29 JULY 1972, Page 33

Overseas Property

Moving abroad

Terry Mahon

Having come safely through the complicated process of buying a home abroad one could perhaps be excused for thinking that the business of merely moving oneself plus goods and chattels to one's future abode a mere bagatelle. Particularly so if one has a friend with a van who will gladly do the trip for expenses and a free holiday at the other end. For the more resilient the many and — let it be admitted — often hilarious misadventures along the dilly-dallying way can provide one with dining-out tales' for many years ahead. But for those of us who do not find it particularly amusing to arrive sans trappings — left behind in some customs shed for perhaps three months or more whilst documents and tempers fly back and forth and costs mount — the professional is the only answer.

But the first consideration is, of course, what to take from the present home. Will the furniture suit the style and climate of the country you are moving to? Is the cost worth it? (it is customary for modern European homes, particularly in the tourist belt' to come fully furnished, Including built-in wardrobes). Will the electrical equipment make the voltage switch and can one get replacements and service? Items you should include since their cost is higher almost anywhere outside Britain are linen, blankets, pillows (very poor quality in some countries), china, glass, curtain material, kitchen equipment. Radios should have overseas service tuning and if shipping a British car, don't forget the spares!

Having decided what you are going to take you can then start shopping around for estimates. But remember, cheaper' is not necessarily 'less costly.' Always choose a firm specialising in or with long experience of the country to which you are moving — they will have all the complicated documentation procedure (and believe me, it is!) already worked out. Make sure the price quoted is ' door-todoor ' and not door-to-port-of-entry.' The cost of then shifting your goods from dockside to destination can be more than double the original estimate. And watch that container' bit, which merely means something encompassing the thing contained and can consist of tatty rags, bags or old boxes. The firm should submit a packing specification with their estimate giving details of types of container. There are many new methods and materials which do not add appreciably to the cost — hanging wardrobes, for example, have it all ways over our old friend the tea chest.

It is difficult to give any accurate forecast on costing since this is worked out per cubic foot in all instances and regardless of distance in most cases. If travelling to a well populated area, this

will be serviced by regular removal runs, in which case it is obviously cheaper to

travel as a part load ' (which is customary) rather than an expensive van all to yourself. Usual household loads are anything from 400 to 1,000 cubic feet, averaging out at, say, upwards of £300 to something between £500 and £600 for a part load. A special delivery would add at least £100 to the costings. Insurance costs are also variable, averaging out at between £1 and £1.50 per cent — although one firm quotes an astronomical £3 per cent to Rome.

One should be particularly careful not to under insure. Each item or group of items should be valued at replacement value at destination (the removals firm can help you here), to which one should add at least 10 per cent for items overlooked (and there always are!). Finally, an extra something to the total to cover cost of packing and transport lest an unforeseen 'act of God' should result in the total disappearance of one's goods en route, as almost happened to the Royal Ballet when they, or rather their scenery and costumes, ran up against an immovable object in the shape of a Portuguese customs official. The resultant Monsieur Hulot-type farce involved British Consuls dragged out of bed before dawn, the complications attending a Spanish holiday during which nothing moves, especially the telephone, and culminating in a dramatic dash from the Spanish/French border complete with sirenscreeching police escort to Bordeaux. A moving-day ' dining-out ' tale many of us will fortunately find hard to beat.