Understanding the Costs of International Movers in South Africa

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When planning an international move from South Africa, one of the most pressing questions you’ll encounter is, “How much is it going to cost?” Understanding these costs is crucial for budgeting and planning your move efficiently. However, the answer is not straightforward. Several variables influence the cost of international moving services, and each move is unique. Let’s break down the factors that determine these costs and what you might expect to pay when moving overseas from South Africa to another country.

1. Volume and Weight of Goods:

The most significant factor influencing the cost is the volume or weight of the items you intend to move. Movers typically calculate costs based on the cubic meterage or weight of your belongings. The more items you have, the higher the cost. For instance, moving the contents of a one-bedroom apartment will cost significantly less than relocating a full family home.

2. Destination Country:

The further the destination, the higher the cost. Moving from South Africa to nearby African countries will be less expensive than moving to distant continents like North America or Asia. Additionally, certain destinations might have higher import taxes or stricter customs regulations, which can add to the cost.

3. Shipping Method:

There are primarily two methods of shipping – sea freight and air freight. Sea freight, where goods are shipped in containers, is typically more cost-effective, especially for large volumes. It’s ideal for bulky items like furniture and cars but takes longer. On the other hand, air freight is faster but significantly more expensive, suitable for smaller, urgent shipments.

4. Door-to-Door vs. Port-to-Port:

The type of service you choose will also impact the cost. A door-to-door moving service, where the moving company handles your goods from your old home to your new one, including all logistics in between, is more expensive than a port-to-port service, where you’re responsible for the goods once they reach the destination port.

5. Packing and Unpacking Services:

Professional packing and unpacking can add to the cost but offer the convenience and safety of expert handling. Most international movers offer these services, ensuring your belongings are adequately packed for the journey.

6. Insurance:

While optional, insurance is recommended for international moves. It protects your belongings against loss or damage. The cost of insurance is usually a percentage of the declared value of your goods.

7. Storage:

If you need storage at either end of your move, this will be an additional cost. Prices will depend on the volume of goods and the length of storage.

8. Additional Services:

Other services such as cleaning, appliance servicing, custom crating, or handling of special items like pianos can add to the cost.

Cost Estimates:

Given these variables, it’s challenging to provide specific figures without knowing the particulars of a move. However, to give a ballpark idea, here are some rough estimates for moving from South Africa to various regions (based on a move of the contents of a two-bedroom home):

  • To European countries: ZAR 80,000 – ZAR 120,000
  • To the United States or Canada: ZAR 100,000 – ZAR 150,000
  • To Australia or New Zealand: ZAR 90,000 – ZAR 140,000
  • To Asian countries: ZAR 85,000 – ZAR 135,000

These estimates are indicative and can vary based on the specific details of your move.

Reducing Moving Costs:

  • Declutter: Reduce the volume of goods by selling or donating items you no longer need.
  • Compare Quotes: Get quotes from several moving companies and compare services and prices.
  • Flexible Dates: If possible, be flexible with your moving dates. Rates can vary depending on the season.
  • Self-Pack: Consider packing yourself to save on professional packing costs.

Choosing the Right Mover:

Selecting the right international mover is critical. Look for companies with experience in international relocations, good reviews, and comprehensive services. Ensure they are transparent about their fees and offer a detailed quote.


Moving internationally from South Africa can be a significant financial undertaking. The costs are influenced by many factors, including the volume of goods, destination, shipping method, and additional services. By understanding these factors and doing thorough research, you can better prepare for the costs associated with your move. Remember, the cheapest option may not always be the best. Prioritize reliability, reputation, and the range of services to ensure a smooth and stress-free relocation.