13 Money Saving Tips to Cut Overseas Moving Costs

International moves are exhilarating adventures, but the cost of shipping your belongings across continents can quickly turn excitement into a budget headache. Fear not, intrepid explorer! This guide unveils 13 ingenious international moving hacks to slash your shipping costs. From decluttering like a ninja to choosing the savviest shipping method, these clever strategies will help you save money and ensure a smooth transition to your home abroad. So, grab your passport, book those flights, tighten your belt and discover how to save money with these 13 money-saving hacks!

Choose the right way to ship.

Cargo ship - Sea freight shipping

If you only have some small ‘must have’ items, an air freight service may be a quick and convenient service to consider. However, as moving items by air is considerably more expensive than shipping by sea it is not a cost-effective solution if you have more than a few boxes to move.

For a more substantial move, sea freight is the obvious choice. A sea freight shipping service will see your belongings moved in a shipping container on a specialist container ship and provide the flexibility of having either the exclusive sole use of a container or sharing space in a consolidated container with other shipments.

For larger full house moves where all furniture and contents is being shipped, a Full Container Load (FCL) service may be the most cost effective option. Shipping containers come in two internationally standardised sizes, 20’ or 40’ in length, and will usually only be required for full three bedroom or four / five bedroom house moves. With a full container move you should expect to be charged a set cost for the sole use of the whole container irrespective of how much space in it you use.

To move the contents of a studio apartment, a one / two bedroom property or if you are only making a partial house move with minimal or no furniture, a Less than Container Load (LCL) service will be the one for you. This style of service will see your shipment moved in a container together with other shipments in a shared container, so you only pay for how much space you need, rather than paying for the whole container.

Declutter and sell what you don’t “need” to take.

Donating Decluttering And Cleaning Up Clothes - tips to save money when moving overseas

When budgeting for your international shipping and moving costs, size matters. All moving companies will calculate your costs based on the volume of your move that will be measured in either cubic metres or cubic feet. One cubic metre is the same as 35 cubic feet of space and, as the size of move will determine how much your removal costs will be, it is important to prioritise and be selective on what you take.

For larger items of furniture, consider if it will be cheaper to ship what you will need to furnish your new home or perhaps take the opportunity to replace a few key pieces with new furniture when you arrive. The market for second hand furniture is booming and some items can easily be sold using selling sites such as FaceBook Marketplace or eBay. Taking a large sofa for example can add as much £500 to your shipping costs. Grandads favourite armchair could add another £200 to your moving costs!

The money you save by selling rather than shipping, together with the money you make from the sale might make treating yourself to a new sofa when you arrive a savvy money saving option rather than an unnecessary luxury.

When deciding if you take some electrical items such TV’s, small kitchen appliances or white goods, check that they can be used in your destination country. If you won’t be able to use them when they arrive it will have been an unnecessary expense shipping them.

Even smaller things such as clothes, home décor items, books and old toys can all add up to increase the size of your move and your moving costs. Take the opportunity to be ruthless, if you can, and only ship the things you need. Selling sites such as Vinted can be a great place sell your unwanted clothes, shoes, and smaller household items. In the same was as taking those excess items can add up to increase your moving costs, selling them can just as easily add up to make a noticeable contribution to funding your move.

Not all decisions can be made based solely on cost and it can be tricky to decide if you can bring yourself to leave behind items that hold sentimental value. However, for those non-sentimental items that you’re just not sure about, simply ask yourself if you really will need or use it again and if the answer is anything other than a resounding “Yes”, put in on your ‘Sell, Donate or Recycle’ list.

Plan to live a Spartan life… for a while.

There’s no getting away from it, when you ship your personal belongings overseas, you’re going to have to live without many of your creature comforts while you wait for them to arrive. In the same way as deciding what things you can’t live without, give some thought to how long you can live without them.

Whether planning how long you will be able to sleep on an air bed until your mattress arrives or, how far your budget will stretch if you’re taking a temporary furnished rental until your house contents is delivered; how long your overseas move will take can have a big impact on your relocation costs.
Consider using a moving company that provides a weekly international moving service to not only cut down on the time you will be waiting but also to let you plan your budget and moving schedule with confidence.

Consider taking Excess Baggage when you travel.

That extra bag on your flight may well cost you more than the shipping costs but you will save money whilst waiting for your shipment to arrive by not having to buy extra clothing for the first 5 or 6 weeks. An additional bag may cost you up to £150 in excess baggage costs but could save you over £500 should you have to buy additional clothing whilst waiting for your shipment to arrive.

Do your own packing, wherever possible.

When moving to another country it is a common misconception that moving companies must pack everything for you to comply with overseas Customs’ regulations and requirements. In most cases this is simply not true. Getting some of your own packing done before moving day will reduce the amount of time it takes your moving company to complete your move and the amount of packing materials they will need. Both of which will save you money.

Your chosen international removals company will be happy to let you know what items you can pack yourself and may even provide free moving boxes to encourage you to do the job for them! They will also tell you what you’ll need to do when packing that, in most cases, is as simple as numbering each box you pack and writing a clear inventory of what is packed in it.

It’s not just what you pack but how you pack it that can see you achieve even more savings. When packing fragile items such as ornaments, rather than wrapping them in expensive bubble wrap, use clothing as your protective packing material of choice. Clothing and soft furnishings can offer great protection for fragile items at the same time as achieving 2 for 1 style space savings!

Let your furniture work for you. Use up that drawer space!

Many of the pieces of furniture in your home have one purpose, to put things in. Why should it be any different when you ship them to your new home overseas? Consider using a moving company that provides a palletised packing and moving service. This style of service means space inside some of your furniture can be used to pack smaller items or boxes to save space and money.
If you fill up drawers or inside of washing machines or tumble dryers then make a list of what you’ve packed to ensure a smooth transfer through customs.

Insurance matters, but you can insure the good stuff only!

Specialist moving insurance is another cost you need to think about but is also another opportunity to save some of your hard-earned cash. Taking marine insurance cover to protect your worldly possessions during their globetrotting adventure is essential but, you may not need to insure everything you ship. Things such as well loved and played with children’s toys or perhaps some of those more robust items from your garage or garden are unlikely to be susceptible to damage if packed properly. Some moving companies insist that everything is insured, choose a moving company that lets you be selective, and don’t bother insuring those pots and pans!

Move during the off season. Winter months are cheaper!

It’s not only what you move and how you move it that can provide you with opportunities to get the best deal. When you move can also be just as important. The moving industry, like most other industries, has peak seasons and off seasons that can affect what you will be charged. Choosing the right time of year to move, if you can, will often provide some serious savings.

Typically, the summer months are when demand for moving services is at its highest. Peak demand often coincides with school summer holidays when young families can move without the added challenges coordinating an international move around school commitments. Peak demand can lead to higher prices so, if you are able to, try to avoid moving during those busier summer months. Planning to move during the off season is a really simple way to save without needing any real effort.

Remember, it’s not just your belongings that will be travelling when you move, you need to get there too. With airlines often charging premium rates for people travelling over these same busy summer months, it’s easy to find your budget getting squeezed when you’re competing with holiday makers for peak season flights.

Moving during the off season will not only provide you with access to some of those cheaper moving rates and airline ticket prices. It can also provide you with a much greater degree of flexibility to fit your move around work or other commitments. When you move at a quieter time of year you are more likely to be able to book your move for a day suits you, meaning you avoid having to take costly time off work.

Timing your move and your own travel at a time when airports, customs offices and shipping ports are less congested and busy will also avoid extra costs that come hand in hand with unexpected delays. It will also make for a far less stressful experience to enable you to enjoy the start of an exciting new chapter in your life.

Avoid moving on a Friday.

Many people want to move on a Friday. It lets them get their removal out of the way just before a weekend that can then be spent tying up those last few loose ends or, enjoying social time with family and friends before heading off. However, the convenience of starting your move on Friday can come at a cost.

The costs for moving on a Friday can often be driven up when demand for people wanting to move on the same day is greater than number of moves a company can accommodate. More practical considerations such as heavier traffic on the roads or extended travel times that are frequently associated with Fridays can also contribute to how much you will be charged. These sorts of real-world challenges can also increase the potential for your moving company being delayed and result in a stressful day clock watching while you wait for them to arrive.

By contrast, arranging your move for a Monday or a Tuesday can provide you with a much more relaxing weekend ahead of your move and offer another opportunity to trim your budget. Doing those final checks, at your leisure, over a quiet weekend is a great way to avoid things cropping up at the last-minute and facing you with unexpected extra costs.

Moving companies may also offer preferential rates for people who book their move to take place early in the week as it helps them to fill their collection schedule for the week to come. If you’re prepared to be flexible, ask your moving company what day works best for them and what incentive they can provide if you book your move to fit in with their plans.

Currency exchange strategies.

Exchanging your hard-earned cash for the local currency of your new home can be a significant expense during an international move. But, with a bit of planning and some savvy shopping there are some tried and tested strategies to help you save money and get the most out of your currency.

Avoid airport exchange kiosks.

Exchange kiosks are notorious for offering poor exchange rates and levying high fees. Only use these airport-based exchanges if it is unavoidable and even then, only convert a small amount of money you need for immediate use when you arrive.

Using a bank or currency exchange company

When deciding to use a bank or currency exchange company shop around. Bank rates of exchange can be considerably higher than exchanging currency online. Compare exchange rates and fees offered by banks and online currency exchange services. Take some time to explore different online currency exchange services that often provide competitive rates and lower fees compared to traditional methods. Using a provider with a strong reputation and that offers secure transactions is essential and you should also ensure they are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA). You can verify this by checking the FCA register here https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/financial-services-register

Consider using a currency card before you move.

While currency cards (also known as prepaid travel cards) are primarily designed for travellers and holiday makers, they can also be surprisingly useful during the initial stages of moving abroad. It doesn’t matter how well you plan, you will almost certainly have various, and unexpected, expenses when you first arrive. This could include anything from paying deposits on accommodation to buying groceries and essentials during your first days in your new country.

In many cases these expenses may come before your bank accounts are set up or, when you have limited funds in your new account that aren’t already earmarked for essential bills. A currency card pre-loaded with funds can be a safe and convenient way to manage these costs and avoid doing expensive emergency transfers from your other accounts.

When considering which currency card is the one for you, there are a few key factors that will help you choose a safe and suitable currency card to suit your needs. It may sound obvious but, always look for established and reputable card issuers and opt for cards offered by well-known financial institutions or travel companies with a strong track record of security.

Got a van or SUV? Pick it up yourself and save on delivery costs

When your goods arrive in your home country, they will be customs cleared at a regional depot nearest to your home town. Once your goods have cleared customs our agents will contact you and arrange a suitable delivery time. This is the standard “door to door” services offered by most movers. Did you know you can ask your mover for a “door to port” service or a “door to depot” service only. Once your goods have cleared customs you can then arrange the collection yourself and save on the transport from the port or depot to your door.

In the USA for example we have depots in every state so if you have the resources why not pop in and pick it up yourself!

Don’t be afraid to negotiate.

When you’re happy you’ve found the service for you, there’s still one last chance for yet more savings. Ask a discount. Planning and booking your move well in advance will put you firmly in the driving seat so, use those negotiating skills to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Time to get planning.

By following these simple steps, you can be sure of a stress-free move without breaking the bank or blowing your budget. Whether you’re a cost-conscious bargain hunter or simply a savvy shopper keen to get value for money, planning is the key to success.

We hope you find these tips helpful and remember, it’s never too early to start shopping around. Get your Free International Moving Quotation Here or, if you need any advice or would simply like to find out more Contact Us Here and we’ll be happy to help.

Avatar for Mike Harvey
As the Managing Director of 1st Move International, Mike Harvey brings more than two decades of logistics expertise and three years of specialised experience in international relocations to his role. His comprehensive knowledge spans the intricacies of overseas shipping, secondary yet crucial areas such as visa application processes and immigration requirements, and the wider topic of moving abroad including topics such as comparative analyses of cost of living, healthcare and educational systems worldwide. This expertise allows 1st Move International to equip people with the information they need to not just move overseas, but to make informed decisions about whether, and where, to relocate.