Moving to Japan – my story

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Packing for our first move abroad

We moved from the UK to Tokyo at the end of November 2006.

All our possessions needed to be sorted out long before this date. Rather than be in a new country without anything around us – especially so close to Christmas – I figured it would be easier to be in familiar surroundings with fewer items. We’d been informed the shipping would take approximately six to eight weeks. So we brought the removal firm in at the end of September.

No furniture or electrical equipment

Planning what to take was made easier because the terms of our relocation stipulated that we couldn’t take any furniture. Also our electrical equipment wouldn’t work in Japan due to the difference in voltage. So we weren’t actually left too short of items during our last weeks at home.

I planned meticulously. And started a major declutter. Some items went into storage while others were given away to friends and family.

Unaccompanied air freight

Important possessions would travel via air freight a few days before our own departure. These included items such as my precious computer as I work from home, most of our winter clothes and some Christmas items.

This air freight should arrive within a day or two of our own arrival.

Take on the plane

Certain items would travel on the plane with us. We had the normal suitcase entitlement for the airline, so packed just enough clothing last us a few days until the air freight arrived. Important toys and activities to keep a five-year old occupied were included, along with valuables such as paperwork and jewellery.

International removal by sea

All the rest would be packed up by the removal company to be shipped, with the hope that it would arrive before Christmas, but knowing that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if it took longer.

Our daughter’s birthday was a couple of weeks after the removal firm had been through the house and packed. So I put her presents in a room together with everything else that had to stay put. And stuck a note on the door to tell the packers that this particular room should be left alone.

On packing day, it didn’t take them long to clear the house.

I remember being surprised at how quickly our life disappeared into boxes and then onto the lorry. I also recall the weather was horrendous with pouring rain hammering down.

Once everything was on the lorry, I made a quick check around the house.

To my horror, the “DO NOT PACK ANYTHING IN THIS ROOM” notice had fallen off the closed door and all my daughter’s birthday presents were packed on the lorry!

The removal guys were not impressed to have to unload the boxes in the rain to find everything from that room. Thankfully they weren’t too far back in the depths of the lorry so we were able to retrieve them without too much fuss.

Inventories are very useful pieces of paper – it meant they could quickly pinpoint the reference number of the boxes from that particular room.

The moral of this tale – make sure any “Do not pack” notices are stuck on with a LOT of tape.

And don’t hide while the packing is done; keep an eye on what is going on, but don’t hover around all the time as you’ll annoy the packers.

So, did it all go according to my plan? Read about that here… Expect the unexpected…

How to organise your packing to help make your move abroad a success from the start

This eBook will guide and support you as you make your first steps to your new life abroad

Sort out your packing! PDF Link

Get the paperback here

Find the Kindle version on Amazon

And don’t forget your packing lists!

Check out my ready-made ones here

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