Overview: Cost of International Moving
QUICK SUMMARY- Average Cost Of International Moving
Moving to a new country always makes me feel like I am embarking on a new adventure. Many expats look at an international move as a fresh start, filled with unique experiences, new job opportunities, lower costs of living, and a change in lifestyles.
When you're moving to a new country, one of the most important factors is the cost. How much will it cost to fly there? What are the living expenses like? How much will my monthly rent be?
An overlooked, but substantial expense is the cost of moving your belongings to another country. Unless you plan to start your new adventure with just the clothes on your back, you'll need to bring some things.
I've lived in over ten countries. I wish changing countries were as cheap as paying for a flight. However, international moving costs are more than a plane ticket; your expenses can include moving services, visa and immigration fees, temporary housing, expat health insurance, and potentially storage.
The average cost of international moving is approximately $1000 to $10,000 USD. Thought actual moving expenses vary depending on the distance, the number of boxes moved, the size of furniture (if any), and any additional services required. A complex move with large furniture pieces that require custom crating services may need a video or in-home survey for an accurate price estimate.
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5 Quick Tips For Moving Abroad
TIP 1. Understand your new country's visa policy- A decade of experience living abroad taught me that a country's resident visa and permit situation can make or break a plan to move overseas. Moving to a country doesn't make much sense on a 30-day visa.
TIP 2. Learn about expat health care- Most health insurance will not cover you for any injuries sustained outside your home country. To get protection when moving abroad look for Expat Medical Insurance.
TIP 3. Save on Moving Costs- International moves can get expensive. Save hundreds of dollars by getting accredited moving companies to compete for your business. Fill out a quick form, sit back and let our moving partners get you five free quotes from trusted and reliable international moving companies. Save time and money.
TIP 4. Set up a Traveling Mailbox- Change all your critical mailing addresses to a traveling mailbox. Don't lose an important tax return, bank statement, credit card, or government document in the mail. Sign up for a virtual mailbox, and you can keep a permanent US mailing address and check your mail via your phone or PC.
TIP 5. Pick up the local language- Making friends and acclimating is always easier when you learn the local language. You don't need to be fluent. Learn a few phrases with a free 7-day language crash course to make moving abroad easier.
Other Guides On Moving Overseas
How much Are Moving Costs to a new country?
Depending on how you categorize expenses, the average cost to move to another country can be $1000 - $10,000+. On the low-end, an international move is as cheap as a one-way flight ticket. On the high-end are corporate international relocation packages, where your company pays all the costs to move you abroad.
A rule of thumb used by professional relocation companies is the cost of moving a renter overseas is in the low to mid-$20,000s. While the average cost of moving internationally for a homeowner is between $60,000 and $80,000.
However, a complete relocation package paid by an employer contains several costs (such as Home purchase and sale assistance or Overseas employment tax subsidies) that may not apply to you moving yourself to a new country.
Typical International Moving Expenses
Estimated Prices (1 person from the USA)
Travel Cost to destination (average international flight)
Packing and Moving Service (varies)
$1000 - $10,000+
Moving Insurance ($10,000 declared value x 2%)
Travel Health Insurance (one month 40 year old male)
Visa Service and Legal Fees
Short-term housing (varies by location)
$500 - $3000
Temporary storage solutions (one month)
Customs, Duties, and Import Taxes (2% but varies)
Why does the cost to move overseas vary so drastically?
Unsurprisingly, the exact cost to move abroad varies dramatically on circumstances. Prices depend on the country and the city you are moving to, relocation distance, the number of belongings you want to take with you, and how much of the effort to move overseas you want to outsource vs. do-it-yourself.
The cost of shipping household goods internationally is only one factor. While your biggest expense is usually shipping your belongings overseas, when moving internationally, there are a lot of other factors to consider.
What are some factors that affect the cost of moving internationally?
The cost to ship your household goods overseas tends to be the largest expense. International shipping costs vary based on the distance of the move, the size of the shipment, the type of shipping service used, and any additional insurance coverage.
To give you a basic cost benchmark, here is the average price of a moving a house from the US to an international destination.
One Box (max 44 Ibs)
Prices above only cover port-to-port ocean transportation. A full service international move would include professional packing and unpacking, shipping insurance, door-to-door delivery, customs and duties, and any additional services (storage, custom crating, etc.).
Factors Affecting The Average Cost Of International Moving
Here are some of the expected and unexpected expenses you can incur when moving overseas:
Moving overseas shipping costs
International shipping rates fluctuate based on route, destination, and cost of origin. If you only plan on shipping a few boxes, overseas shipping costs can be less than $1,000 for a one-bedroom. But shipping everything in a four-bedroom home can skyrocket expenses to over $10,000.
INSIDER TIP : Get International Moving Companies To Compete For Your Business- When planning your move, it's crucial to get quotes from various international movers and compare prices. You can save up to 40% off your international moving costs by comparing costs. However, ensure you are comparing apples to apples. Be sure to ask about all the associated costs, such as packing supplies, basic insurance coverage, and customs fees.
Moving insurance costs
To ensure your belongings are protected while in transit, an international full-service company may require you to purchase insurance. Insurance can be as low as $100 to protect against theft or loss of your shipment. As insurance is based on the declared value of your shipment, a reasonable estimate for insurance costs is 0.15% of the value.
Customs Clearance, Duties, and Taxes
These are taxes and fees levied by the destination country you are moving to and are the least controllable of your costs of moving internationally.
These charges can be costly, so it is essential to understand their potential financial impact. Most overseas moving companies treat customs, duties, and taxes as pass-through costs to you.
The company will make you sign a contract or promissory note committing you to pay them back, but they don't make any profit on the customs and duties. They charge and collect what the government taxes on your shipment.
The customs duty charged varies depending on the type of imported good and its value. Generally, the higher the value of the good, the higher the duty charges applied.
Like customs duties, taxes are generally based on the value of the item brought into a foreign country. However, unlike customs duties which are applied universally to all imports, the government levies taxes at different rates for different items or categories of items.
Before moving internationally, be sure to research both customs duties and taxes to correctly estimate what you will need to pay at the country of destination.
There are two types of storage that can increase the cost of your international move:
Long-Term Storage- If you are still apprehensive about moving abroad or know that moving overseas is not permanent, you may pay to store your household goods in a storage facility instead of packing and shipping everything overseas. The average cost of a large (10x20–10x30 ft.) storage unit in the United States is $290 per month.
Temporary Storage- Packing, trucking, ocean shipping, customs clearance, delivery, and unpacking. Moving your household goods to another country is complicated and may not coordinate perfectly with your personal timeline of when you want to move into your new home. You may need to temporarily store your shipment depending on the timing of your move.
People often overlooked budgeting for visa fees, especially Americans, who are used to not paying any visa fees when visiting countries as tourists. However, depending on your nationality and the destination country, moving to another country long-term can get surprisingly expensive. For example:
- The base price of a Philippines retirement visa is a One-Time Application Fee of $1,400, $300 for each dependent, and a refundable deposit of $20,000.
- A retirement visa in Croatia requires $13,000 to $15,000 upfront to pay for one year of prepaid apartment rent, buy-in to public health insurance, proof of sufficient funds, various legal fees, and real estate agent commissions.
- Colombia's Pensioner Visa (M) has an $30 application fee and a $230 purchase price
- The cost of Spain's Non-Lucrative Visa varies by country, but the lowest price visa is 80 EURO.
Be sure to factor in visa fees and financial requirements as part of your costs of moving internationally!
Temporary Accommodation and Travel Transportation Costs
In addition to transporting your belongings, you'll need to fly yourself and your family to your new home. Additionally, you may have to pay for rental cars or public transportation you take in transit and while you get settled in your new country.
Another important consideration is the cost of accommodation after arrival. You will likely need a place to stay for a couple of months until you find a permanent home. Short-term housing costs vary significantly depending on where in the world you are relocating. Weekly or month-to-month housing in cities with a low cost of living will be cheaper than in popular tourist destinations or countries known for higher rental prices.
Health Care Cost
Health care costs vary significantly from country to country, and they can be exorbitantly expensive in some cases. As you are unlikely to be covered by a country's national health care plan when you first move to a new country, you could end up paying a lot of money for medical treatment if you and your family are uninsured.
INSIDER TIP : Healthcare Coverage Abroad- Most health insurance will not cover you for any injuries sustained outside your home country. To get protection while living abroad, there are two options:
- Travel Health Insurance- This will cover you for unexpected medical issues while overseas. However, the coverage requires you maintain insurance in the United States or your respective home country. I pay roughly $50 per month for complete coverage with no deductible.
- Expat Medical Insurance- If you retire abroad, expat health insurance is a more complete option. Expat Medical Insurance is the "normal" insurance you are familiar with to from home. Coverage is built for people who live in a country versus traveling. While more expensive than Travel Medical Insurance, premiums are still cheaper than the US.
Cost of shipping a vehicle overseas
The size, weight, and type of vehicle all play a role in the final price tag, as does the destination country and the shipping company you choose to work with.
Shipping a vehicle by itself is often the most expensive option. However, you can save money by combining your personal vehicle with your household items and sharing a shipping container.
Follow these directions to add a car to your international moving quote.
- 1In order to get a quote for a car, select either complete household or part of household as the moving size.
- 2Use Complete Household if you plan on combining your car with household goods.
- 3Use Part of Household if it’s only a car.
- 4In the remarks field write exactly what you plan on moving.
- 5Fill out your contact details to get no obligation quotes from 5 International Moving Companies
- 6Sit back and wait for the shipping quotes to get emailed to you. Easy-Peasy!
What is the cost of moving internationally?
The cost of moving internationally varies depending on the size of your move, the distance you are moving, and the amount of help you need with the move. You can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 for an international move.
Tips for reducing your cost of moving overseas
There are a few ways to reduce the cost of moving internationally.
- Reduce short-term accommodation costs by finding a place to live before you move. Housing prices are always cheaper when you sign an extended contract.
- Sell as many of your possessions as you can before you move.
- Rent a large garbage bin and ruthlessly trash any unwanted items that are not in a condition to sell or donate.
- Compare the cost of an international shipment to the storage costs of your possessions.
- DIY packing and unpacking your belongings into moving boxes can help save on labor costs.
- Use Port-to-Port basic service and drive your shipment to the nearest port. If you don't live near a coastal shipping port, a full-service moving company must truck your shipping container to the nearest port. Drive the container yourself to reduce the overall cost of your move.
- Shipping your belongings via sea freight is usually the cheapest option (see tip below for exception to the rule)
INSIDER TIP : Airline luggage can be a cheap way to move internationally- Shipping by air is the fastest but rarely the cheapest way to move household goods shipment internationally. However, if you don't have much to bring, checking your household goods as excess luggage on your flight is very affordable.
As a passenger, you can typically check up to two 50 lb bags for free, then pay another $50 to $100 for extra luggage on most major airlines. Note that these policies may differ depending on your flight and destination.
I was allowed to check two suitcases at 75 pounds each when I moved to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. I paid for the three 75 lbs boxes as extra luggage. Those five boxes fit all my clothing, office equipment, and pots and pans from my kitchen. I paid less than $500 to move from the US to South America. What a great deal!
What is the best way to cut the cost of shipping your household goods overseas?
Get accredited international moving companies to compete for your overseas move. By filling out the 60-second form below, you can get 5 FREE international moving quotes. Compare the additional costs, quality of service, and experience of the different companies to save up to 40% off your cost to move internationally. These quotes allow you to compare prices and find the best deal for your needs.
What packing materials do I need to buy moving internationally?
If you use one of my accredited moving partners, they will supply the required professional packing materials to transport your belongings safely. However, if you plan on packing your household goods yourself, quality packing materials are essential. Download this checklist of packing materials for you to buy xxx. The checklist includes:
- Standard Boxes (43×41×60cm), Flat Clothing Boxes (92×51×34cm), and Extra Secure Double Layered Boxes (For china, flatware, and glass items)
- 20mm Three-tier bubble wrap (1500mm width×100m long) Shock protection for delicate items like picture frames or other specialty items
- White Wrapping Papers (510×760mm)- for wrapping your stemware, dishes, and glasses
- 7Brown Tape (48×75mm); Provides a stronghold and tight seal
Note that moving companies are not liable for damage to your shipment if you decide to pack your household goods yourself. To avoid any damage or loss, use an accredited full-service moving company.
Important Terminology: Shipping Household Goods Internationally
- Full Container Load (FCL)- You get your own 20 foot, 40 foot, or 40-foot high cube container. If you properly box up your belongings and wrap fragile items before shipping, containers ensure your belongings are safe and secure and avoid any damage or loss during transport.
- Less than Container Load (LCL)-One way to save money on shipping is by using LCL instead of FCL. Less than Container Load shipments are when you don't have enough stuff to warrant your own shipping container. The shipper adds multiple customers' smaller shipments together to reduce the overall cost of shipping per customer.
- Door-to-Door Service (D2D) – One of four types of moves. Also known as house-to-house service, when your belongs are shipped from your old home to your new home.
- Port to Port Service (P2P) - The middle part of an international move. Specifically, Port-to-Port transportation covers only the ocean transportation from port of loading (also referred to as port of origin) to the port of discharge (or destination port).
- Port to Door Service (P2D) - An alternative transportation service, where delivery is from Port /Freight Terminal to your new home. Door to Port (D2P) is the inverse, where you would need to arrange the final transportation or storage for your shipment from the arrival port in your new country.
- Ocean freight – When a cargo ship transports your goods via sea routes. This shipping method is the most common and cheapest method for international moves.
- Customs duty – A tax imposed when importing your shipment into a foreign country.
- Duty-free – When items you bring into the country are exempt from customs duty
Key Takeaway: Cost To Move Overseas
Reduce the number of belongings you take with you to save yourself a lot of money and hassle.
Doing your research and budgeting ahead of time can ensure that your relocation goes as smoothly as possible without breaking the bank.
If you liked this story on immigrating to Colombia, you will enjoy these other posts on Moving Overseas
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FAQs: International Moving Costs
The average cost of shipping a car overseas is $1000 to $3000. However, shipping is usually a fraction of the total cost to import your vehicle into a new country. Most countries place strict duties and taxes on cars. The import tax of a used car can cost more than the car's value.
Some countries, like Colombia, even make importing all used cars illegal.
To calculate how much it will cost to ship your belongings overseas, you first need to estimate the volume or weight of your shipment. Our international moving quote form estimates your volume and average weight based on your inputs to obtain non-binding quotes of your move costs.
$1000 to $5000, however, typical cost vary significantly depending on several factors, including the volume or approximate weight of your belongings, the type of transport used, and the distance your shipment must travel.
When you're moving to a new country, one of the most significant expenses is shipping your household goods.
It takes an average of 10-15 days for household goods to move internationally from the US, although this timeline varies depending on the location and any optional services required.
If you judge based on the actual cost to ship furniture vs. buying something locally, the answer is usually no. It is not worth shipping furniture overseas. However, if the furniture is unique, custom-made, has sentimental value, or is a family heirloom, the price isn't the issue.
Taking an Ikea bookshelf with you to another country isn't practical, but a Steinway piano is a different matter. Low-quality furniture is less likely to survive disassembly, packing, shipping, trucking, and reassembly. Additionally, some parts of the world may not have access to the same quality of furniture pieces.