Helping You Build a Life Overseas

Moving to Australia – To ship or to buy… furniture.

Moving your entire life half way round the world is bound to be an expensive decision. But what about the things you already have in the UK? Granted, if money was to grow on trees then perhaps this would be the ideal opportunity to splash out on everything new once you get to Australia. Realistically however, not many people are going to find themselves in that position.

So, it’s time to make some decisions. You will need to think like an adult; be rational, logical and realistic. Make lists. The first list, either mental or on paper, should be what you don’t need or want. What haven’t you used for years, and what probably won’t get used ever again? What has been banished to the deep, dark depths of the garage or hidden out of sight under the cobwebs of the attic? Anything that is definitely not going with you can be sold, donated to charity, or given to friends and family.

The second list should be what you are definitely taking with you, anything you can’t imagine living without. Items of strong sentimental value will help you feel at home when you arrive in a new country, and it’s good to have some familiar items around you in case you get home-sick.

Next, the stuff that you want to keep, but don’t necessarily want to take to Australia; perhaps a family heir loom. Remember there are lots of storage options available in the UK, and you can put things into storage, or get friends and family to look after things for you whilst you’re away. Perhaps you could ship these things over to Australia at a later date once you are settled.

Moving abroad gives most people a good excuse to have a spring clean and a well-overdue clear out of items which they have accumulated over the years. Whilst some things can be flown overseas, the most common and cheapest way is to have it transported is via ocean liner. Bear in mind that this method can take around 15 weeks on average to arrive at a destination as far away as Australia, so make sure you are not relying on something which is in this load. If you have a lot of cheap furniture, or things which are easily replaceable, it might be worth leaving these behind.

A shipping container can set you back as much £4000, or around half this price if you opt to share a container with another shipping load. Make sure you shop around with different shipping agencies and ask for full quotes that include shipping, handling, customs etc. This way you will know the cost up front and won’t be faced with any unexpected costs.

Analyze the cost of buying new or shipping your old furniture. Once you have received some quotes from shipping agencies, research into how much the same items will cost as new abroad. Also bear in mind the item that you can’t wait for once you are in Australia. Can you really live for 3 months without a bed? If not then buying a new one would seem the sensible option. Expensive items are worthwhile taking abroad if you are paying out for an expensive container. An important thing to note is any restrictions which limit what items you can take into the new country, the last thing you want is for your container to arrive half empty! Pay close attention to restricted items:

• You are not allowed to ship bamboo, wicker or other natural fibres.

• If you are putting shoes in the container, they need to be thoroughly disinfected, especially the soles. The stronger cleaning product you use the better, as the smell will show you have cleaned them properly. It would be better to take clothes and shoes in your suitcases. Most airlines offer you double the allowance on one way flights.

• Electrical items which are under a year old will have import tax on them.

• Pack and label boxes accordingly, and don’t cross-pack. Use one box for china, one box for bedding etc. Your boxes will be checked randomly so it’s best to have everything in the boxes that the label says will be in there!

If you want to make a bit of money rather than throwing away your unwanted stuff, why not go to a car boot sale. This won’t make as you much money as selling them online, but it will be much quicker if time is of the essence. If time is on your side, try listing big items on eBay, or sell ‘job lots’, for example bundles of clothes, games and DVDs etc. This gets rid of more stuff all in one go!

Another helpful tip when you are shipping flat packed furniture, keep the screws in a bag and attach the bag to the furniture. Also make sure you keep the instruction manual. Things can get complicated when you finish re-building a piece and find you have a ‘spare’ piece of wood!

All in all it would be safe to assume that you are going to need to take at least some of your furniture with you, for whatever reason. It is a big thing, so think about it carefully and make sure you use your container space to your advantage. The more sensibly you pack the better value for money you will get. You can also look forward to a few nice shopping trips when you arrive in your new country.