How to pack for a family move to South Africa

How to pack for a family move to South Africa

To pack for a family move, assign suitcases with backpacks with necessities for each family member.
To pack for a family move, assign suitcases with backpacks with necessities for each family member

The first rule of family relocation is to be practical. If you’re moving overseas, you will understand why. Have no doubts, it is a challenge to pack for a family move to South Africa. The less you bring with you, the easier your life will be. Besides, everything you do with kids in tow will require a lot more time and effort. Stay focused, plan, and start preparations well in advance.

When is the best time to pack for a family move

With this guide, you will easily avoid moving mistakes. Most of those mistakes are based on improper packing, lack of planning, and poor organizational skills. You must have realized until know that packing, even for a day trip with your family, takes a lot of time and preparation. Now compare that to a long-distance trip overseas. You are not just traveling with a few suitcases. You are moving everything you have. However, our intention is not to add stress. We aim to prepare you for one of the most challenging experiences in your life.

Ask the rest of your family and friends to keep an eye on your kids while you pack. That kind of help is priceless.

A couple teaching a child to ride a bike.
A couple teaching a child to ride a bike.

To pack for a family move, you need to start as early as six months before the moving date. It should be enough time to help the children accept the fact they are moving. Also, it should be enough to pack your family properly. If your cousins and friends offer help, tell them frankly that the best help they can provide is to take your kids out while you pack. It will have several benefits

  • You will be able to concentrate on the task
  • No need to worry that your kids will get hurt in the process
  • You will be able to dispose of old toys your kids may suddenly grow over-attached to
  • Your kids won’t share in the stress and anxiety, which is the most important after all.

Get acquainted with South Africa

Find out what moving and living in South Africa involves before you set off. Getting to know your new neighborhood well before you move will help you find out which items you should bring, and which ones to leave behind. When it comes to the climate in South Africa, it varies from semi-desert inland and Mediterranean toward the coast and Cape Town. Get ready for cold and dry winters and rainy and humid summers.

Prepare proper clothes for your family if you’re moving to South Africa during the rainy summer season.

A family of four walking toward their new home in South Africa
A family of four walking toward their new home in South Africa

How to pack for a family move

Before you start packing, check if your family’s passports are valid at least 6 months before the move. You and your family members might need a visa for South Africa. Double-check and apply as soon as possible.

  • First of all, declutter and decide what you need to discard. If it includes kids’ stuff, dispose of it while they sleep.
  • Make sure you dispose of your old furniture responsibly. Everything you can’t sell via yard sale or online, donate or find out if you can take it to the recycling center.
  • Ask for an estimate of moving costs. Packing and shipping bulky or heavy furniture may not be cost-efficient. It may be better to buy new furniture or appliances when you settle in your new South African home.
  • Once the purge is over, make an inventory of the remaining things.
  • Color-coding and labeling your boxes is a lifesaver. Assign each color to a family member and/or room. It will make packing and unpacking a piece of cake.
  • Start packing the non-essential items and your storage areas first. The last items you should put in boxes, are those that you use daily.
  • Pack a suitcase for each family member with the necessities for a few days, including clothing and shoes. Bear in mind the weather might change by the time you move. Also, it may be quite different at your current location and in South Africa.

When you pack your valuables don’t label them explicitly.

A selection of jewelry and a watch.
A selection of jewelry and a watch.
  • Important documents can get lost easily in the chaos following the relocation so keep them in one place. Get a plastic organizer and keep it in a visible spot.
  • Pack the after-the-move essentials in a box and keep it on top of all others. That box should include items you will need on the first few days upon the arrival. Before you unpack and assemble your furniture, that is. Include air mattresses, bedsheets, and pillows or sleeping bags. Also, you will need toiletries, towels, kitchen pots, dishware and utensils, glasses, and trash bags. Don’t forget some basic tools like scissors.
  • Having in mind that a long-distance trip is ahead of you, charge your phones and power banks the night before. Pack your chargers with the rest of the valuables.
  • It can be a chore to move your car to South Africa. If you’re intent on it, hire a reliable auto-shipper to take care of the customs clearance and other paperwork for you.
  • If you think you might need help to pack for a family move or you simply find it overwhelming, don’t hesitate to contact professional moving assistants.

Packing your VIB (Very Important Belongings)

When you secure your valuables for the move, keep them with you at all times during the relocation. You should make a list of every piece you bring but don’t label it clearly. Code it instead. This is especially important for bigger items that won’t travel with you. In any case, invest in travel insurance.

Know what you can bring in

We strongly advise against DIY relocation, especially because you’re moving with kids. However, If you deem it feasible, don’t forget to check which items can’t cross the South African borders. Some items are banned for importation and some are on the list of restricted items. To find out what is allowed to bring in to South Africa, check out customs policies on SARS (South African Revenue Regulations) website. For restricted items, you will need to obtain the proper paperwork.

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