The cost of relocating amid the pandemic is growing as supply chain problems worsen

Kiwis planning to resume plans to move overseas as countries ease their border restrictions will experience first hand the supply chain woes businesses have been grappling with, a moving company boss says.

Transworld International Movers managing director Graham Bell services about 1000 quotes a month.

Before Covid, Bell’s company could get a container in a week, but these days timeframes are more like eight to 10 weeks.

Booking so much in advance is a “very big juggling act” Bell says, as booking those containers means there has to also be enough supply.

“We’re looking at current and past trends to try and work out what sort of freight we’re going to have at any one particular time. So you’re looking in the crystal ball a little bit but we get it right most of the time,” Bell says.

As more country open their borders, particularly Australia, the United States and parts of Europe, Bell says he’s starting to see demand pick up.

“The market probably is getting better because Australia’s opening up and just getting better because of the fact that we’re having a busy season and that Auckland in particular is coming out of its lockdown.”

But it’s not all smooth sailing yet. 

“If you’re going to the West Coast of the US, especially Seattle, there are zero containers going up that way, we just can’t get a ship there at all. There’s one shipping line, very limited capacity, that’s going up that way. But different countries have got different issues.”

Transworld International Movers has multiple shipping lines to balance shipping terms so the company isn’t being charged “extortionate fees”.

“Sometimes we have to go outside of the three or four that are sort of in favour with us and go to someone else that has got slots on a ship.”

A container that cost about $6000 pre-Covid now costs about $10,000 to ship to Australia. Customers looking to move to the US could be looking at at least double the 2019 cost.

“The costs are just skyrocketing.”

But planning ahead is tricky for those who have sold their homes and are looking to move. 

Last month Newsroom spoke with Cantabrian Kara Hunt who spent $46,000 to charter a plane for her family to go to Australia and tens of thousands more to ship their belongings after selling their Christchurch house and being stranded here for months due to border closures.

“We have finally made the call to max out the credit card and join some others in a joint charter. It will hurt in the short to medium term but it’s worth reducing the impact on our mental health in the long term,” Hunt said.

Bell says the majority of his business is still moving overseas rather than moving Kiwis back as MIQ restrictions make it difficult for Kiwis to plan.

“People just can’t get in here. And the way that the customs clearance works is you can’t get clearance easily if you’re not in the country. So if you’ve shipped your goods, and you have had a MIQ booking, but it was cancelled for whatever reason, like the flight was cancelled, you have to rebook,” Bell says.

As for those who have their sights set on moving overseas, Bell says it’s still “doable but you’ve got to plan a little bit further ahead and have deeper pockets”.

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