Moving to another country is one of the most stressful things you will do in your lifetime. But with a detailed checklist and a lot of preparation, you should be able to keep stress levels at a minimum – you might even enjoy the process! Okay, we’re stretching the truth a little with that last bit, but at least, a plan will help keep you sane. When compiling our moving timeline, we talked to relocation companies and Beijing residents who have gone through multiple moves. If they can do it, so can you.
Six Months Before the Move
- Start looking for a relocation company. Ask your friends and neighbors for referrals and references.
- Ask at least three different companies for evaluations and quotes before you decide on which company to hire. Make sure you ask all the relevant questions. If you’re here on a relocation package, check which expenses are covered by your company and if you’ll have to pay for anything out of pocket.
- Open a moving file where you can keep all the estimates and move-related documents. Also, it’s good to create a dedicated folder in your email account to save your inbox being flooded with relocation information.
- Start getting rid of your things. Sell your unwanted stuff online or give it away to charity. Roundabout Charity Distribution Center does house pickups. You can also give your stuff away via Yahoo groups Freecycle or Beijing Cafe, or sell them online at beijingkids’ or the Beijinger’s classifieds section.
- If you are heading back to your home country, find resources to help you cope with repatriation. You might be surprised how tricky reverse culture shock can be.
- If you are heading to another country, educate yourself about your next destination. Compare the cost of living on Expatistan.com, find expat groups in the area, check schools and start looking for an apartment or temporary accommodation.
- Transport your pets. Contact pet relocation services, your moving company or your animal hospital for the lowdown. Some countries are very strict on pet imports, especially from China. For details on how to move with your pets, see p88.
- Are you planning to transport Chinese antiques out of the country? You will need antique export certificates before shipping.
- Book your flights and make sure that your passports are up-to-date.
Five Months Before the Move
- Ask for help. Most of the people you know have been through several international moves already, and they will be more than willing to share their experiences with you. Ask your friends to spare a few hours to help you pack or look after the kids while you run moving-related errands.
- You’ve done the research and now it’s time to pick a relocation company. If you are planning to transport any “controlled goods,” let your relocation company know. Different countries have different definitions for what exactly constitutes “controlled goods,” so make sure your relocation company has it covered.
- Talk to your bank about the easiest way to transfer funds to another country.
- Find out how to get rid of your car – it has been hard to sell cars in Beijing due to the recent lottery policy for plates. Check with local car dealers if they can help you sell your car outside of Beijing, and start the process.
Four Months Before the Move
- Inform your kids’ school about the move and prepare all of the necessary documents.
- Make a trip to the doctor to collect all of you and your family’s medical certificates and records.
- If you already haven’t already, begin the consular procedure. Find out how to obtain your visa and work permits in the country you are moving to. This can take months, so don’t put this off.
- Think of all the things you want to do one last time in Beijing and start doing them! See p94 for ideas of what to do before you leave the capital.
- Take a break! Moving can be stressful; make sure you eat and sleep well to avoid getting sick.
Three Months Before the Move
- Confirm your moving date with the relocation company.
- Book temporary accommodations in Beijing – you will probably need somewhere to stay in between moving all of your things out of your house and leaving Beijing, even if it’s just for a few days.
- Notify all your friends about your move and start planning farewell parties for you and your kids.
- Cancel any memberships you have, as well as your cable TV. Also, transfer your health insurance.
- Start eating the food from the freezer and any canned food.
Two Months Before the Move
- Return borrowed books from the library (or friends) and any other rentals.
- Check your house one more time for items you might want to sell or give away. Give away your plants.
- Reconfirm your arrangements with the movers.
- Help your ayi find new employment by recommending her to friends or posting an ad on the beijingkids classifieds or on the Yahoo groups Beijing Cafe or Beijing Mamas.
One Month Before the Move
- Make sure you empty school, work and club lockers.
- Pick up your dry cleaning.
- Inform property management of your moving date and arrange parking for the moving van.
- Make a survival box for the move: copies of required documents, money, tickets, passports, small toys for the kids, as well as candy and granola bars for that all-important energy boost.
- Make sure you have enough electricity in the house and that your phone is functional – you will need it to direct the movers to your home or to make other arrangements.
- Arrange for kids and pets to be looked after on the day of the move.
- Make a detailed list of all the things that will be shipped, mark them (e.g. storage, air, sea), and divide the things that you plan to take with you on the plane. Take photos of your things (including pets) before packing for insurance purposes.
- Clearly label items not to be packed.
- Clean and dry kitchen appliances and garden tools. Drain water hoses and if you have a grill, empty the gas bottles.
- Set money aside to pay for the driver, ayi and moving company.
- Check your rooms and closets one more time.
- Refill medicine prescriptions.
- Empty and defrost your freezer.
- A week before the move, clean all of the furniture that is supposed to be shipped.
The Day of the Move
- Keep passports, tickets, money and documents safe.
- Keep the kids and pets out of the way.
- Check every room one last time.
- Make sure any deposits are given back to you.
- Turn off all appliances.
- Lock doors and windows.
- Make sure meters are read and the service disconnected after the move.
- Let the movers know which things you’ll need right away, so they can load them last.
Freecycle Beijing Yahoo Group
The Freecycle Beijing group is open to all who want to recycle household items rather than throw them away. There’s only one rule: Everything posted must be free. This group is part of the Freecycle Network, a non-profit organization and a movement of people interested in keeping stuff out of landfills. Check out freecycle.org for more information.
Roundabout Charity Store
Roundabout is a not-for-profit charity distribution store in Beijing. They accept good quality, unwanted goods, which they then distribute to Beijing residents in need.
Expatistan is a collaborative database of prices from around the world, made by expats for expats.
beijingkids’ family-focused online classifieds. Perfect for families looking to buy, sell and find everything from pet supplies to toddler goods.
the Beijinger Classifieds
Buy and sell anything from a toaster oven to a motorbike.
Beijing Cafe Yahoo Group
This site is dedicated to sharing information about life in Beijing. Membership by invitation only.
Beijing Mamas Yahoo Group
This open group focuses on all things parenting in Beijing.