Whether it’s moving house or country, packing things up, finding the right relocation company you can trust, and working out the cost and timing can be daunting. This is especially true if it’s your first time relocating.
If your employer has contracts signed with a list of relocation companies in the destination country, all the better. You will get a better deal by using the contractors.
As expats ourselves, we’ve worked with or spoken to countless relocation companies with branches and arms all around the world. We’ve had positive experiences and feedback from companies like Santa Fe, Asian Tigers, and Crown, just to name a few.
Nevertheless, if you decide to have a go at researching some relocation companies on your own, the following top tips will prove priceless in helping you pick a moving company that suits your needs and budget.
1 – Recommendations First
The first thing you should do is to have a sit-down talk with your employer about all the finer details of the relocation. Nail everything down, including how and who is paying for the relocation cost.
There are 2 options (usually):
- You’re paying for the relocation yourself
- Your employer covers for the relocation cost
You can also ask your circle of friends or local expat groups for relocation services they have used or know of. This will provide you with some honest reviews, feedback, and references.
Bear in mind that if you’re paying for the relocation yourself or if your employer is paying for it, you’ll need cold hard cash upfront. Spending some time researching and getting quotes from the relocation companies will take some time but it is worth it because the difference can be as huge as 30% to 40%.
2 – Background Check
As a simple example, the cost of relocating from Singapore to Penang can cut approximately SGD10,000 to SDB15,000 into your budget. Multinational companies have a network of global contractors they usually work with, and with that comes discounted pricing if its the employer who is paying. Sometimes, the employer bridges you over for the relocation; other times, you’re paying for the relocation yourself.
Ask around amongst your friends, family, or other expatriates who work with mid-sized multinational companies for reference. Some global contractors have local representatives, in which case, you can get a better deal from them!
Some relocation companies outsource the work which can hike up the price. So, be mindful of that by getting at least 3 best quotes for comparison.
The good thing is that expat communities, no matter where you’re relocating to, are extremely helpful with such tips and advice. Services from companies who outsource the relocation work to 3rd party contractors are often more expensive than local contractors because of advertising and marketing costs.
Make sure the movers you are interested in are licensed and registered locally. Check online for reviews and visit their websites for the company’s history, contact details, and local address. Not only will this give you peace of mind, but you’ll also have a contact point for emergencies, requests, and future questions.
3 – Taking Stock
This is the most daunting part of the process. Some companies do a walk-through to advise you about what to pack, store, or sell. You might want to rethink having to pay the packing and shipping cost of items you could easily replace at your next destination. Use this opportunity to declutter and downsize your belongings to lighten the load.
“A good relocation company should be able to advise you on customs regulations in the destination country – in case some items are prohibited or subject to tax. This helps a lot in deciding what to bring with you.”– Elle, Malaysian residing in China.
4 – The Range of Relocation Services Provided
Once you’ve got your inventory finalized, decide if you need a full door-to-door service (check if this includes reassembling furniture in your new home) or just packing and shipping. If you prefer to do the packing yourself, ask if the company can supply the boxes and materials beforehand.
We live in the world of the internet and social media. After selecting your preferred or available relocation companies, at least 3 companies for comparisons’ sake, ask around on expat Facebook groups or communities for further advice and to see if anyone else has used them in the past.
They will give you their honest, real-life review and opinion about using your shortlisted companies.
5 – Marie-Kondo Your Relocation
It takes time to coordinate the whole relocation. Are you moving a piano or a valuable piece of art? Check that the local movers have the right vehicles, tools, equipment, and storage facilities to avoid any unnecessary damage during the handling and storing process. If the service is not available, figure out a way to either store them, rehouse them, give them away, or sell them.
It can be time-consuming.
Working with an experienced and meticulous supervisor or evaluator will make all the difference in the world. They’ll not only walk into your home to give it a sweeping gaze and a quick quote, offering you attentive advice after a thorough look-through is a part of their work.
One word of advice from us, people who have essentially uprooted ourselves and our families more times than we dare count, is to be ruthless about sticking to the budget and discarding or giving the things you no longer need away.
It’s hard, but it needs to be done. It just comes with the territory of moving to a new place.
6 – Mind Your Money
When asking for quotations be mindful of ‘hidden’ costs and request a list of extra fees that may be incurred. Transparent pricing is a sign of a reliable moving company. If they require a deposit make sure it’s no more than 20% of the total cost.
Once you’ve got the quotations in your hands, it’s time to put aside some of the money for the move. Budgeting is of utmost importance.
Asking other expats for advice about hidden costs and unexpected expenditures will also save you a lot of time and money! Before you sign on the dotted line, we strongly recommend checking in with both well-known relocation companies and local ones with overseas partners/branches to give you the bigger picture as to the best relocation company to go with. The range of services and price has to fit right into your budget.
After speaking to other expats, the relocation companies, and your employer, arm yourself with at least 3 quotes to compare. This is important if you’re moving a lot of large, expensive, and sentimental furniture.
The evaluator will give you an initial idea about the cost of relocation after the first visit and you’ll know by then whether you need a 20ft or 40ft container to get your personal stuff to your new home. This might not matter much if your employer is covering the cost of relocation but if let’s say, you are moving a lot of antique furniture or curio, you’ll have to Marie Kondo your belongings.
Moving expensive, antique, or artwork that requires extra special protection and care will cost you extra.
7 – Get covered
Clarify what insurance coverage is included. Most companies offer partial liability so you may need to fork out for a full-protection plan if your belongings are valuable enough.
Don’t be shy about asking about insurance coverage with potential relocation companies and start comparing them. When you’re moving a lot of your belongings across the distance, the cost of insurance can pile up.
TheExpatFairs have worked with a multitude of companies and are familiar with the process. If you’d like recommendations on which relocation companies are best for your unique needs, ones that we’ve used for overseas and local relocation, email us at [email protected]. We will be more than happy to help you out.