Boxes upon boxes - the day our stuff arrived in London.
One of the biggest jobs related to our move was moving all our stuff, or rather, moving the stuff we decided to keep. After doing a little research, we determined that the best method for us would be to ship as much as possible by sea and bring anything we would need have on hand between shipment pick up and delivery with us in our luggage. We couldn't possibly afford to ship everything we owned, and it didn't make sense anyhow to keep furniture that wouldn't work well in our new place, so we had a lot of sorting to do before our move.
When sorting out what to keep, I asked two questions:
1. What is precious to us and/or makes our house feel like home?
2. What will it be cheaper to ship than to purchase new?
The things that fell into those two categories made the cut. Everything else was sold, given away, or disposed of. We shipped just two pieces of furniture - a wooden cabinet and an antique trunk, both of which are family heirlooms and have proved to be very practical. We also chose to keep most of the kids' toys and books, a good deal of art that hung on our walls, select knick knacks, and the curtains from the girls' room. I also kept the kitchen items that I use frequently and things we use for holidays and birthdays throughout the year. We brought the kids' bicycles, but not Jarod's and mine.
Once we knew what would be kept, we separated it into two categories:
1. Things we could do without for up to three months.
2. Things which we would use regularly, both immediately before and after the move.
The items in category 1 were shipped by sea, and the items in category 2 were brought with us in our luggage on the plane.
To ship by sea, I did an internet search and then contacted the company with the best reviews on Yelp. Bloom Interntional's quote was competitive with other companies who had their prices listed online, and they offered a range of services. We decided on a level of service in which our things would be packed by us and shipped door to door. You can get services to have everything packed for you, but we didn't need that. You can also pay less and deliver and collect your things from the port of departure and port of arrival, but that seemed a bit more complicated than we preferred it to be. So we agreed to terms of service with Bloom International and scheduled a pick up date. We packed everything into boxes ourselves aside from the chidren's bicycles, and the representatives showed up at our door and put everything on a truck, then prepared it for departure. Then we simply had to wait for it to make the trip and then receive it at our new home in London.
Shipping by sea is an affordable way to move large items, and it is especially advantageous to move heavy things this way. Cost is figured by volume, not weight, and is measured by cubic meter. We were really happy with the cost and the service. We were also satisfied with the amount of work we had to do ourselves. Aside from packing everything up, the only thing we had to do was to make detailed lists of what was included in the boxes so our things could clear customs. And that was it. We had the option to purchase insurance to protect our things, which we did, though nothing was damaged or lost in the moving process.
The one big inconvenience of shipping things by sea is the time frame. We had an estimate of when our things would arrive, but no definite date. We were given updates when our things reached the port and when they were going through the customs process. Then a date for delivery was scheduled, and it all arrived. Near the end, it got really hard to wait, but I would still do it the same way over again, knowing what I know now. It took fourteen weeks total to receive our things, which was a bit longer than the estimated time frame of ten to twelve weeks, but we had been warned in advance that it could take longer. It all depends on how much is being shipped into a port at any given time; the customs process and having ground transportation arranged in the UK are dependent on your place in line once your things arrive at port. Because we moved at a time when a lot of other people were moving, we had to wait a bit longer than is usual.
What really made a difference for us when it came to being patient until the bulk of our things arrived is that we had a good deal of stuff come with us on the plane. We ended up packing six large duffel bags and two medium suitcases with our things. We took frequently used kitchen items, clothing, select toys and books, our icons, and anything that we considered precious on the plane. All important paperwork and documents were packed into my carry on suitcase. It was a lot of luggage. On international flights now, it is standard for the baggage allowance for economy class to be one checked bag up to 50 pounds in weight and one carry on per person. We paid for an additional checked bag for each of us, and two of those bags were overweight, so we paid those fees as well.
It was a challenge to get it all to the airport and then to our new home, but it was easily worked out in the end. On the way to the airport in San Francisco, we had large Uber SUV take Jarod and the luggage, and friends took the girls and me in their car. On arrival in London, we were met by two drivers from a car service, and each driver was driving a mini van. One driver took most of the luggage in his vehicle, and the other driver took us and limited luggage in his. We arrived without incident at our new home, not exactly easy peasy, but easy enough. Seven weeks later, our many boxes arrived, and that was that. Move complete.
I'd mentioned earlier that I'd tell in one post how we got ourselves and our stuff moved in one post, but I'd like to write a bit about the visa application and approval process, so I'll save the details of that for another post, which you can expect next Monday. Then I'll have one more after that, detailing our pet move. I'm reserving that one for last since I want to be very detailed. If you've got further questions about how we managed moving our stuff (I'm certain I left out at least one important detail), please let me know in the comments, and I'll do my best to answer in a timely manner.