Packing your life into boxes and shipping the lot halfway around the world is one of the less attractive parts of being an expat. Haunted by visions of cracked china and sofas left sweltering on the dock in some distant port, it can be a worrying experience. But you can take steps to limit the potential for mishaps and ensure that your valuables make it to their new home in one piece. Kirsty Green offers some top tips for a smooth move.
Art, Antiques and Wine
Valuable items need proper handling, so the first step is to pick the right moving firm. “Professional packing by trained crew using the correct packing materials is the key to reducing the risk of damage,” says Maryanne Teo of Interport Executive Movers. Ideally, you should get quote from two or three movers to compare prices and the service they can offer. Be certain that you understand the basis of the quote, as different moving firms often calculate their estimates in different ways. “Ask for testimonials,” suggests Alvin Ong of Vanpac International. “Check out their facilities if you have the time. If they don’t want you to come, they may have something to hide.”
When it comes to fragile items such as antiques and paintings, using the right packing materials is imperative, so ask the mover how they plan to deal with these items. The mover should make a note of fragile pieces’ dimensions during the pre-move survey and then ensure that specially customised wooden crates are provided on packing day. Another top suggestion is to personally oversee the packing process so that you can advise where particular care is needed. “People often go out and leave the packers to do the work, but I would highly recommend that you be present while the packing is done,” says Bill Cain of Santa Fe Relocation Services.
Shipping wine can be a problem as many countries have restrictions or punitive charges for importing alcohol. “We usually encourage the clients not to take their alcohol with them, as wine is cheaper in most other countries than it is in Singapore,” Alvin says. A good moving firm should give you all the necessary information on how Customs will affect your shipment. If you decide to ship your wine reserve rather than polish it off before you leave, the mover should be able to provide appropriate packing materials to protect it during the move.
Electronics and Furniture
Items such as TVs and stereos should go into their original packing. If you slung the boxes out years ago, the packing company should be able to provide appropriate replacements. “Check that your electronic items will work on the destination country’s voltage and make a note of the serial number and model,” Bill advises. Fridges and washing machines should be switched off a couple of days before the packers arrive and ventilated to let them dry completely.
Plasma TVs need to be handled with particular care as they are very fragile and prone to damage in transit. Maryanne Teo suggests, “LCD and plasma televisions are sensitive and should be packed with a protective wooden crate.” It’s also worth reading the small print of your insurance policy for your move to check that plasma televisions are covered; many policies don’t cover them.
On the topic of televisions, what could be more frustrating than unpacking at the other end and realising that the remote control is nowhere to be found? Make sure you put all of your electronic paraphernalia such as power leads and cables safely together in one place. Some movers provide a specially marked box for these items so they can be easily located among the mountain of boxes when you get to your new home.
Furniture is generally fairly solid and ships well, but if there is anything that needs extra-gentle handling, be sure to let the packers know. Soft furnishings such as carpets and sofas can be prone to mould or mildew, so ensure that the mover has suitable materials such as absorbent packing to avoid any problems. Leather sofas can be particularly vulnerable, and should be cleaned prior to being shipped.
Clothing and Accessories
Clothing can be tricky to ship. No matter how carefully it’s packed, it usually needs ironing at the other end. Your best bet is to fold garments as well as you can and ask your mover for specialised packing containers, such as standing wardrobes for suits and dresses. You may also decide to pack your smalls yourself, and some movers provide garment bags for personal underwear. As with soft furnishings, check with your mover that damp-absorbing packing material will be used to prevent mould.
Last but not least, ensure that you get your insurance right. “The more detailed an inventory is, the easier it is to claim,” Bill says. He advises that you keep an updated list of the items that you buy, together with their value, in a spreadsheet. Avoid a lump-sum insurance policy; it may be tempting as it saves the hassle of itemising your possessions, but often results in disappointing payouts.
Check that your insurance covers your goods for storage in transit in the event of a delay. Keep all the documents relating to the move together and in a safe place, so that if anything does go wrong, you know whom to call. The groundwork involved in preparing for a move may feel like a headache now, but it’s worth it to avoid heartache further down the road.
Interport Executive Movers
|“Professional packing by trained crew using the correct packing materials is the key to reducing the risk of damage” |
|Vanpac International |
33 Penjuru Lane, Module 5
Call +65 6262 1300
|“Check out the company’s facilities. If they don’t want you to come, they may have something to hide”|
|Santa Fe Relocation Services |
54 Pandan Road
Call +65 6398 8588
| “People often leave the packers to do the work, but I highly recommend that you be present while the packing is done”|