a professional woman wearing a tweed overcoat pulls a suitcase while looking over her shoulder at the camera.

Preparing to work abroad on international secondment

The opportunity to work overseas for a period of time can be both exciting and daunting. The great thing is that elements of the trip are often managed by an organisation. Things like visas and contracts, and even accommodation once you get there. Some aspects will need your attention, though. Like what happens to your home and belongings while you are away. There are various options open to you. We look at how international secondments work and how you can best manage your possessions during the process. 

What is an international secondment?

There are several different types of professional arrangement that can be termed international secondment. It is essentially a period of time where you are relocated to work in another country. You might be contracted to another office within the same company, or you might be serving an associated organisation or client in an advisory capacity. The important thing is that a secondment is always a fixed and temporary period of time. So you need to keep your life in one place on ice while you’re completing the contract elsewhere. 

What are the benefits of an international secondment?

There are a huge number of benefits to international secondment, since it offers a broadening of experience. By working in a different country, people experience different cultural and professional practices. These new ideas can make an employee more desirable as their career progresses. Similarly, an organisation will often benefit from the perspective of someone from a different background. The sharing of skills and ideas is a key way to remain competitive, both for organisations and individuals. 

What are the challenges of an international secondment?

Change, while exciting, is disruptive. Even when it’s temporary. Depending on your stage of life, there may be issues of stability to manage as part of your move. While those without dependents may find it more straightforward to settle in a new country, there are still cultural and language differences to remember. Those with families to consider will have the needs of multiple people to manage. The great thing is that organisations tend to offer extensive support for secondees and their families. But it’s important for you to think about more personal touches that aren’t necessarily covered by the administration of your organisation. 

Best ways to prepare for your secondment

As with any life change, planning is key. The great thing is that the business handles a lot of the admin for you. Things like tax, salary and even accommodation often come as part of the contract. So what do you need to make sure you get right to decrease the potential stress of taking on an international secondment? 


Check out your new stomping ground early on. Even if you’re not staying long, this doesn’t mean that you should live in a perpetual state of transition. So research places to go, clubs to join, connections to make. Reaching out socially will help you to feel more at home. Plan your local logistics; what might the school run look like? Does it make sense to take your bicycles or water sports kit? If the local facilities are there then great! If not, these things are safest in storage.

Know what to take

While you clearly don’t need every possession you’ve ever owned, you will also need more than you’d take on holiday. So work out detailed lists of what comes with you and what goes into storage. What is provided in your secondment accommodation? It’s normal to be in a furnished space, especially for shorter secondments. But what about things like kitchenware and soft furnishings? You should also plan to transport items that will make you feel at home, such as framed photographs or artworks. Little touches like this can really help to stave off homesickness, especially if you’re travelling with your family.

Organising Storage

Planning to rent out a property in your absence? Then you’ll need to find a home for all of the stuff not coming with you. You’ll need to plan the size and type of storage unit that you need. We can promise one thing, you’ll always need more space than you think, so it’s worth going through your items with a storage professional so that they can give you realistic guidance. The thing with secondments is that they are sometimes unexpectedly flexible. So look for a facility that offers a rolling contract, so that’s one less thing to worry about.


Yes the move may be temporary, but you should still declutter as part of the moving process. You’re more than likely to bring more stuff back than you left with, so a declutter now will mean that you’re not bursting at the seams later. This is an ideal time to get rid of excess items that never get used. You’ll also find that a sort out means that everything that you hold in storage will be more ordered and more manageable. 


Keep a list of what you have put in your storage unit. It will be useful later. If you are storing a lot of items, list the contents of each box. Then draw up a unit floor plan and position boxes and items in a logical way inside the unit. Frequent use items should be kept together and positioned towards the front of the unit. Then when you return, you can get what you need initially and then come back for more when you’ve started to settle back home. A detailed inventory and plan also means that you will be able to easily direct someone to an item in your absence if needed. 

Returning Home

Unless you fall in love with your new city and make the move permanent, you’ll be coming back at some point. Which means the whole process in reverse. This is where things like inventories come into their own, because you’ll undoubtedly have forgotten what you put into your storage unit all those months ago! 

Don’t rush

Much as it took time to find your feet on your secondment, when you return home things that were once normal might take getting used to again! Try to empty your storage facility gradually. This will allow you to decide what you need to keep on your return, and what might have been surplus. 


Have a welcome home party with all of your local friends. The best time to do this is before you’ve re-filled your home with items from your storage unit. Make the most of having the extra floor space! 

International secondment is just one of life’s events that are made easier by using storage facilities. To find out how our variety of unit sizes might help you, get a quote!  

Centres in Watford , Maida Vale (Permanently Closed) , Hemel Hempstead , Farnborough Call us FREE on 0800 9171221