Moving Overseas: What to Take With You and What to Buy

There’s a delicate balance when deciding what stays and what gets left behind when moving overseas.

packing boxes

On one hand, you may want to bring all the things that represent you—your wardrobe, your obscure kitchen equipment, your stately book collection. On the other hand, you’re moving to a foreign country where you’ll be starting fresh, so do you really need all that stuff in this old stuff bogging you down and adding weight to your baggage?

While you wouldn’t want to pack your entire house, bringing a couple of key things with you before you embark on your journey can make the transition feel much smoother.

If you’re stumped on what to take with you and what to leave behind, here’s a handy guide that categorizes what you must bring, what you may bring, and what you might want to leave at home.

What you should bring

This category includes everything under your possession that isn’t easily acquirable in your destination.

Important documents

When it comes to important documents, you’ll want to make sure you have the essentials sealed in a waterproof container or envelope.

Bring these protected documents with you in your handbag so that they’re less likely to get lost during transit. You may also make photocopies and electronic copies of these documents in case of loss or theft.

Your documents should include:

  • Your passport
  • Visas
  • Birth certificate
  • Medical records
  • Tax information
  • (International) driver’s license
  • Travel insurance paperwork
  • Credit cards


Medicine and prescriptions

Are you or your loved ones on any medication? If so, pack them in!

Make sure to bring an ample supply of your prescription drugs as it may be difficult to find the same medication abroad. You may get in touch with your doctor about your moving situation so that they can give you personalised advice on your medical needs.

That said, be sure to also check with your target destination’s embassy on their restrictions for bringing in certain drugs. Some countries may not permit the import of medication, even if it’s for personal use, so it’s better to tread on the safe side.

You may also bring supplements like Melatonin and other over-the-counter drugs that are already in your possession. Dramamine can also be very useful in treating motion sickness.

Gadgets and electronics

Your phone, tablet, laptop, and other electronics are one of your most essential possessions. If you use them every day, you’ll want to bring them with you when you relocate.

Be sure to check the voltage and plug requirements of your destination country so that you can buy the right converters and adapters.

Climate-ready clothing

Clothing is a definite must-bring, but they’re also one of the biggest space fillers in your luggage.

So before you start packing your entire wardrobe, think about the climate of your target destination. This way, you’ll know what apparel you can reasonably take along with you during your move without adding too much weight to your baggage.
For instance, if you’re moving from a cold country to a tropical one, you probably don’t need to bring those weighty sweaters and scarves anymore.

What you can bring

This category is for stuff you can live without, but are convenient to have if you have the space. Useful, but expendable.

packing materials

Difficult-to-replace items

Do you have a nice camera, a photo album, or a musical instrument that would be expensive or difficult to replace? Carefully assess whether you want to bring these items along with you. Some may have sentimental value and can serve as great reminders of where you’re from, others may just be plain clutter.

For those items that have a special place in your heart, don’t feel guilty bringing them along. Protect these items and get them ready for the journey ahead.

Expensive jewellery

Similar to difficult-to-replace items, you’ll want to take extra care when packing any jewellery, especially expensive ones. These accessories are fairly small and light, making them perfect to bring along since they don’t add on too much weight.

What to leave behind (buy abroad instead)

This category is for the stuff you don’t have to lug around with you. These things are easier to replace once you’re settled into your new city.


If you’re short on space, you’re most likely to leave your furniture behind. Not only are many of these items bulky and difficult to transport, but they may not even fit in your new place!

Instead of bringing along your old furniture, it’s usually better to sell them or give them away. Once you’ve finally settled into your new place, that’s when you can find home products on ArchiPro or other furniture stores.


Toiletries are another one of those things that are easy to replace, so you shouldn’t waste your time and space packing them.

As such, one of the most important things to do before moving overseas is to bring the essentials to make it past the first few days. This includes items like your toothbrush, razor, deodorant, and toothpaste.

For everything else, you can easily buy them after you’ve settled into your new place.

Kitchen equipment

Pots, pans, plates, bowls, silverware… the list goes on. Kitchen items can quickly add up and take up a lot of space in your luggage. You’re better off leaving them behind and finding new ones once you’ve arrived at your destination.