Have 9 Months or 1 Day? How to Plan Relocation with Timeline in Mind

Relocating or just plain moving house can be quite stressful, but that’s only because we don’t allow ourselves enough time to strategize our move. Most of the time, we’re rushing. What if your assignee actually had 9 months to prepare?  If that’s not possible, what about 6 months? Still manageable yet tight, you think. But what if you had only 3 months or even less? That’s going to be hard if you’re uprooting yourself from another country. For those who only have a day, they better be close by.

So given these time-crunching scenarios, your talent needs a strategy. Everyone needs a plan based on your timeline, according to Gosselin Mobility which provides relocation services in Europe and Asia and whose checklist is attributed and tweaked here for those moving to the US:

With more than 9 months to go, here’s what they can do:

  • Have their visas, work permits or residence permits in order. For some countries, visas can take more than a year to be approved
  • Make sure that they official documents (passport, drivers license, ID card) and those of their family or partner are all valid
  • Tell them to prepare traveling budget, taking into account any expenses for visas and passport renewals, the predicted cost of your move, and settling-in expenses
  • Give them as much information about their destination country. Suggest the advantage of learning more about the local language, not just the conversational English but business English

Within 6-9 months of planning:

  • Look into housing options. California Corporate Housing can help them find the home and neighborhood they want, customized to their style and needs
  • With children in tow, contact any current or former residents about locations and do your research on schools, admissions and registration requirements, waiting lists. Consider an international school
  • Make your talents list of all the things they need to bring and  what restricted items they should be aware of, the size of their home, and shipping allowance if this is an employer-sponsored move
  • If possible, organize a pre-move visit for them in the new country so they can come to a better understanding of the culture and lifestyle. This will help to ease their transition after the move
  • If they have a house they’re leaving behind, they have to figure out whether to sell it, lease it, or have a friend/relative move in. If renting, tell them to give the landlord as much notice as possible; if selling, have their house on the market as soon as they can

With 3-6 months to go before they start getting stressed about it:

  • Arrange a visit to the new home to assess the volume of the move. Ask for a quotation for relocating one’s belongings, and discuss insurance options
  • Make copies of all valuable and legal documents the expat plans to take with him or her, such as birth and marriage certificates, social security records, health records, bank drafts and insurance policies
  • For those with children, have the assignee notify their current school of your relocation, and ask them for copies of school records, certificates and transcripts
  • Gather family’s medical records and arrange for any necessary vaccinations (this extends to any pets you might be taking)
  • Check whether their insurance plan is covered in the city or country they’re moving, making sure to adjust to any new insurance arrangements
  • Have them decide what to do with their bank accounts: whether they will cancel credit cards or take them with them, and whether will keep their current account or close it. If they are keeping their current accounts, they will need to notify the bank of their new address (if you have not already)
  • Encourage them to hold a garage/yard sale for any unwanted belongings, or have them give their stuff to friends/family, or donate them to charity.
  • Have them update their address book to make sure they have accurate details for their friends, family and associates.
  • Have them compile a list of people/organizations to notify of their change of address or residence. This can include the post office, lawyers, doctors, banks, loan companies and insurance companies
  • Have them compile a list of any magazine/newspaper subscriptions, bills, permanent order payments and so on that these may have and cancel accordingly


Within 6 weeks prior to the big move:

  • Have them confirm their packing and moving dates with the mover.
  • Have them notify people on lists of their new address, and organize mail forwarding just in case any important documents are sent to their old address after their move.
  • Make sure they contact utility companies (electricity, gas, telephone, cable, mobile phone provider, internet service) so they can arrange to have services terminated one day after their move. That’s a day after their move, only because you never know if something happens and they have to go back to their home country or city; this is just a precautionary measure
  • Remind them to keep all of their keys, passports, ID cards and other important documents in one place.
  • Double-check their travel details

1 day for those relocating close by

  • Defrost the fridge/freezer
  • Have important documents ready
  • Make sure they have some food/beverages on moving day
  • Encourage them to interact with the movers. A small gesture like giving them bottled water goes a long way
  • They should have their mobile phones fully charged
  • Important in a day when one may find difficulty sleeping: They should get a good night’s sleep

Moving day

  • It’s crucial that the driver has the contact information of the assignee and that the destination address is correct
  • If you’re the mover, make sure they have all their belongings
  • If not, pay them a visit. See if you or your staff can help.
  • Encourage them to interact with the movers. A small gesture like giving them bottled water goes a long way
  • Ensure children and pets are out of harm’s way before the movers arrive
  • Have them talk to the foreman of the movers to give specific instructions for certain items or furniture placements.
  • Have them check the inventory list and sign accordingly