A miniature airplane and the hand of a person on a world map

Moving abroad is often an exhilarating leap into a new chapter of life. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in a different culture, make new friends, and expand your horizons like never before. Whether for work, study, or simply to satisfy an insatiable wanderlust, living in a foreign country is an experience of a lifetime. However, as thrilling as it is, it can also be overwhelming. Uprooting your life and starting fresh in an unfamiliar landscape involves logistical challenges and emotional hurdles. Deciding what to leave behind when moving is often one of the most daunting aspects of relocating abroad. Yet, this process presents an opportunity to adapt to a new community and fully embrace the local culture.

One of the most daunting tasks in this journey is undoubtedly packing up your belongings. The question of what to bring and what to leave behind can become a puzzling maze, especially when balancing the weight of nostalgia, utility, and cost. Do you get your comfy old couch? Should your collection of knick-knacks come along for the ride? And what about the stack of books you’ve been meaning to read? It’s easy to feel lost in the clutter.

Top 7 Things You Should Leave Behind When Moving Abroad

Moving abroad is an exciting and transformative experience, but amidst the excitement, there are often things people forget to do when moving internationally. From notifying important contacts of your change of address to arranging healthcare coverage in your new country, it’s essential to remember these details for a smooth transition. Also, don’t forget to streamline your packing process by leaving non-essential items behind. That saves on moving costs and space and clears your mind for the journey ahead. So, as you prepare for your overseas adventure, remember the often-forgotten tasks and lighten your load, embracing what truly matters.

A couple packing their items for moving abroad

The Art of Decluttering

Decluttering is an essential ritual to embrace before any move, but it becomes particularly critical when preparing for an international relocation. Deciding what to leave behind when moving isn’t just about saving space and reducing costs; it’s a strategic and emotional process that demands discernment. Through decluttering, you create a canvas for your new life abroad, unencumbered by unnecessary possessions. It’s a liberating exercise that promotes focus on the essentials, facilitating a smoother transition to your new environment.

A woman carrying boxes of her belongings for the relocation

Heavy and Bulky Furniture

Relocating bulky furniture overseas can be a logistical nightmare, often leading to inflated moving costs and unnecessary stress. Considering the potential for damage in transit, heavy and oversized furniture is one of the most brilliant things you should leave behind when moving abroad. Instead, opt to sell or donate these items before you move. Alternatively, storage facilities offer a viable solution for keeping precious pieces safe. Upon arrival in your new home, embrace the local market—buy or rent furniture that suits your new space. This approach not only reduces hassle but also enables a fresh start.

Leave Excessive Paperwork Behind When Moving Abroad

One often overlooked aspect is excessive paperwork and documents from your past. Sorting through old bills, receipts, and unnecessary paperwork can be time-consuming and add unnecessary weight to your move. By letting go of these outdated documents, you can declutter your life and start fresh in your new destination. Taking the opportunity to shred or dispose of paperwork that is no longer relevant allows you to embark on your international adventure with a lighter load and a sense of organization.

Non-Essential Items and Knick-Knacks

As you prepare for your move, it’s crucial to reassess your possessions, especially non-essential items and knick-knacks. These small yet sentimental belongings can occupy valuable space and add unnecessary weight to your shipment. When deciding what to keep, ask yourself: Does this item serve a purpose? Does it bring me joy? Have I used it in the past year? If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, it’s wise to leave it behind when moving. By doing so, you can declutter and create space for new experiences while giving a chance and new life for precious pieces with someone who will truly cherish them. If you’re hesitant about parting with expensive furniture, explore options such as selling, donating, or storing it until you better understand your new home’s available space and needs.

Outdated Electronics and Appliances

When moving abroad, outdated electronics and appliances often become more of a burden than a benefit. Due to varying electrical standards and voltage requirements in different countries, these items may not function properly in your new home. Additionally, the cost and effort to repair or replace parts can be substantial. So, it’s wise to part ways with old electronics and appliances before moving, making your relocation process smoother and more cost-effective.

Clothes You Haven’t Worn in a Year

The concept of a capsule wardrobe – a collection of essential, versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched – can greatly simplify your packing process. Evaluate your clothing, and if you haven’t worn a piece in the past year, consider donating or selling it. By focusing on quality over quantity, you’ll reduce the volume of items to transport and make your wardrobe more adaptable to your new environment. Remember, your move is an opportunity for a fresh fashion start.

A woman on the floor with her clothes around

Perishables and Hazardous Materials

When preparing for an international move, it’s vital to remember that perishables and hazardous materials are best left behind. Perishables, like food, can spoil during transit and create unpleasant situations, while hazardous materials, such as flammable or corrosive items, can pose serious safety risks. Many shipping companies also have strict regulations against these items. Prioritize safety and simplicity in your move – discard, donate, or consume these items before you depart, and travel safely and lightly.

Cultural Non-Essentials

Relocating abroad presents an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture and embrace new traditions. While bringing everything familiar to you may be tempting, it’s important to clear the clutter and prioritize what truly matters. Consider leaving behind non-essential items closely tied to your home culture, especially those that can easily be replaced in your new country. Doing so lightens your load and creates space for unique artifacts and memories you’ll acquire in your exciting new home.


As you embark on your journey of moving abroad, remember the seven things you should leave behind when moving: heavy and bulky furniture, non-essential items and knick-knacks, outdated electronics and appliances, clothes you haven’t worn in a year, perishables and hazardous materials, and cultural non-essentials. Embracing the benefits of decluttering before your move will lighten your physical load, ease the transition, and make it less stressful. Letting go of what no longer serves to create space for new adventures, experiences, and a fresh start in your new home.

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