So you’re moving abroad for work, adventure, retirement or to be closer to friends and family, and you have a whole house, shed and garage full of belongings you want to take with you. It can be difficult to know where to start when faced with a move of this scale and there are undeniably some hefty costs involved.

But if you plan ahead you’ll limit any unnecessary stress and ensure you’re getting a good deal on all the moving services you employ along the way.

Goods out

First up, it’s time for a purge. Clear out and sell everything you know you don’t want or need to take with you to your new home. Start sorting one room at a time and divide items into different piles or boxes: Take, Store and Leave. For everything you want to leave behind, list any valuable and saleable items on eBay and Gumtree, then pass on what you can to friends, family and charity shops.

You might have an arrangement with friends, family or a storage unit to keep some large items for your return to the UK; it’s worth allocating these items early on so that you know exactly what needs to be shipped.

You don’t necessarily want to furnish your new home from scratch, so it’s obviously worth shipping all your beds, sofas, tables, chairs and other useful things like wardrobes and chests of drawers to your new place. Not only will this save money, but it’s nice to bring a bit of your old home with you, especially if you’re moving with children in tow.

Our top tip: Defrost the fridge and freezer a good day or two before they get packed and shipped.

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Packing up

Once all clutter has been sold or donated, put aside a weekend at least a fortnight before your move date to box up your belongings and dismantle furniture being shipped. Invite friends and family to help if you feel you need it. And even if you don’t, do not underestimate the time and energy needed to pack up your home and your life – particularly if there are children in the mix.

Arm yourself with the sturdy boxes from your shipping company, big black marker pens, a huge roll of bubble wrap, masking tape and tape for boxing up fragile items. Your dedicated move manager should provide all these items, as well as specific advice on how best to pack your boxes. Draw up a rough floor plan of your new home and label the rooms clearly for your packers.

Try to arrange boxes according to the room they’ll be unpacked into, and label these clearly. This will streamline the unpacking process at the other end and may determine the order in which the boxes and loaded and unloaded into lorries and the container itself.

Our top tip: Pack the stuff you’re going to need first in those clear plastic storage boxes you can pick up at office supply shops.

Goods in

Chances are you’re going to need a forty-foot container for your belongings and you don’t want any dead weight or dead space being taken up: these containers cost from £4,500 GBP to £6,000 GBP+ to fill, so space is at an absolute premium. What you will get for that price, however, is the full package.

Door-to-door packing and unpacking with basic insurance included for all but your unusual and high-value items. A forty foot container will typically hold the contents of a three-bedroom family house plus one or two vehicles. You pay for the whole thing unless you want to get involved in grouping with another customer (not recommended for time-sensitive moves) so you’ll want to know you’re getting value out of every square metre.

Departure day checklist – what to pack

  • Currency
  • Loo roll
  • Plug adapters
  • Eating utensils
  • Tea, coffee and other staples for arrival
  • Medicines
  • Change of clothes in your hand luggage in case of delays
  • Bottle opener/corkscrew (for obvious reasons…!)