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Plan very carefully. At best, moving is an unpleasant headache. At worst, moving can be a nightmare. The best strategy for a move either to the United States or within the United States is to plan very carefully, get everything in writing, and shop around.

Sending household goods to the United States from other countries by ship can be complicated. Unless you can fill an entire shipping container yourself, your shipment may be delayed until other people’s goods can be mixed with yours to make a full container. You might want to send some of your things by air–which is more expensive–if you know you’ll need them soon after your arrival in the country. For large items like furniture, make sure you really need to ship them. It might be cheaper for your to buy new furniture in the United States.

Packing Your Possessions. After choosing a moving company, make sure to follow the company’s guidelines for packing. You’ll also need to keep a careful inventory of your possessions for insurance and customs purposes. If you do insure your possessions, insure them for enough to replace them in the United States at American prices. Use a large insurer who has an American office. Most important in international moving: make sure you know where your goods will be delivered. You don’t want to be expecting the goods at your door only to find out that all you paid for was to ship them to a port or terminal 300 miles away.

Finding a Mover. You’ll have similar considerations in moving from one part of America to another. Look in the Yellow Pages to find a moving company. The licensed movers will be more expensive. You can also do the moving yourself. Rental companies such as U-Haul can rent you trucks, trailers, boxes, padded blankets and all the supplies you’ll need. Often you can rent the truck or trailer at one location and return it at another.

Get it in writing, with all moving transactions. And shop around. You’ll find plenty of choice in America when it comes to moving, since Americans move around so much.