A big factor in anything to do with travelling is the costs! Everyone wants to know how much each thing costs to budget accordingly and not be too shocked later…like I was when I was moving.
Fortunately, if you’re like me and will be moving with your partner’s company (or your own) then lots of the relocation costs should be covered by the relocation package that the company offers. Thank goodness! This makes it a lot easier as you won’t have to find suppliers and compare them to find the best option.
So, if you’re looking for an idea of the costs that should be included in your relocation package or what you should look for when moving without a company, this list is for you.
Any costs given within this article, relate to Colombia and Mexico which has lower costs of living than other countries. Therefore, these prices may be lower.
This will be one of your biggest relocation costs (depending on how far you will be moving). First thing to know if what size container you need.
Then would be understanding timelines, how long will it take to get from your residence to the post, how long sailing, how long at port, then how long to get to your doorstep. Knowing this will also help you figure out what you need to pack in suitcases.
Of course, every single shipment varies. One of my husband’s colleagues for his shipment in less than a month, I have no idea how when I didn’t get mine till two months after I left Colombia.
The colleague shipped to and from the exact same cities so I couldn’t understand the process at all. Also, it’s good to note if the shipment can leave as soon as it’s packed or if you have to prove entry into your new country first as this can also provide an unexpected delay if it’s not catered for.
2. Shipping Insurance
Again, an expense covered by the company was insurance on the shipping container. There were different levels of insurance based on the estimated value of the shipment.
It’s almost guaranteed that there will be damages when your items finally arrive at your new location…if they arrive. There is also the unwanted thought that it could get lost, who knows where pirates are lurking.
Another cost is the has to do with packing. However, before packing, the shipping company did a pre-visit to the apartment to see how much we had to take.
This would help them clarify if the container size was right as well as an estimate value of all the items. Remember to show them anything not in obvious site like if there’s a detached storage room or anywhere else you store items.
As for packing itself, it took about 2 days. The packing crew consisted of about 5 members. They put protectors on the main floor where they were packing and came with so many materials from boxes, paper, bubble wrap, tape, scissors.
If there is anything especially precious to you, make sure you wrap it safely before. For example, any pictures that I had loose, I made sure to put in a plastic bag. I also bubble wrapped souvenirs from the countries I’ve lived in as these were especially important to me.
I overlooked the mini flags I had collected that ended up being very crushed…like my heart when I saw them (woah cheesy much?!). You can find more steps to moving abroad here.
4. Deposit for Building
Some buildings, like apartment blocks, ask for a deposit to use the common areas like elevator. So, in case there is any damage, they can keep this money as opposed to giving it back.
In Colombia, the first step was to notify the landlord. Then to inform the administration that you plan on moving and the date that it will be taking place.
I then needed a letter from the landlord approving this before administration gave the okay. So weird right?! What if the landlord said no?
Finally, it was approved then the deposit had to be paid. This was about USD$250 which had to be paid several days before the intended day of moving. And would only be returned, 8 days after the final date of moving.
This was such a strange procedure for me but definitely good to find out in advance, so it does not come as a shock to you especially if you need to move quickly.
As part of the relocation costs, some have additional storage. This may not affect everyone depending on the steps required for your shipment to leave the country.
For my move from Colombia to Mexico, the shipment could not leave until I had landed in Mexico and sent the emigration stamp as proof, which was 2 weeks after packing my apartment.
Therefore, everything from my apartment had to go into storage for this period. It even stayed for longer than this as there were some delays before the container was actually packed and could leave Colombia.
6. Apartment Repairs / Utilities
This was a big relocation cost that I didn’t think about. There were some repairs to the apartment that had to be made and the entire thing had to be repainted. This costed close to USD$1,000 that I was not prepared to lose.
In addition to this were the extras like paying for the apartment even past the day when we moved out due to clauses in the contract. So be sure to check this when you’ve moving in. And paying for utilities until that point as well.
These apartment costs were unexpected to me and made me wish, I tried to do more before leaving. For instance, the biggest cost of painting over the entire apartment, was not necessary, it was only a few scuffs on the walls. I wish I had painted them myself to prevent such a huge, unexpected expense.
7. Hotels and Meals
This is another big expense that hopefully is included in the relocation package. This would be two sets of hotels, one before you leave the country you live in. And the other one being in your new country. Of course, unless you have someone that you will be living with. And another option would be to stay at a hostel.
Usually, 2 weeks before you leave and then 4 weeks after you land should suffice. It’s a long time of hotel life. Closely linked to this is meals. Sometimes it’s included and other times not. My first move, meals were included which was so much easier than having to worry about this.
However, for my second move, meals were not included in the package. This meant making sure that the hotel had a fully equipped kitchen. Inclusive of fridge, microwave, pots, pans, utensils, and Tupperware/containers to put food away. I generally cook extras to have for another meal.
WHEN YOU ARRIVE
Now that you’ve finally arrived in your new country, yes, there are still some other costs that you will have to look into. Fortunately, the VISA cost was another payment covered by the relocation package that I didn’t have to worry about.
The monetary aspect as well as assistance to make sure I didn’t have any issues. For a work VISA as well as a beneficiary VISA plus assistance, it costed around USD$1,000.
9. Damages to Items
I wish I had taken the day off to watch them pack. It was really difficult to see the condition that some of my items had reached. The TV stand was completed broken with chunks dug out from it.
There were also lots of scratches and dents in items like my nightstands, refrigerator, and toaster oven for example.
And the one that hurt a lot, my glass kettle that was only wrapped in paper. Of course, this arrived in pieces. Fortunately for the insurance included in the relocation package, we were able to make claims on these items.
And on top of damages, some items were even missing. I am not sure how that could have happened as the boxes were numbered and listed. And none of the boxes were missing. The mystery of the missing items.
10. Job Search for Spouse
With some relocation packages, it includes a job search for the spouse. Unfortunately, I was never given a service like this. It definitely would have helped especially in my first move when I had no idea what do. Fortunately, after realising what I needed to do to get a job, I was offered two jobs even before my next move.
11. House Search
Having help for the house search is such an amazing assistance to have included in your relocation package. And especially if you are moving to a country you do not know.
People who provide this relocation service will be able to advise you on whether an area is good and proofing any offers before you actually go to see the house. Housing is the biggest thing in relocation other than moving itself. You can find more guidance about choosing housing abroad here.
12. Cultural Training
I didn’t even know cultural training was a thing! Good thing it was included in the relocation package for me. This is basically a guide to the history of the country that you will be moving to along with the major events that have made the people the way they are.
It’s such great information to know especially if you are coming from a country with different values. Yes, some parts can be boring especially the history lesson but there is lots of helpful information that you can use. For Colombia, this was the reason I was never robbed or harmed in any way.
There will be some time after you move before you have sorted out your mode of transportation. For my husband, the company transported him to and from work every day for a month.
And for the first move, they even paid for the transport to move from the hotel to the new place of residence.
Fortunately, these things were sorted out for me. However, for the second move, there was lots I had to figure out on my own.
14. Renting Furniture
Sometimes, there are delays in your shipment, for whatever reason, and your furniture and life in that container do not arrive by the time you have to move out of the hotel.
For my second move, this was during covid so I hated the idea of renting furniture, but it ended up being something that I couldn’t get away from.
Again, it was included in the relocation package. I cleaned everything so thoroughly as it was moving into my new space. Of course, if you have to do this, there are much cheaper ways around it. Such as buying temporary furniture like blow up mattresses, or just renting only what you absolutely need.
Related: How to cure feeling homesick
Moving to another country or anywhere else is a very strenuous tasks but it always helps to be prepared and to know what will come.
Of course, you can’t be prepared for every single thing as there will always be something that comes up. Not to worry, hopefully this list can help you be better prepared for your next move.
To help with where you’ll have to spend money in relocation costs. And what to look for in your relocation package. That way, you won’t be as shocked as I was with the number of payments that you have to make. Have you had unexpected payments when moving? Tell me about it below.