Moving Overseas with Kids

A guide to moving abroad with your family

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Please see below for a copy of an article featured in the magazine New Zealand Outlook, written by John Mason International’s General Manager, David Ozard.
Don’t forget the kids when moving.David Ozard, John Mason InternationalMoving home is stressful at the best of times but moving to another country can be a much more daunting prospect. There is so much more to think and to worry about. No matter how convinced you are that you are doing the right thing there is always that element of doubt.

One of the main concerns is “how will the children cope?” Children are far more resilient than we parents sometimes give them credit for and the odds are that they will settle in a lot more quickly than the adults will. But there are ways of helping them get this initial period in your new country off to a positive start.

There is no size that fits all but here are some suggestions that may help you to placate “the little Darlings”.

Involve children in the moving process

When you have made the decision to go and you have your visa,  try to involve the children in as many of the discussions and decisions as possible. Even at a reasonably tender age, this will give them a feeling of importance and inclusivity and get them on board at a fairly early stage.

The children are going to feel quite vulnerable, especially the older ones, at the prospect of moving overseas and leaving friends and family behind. One idea is to get them a photo album so that they can make up a history of their lives in the UK with photos of friends, relatives and places. Added to this can be telephone numbers, home addresses and of course e-mail addresses. They can then keep in touch with people they knew before the move, which should ease some of the anxiety of being in a new country. Sharing news and some of their experiences will make them feel less isolated from old friends whilst introducing new ones.

Deciding what the children should take with them

What should they take with them? This can be a thorny issue and so should be approached cautiously. Most children can be hoarders (mine are!) so they will be loathe to get rid of anything. If that is the case then it may be worth letting them take all of their personal effects and toys. It is a lot cheaper to ship than to replace. A carton of toys will cost you approximately £30.00 to ship as part of a consignment. Just think of how many Barbie’s/ Action men you could fit in to one of these cartons and when they receive them it will be just like Christmas all over again. If you didn’t take them, just think of how much it will cost you to replace them!

The majority of children will compromise on what they will take with them so that you don’t end up shipping rubbish. Either persuasion or bribery can normally achieve this! If there is more than one child involved then sometimes you may have to limit the number of boxes each can have to ship their goods. Have a meeting (remember the involvement factor) and set on agreed number of cartons. Ensure that each child gets the same number of boxes to prevent the outbreak of civil war. Ask your mover at the time of the survey if you can have the cartons beforehand so that they can have a sort out. Children will understand when they see that you are leaving things behind and they will normally want to make a contribution. There is also the prospect of replacing old toys with NEW ONES. This is where bribery comes in! Why not let them sell their unwanted items and be allowed to keep the proceeds to buy new ones on their arrival. This also saves you some money.

Outdoor items

Outside items are also worth considering.  Climbing frames and the like can be dismantled (WD40 helps!) so are relatively inexpensive to ship.  Bikes and sports equipment can also be a good idea.  Please make sure that anything of this nature is spotlessly clean.

Electrical items

Electrical items from bedrooms can be a good idea to take. Stereos, computers and Playstations should work in New Zealand and Australia. Although some televisions, videos and DVD players do not work properly in these countries they may be worth taking because the TV can act as a monitor to play the Playstation on or to watch VHS videos and UK DVDs.

Bedroom furniture

Bedroom furniture definitely needs debating.  Remember when you ship goods you pay for volume. Good quality children’s bedroom furniture that flat packs makes it easier to agree to let them take their bunk bed or cabin bed.  Their chest of drawers can be filled with soft toys or bedding so they are also worth considering.


Your shipment will take an average of six to 14 weeks to be delivered to your new home depending on which country you are going to and by what method of shipment you are using i.e. groupage or the sole use of a container. Therefore, your children may need an emergency supply of toys when they arrive. If the bribery method hasn’t worked, you will need to make some provisions to keep them happy. Maybe you can take some toys on the planes as part of your luggage entitlement. Some airlines give an extra baggage allowance for first time migrants.

If you do not have enough suitcases to utilise this allowance, ask your international mover for a couple of extra cartons to be left after the packing and ask the airline if you can take them on the plane. Alternatively you may consider air freight but this is a relatively expensive option compared to sea freight and may not be justifiable.  The above are only a few ideas that may be considered and in the end it is up to the individual family to decide what will be appropriate for them.  Just remember that if the children settle quickly, it is one less worry for you which will help you reconcile the fact that what you have done is the best thing for you and you family.

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