February 7, 2023
Moving with Kids | Checklist
Moving overseas can be an exciting life change, but moving with a family can be stressful.
As an adult, you can rely on your own resilience and sense of adventure to navigate the challenges of living abroad. But your children have their own wants and needs – and a move to a new home may not be one of them.
How can you minimise the stress on your child and help them have the best possible start in their new home, town or country?
Planning… and lots of it. So let’s get started!
Download our printable Moving with Kids Checklist. And read on for our complete guide:
Moving with Children – the Ultimate Guide
2-6 Months Before the Move
Your child's new school is possibly the single most important aspect of your move. They will spend much of their day in their new school, and it will form the basis for many of their friendships, extracurricular activities and social life. (If you are like most parents, your child's school will be a big part of your social life too.)
Take the time you need to get it right.
Understand the school system
School systems vary dramatically from one country to another. Before you rush to make a decision, begin with an overview of the academic styles and expectations in your destination country or region.
Then drill down into the community where you will reside. In some places, such as in the U.S., school districts are funded by both state and local taxes, so school districts can have very different levels of funding. In other countries, like Canada, state-run schools are fairly consistent from one town to the next.
Public or private?
Decide whether a private school or state-run “public” school is more appropriate for your needs. You may be surprised at what you discover.
For example, U.S. public schools have a government mandate to provide services for students with disabilities. Smaller private schools may not have the expertise or budget to help students with dysgraphia, dyslexia or other disabilities. Ask each school administrator questions about the services that matter most to you and your child.
How to research schools
If you are working with a destination service provider, your move specialist can help provide information about schools in your new community.
If not, online resources can be a lifeline. In the US, sites like Great Schools are helpful tools that allow you to find schools by zip code and address. Local parents groups on social media can be another helpful resource.
Start the school transfer process
As soon as you find a school of interest, begin the application and request a transfer of records. Your current and future school districts can tell you how to navigate this process.
Prepare your child for moving
Most children need time to process change. Talk with your child to help them understand why you are moving. Plan activities together to encourage a positive attitude towards this new adventure.
Read books about moving with your child.
Provide a timeframe for the move and try as much as possible to move at a time that is less disruptive for your children.
Help your child come up with a plan to keep in touch with friends. Older children will do this naturally through social media and texting. Younger children may enjoy trying out a FaceTime or Zoom call with their buddies before they move.
Get excited about your new home. Show your kids where you will be living – if possible with an in-person visit or by using your computer or phone. Find some new places and organisations that spark your child’s interest. Researching sports clubs, entertainment, camps or other activities can provide a sense of new opportunities.
Reserve places for your child in any sports and activities that have a registration deadline or waiting list.
Have your child help with the planning process. Ask your child to create a list of things they would like to see and do upon arrival.
Shop for your mover
Compare and shop for a reputable, professional mover, especially if you are moving overseas. Your move will be stressful enough without worrying about your household items.
Don’t rely on over-the-phone or ballpark online quotations. Request a complete survey and moving estimate.
Schedule your moving day for a time that is least disruptive for your child.
Bring your pet if you can!
Your pet may be one of your child’s best friends. Bringing your pet with you on an overseas assignment can help ease your child into their new home.
Since some destinations require vaccinations and applications up to 6 months before your move, reach out to a pet relocation provider early, and leave plenty of time for your pet’s relocation process.
1 Month Before Your Moving Date
Schedule your Moving Date
If you haven’t already, schedule your moving day! It is critical to book your mover well in advance, especially if you are trying to plan your move during the summer or school holidays.
Confirm School Transfer
Check that your child’s new school has received all the information they need from your previous school district. Ask if everything has been processed properly and if there are any next steps you need to take before the first day of school. Does your child need a uniform, books, or sports equipment?
Get excited about your move
Make decorating plans. Draw a rough sketch of your child’s new bedroom and let them draw where they want to put their furniture. Ask them how they would like to paint and decorate their room.
If you haven’t already, tour your new community. Go sightseeing and visit popular destinations so your children can get acquainted with their new surroundings. For overseas moves, search on social media for videos about your new town (check them first!) or use a free tool like Google maps to get a street view of your new neighbourhood.
Start to set aside any essential items, including identification, birth certificates and medical records. Make copies of important records and store them in a safe place. Our complete relocation and packing checklist can help get you organised.
Sort and donate. Find time with your child to go through their things and choose what you want to take with you. If you plan to keep some items in storage, think realistically about what you and your child will really value when you return (when your child is anywhere from 2-4 years older or more). For all other items, either donate or discard them.
Transfer Medical Records
Speak with your doctor, dentist, vision and other medical providers to request medical records and sign any necessary documents to release your child’s records to new providers.
1 Week Before The Move
It’s time to party
Have a “farewell” party! Invite your child’s friends and family and celebrate the friendships you have made in your home.
Drop off all donations
If appropriate, your child can help you donate their old toys at a local school or donation centre.
Pack an activity bag
Ask your child to create an activity bag for travel days and the first few days in your new home. This bag can include games, colouring books, toys and other items. Download and print our free moving activity book.
For smaller children, you may want to pack their things while they’re sleeping to avoid disruption.
Get organised for moving day
Photograph your items
Take pictures of everything you’re boxing up so you know what exactly is being packed.
Make payment arrangements
If you haven’t already, set up a payment plan with your mover so there aren’t any unnecessary delays.
The big day has arrived!
Take child to babysitter’s or friend’s house
If possible, bring your child to a friend’s house while movers are in your home and packing your items. Moving crews work quickly and efficiently, and there will not be time to have “negotiations” with your child while their things are being packed.
Greet your movers
It is always advised to:
Verify the movers’ licences, IDs and company logos to make sure they are the correct providers
Review packed items and request packing lists
Double-check the fine print of your documents and sign off to finalise the moving process
If your movers will be at your home for a few days, ask them to pack your children’s belongings last.
Travel in comfort
Once the movers leave, it’s time to head to your new home. Whether you are going by automobile, train or aeroplane, try to make the day as comfortable as possible.
For flights and train travel, you may want to pay more for advanced seat assignments, more leg room, or pre-arranged meals. Packing lots of snacks can go a long way in keeping your children (and spouse) from getting cranky.
After You Arrive
Congratulations! You have made it through the (hopefully) hardest part. Now it’s time to get settled and start enjoying your new home.
Unpack and organise your child’s belongings first
Help your child get their room ready first, beginning with comforting items like toys or a favourite blanket.
Keep some old traditions
Keep a sense of continuity. If your family enjoys having a weekly Sunday brunch at home or Saturday pizza and a movie, continue these traditions in your new home.
Start your social life
Introduce yourself to your new neighbours and join local groups for parents, moms or expats.
Schedule doctor’s appointments
Schedule an introductory appointment with your child’s new paediatrician and regular appointments with your new dentist and other medical providers.
Be tourists in your new town
Now is the time to visit the fun new markets, museums, recreation centres, and ice cream shops you identified when researching your new town. Take photos and note new things you would like to do once you are settled in.
Stay in Touch
Help your child call, send photos or write notes to friends and family members
Need help? Contact us today!
Moving with children is a major life event. While taking steps to prepare your child (and yourself) can help ease the transition, the best way to lower your stress is to work with a moving company that you can trust.
Sterling Lexicon moves families and corporate assignees around the world, and we can help you too. From household goods shipping to a full suite of relocation services, contact us today:
Ready to get started? Download our Easy Checklist | Moving with Children