Downsizing for Your Family’s International Move

By jwatkins, 11 October, 2016

If you and your family are committing to an expat life, chances are you have at least one major moving experience in your near future. Moving to a new country is very different from moving locally or to a new state. If you’re only able to find temporary housing for the short-term, you may want to prepare your family and possessions for multiple moves in the next few years.

Downsizing can really streamline the moving process, but there is a strategic way to do it that will result in a cleaner new home without depriving you of items you really need. Here are some tips for downsizing for an international move.

Ditch Most of Your Furniture

Shipping is expensive, especially for large, heavy pieces of furniture. If your furniture is old, this is a good chance to upgrade. Imagine how nice it will be to choose furniture that fits perfectly into your new space, both size and design-wise. If you have new furniture, it might be difficult to let it go, but you might be able to sell it for most of what you paid for it. This means you’ll have liquid cash to use for your move and replacement items rather than having to pay to haul them overseas.

Sell Your Appliances (working or not)

Appliances fall in pretty much the same category as furniture: too unwieldy and expensive to bother moving. On top of that, depending on where you’re moving to and from, your appliances may not be compatible with the outlets in your new home. Even run-down or broken appliances can sell on classified sites like Craigslist. People use them for projects, and some companies will pay for broken appliances because they get money from metal and other materials inside.

Intentionally Analyze Your Possessions

Marie Kondo, a popular Japanese organizer, has several tips for decluttering that can help your downsizing process. The most useful is to hold every item before you pack it and think about whether it brings you joy. That shirt you’re self-conscious about because of a small stain that just won’t leave? That may have brought you joy once, but no longer. Those gifts you’ve only kept out of politeness? No one will know if you purge them now.

When you’re going through the small stuff, consider these 6 items you shouldn’t pack for your move. Did you know many moving companies won’t allow you to take candles and other fire hazards? Little tidbits like that can guide your downsizing process and help you make the hard decision of what to take with you on your adventure abroad and what to leave behind.

Consider Your New Space

If you’ve chosen a living space already, you have a great opportunity to only take items that will have a place in your new home. Living in a new country is a chance to see life from a different perspective. So, research housing styles and even popular design themes in your new home country. The average home varies in size depending on where you live. Since international moves are costly, there’s a high chance you’ll be living in a smaller space. There are lots of tips for optimizing a small space for maximum storage and comfort.

All these tips can help you decide what’s worth taking with you on your international move. You’re starting a new adventure, so remember that the physical possessions from your past don’t have to follow you.


Do you have downsizing tips for people who are moving internationally? Share in the comments!