I thought it would be easy to decide what to send to Australia and how to ship it all. I was wrong.
This is turning out to be one of the most difficult processes about moving. At first I thought I’d just take a few of my favorite items – some books, DVDs, clothing, religious items, and at least one box dedicated to feminine hygiene products (that’s a whole other blog entry). But then I thought, what about my photo albums? And my arts and crafts supplies? And these shoes? And that handbag? Then my mother saw an opportunity. How about this new set of towels I’ve never used? Why don’t you take these place mats?
I decided then to dedicate one box to each category of items. One box of books, one box of other media, one box of clothing and accessories, one box of religious items, one box of household goods and decor, and one box of aforementioned feminine hygiene products. My boxes are 12x12x12 and whatever doesn’t fit, stays (for now).
I went through my bookshelf and was pleasantly surprised to discover that parting with nearly one-third of my library was easy. I offered my books up to friends who have gladly taken them off my hands. I grabbed a box and packed it up with half of the remainder of my library. I was impressed and pleased I’d be able to take so many books with me. Then I weighed the box: 35 lbs.
Finding a good and affordable shipping solution has been challenging. The United States Postal Service (USPS) once had a surface option. It took a month or so for shipments to arrive by ship, but it was fairly inexpensive. That option is no longer available and air mail is the only way to ship now. My box of books costs about $280 to ship to Melbourne. It’s my heaviest box (I think), but it’s not the only one and that’s a pretty steep price. I began looking for alternatives.
FedEx and DHL are just as expensive if not more or don’t offer the right service for me. UPS couldn’t even find Melbourne in its online shipping tools. I started looking at international shipping companies and found UpakWeShip, whose customer service was not very good, and Nex Worldwide Express as well as some other companies. The problem I ran into is that many international shipping companies specialize in large shipments such as a full home and vehicles, and they have weight minimums. They laugh at my poor little boxes.
I may have found a solution in a local company called Move Management. It offers door to door service and will accept my boxes. The cost may be comparable to that of USPS, but if all my boxes are heavy and there are at least ten of them, it will result in a much lower cost per box, and I’ll be able to ship more of my personals. The downside is the shipment takes three months to arrive, but I can live with that. If I ship them soon, I won’t have to wait long once I’m in Melbourne.
So, I have to give this some thought. I suppose that what I need to do is just pack everything I want to take, see how many boxes I end up with, and how much they weigh. That may be the only way to obtain a good estimate of the shipping cost whether I go with USPS or Move Management. Meanwhile, I imagine Theo is panicking and wondering just how much stuff do I really have.
I would love to hear from my fellow expats living down under or anyone who has made an international move. How did you move your items across the globe?
About the image: Container ship by jdnx on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)