How can you cut down on your costs of moving?  These are some lessons we’ve learned.

1.  Don’t move.  That’s simple enough and several times during the moving process, we did think about calling the whole thing off.

2.  Sell off everything and just take your clothes and whatever can fit in your suitcases. 

3.  DIY.  No, I don’t mean carry your entire shipment onto the plane (that would be terribly expensive) or ship.  You can only do this if you own your own plane or ship.  But, you can pack your own belongings.  This can be tricky, as you’ll read further.  But, it will definitely save you some money and a headache.  We had used a moving company once for an interstate move.  We did most of the packing, but they arrived early and ended up “helping” to pack.  What they did was open up some boxes and threw whatever they could find into it.  This is called “professional” packing services.  Therefore, for the international move, we used our “amateur” packing techniques, which included bubble wrapping and cushioning using our own clothes.  But, at least, we knew where everything was.  We labelled the outside of the box and made a list, numbering each box and giving a little more detail of its contents.  Using the company’s services meant you had to pay for the labour and supplies.  The cost varies from company to company.  The downside to DIY is that you are responsible for the contents.  The movers will still make their own list and the boxes need to state their contents.  Some movers require that you leave the boxes opened so they can inspect them.  Some companies, such as IntlMove, will not provide insurance cover for damages if you do any part of the packing yourself.  So, either allow them to damage your goods and you can claim for them later (if they’ll even acknowledge your complaint) or pack it yourself.  Some will allow you to deliver the goods to the docks, if you live nearby.  You do have to check with the companies.

4. Insurance?  As I stated, if you pack your own goods, some will only cover for total loss, not damage.  That means if they lose your shipment, you can claim against them.  We figured, unless the ship sinks, we should receive our goods, damaged or not, so we waived the insurance.  We found out later that everyone recommends you take the insurance.  I don’t see how that could have helped us.  I doubt they could adequately compensate for the loss.  After all, most of our goods had sentimental value, rather than monetary value.

5. Don’t go with the cheapest.  As we’ve learned, IntlMove gave one of the cheapest quotes, but in the end, we paid for a lot of “extras”.  We were lucky, however, since we actually received our shipment.  Others were not so fortunate.  I hope they took out insurance.

Moving to another country is always full of stress.  One of the biggest hassles is the actual transport of personal property.  It would be great if you could just pack your suitcases and go.  But, for most of us, we are moving our entire lives.  Finding the right moving company will determine whether the move is a “piece of cake” or a living nightmare.

Let me start by saying that ours was closer to the nightmare.  Because of that, we decided to cool off before we go into some nasty tirade against the movers.  After all, we want to sound objective.  That is why I’ve decided that now is the time to discuss international moving.  I may actually have several blogs to write about regarding this.

We’ve had no experience with international moves until now.  We did not do our research as we should have, because we were not aware of all the pitfalls.  We looked for international moving companies and only one was persistent enough to get our business.  But let me warn my colleagues out there that they should beware of IntlMove.  I don’t know how many of you have ever used them, but they definitely belong to the “rogue” category.

From what I can gather on the internet, IntlMove was doing very well until 2008.  If you look on their website and see all the testimonials, they were all dated from December 2007 and beyond.  If you want to find complaints, most occurred last year.  What went wrong?  I don’t know but I will share some of our experiences here and write some advice on subsequent blogs.

Another reason I would like to write about this now is because we might have to consider returning to the US.  If we do, we will not be using IntlMove.  I hope that some of my colleagues might be able to give me advice on companies they have used and trusted.

One of the most frustrating things about IntlMove is that there is no personal service.  Everything is done via email.  The representative does call you up, but once you’ve agreed to go with them, they will not discuss anything on the phone.  They claim that email provides a “paper trail” against “he said/she said” issues.  Fair enough, but that didn’t help us in the end.  They contract with other moving companies to pick up your goods and deliver them.  Once they have it in their hands, you are at their mercy.  They tried to hold our shipment hostage, demanding more money, claiming that we went over our weight limit and that the moving company had to do additional packaging.  I will admit that we went over the weight limit.  We know because we personally weighed everything and overestimated.  But we did not go over by the amount they claimed.  We, however, cannot prove our point on that score because they used their own scales.  But we had proof that there was no additional packaging, attested to by the moving company that delivered the goods.  But they ignored our complaints, denying that anyone had any knowledge of this.

We’ve already reported them to the BBB and the FMC.  We have still to contact the Bureau of Enforcement.  We’ve also reported them to, a forum for people making moves.  Unfortunately, there are still people being scammed by IntlMove right now.