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The Relocation Process: Foreign Vs. Domestic

Moving for a career opportunity is an exciting prospect whether you’re moving a few hundred miles or halfway around the globe. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for a smooth transition.


Moving from one state to another is much simpler than relocating overseas, but both have their challenges. For a domestic move, be prepared to obtain a driver’s license in your new state — depending on the length of your work assignment. Check with your new state’s Department of Transportation for residency requirements.

If you are relocating overseas, you’ll need a passport for yourself and any family members moving with you. In addition, you’ll need a work visa. Getting an approval can take months, depending on the destination country. It’s best to begin the application process for all documents as soon as possible.


The length of your work assignment will likely determine your housing needs. It may also influence the type of relocation assistance you will receive. For example, temporary workers may receive short-term housing benefits such as rental cost and lease-breaking assistance, while a full-time employee’s relocation assistance may include home-finding trips, home buyout/purchase assistance, storage costs, and moving expenses.

If you are moving overseas, a good relocation policy is essential. The cost of shipping your household goods, taking trips to locate a property, and renting or buying are all substantial. A good real estate agent will help you find a property to suit your needs and budget. Keep in mind that the cost of living in your destination country may be greater than your current location. Some companies may offer a cost of living adjustment/allowance to help ease this burden.

Your belongings

If you’re relocating for a short time, you may be able to leave most of your belongings behind. Some relocation assistance plans offer allowances for storage or programs to help you rent your home temporarily. A real estate agent can help you find furnished or corporate rentals that provide necessities. If you are moving long term, you’ll need to arrange to move your household items.

Long-distance household moves are expensive and can be complex. For a domestic move, a professional moving company typically packs and loads trucks, which are then driven to your new home over the course of several days to weeks. If you are moving items overseas, the process is more involved and considerably more expensive. International moving companies complete inventory forms for customs and insurance and then pack and prepare items for shipping by air or sea, depending on the size of the shipment and how soon the items will be needed. Air shipments take one to two weeks, and are best for smaller, more essential items. Larger shipments by sea can take months to arrive.

Settling in

Moving to a new area is always an adjustment. Environmental, social, and cultural differences exist throughout the United States, but can be even more substantial in other countries. If you are moving internationally, be prepared to learn new customs, languages and laws. If a spouse or children also make the move, you’ll need to find a school for the kids, and determine whether your spouse is eligible to work in your destination country. Cultural training programs and expatriate groups can help ease the transition, regarding transportation services, tax information, religious customs, etc.

(Original Post)


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