means you might have forgotten how your old habits clash with theirs. Even with close friends, proximity can lead to friction and you might notice their goodwill waning after a period of time.
Another problem is when your friends and family lack the time to spend with you. Priorities may have changed, having spent several years away from your loved ones. When you visited for the holidays, it was an “occasion” that they made time for, but now that you’re back permanently, you might find they aren’t as available as you like.
To resolve the first issue, set a deadline for when you need to move out by, so as not to overstay your welcome. Actively work to meet this deadline. Also be mindful of your boundaries – try not to invite other friends over if your family isn’t comfortable with it, and do your part to contribute to the household, whether by picking up the tab for groceries or helping clean up.
For the latter, be understanding of how your family and friends may have priorities that have changed. Combat loneliness the same way you did when you first moved overseas – reach out to Facebook groups or hobby groups and look for others with the same interests or in the same situation as you.
#3 Costs of moving
You might suddenly realise the costs of moving overseas are escalating. This is especially likely if you have been living away for a long period of time and have collected a range of furniture and other personal items with sentimental value. You might also struggle with finding accommodation and realise that you need to arrange for storage of quite a lot of items. All these drive the cost of moving overseas, up.
To avoid a last minute shock, it is advisable to approach a professional moving company with experience in overseas moves for a quote. They will be able to advise on what is needed in advance, and often cover the full spectrum of packing and moving services, including suggesting other additional necessary services such as overseas insurance coverage for you move overseas, and offering temporary secure storage at your new destination. Ensure you show these movers photographs or videos of your items so they are able to quote more accurately.
If the costs are still too high, you should reevaluate what is really essential, especially for big-ticket items like furniture. Think about the quality and lasting value of the item you wish to bring. Also, compare the cost of shipping with that of purchasing a new item after your move overseas.
#4 Lost, damaged or late shipment
Don’t underestimate the frustration of being unable to access your belongings because they are in an entirely different country from you. This could be because of items getting stuck at the customs, because your shipment got lost, or even because your shipment got damaged.
To avoid these obstacles, it is beneficial to work with professional movers with a network in the country you are moving to. CYC movers, for example, has China offices in Beijing and Shanghai, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and in cities like Calcutta, Mumbai, New Delhi in India. This means the team you work with is able to facilitate a smooth shift of your items through a stable network of partners, and will be able to advise on customs issues you might face. In particular, how does one overcome language differences and pre-empt obstacles to a smooth move overseas? Many Singaporeans move overseas to China’s top tier cities Beijing and Shanghai and Guangzhou. How do you ensure that you have done desk research, to survive your first week trying to get around to settle accommodation in these cities? Moving to China means that you have to be well prepared with documentation, renminbi, and ready multiple photocopies of your employment contract and relevant visas for China. Moving to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou which are Tier 1 cities in China are not as daunting. When you move to second tier cities in China, ensure that you go through a checklist of things to watch out.
Other ideas include splitting your shipment into batches where possible to reduce the risk of losing everything. You should also ensure that all essential items are packed on your carry-on or in your luggage. If you think there are items you might need urgently, arrange to ship them earlier so they arrive around the same time as you and you can make arrangements if any mishaps occur.
Most importantly, make sure your items are insured for the move! You can also speak to your movers about what the provide. Remember to find out the following:
- How the value of damaged items is determined?
- If the goods are in transit, which country’s laws will be applicable?
- If coverage differs depending who packs the items?
- The conditions for the claim?
- What the claims process is?
- If there is coverage for damaging property in the old or new house during the move?
When you are choosing insurance, check to see that they cover Household Goods and Personal Effects (HHG & PE), which is an all-risk insurance. Some insurers only cover loss of entire container only in situations such as dropped into the sea or damaged containers.
Moving back home from overseas will inevitably meet with some challenges. Good planning, taking precautions and having the right professional support can ease the process, but in the chance that things don’t go as smoothly as you would like, remember to take it as it comes and give yourself anywhere between three to six months to settle in. If you have questions about your upcoming move overseas, reach out to CYC movers for more.