For our repatriation to Australia, we started our planning and sorting last November so that we did not have a "last minute panic". So far this has worked fairly well. Yes, we have had many obstacles and brick walls to climb over, by by planning ahead we seemed to have been getting over them a little easier.
When repatriating home, you will find there are many things to think of and it will be a lot more difficult than when you first arrived into Singapore. Or anywhere else for that matter.
Plan ahead by looking up the customs and immigration site of where you are moving to. For us this was the Australian Customs and Immigration site. So much to read, so much to learn and so much to absorb!
But my immersing yourself in this knowledge then (hopefully) there will not be too many surprises once you start the packing or unpacking process. We certainly did learn what we could take back and what we couldn't. We also know that anything purchased within the past 12 mths will be taxed at the other end. We strongly disagree with this, but "thems the rules". Our disagreement is because we have purchased items here in Singapore for our personal use and paid tax, GST etc here, so why the need to pay extra tax at the other end when it is still for personal use?
So yes, keep those receipts!
If you can, scan all your documents. Believe me, there will always be that one piece of paper that you have packed and sealed, then suddenly find its needed. For us it was one of Oscars bits of paperwork .... the Kennel Company phoned yesterday asking if we had the letter for "XYZ".
Most of our paperwork has been scanned and we have copies on our HD, on the portable HD and on the IPad. We always have hardcopies of our passports in our suitcase and in our carry on luggage, then the removalists phoned to make sure we have a copy for them on the day of packing. Just as well we had a couple of spare copies on hand.
We keep copies of documents on our IPads that we may also need in transit. As we carry the IPad with us constantly, this comes in handy.
As usual, all our important documents are on the HD, but as we will not have access to our computers till at least mid April, John has done a complete back up - as he does every few days anyway - and he will have the portable HD with him. This allows us access to our full computer system on the MacBook while in transit.
All items that we need to 'declare' for customs has been set aside for the removalists when they arrive on Wednesday. There is a chance - or so we are told - that if there is a hold up with the shipment at the other end, they can clear the rest of the items for shipping to the final address and just hold back the items that are being declared for checking and processing.
There is a high chance of most of it needing to be fumigated as well. So all timber furniture is also being set aside so it can go in the container together.
If you are unsure if an item is to be declared or not, declare it. Be safe.
I have copied the pages from the website and highlited the items of concern. In particular, the part that says for Musical Instruments, I have a Djembe with goat skin. I know that it should clear customs OK as there is no hair attached or on the drum itself. But quarantine will still need to check it. I have copied the appropriate page, highlited the part about the musical instruments and added my own note to say it was originally purchased in Australia, came to Singapore in 2007 and has not been to any other country. Hopefully they will allow it through!
Another 'item' to allow time for is the viewings ... yes, viewings of your apartment. That is if it is leased. The agent is likely to contact you at least 4 times a week for viewings, you can say no, but its better to compromise with time. If its not convenient for 12 noon, then ask if they can come at 11.00am. Be flexible if you can. But do allow for these times .... especially if you are in a 'packing mess' and need to hide some items and do a quick clean up!
Plan ahead for bathroom items ..... by about the final 4 - 6 weeks, no longer should you be purchasing the larger bottles of body wash, shampoo, conditioner or Listerine! Try to ease down to just a small amount by the final week, otherwise you will be throwing out too much. This also applies to the kitchen. Do not even think of buying the 25kg bag of rice in that last month .... unless you have a huge family that is!
Organise the phone. internet, TV disconnection. The change of address's all those things that need to be done even if you are moving just 5 klms away.
For anyone moving OS, then start to organise the phones, internet etc for connection to be made on arrival, find out about the 'phone plans' that are available. Start to think of what your needs maybe. For us, this phone call to the Telco in Australia took one hour and 45 minutes.
Consider your "checked in" luggage a couple of weeks before departure. What will the weather be when you arrive at your destination? Consider cooler weather means jackets etc! Then make sure that jacket is not going to be shipped. Keep aside the items you need for your flight and what needs to be in your 'checked in' luggage. If you are constantly changing the items around, then weigh it every few days, keep track of that weight! If flying Qantas, check their new baggage allowances.
If by chance you know you are repatriating 'next year' and are going home for a visit before then, take extra your clothes to leave behind at the next visit. That way on final departure you will not need to carry so many things with you ... or at least it will allow you to carry more souvenirs perhaps! We did this over Christmas, we went home for a few days and took shoes and clothing we could leave behind. Now we don't have to wait till mid April when the shipment arrives for most of our clothing!
Plan ahead for the 'handover' too ... like curtains will need to be dry cleaned, walls may need painting etc. I should do a new blog post for 'handover' time with regards the apartment. This is perhaps the most stressful part of moving out of any apartment in Singapore as we - and many others - very well know. My blog post on our handover from The Jade is HERE. As our handover is on Friday and we depart Friday afternoon, I think I will leave that blog post for another time. Suffice to say, be prepared for anything!
When its time to organise a removalist / packer, start getting quotes at least three months ahead of the time needed. Think about your needs and what you want, get to know the company and if you feel comfortable with them, with their staff and what they are offering. I had four companies come out and chose one that I was very happy with. The staff are excellent and they dont even mind coming out again if you have any questions. But do plan ahead so you feel comfortable with the choice you make too.
Plan head for any eventuality and even allow extra days for the 'unknown'.
.... as an example, Oscar was to fly out today (Feb 20) and his final medical check was booked for last Friday. Then we were informed that they had to delay the flight by 24 hours. Which meant we had to rearrange the final vet check for today (instead of last week) the flight is now tomorrow (21st) and the removalists that were due here on the 21st now had to be rescheduled for the Wednesday 22nd as we will still have Oscar here at the time they were originally to be here. Everything we had planned for this final week now had to be delayed by 24 hours.
With hindsight, I think I should have blocked off two days each week 'just in case'!!
Often people will say "there are not enough hours in the day" and this will apply to repatriating too, but by planning ahead, hopefully there will be enough hours in the day for everything you need to do.
We set aside the final two weeks as a 'wind down' time. Still with things to do of course, but we have tried not to full every minute of every day. People will be wanting to meet with you, have lunch, catch up with you and you will be wanting to set aside time to be with them too. Have some times available that is flexible for you to spend time with your friends.
But just as important, if not more so - take some time out to spend with your partner. With all the things that need doing, you do need time to be together. Cross off a day in the diary, this 'date' is not flexible. Spend it going for a walk, having dinner, lazing by the pool, beach or wherever. No cell phone, nothing ... just yourselves.
Our day was last Thursday when we spent three hours at the Buddhist Temple in Chinatown and the afternoon at Spa Botanica on Sentosa. The blog post is HERE on where we went.
Main thing to remember is to plan ahead and relax!!
NOW ONE WEEK LATER:
with all the planning and organising, it was still not enough .... I had 'planned' on Oscar flying out on Tuesday Feb 21 and the packers to come in on Wednesday Feb 22, so Oscar would not be there while all the packing was happening. I had 'planned' on spending the day quietly with him, no stress, just good quality time as he needed to be kept calm for the flight due to his heart condition etc .... at 9.00am there was a knock at the door and it was the removalists!
They had come to pack 24 hours ahead of time. I told them they were a day too early and to come back tomorrow (Wednesday) to which they tell me that they were already fully booked for the next few days and could not return!
Oscar was not leaving till after 2.00pm and here were 5 men ready to move in and create havoc. So asked them to return at 2.00pm ... which they said they could. In the meantime, forget the 'quiet time with Oscar' as I had to run around washing, drying, sorting bathroom things, cleaning up the kitchen etc ..... I had not 'planned' on doing any of this on Tuesday!
John was not at home as he was doing workshops all week and I was there on my own. This is one thing I would suggest to others .... make sure there is a friend there with you at this time .... it is an emotional upheaval watching your shipment being packed and trying to 'supervise' what is going where at the same time.
I had not 'planned' on this emotional 'surprise'.
Anyway, to cut a long story short ... the removalists came back at 2.00pm, Oscar's courier came at 3.00pm and we sent him on his way *sob* *sob* .... and the packing was well and truly underway by 3.30.
I 'assumed' they would finish by about 5 or 6 and return the following morning, so at about 5.00pm I asked the supervisor what time would they be finishing and his reply was "probably not till at least 10.00pm" ..... was stunned, what about my bed I asked him, he thought I meant was it to go in shipping! No, I tell him, "where do I sleep tonight?"
I had not 'planned' on this either!
So quickly on the phone to the YMCA - where we had booked to stay the Wednesday and Thursday nights - to ask if they had a room for that night. Unfortunately they said they had no rooms left ..... then reception asked for me to wait while they juggled a few rooms around ... came back on line and had one room left for us!!
11.00pm that night we checked in to the YMCA, exhausted beyond belief.
We had not 'planned' on this at all.
I think no matter what you organise or plan, be prepared for ANYTHING .... as anything can and will happen.
My next blog post will be about the packing and the hiccups we experienced there as well. That's too long a story to add as a postscript here!!
We are now in our final day here in Singapore .... butterflies in the tummy, all sorts of emotions happening with both of us, but today has arrived and we will get through it.
stay tuned for whatever happens today that we had not 'planned' on!!