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From Tokyo to Jakarta: What is it like to move during the pandemic?

Dennis Muldowney
Dennis Muldowney

Relocating internationally can be both exciting and daunting.

Typically, you’ll be leaving loved ones, family, and friends and the familiarities of your current home behind. However, relocating at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when travel restrictions are imposed by almost all countries, the stakes are even higher.

Dennis Muldowney has recently relocated from Tokyo to Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world and this culturally diverse corner of Southeast Asia maintains a rich tradition of music, art, dance and craft, and offers a rich and varied lifestyle for expats. Nevertheless, as exciting and exotic as the country is, relocating to live abroad is always a big decision.

“I’m originally from the US, but I have spent most of my career based in Asia. My first international move was to Korea in 1996 and have been living and working in this region for more than 20 years. I’ve had some incredible experiences in a variety of culturally diverse places; Seoul, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and now Jakarta. My longest posting (eight years) was in Tokyo, Japan where I became a very big fan of sumo and had the opportunity to meet Hakuho, the greatest sumo wrestler of all time!” ~ Dennis Muldowney

Why did you choose to relocate at the height of the pandemic?
One of our Country Managers has retired which set in motion a series of senior-level moves within the region. I relocated to Jakarta while still having responsibility for Japan and Korea.

Due to business needs, we needed to have leadership in place in this important market. Given the pandemic has been ongoing for nearly two years, with no end in sight, the business needs to continue as we provide essential services to our customers.

tokyo to jakarta
Dennis with Hakuho

Do you have family moving with you?
Due to the changing government regulations, dependents were not able to enter Indonesia then but only work visa holders. So, I had to move while my wife stayed put in Tokyo. This has certainly added to the stress of the relocation. And with the new Omicron variant spreading around the world like wildfire, we are still not sure when she will be able to relocate to Indonesia.

What are some of the unique experiences you have encountered in this recent move?
This move has been the most challenging and stressful by far due to the uncertainties of the global pandemic of COVID-19. The rules and regulations of both governments of Japan and Indonesia are constantly changing, particularly around documents required to travel and enter Indonesia. The actual travel piece from Tokyo to Jakarta wasn’t easy, making sure all the right COVID-19 related documents, tests, approvals, etc. were in place. I was lucky that the quarantine period in Jakarta was only five days at the time I arrived.

And after my arrival, it took another 2.5 months for my shipment to be delivered. Luckily the relocation company had organised rental furniture for me to be able to move into my house right after my quarantine.

Also, with most of the teams in my new office are still working from home, and many networking opportunities cancelled, it certainly makes it much more difficult to build a professional and personal network in this new home abroad.

How did Crown Relocations help with Dennis’s move during the pandemic?
This is not Dennis’s first international relocation, in fact, his ninth international move. However, it is still one of the most emotional and practically challenging experiences; and moving during the pandemic has definitely posed many unique and new challenges otherwise unimagined for Dennis and his family.

Crown Relocations was engaged by Dennis to make his move smoother. This means Dennis and his family won’t be alone when it comes to dealing with the complexity of a move. From the planning stages, through to transit and settling in, they had an experienced and dedicated Move Manager who has helped tens of thousands of people to assist them, ensuring a seamless move from Tokyo to Jakarta.

1. Proper survey of property and possessions

Crown Relocations started Dennis’s move journey with a virtual consultation; a simple and quick way to get you on the move. The virtual consultation establishes what needs to be moved, both in terms of volume of goods and type (for example, artwork needs to be handled slightly differently from cutlery).

With a thorough home survey, Crown Relocations is able to know how many crew members to assign for Dennis’s move, how large the truck and containers need to be, the type and quantity of packing materials required and so on.

Importantly, it’s a move being carried out during the pandemic. There are sets of stringent SOPs implemented by the local authority, so with a detailed consultation, the Move Manager would know exactly what parking permits are needed and what the pandemic rules about loading and unloading are. This is crucial if you’re in a higher floored apartment. This is something that catches out some “man in a van” operations; improper use of loading and permit bays usually equals hefty fines.

During the home survey, Crown Relocations’ Move Manager is able to help Dennis to navigate the complicated rules around customs. For example, giving advices on what sort of items are allowed to bring out from Japan and bring into Indonesia without breaking the laws of these countries. Ultimately, it’s all about professional expertise not only to make an international relocation simpler, but also to ensure the safety of all parties.

2. Professional packing and loading services

How to pack things properly involves more than just bubble wrap! Packing boxes and other items professionally involve a lot of care and attention people aren’t immediately familiar with.

Different surfaces also demand different materials. There’s a lot to think about! Not only about the packing of Dennis and his family’s personal belongings, but Crown Relocations also ensures particular areas of the home that could be liable for damage, such as narrow passageways, are protected and that floors are kept clean with matting.

Bespoke crating is used to pack some of Dennis’s artwork and other high-value items, to prevent damage in transit. We also make sure all Dennis’s comfortable mattress and prized smart TV are given more than just a box and foam.

The professional packers from Crown Relocations know exactly how to safely handle, lift and move large objects. There’re also no issues of waste as Crown Relocations pack, deliver and clean any mess caused by them.

3. Dependable customer service

Finally, and possibly most importantly: customer service. Crown Relocations offers Dennis a single point of contact. This simplifies everything as there is one dedicated personnel managing his move above the operational level, to deliver a good quality service.

Not all moves can wait. There are instances when one must move notwithstanding the external situation or circumstances. However, the pandemic doesn’t make international relocations impossible. You just need to follow standard pandemic rules, practice social distancing and uphold sanitization requirements, managing an international move need not be a nightmare. If you have queries regarding your upcoming move, please get in touch with our experts:

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