Moving house is stressful, but for someone whose job requires a transitory existence, it can become one of life’s painful necessities.
Kristyn Tjaden has lived in Korea, Vietnam, Japan and China and has moved plenty of times. She admits that it never stops being a difficult process. “Moving is always stressful. It doesn’t matter whether you’re moving down the street or across the world. Something is always going to go wrong.”
A relocation company’s role is to reduce the stress of an interntional move. It can handle the logistics of moving possessions as well as helping clients find a suitable home in their new country and then settle into a new community.
The first question when moving is: how much do I need to pack?
“A lot of people’s possessions are things that they like to have around them. It’s a comfort thing. In China, a lot of properties are fully furnished, so there isn’t a need to bring all the furniture,” said Nigel Crockett, business development manager at Santa Fe, one of the largest relocation companies in China.
The next step is for the relocation company to identify a suitable home.
“If it’s short-term we put [clients] in a serviced apartment. If they have kids, they want to be near the school, [and] people want somewhere safe where their children can ride round on their bicycles,” said Kate Whitton, managing director of Ark International, a Shanghai-based relocation company.
Whitton says people are often attracted to downtown colonial properties, which often have more character than newer developments. However, although many have been renovated extensively, living in one can still be problematic.
“You’re less likely to meet people if you’re living in a house. We often find that people live somewhere modern for a year, and then they’ll tell us they feel ready to move somewhere a little older,’ she said.
The last stage of the relocation process is aftercare support. Some companies only deal with the actual move, and once clients are placed in their new houses, the job is completed. Clients should check if their company has people in the destination country who offer aftercare support.
One example of such support is a personalized orientation for the client. This includes services like smoothing communications with the landlord, which tends to be more useful in second-tier cities where housing quality is lower.
“When a property is owned by a private landlord, [tenants] need to have a representative with the landlord to make sure that things get done. The advantage for [a company] is that their employee can get on with their work and not have to waste time dealing with problems with their home,” Crockett said.
Relocation companies are supposed to make moving less, not more stressful, so it is even more important to find a reliable company to coordinate a move.
The Fédération Internationale des Déménageurs Internationaux, or FIDI, is a grouping of international moving companies. It accredits and audits moving companies around the world that meet its compliance procedures.
FIDI accredited companies are listed on its website, fidi-faim.com.
The best kind of relocation company for Kristyn Tjaden is one that makes moving as simple as possible, so she likes it best when a company can offer one contact for the whole move.
“It can be quite difficult when you have one contact in Shanghai and another in the States. It’s good if one person can coordinate everything: the move dates, the shipment dates, and so on,” Tjaden said.
Relocation companies are, in many ways, stress-alleviation companies. They are paid tomanage the vast array of tasks, and every ounce of the accompanying stress, that are part and parcel of moving house.
They may not be able to entirely eliminate the hassle of moving, but any service that can reduce the trials caused by an international move is surely worth considering.