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Saying goodbye to home (again!): A Step-by-Step guide on how we moved our entire household

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

From the stress of getting ready to the joy of your new life

Moving is definitely one of the most stressful life events. According to experts! In our experience, even when we had moved together more than 10 times during the last ten years, it never gets easier.

As you may have read, we came to the US to get new skills in the microbiology field. We lived in Boston for four years and then we moved back home to start our own laboratory.

We had big plans, the idea was to settle there but rephrasing a known idiom: “If you want to make life laugh, tell it about your plans”. After a really bad experience in Chile, both professional and personal, we decided to move back again to the US.

At first, we thought “we are going back to Boston, we know the city so this is gonna be a piece of cake”. Well, to be honest it was not that easy! In this post, we'll walk you through the steps of the moving process, transforming what may seem like a stressful situation into a seamless and successful journey to hopefully make your trip easier than it was for us.

Plus, we'll share some practical tips on managing expenses along the way!

First step: Making decisions

Turning our moving-abroad plan into reality started with a vision:

1. Define the household and their needs: This time around it wasn’t just academic mom and dad anymore, the academic baby was being baked and we had Coco (but more on that will come later. The ordeal of moving Coco deserves a whole different post!).

2. Decide an estimated date for your arrival to the new location: This is important for the plan to move your stuff.

3. Look for relocation companies: We asked two companies that had this service in Chile. We ended up hiring Ward Van lines (WVL). There are lots of relocation services on the market, do your homework and pick one with good comments online (we usually use Yelp or Google to look for opinions prior to getting a new service).

4. Decide what is what you want to bring with you: Since all this happened during the pandemic, we had a video call with the relocation company to estimate the space we would require in a container. This is a big decision!, since space means money, we left behind lots of stuff because it was just not worth it to take it with us.

We ended up moving around 40 medium-size cardboard boxes which used 11 cubic meters of a container and they charged us $USD 8,000. This included packing, packing materials, ground transportation from Valdivia to Valparaiso (Chile) and the marine transport to Boston.

Oh! And don’t bother packing anything! To move abroad the moving company needs to certify the exact content of every box. They make an inventory and pack your stuff. That at least easies the process a bit.

Important: every time you hire a service (as relocation), don't forget that you are paying for it! So they have to fulfill what you are paying for in terms of deadlines and services covered. In our case, the shipping of our stuff took longer than expected and got reimbursed accordingly.

Boston is among the 3 most expensive cities in the US to live in. We regularly use different websites to find a place such as Zillow. Also, if you want to make your life easier (and cheaper!) you can choose to live in a community where they take care of everything, from changing burnt sockets to unclogging pipes and others. More often than not, these places have a central administration and don’t necessarily require a realtor fee. We chose to live in a complex managed by Chestnut Hill Realty. But there are many out there in other cities and states!

Second step: Embrace the paperwork jungle

We know, paperwork can be overwhelming, but don't let it dampen your spirit! Obtaining visas and necessary permits is a crucial step in the moving process. Each country has its own requirements, so read up on the paperwork jungle and start gathering all the necessary documents. Tackle this step with patience and perseverance, and soon enough, you'll be one step closer to your dream life abroad. Do not wait until the last moment to get this done! The process to get either a visa or a work permit may take several months for some countries.

In the case of the paperwork related to the shipping of our furniture, the relocation company took care of all of that which was a huge relief!

Third step: Do not improvise, budget like a pro

Managing expenses is the key to a smooth move abroad. Start by creating a detailed budget that covers every aspect of the process, including initial costs and ongoing expenses. Include in your budget an item for unexpected expenses. Believe me, there's always something that you won't see coming!

Look for cost-cutting opportunities, such as selling unnecessary items or finding affordable housing options. With a well-planned budget, you'll gain peace of mind and ensure a financially successful move.


Moving abroad is a very complex process that may generate a burden emotionally and to your finances. To ease the process:

  • Ask for help at different levels. Talk to friends that have done this before or might know someone that did. Even google has lots of very useful forums and resources.

  • If you are moving with your partner, split roles.

  • We highly recommend that, if you have a therapist, ask for their help during this process. If you don't have one, maybe it is something to consider since lots of changes are coming. As we said, moving has been declared by experts as one of the most stressful life events!

Most importantly, this is the first step of your new life! Embrace and enjoy the path because every step that you take are experiences that will make you grow as a person and as a professional. Keep your mind focused on your goal and never forget why you are doing all this, because at the end of the day it is your dream that you are chasing!


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