The coronavirus pandemic brought chaos and disruption to all our lives, but there were also some positives. Reduced pollution levels, a greater appreciation for keyworkers, and a rise in the ‘work from anywhere’ culture were all undeniable upsides. Thousands of people have completely re-evaluated their lives and, as a result, decided to make their dream life abroad a reality.
It is the job of shipping experts – like the team at Britannia Movers International – to provide customers with quotes for their overseas moves, but at the moment costs are often higher than expected and services are slower than usual.
These are the reasons for the increased pressure on the shipping industry, which in turn is impacting costs and timeframes:
- The pandemic began in China, which is a global manufacturing superpower. Enormous amounts of consumer goods originate there, and when the first lockdowns began, a significant part of the global shipping network was put on hold. This caused many months of disruption.
- The initial Covid-related shutdowns were followed by periods of intense online purchasing. This created increased global demand for shipping containers, whilst lots of them were still stuck on quaysides around the world due to local lockdowns.
- Much of what the world wanted to buy was being produced in the far east, so the shipping lines were focusing on getting empty containers there as fast as possible. This led to a global shipping imbalance – the flow of goods going back to Asia wasn’t happening at the same pace as goods coming out of Asia.
- To complicate the increased demand for shipping containers and space on vessels, most ports around the world have been suffering delays due to social distancing restrictions and/or staff shortages.
- In March, the Ever Given vessel became stuck in the Suez Canal for almost a week, severely delaying 400 container ships.
- With more demand than capacity to meet it, and facing ongoing disruption and unpredictable operating conditions, the shipping lines have put their prices up significantly.
- Congestion and delays at UK ports due to Covid were exacerbated after Brexit, with many exporters ill-prepared for the raft of paperwork they would have to tackle for each consignment.
- The ongoing shortage of HGV drivers in the UK means that companies involved in transporting goods can’t simply increase capacity – there just aren’t enough trained drivers.
- The recent lockdown in China’s Guangdong province due to a Covid outbreak caused huge delays to four major ports in the area. One of them – Yantian, which is one of the biggest ports in China – almost closed down for the best part of three weeks.
- Retailers in the west, aware of the huge delays to shipping, have already started ordering stock for this Christmas, thereby putting even more pressure on the shipping industry.
With all this context, it’s not surprising that shipping rates have shot up in the last twelve months. Thankfully, customers of Britannia Movers International are protected from these price fluctuations to some degree because we are members of the Movers Trading Club, an organisation that negotiates our shipping rates in advance and helps us to offer the most competitive prices.
Having said that, some people are still surprised at the cost of shipping household goods abroad, even with the MTC’s specially negotiated rates that Britannia customers benefit from. So what can you do to reduce your costs when you’re moving overseas?
Our first piece of advice is fairly obvious, but it’s surprising how many people don’t make time for it – declutter. Use the famous William Morris quote to guide you – “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” – and you won’t go far wrong.
Consider what will work in your new home – if you have lots of traditional furniture but you’re moving to a very modern home, will it go? Will all your furniture physically fit? Time to get handy with a ruler and some graph paper…
Also, think about the timeline of your move. There will be a gap between the collection and delivery of your belongings, and depending on where you are moving to, this could be several months. Planning how to cope with this can help you to judge what you can and can’t live without permanently.
Our final tip could save you the cost of your entire move if you’re purchasing a home abroad. Rather than using a high street bank to transfer your money and exchange your currency, use a specialist such as our trusted partner IFX Payments. Their advisers will time your transaction to access the best possible conversion rates, which often saves their customers thousands of pounds! You can request a free quote from them here.
Naturally, we all have sentimental items that we couldn’t bear to part with. A wedding dress, a classic car, family heirlooms and so on. If you don’t need these and think you may return to the UK at some point, you could consider asking a friend to store these items for you, or get a quote for secure long-term storage from Britannia. Anything you decide not to take or store can be sold, donated to friends or charities such as the British Heart Foundation or Emmaus, and even food that you can’t take with you can be given away via apps such as OLIO.
Moving can be a stressful experience and moving abroad doubly so, but by working with Britannia and starting the process in good time, you’ll give yourself the best possible start for your new life.