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It’s never easy deciding what to take with you and what will remain behind when you’re prepping for a major move overseas.  It might not be clear when you’ll return, or when you’ll be access the items you store next.  Plus, the entirety of the overseas move is much more challenging than a typical move, mainly due to all the logistics involved.  You can’t stack your things in the back of a van and go. Chances are you own a variety of items that are simply not practical to move overseas.  It might be due to an item’s size (perhaps a large eight-person dining table), or it maybe you have too much stuff—it happens.

One of the most important things to consider when moving overseas is space.  Knowing the size of the space you’ll be moving into can determine what you take and what you leave behind and store.  When moving outside from the continental US, it’s highly likely your new space is going to be smaller (the United Kingdom and Japan, on average have considerably smaller living spaces than the US, while Australia often has home sizes comparable to the United States).  Of course, there will be situations (such as short notice moves) when you won’t know how much space you’ll have, or what the space will look like.

Consider the cost.  How much is it going to cost to move your belongings?  If you’re making a military move, as many who overseas moves are, you’ll receive assistance and contractors will move and ship your belongings for you.  Many private companies will also provide assistance to employees relocating out of country.  There are strict weight limits you will have to deal with, which vary depending on a number of variables (such as rank or status within a company).  If you choose to move your stuff yourself, the military will reimburse you for much of the cost (typically up to a certain weight or volume limit). If you aren’t making a military move, be prepared — the costs of moving can be high.

If you’re unsure about how to organize your belongings, you may want to consider placing a bulk of your stuff into temporary storage.  You can assess your space and decide later what will be ideal for your new place.  At that point, you can have your stuff shipped to you (and the rest placed into long term storage, either domestically or abroad).  This solution can be the most expensive, especially for a non-military relocation, but it can also be the most convenient.

When your stuff is in storage, particularly long term storage, and you won’t be able to access it with any regularity, if at all, it’s a good idea to have a friend or family member to have access to it.  This is both for security purposes and in the event you need something from the storage unit and it’s completely unrealistic for you to access it.  Also, be sure to organize your storage unit so that anyone who does have to access it can do so with minimal confusion—make sure everything is logically organized and properly labeled so the labels can be quickly and easily read.

Additionally, it’s very important to rent a climate controlled unit, since your stuff may be stored over multiple seasons and weather conditions.  Having a consistent environment will keep your belongings from becoming damaged (from moisture, heat, or cold).  Oh, and if you’re in the military, don’t forget to ask for a service member discount, which most storage facilities provide.

About the Author: Jenny Young is a blogger who writes with Uncle Bob’s Self Storage blog When not writing about storage and organizing, she’s tackling another DIY project at home.