Moving house – the in-home survey

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The packing estimate

Once you have chosen your removal company, they will send someone around to your home to estimate how much stuff you have to move.

We had our in-home survey last week. We’d done a fair bit of preparation such as de-cluttering and moving some items into storage (we won’t have much use for snow and cold weather gear in South Africa! ETA – I was wrong, we needed them!).

Then we have to separate items into,

  • Cargo – on the ship. This is the bulk of our items and things we can live without for a couple of months or more.
  • Air freight – on the plane, a couple of days before we leave. Not much can go in this, but includes items such as my computer and a few clothes.
  • Luggage – everything we carry in our suitcases and hand luggage.

This survey is to estimate the volumetric weight of everything that will go as cargo on the ship.

As we hadn’t moved some items to storage at that point, we put them into a room that was ‘off-limits’ – locked and labelled with a ‘no entry’ sign, so none of that was included in the survey.

A woman arrived with a clip board and pre-printed sheets of paper listing standard household goods. She walked around the house ticking off what was to be taken and what wasn’t. This is always slightly complicated by us not moving any of our furniture – it’s rented and stays in the house. So you do need to be alert and not miss anything. And language differences always make this an interesting experience…!

List of household goods for the removal estimate
A section of our list of household goods.


We usually estimate that three quarters of all our clothes will go on the ship. It’s generally a little more, but we’ve not encountered problems yet. We always choose ordinary boxes rather than special hanging wardrobe-boxes. The hanging boxes don’t hold much and take up a lot of the volumetric weight. Besides, they are no guarantee that the clothes will arrive uncrumpled anyway. (Edited to add – even though we chose standard boxes, the shipping company used wardrobe boxes instead. Which we didn’t find out until we reached the other end. I was right; they don’t stop your clothes falling in a heap and being more crumpled than ever.)

Flat-pack furniture

I want my desk and filing cabinet to go to South Africa so this will need to be disassembled before the packers arrive. Anything that collapses needs to be sorted out by you before the packers arrive.


Bikes have to be taken apart before they are packed. Make sure you pack the necessary tools so you can put them back together at the other end. If you’re moving to somewhere with strict rules about importing soil etc (eg Australia), bikes and other outdoor equipment will have to go through a stringent decontamination process.


Some moving companies permit the packing of toiletries while others don’t, so check first. If you are allowed to take them ensure they are well packaged in plastic, airtight boxes to avoid contamination if something breaks or leaks. No aerosols though!


Don’t forget to include garden equipment and furniture.

And don’t forget the attic and other ‘hidden’ storage areas.

Once the survey has been completed, you will be sent the details to confirm and sign off. And then the date is set for the packing and moving of your goods and personal effects.

Our packing day is 17th June 2013.

It’s coming around fast!

For full and detailed information about planning your packing for a move overseas, buy my eBook!







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