Relocation, relocation, relocation

It’s been an exciting week! On Saturday I picked up the keys to my new apartment and on Monday my 97-box consignment from London was delivered. After three and a half months of being a nomad, I can’t overstate how amazing it felt on Monday evening to cook dinner with my own pans and then sleep in my own bed!

The “journey” began in September, when I got quotations from three relocation companies to ship my possessions around the world. By this point I knew I had a generous relocation allowance from my employer, so I decided to ship rather than rent my flat out furnished and buy everything again. I had some handy advice from two sets of friends who had made the move before me, and approached the companies they had used (respectively Crown and PSS , who are the two market leaders) plus one other. The prices varied hugely, largely due to estimated volume: the third company, who did a video survey rather than coming in person, thought I had vastly more stuff than the other two and would therefore only price on the basis of a whole container rather than sharing one. As well as additional cost, this would have meant a faster shipping time, which I didn’t want given my holiday plans. So that was one company down. Between the other two, I picked Crown, who were more expensive but not by a lot, especially after I haggled with them to get some free storage. I liked the sound of their service, including the fact that they operate in Australia themselves rather than contracting the delivery out to another agent as PSS do.

Crown did pretty much all the packing for me, other than I did fill the suitcases, holdalls and plastic storage boxes that I wanted to bring over. So the big job in advance of them showing up was sorting my stuff into three categories: container, suitcases coming with me, and bin/give away.

I tried to be ruthless with my decision-making, knowing that every additional cubic foot would cost me around £6. So books were no problem – incremental cost of each one was pennies – but I decided against an ageing wardrobe and bookcase that I’d got second hand and never really liked, my second sofa and a chest of drawers that was starting to look tatty. Food of any sort and things may of wicker or untreated wood were not allowed and alcohol not worth it due to obnoxiously high duty prices, so parents and friends got a few gifts, and I’ve stored a few of the bottles of better booze at my parents’. Beyond that, and three boxes that my friend Claire is kindly keeping in her loft, I’ve stored nothing back in the UK: I was determined to avoid a self-storage unit, as it would just become a money sink if I stayed here long term. There were a few tedious requirements, like making sure no soil on anything, so my friend Yvann and I had “fun” disinfecting the soles of all of my shoes and various other things.

I booked the packing and removal over a day and a bit, starting the day after my work leaving drinks. Probably an error, frankly – adrenaline just about got me through the day, but when the shipping guys left about 3pm, the emotion of it all and my hangover combined to completely floor me, and I sat on the floor of my spare room and sobbed. I’m pleased to say that, to date, that’s the only time in the process that I’ve really asked myself “What have I done?!”

The packer guys were impressive – alarmingly efficient, but also used their brains – for example, checking with me whether I really wanted them to pack my window keys! That said, I’ve just unpacked a cardboard wine box, which I really didn’t need! Small items were wrapped, while large ones were wrapped up in brown paper as they were, though they did dismantle my bed and desk. Every item had a sticker for the room, had contents written on it, and was stickered with a number and logged on a list of what’s what – mostly for customs purposes, so the inspectors can decide which ones to check out. Thankfully my stuff got through customs fine, which saves time and a lot of dollars, so glad I followed the rules!

I ended up with 97 stickered boxes or packets, all of which I then ticked off as they were brought into the flat on Monday morning. The Crown guys re-assembled the bed and desk, unwrapped furniture and put it where I wanted it, and unpacked the boxes I requested. So we had a production line going on the kitchenware, with one of the guys unpacking and me putting into cupboards, but I asked them to leave books etc. in boxes as I’ll need to buy more cases for them. As a result, my kitchen, bathroom and kitchen are pretty much sorted and the living room is getting there, but the spare room is full of boxes and mess. I’ll unpack what I can this weekend, but suspect it’s next stop Ikea!

But, most importantly, the place feels like home already, and did the day I moved in. Shipping my stuff was absolutely worth it.

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