How to Store Your Possessions When You Go Overseas

Posted on Feb 8 2012 - 3:04pm by Tim Eyre

Like most people, I don’t like moving. When it comes to relocating overseas, things get even more complicated, but with good planning, and a little soul searching, everything will end up in its proper place.

You may not intend to stay overseas forever, so obviously there are many belongings that may be left behind. It’s not necessary to sell all those items you’re not taking with you. Self storage is a great solution for cherished family heirlooms and other things you want to keep, but that may not be so useful for your two-year stint in Japan. I can’t imagine getting rid of my old high school yearbooks or sports trophies. I can also see my wife making fun of me for trying to take that stuff overseas.

Often, living spaces overseas are smaller than what you’re accustomed to in the U.S. You’ll probably have to leave many things behind, including your first G.I. Joe action figure or Cabbage Patch Kid, or whatever childhood toy you never tossed. Plus, international moving can be expensive, making storage an even more appealing option. Many companies offer storage allowances with their relocation packages. If you’re unsure, ask your employer.

While you’re organizing for packing, separate items that are essential for your new life overseas from the ones you’ll be storing or giving away. By the time your belongings are all packed, you’ll have a much better idea of how much storage space you may need. Our size calculator is a wonderful tool to help you visualize your future storage space.

Does everything you’re not taking with you have to be stored? Probably not. You can lend an item to a trusted friend or relative. For example, your younger sister may be starting out on her own after moving from a furnished college dorm room. That expensive bedroom suit you spent two month’s salary on doesn’t have to be sold or stored. Little sister can use it as long as she agrees to take special care, and understands you’ll be claiming it again one day. Just be sure to keep a list of who’s using what!

Be generous to others, and nice to yourself at the same time. Remember that you’ll have an easier time moving overseas if you leave behind items that are a snap to replace once you get to your new home. After all, who doesn’t want a new wardrobe? (Now’s the time to get rid of all those ties or snow globes you got for Christmas the last seven years.) And who wants to pack a coffee maker? Clothing items and small appliances are great candidates for the donation pile. Groups like The Salvation Army can always use housewares and clothing donations, and you get an added tax break for making a donation.

Whether you move, lend, donate or store the things that currently make up your home, take advantage of the opportunity (however forced) to get organized again as you start a new chapter. The posts under the organization topic of this blog can help.

What items would you store if you moved overseas?

Tim Eyre