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It’s estimated that more than 8 million Americans are living around the globe as of 2024. And if you too have recently decided to make a different country your new home, then we commend you! Because moving to a new country is by no means an easy feat.

One of the challenges would-be expats face early on, for instance, is figuring out their international moving costs. Fortunately, as New York-born-and-bred international movers with decades of experience, we can help.

Understanding the Costs of International Moving

The average cost of an international move can range anywhere from $1,000 to upwards of $10,000. And to better understand the total cost of your move, you’ll need to do some serious math homework. So get organized, create a spreadsheet or two, and get that calculator out.

Key Factors Influencing International Moving Costs

Here’s what you’ll need to factor in before you start packing for your new life.

Factor 1: The Size of Your Move

The physical magnitude of what you call home is usually the most significant factor in your overall moving costs.

For example, are you packing up the contents of a humble NYC studio or, rather, every square inch of a spacious Beverly Hills mansion? Will a few backpacks suffice, or will your move require multiple shipping containers? Are you hoping to have all your stuff in your new home ASAP, or do you need a storage unit indefinitely?

Whatever the case may be — a careful, detailed inventory of all your stuff is essential. And note that with international relocation, both the weight and volume of your stuff are usually factored in.

Factor 2: How Far (and Where) You’re Going

Next, consider the overall mileage. Because the more long-distance the move, the higher the transportation costs. So moving your stuff from the U.S. to neighboring Canada, for example, will be far less costly than an overseas move to Australia or Japan. Also, keep in mind that international shipping costs — as well as the costs of local moving services, customs, taxes, and so on — will generally reflect the average cost of living in both your old and new home. So cities like London, Paris, Zurich, and Hong Kong will be pricier to move to than, say, Buenos Aires, Cairo, or Cape Town.

Factor 3: Shipping Methods and Desired Services

Exactly how you plan to move your stuff is equally important. For example, sea freight is usually way cheaper than air freight — although it does require longer wait times. While packing your stuff in a car and driving it to, say, Mexico, might be even cheaper.

Shipping Methods


Most international moving companies and shipping companies also provide all sorts of other services — from packing materials to car shipping to custom crating and more. Or you might just opt for door-to-door (aka D2D) moving services and let the pros handle everything altogether.

So what you pay in the long run may vary greatly depending on how much you plan to DIY your move. And this is also where the first two factors are key.

Factor 4: Who’s Coming With You

Are you moving abroad solo, as a couple, or as a family? Because you’ll need to factor in plane tickets, transportation costs, and food and accommodation for everyone involved too.

Meanwhile, transporting your fur baby overseas can be particularly nerve-wracking and costly. And even that beautiful garden (and/or big funky plant you really want to keep) may mean significant additional fees.

Factor 5: Vaccinations, Customs Duty, and Visa Fees

International relocation usually involves a lot of red tape too. For example, first and foremost, you want to make sure that everyone is properly vaccinated. And the CDC can help you learn more (including for your pets).

Vaccinations

Meanwhile, customs clearance requirements and import duty/taxes for international removals will differ greatly from country to country too. So make sure you take a minute to familiarize yourself with the latest international moving regulations.

And if you need a visa, residence permit, or any other legal documentation — this too will impact your budget. Depending on your destination country (and/or your immigration lawyer), these fees can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

Factor 6: Insurance Costs

From insuring your flights and belongings to health insurance for you and your loved ones in your new home, this can be another hefty expense. Most moving companies, for example, will provide basic limited liability insurance for your items (usually at $0.60 per pound). But with an international move, you’ll likely want to opt for as much added security as possible.

Meanwhile, your health insurance and overall healthcare options will depend on your destination country. So your overall insurance costs may also range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

But it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the well-being of your stuff abroad — and especially so when it comes to your health.

Tips for Managing and Reducing International Moving Costs

No matter your destination, moving abroad will certainly require some serious budgeting. So here are four sure ways to guarantee you save money.

Tip 1: Timing is Everything

Give yourself plenty of prep time before your moving date. We recommend six months at the very least, but a year or two if you can. Because there’s a lot to consider both at home and abroad, and you’ll want to have all your bases covered well in advance.
Timing is EverythingStatistically speaking, the cheapest time of year to move abroad is between November and January. But no two moves are ever the same either. And depending on your situation, even multiple, spread-out “small moves” can sometimes end up costing you less than trying to ship everything over at once. So plan way ahead, pace yourself, and don’t forget to breathe.

Tip 2: Pack Wisely

While you’ll certainly want some things to remind you of home, you don’t necessarily want to bring your entire life with you. Because a container load of stuff you know you’ll never use is definitely throwing money to the wind.

So get rid of the junk. Donate to friends, neighbors, and/or a charity. And maybe sell some stuff. Craigslist, eBay, or even a good old-fashioned yard sale, for example, will not only help you cut down on additional costs — but also give you some extra cash to help transport the necessary stuff.

If you’re short on space in your new home, consider long-term storage (both at home and abroad). Check out our Ultimate Packing Guide to help minimize container space. And don’t forget that things like furniture, basic household goods, and even a family car can likely be purchased — with ease, and often for less — in your new home country.

Tip 3: Do Your Homework

And, finally, the best way to get the most bang for your buck is to be in the know. Most professional movers, for example — both local and international — will offer a free moving quote once you give them an idea of your move.

But make sure you compare a few international moving quotes. Also, factor in potential wait times, travel and insurance costs, and other expenses. Consider all the factors (and tips) listed above. Leave a margin of error. And have a plan B and C, if you can.

Prepping an international move can feel overwhelming. But remember that you’re not the first person to do this either. So talking to your expat friends and family and exploring blogs, tutorials, and expat communities online can be a great help too. Wherever you can get a second and third opinion.

Take notes, get things in writing, and ask questions. In short. leave no stone unturned. Because, ultimately, no matter how far away from home you are — luck always favors the prepared mind.

Oz Moving & Storage: Your Partner in International Relocation

And while we can’t necessarily help you with your vaccinations, visas, or learning the new language — relocation is definitely what OZ does best. So whether you just need some help packing, white-glove services for your more delicate items, temporary storage space — or anything in between, OZ is hands down your go-to international moving company.

So get a free quote from us today. No matter how far you're going, we’ll help make sure you start your new expat life a little more stress-free.

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