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What did you take with you?

What did you take with you?

Old May 13th 2019, 2:41 pm
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Default What did you take with you?

Hello all

So, great news - we just had our visa interviews today and got approved It has been a long, nerve-racking process but we made it!! We will be going over to CT next week to (hopefully) find a place to live and then move over "permanently" next month. It feels odd even writing this - it definitely hasn't sunk in yet...

My wonderful hubby, MrBBQ, has done a whole post in the visa section lining out our process, for anyone who is interested

Now, this may not be an immediately pressing issue (and it definitely feels like a 1st world problems kinda question) but, as I'm in charge of getting our house and belongings ready for the move, I thought I'd ask what others have done. What did you take with you?

The company pays for shipping (up to a certain amount, that is, we're aiming for a 20ft container - we live in a 4-bed house with our 2 young children) so we want to take as much of our stuff as possible, but don't want to take stuff that we won't need/will have to replace anyway before our shipment arrives... Things like - Do we ship our dinnerware and cutlery and just eat off paper plates with plastic forks until our container arrives or shall we donate our dinnerware to charity and buy new plates and cutlery when we get there? This is, of course, just an example. Do we take TVs, seeing as their plugs are different? What about wardrobes? Most US homes seem to have built-ins.... Our ladder? Spades? Clothes airers? Ironing board? You get the idea....

I know you obviously can't tell me which of our stuff to take as you don't know what we own (Duh?!! ) but maybe just hit me with the stuff you had shipped/wish you had shipped/with hindsight don't think you should have shipped after all? Any advice here would be awesome!

Thank you
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Old May 13th 2019, 2:56 pm
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Default Re: What did you take with you?

Short version:

Leave most furniture - wardrobes you won't need, beds are different sizes (making it impossible to find replacement bedding and mattresses), most other furniture will look lost in a US home - our dining table looks like it belongs in a dolls house!

Electronics and appliances - leave most of it, there a lot more issues than just swapping plugs! TVs are dirt cheap and US digital TV is different from UK digital TV, so while you can make a British-sourced TV work with some devices, it can be a PITA. A new 50"-60" can be bought for around $500, or 40 for about $250. Anything with a motor may not run properly, and kitchen appliances and gadgets are notorious for not being happy with US 120V/Hz mains. Apart from laptops/ computers, and anything such as tablets that use a "power brick", you should pretty much leave everything electrical unless it is of significant sentimental value.

US tableware is often of poor quality, or stupidly expensive, so I would bring all of that.

We shipped a couple of trunks airfreight (you should ask for that, it doesn't cost much) with basic kitchen utensils, a few plates, glasses and mugs, and some extra clothes, to tide us over until our container arrived.

BTW we brought too much, mostly furniture (hence advice above) and almost filled (used 90% of) a 20ft container with the contents of a 2 bed, 700sqft terraced house, so you'll need to leave a lot behind to get a 4 bed house contents into a 20ft container. There were just the two of us, so no children's stuff*, so apart from some furniture (that we should have left behind), we shipped table and kitchenwares, clothes, books, LPs and CDs, and my hi-fi.

* People with children usually recommend bringing more of their children's stuff as it is familiar to them and helps them settle - you might consider their beds as an exception to "not bringing furniture".

Last edited by Pulaski; May 13th 2019 at 3:15 pm.
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Old May 13th 2019, 4:50 pm
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Default Re: What did you take with you?

If we could afford it I'd sell/donate the vast majority of our stuff here and replace it all over there. But the deal is such that the company have given us a certain budget for shipping but any of that budget we don't use for shipping is effectively lost - it's not like we get the difference in cash to use and replace stuff with over in the US. And seeing as things like car financing, insurance, rental deposits etc. are likely to be extortionately expensive when we first get out there due to our lack of credit history we really want to keep our initial expenses as low as possible.

I know I'm contradicting myself a bit with wanting to take as much stuff as possible but still fitting it all into a 20ft container but that's why I'm here - to use the collective BE brain to help me figure this out
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Old May 13th 2019, 4:58 pm
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Default Re: What did you take with you?

Originally Posted by Tanja87 View Post
…. I know I'm contradicting myself a bit with wanting to take as much stuff as possible but still fitting it all into a 20ft container but that's why I'm here - to use the collective BE brain to help me figure this out
Well there's your problem, furniture may be the biggest expense, but it also takes up a lot of room very quickly in a container, and a four bed home could easily fill a 40ft container if you took all the furniture. …. Have you considered funding the incremental cost of getting a 40ft container yourselves? The cost of a 40 container isn't anywhere near twice the cost of a 20ft, as there are various fees and charges related to "one unit" - including the simple fact that to carry the container to and from the docks requires one lorry with one driver whether it is a 20ft or a 40ft container.

Also take a look at Ikea's US web site for the cost of possible replacement furniture.
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Old May 13th 2019, 5:48 pm
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Default Re: What did you take with you?

We had a 2 bedroom end of terrace and that filled a 20ft container, after we had given away a lot of stuff.

Mrs L packed all her kitchen utensils (non electric) and tableware. We did bring one bed as it was fairly new, plus our lounge furniture which we still use. No wardrobes. All my tools and garden tools, plus all personal items, and our extensive record/cd and book collection. Mrs L now wishes she had packed the pantry as well, as there were quite a few UK items she liked and took time to find replacements here.

Pickfords packed it all and loaded it into the 20ft container and just managed to close the doors. So what Pulaski says about a 40ft container is spot on.
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Old May 13th 2019, 10:31 pm
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Default Re: What did you take with you?

I took a suitcase full of stuff, with hard drives.

If someone is paying, bring kids shit with you. Ditch the household appliances and buy new here. Maybe bring your bed and a bunch of sheets. Probably not worth the hassle for a kids bed, or smaller bed as mattress/sheet sizes are a bit different.

Bring books that might be important to you. Same for spring/autumn clothes, you'll probably want to buy new winter gear when you're here.

Sell the rest or give away.

Factor in what you might have to pay in tax for the relocation benefit and get details of that to see how worth it is to bring all your shit with you v selling it and using that to get new/second hand in the US. Furniture, decent stuff can be really expensive, but there are loads of consignment stores around, craigslist, FB buy and sell groups, to get all that stuff cheap/free.
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Old May 13th 2019, 11:14 pm
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Default Re: What did you take with you?

I've done it both ways - left the UK for Singapore with suitcases, moved from Singapore to Sydney with a 20ft container after giving away the biggest pieces (sofas, outdoor furniture). Would take a 40ft one now (it did for a local move).

I'm packing up now for the US and seriously thinking of only taking personal effects and a few treasured bits and pieces that I can airfreight. We do have a relo allowance but I don't see the point of spending it on moving a dinner service I can easily replace, I'd rather get my shoes and handbags more quickly As an example of my thinking, I'm leaving the Ikea cutlery set I can replace, but taking the fancy one I bought in Bangkok.

I'll take a few keepsakes but store the rest for now.

Definitely not taking any furniture (but we are hanging onto our apartment and leaving it furnished and empty for now) and no electrical.

If by some miracle this ends up being a long-term move I'll donate what I can to charity, try to sell a few good pieces (Chinese and Tibetan cabinets, etc.) and give the rest away on a local Buy Nothing site I'm already making great use of.

I'm smiling at the "take familiar kids' things" comments. Absolutely agree, although in my case it's the cats' things. I'll be washing all their favourite toys, that came from Singapore with them 11 years ago, soon.
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Old May 14th 2019, 12:00 am
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Default Re: What did you take with you?

If you own less than a king size bed use this as an excuse to upgrade. Best decision we have ever made.
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Old May 14th 2019, 1:16 am
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Default Re: What did you take with you?

Originally Posted by tom169 View Post
If you own less than a king size bed use this as an excuse to upgrade. Best decision we have ever made. …..
By which you obviously mean an American king size. … Or I should say "one of the American king size beds".
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Old May 14th 2019, 8:32 am
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Default Re: What did you take with you?

Originally Posted by tom169 View Post
If you own less than a king size bed use this as an excuse to upgrade. Best decision we have ever made.
I've owned 6 foot wide beds since 1997, known in the UK back then as a Superking, a king here in Oz, but there are kings and there are kings, and there are different lengths, and it's a bit mindblowing when you're trying to buy remotely for the US. Mr Kooky has already bought a mattress - he wasn't sleeping well on the queen inflatable mattress he took with him although it is a decent one - but he's not trusted to buy a bed frame so the mattress is on the floor for now. Hopefully we chose the most standard and it won't limit our choice of frame.
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Old May 14th 2019, 12:15 pm
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Default Re: What did you take with you?

Who knew beds could be so complicated?!

Guess we'll just sort out as much stuff as we can and then hope for the best when the shipping company arrives Maybe we can get the "important" bits packed first and then see what else we can fit in.....
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Old May 14th 2019, 1:08 pm
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Default Re: What did you take with you?

Regarding room sizes, it might depend on exactly where you're moving to for furniture sizes. We have just (last week!) moved into a house in a small New England coastal town. It was built shortly after the Revolution and the room sizes are not large, certainly not by American standards - some of the rooms are smaller than my Gran's old miner's terraced house in Salford (Lancs).
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Old May 14th 2019, 2:36 pm
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Default Re: What did you take with you?

We moved to the USA from the UK 4 years ago.

Electrics: We came with everything except white goods. Things like TV's & games consoles work OK as they are built multi voltage so you can simply swap the plug. The rule in my opinion is...does in generate heat or speed? Example Heat: Coffee machines or hair straighteners worked but were not usable as the drop in voltage meant the didn't fully heat up. Example Speed: Kenwood Mixer worked but again at the lower voltage was slower than hand mixing.

Furniture: We came with everything as the company paid for shipping. Ikea level furniture here is similar priced, but in KC higher quality wood products are often much more expensive than the UK.

Clothes: Due to a family of 5 we came out with 14 cases of clothes + items that we couldn't wait for the container to arrive. It was a pain at the airport but other than that it was easy.

Household items. Bedding isn't necessarily the same size but if you bring your UK bed bring the bedding. We came with our cutlery, which again is expensive in KC.
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Old May 14th 2019, 5:26 pm
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Default Re: What did you take with you?

Originally Posted by Tanja87 View Post
But the deal is such that the company have given us a certain budget for shipping but any of that budget we don't use for shipping is effectively lost - it's not like we get the difference in cash to use and replace stuff with over in the US. And seeing as things like car financing, insurance, rental deposits etc. are likely to be extortionately expensive when we first get out there due to our lack of credit history we really want to keep our initial expenses as low as possible.
Ah that's unfortunate.
I was given a lump sum which I was able to use as I saw fit, so I opted to give away pretty much anything that wasn't shirts off my back or had sentimental value, using the money to get things set up in the US and just buy new "stuff" for my apartment.
It was honestly one of the most refreshing and liberating experiences of my life.
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Old May 18th 2019, 2:41 pm
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Default Re: What did you take with you?

Great advice in here. Leave all electricals unless you can buy a US power supply for it or it can handle dual-voltage (I took computers, Sonos speakers, AppleTV, a Dyson ... that was it I think). Clothes, anything sentimental, kitchenware, books - anything that can go on a shelf that you'll need is fine to bring

Luckily I was just moving myself out of a shared house in London, and my girlfriend was moving out of her parents' place. We bought everything new from IKEA - a godsend - and whilst it was expensive, everything fits! The enormous bed (still the biggest wow-factor for all my UK visitors) was the crowning glory of the whole enterprise.
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