When you’re preparing for an international move, it’s difficult to assess what household items you should ship overseas. If you’ve never lived outside of your country, predicting what daily life will be like in a foreign environment is tricky.
Luckily, when I prepared for my last move from the US to London, I had the advantage of having lived in London once before. This gave me some idea of what I should and shouldn’t take, for example, where to find the best mortgage rates that might be helpful for buying a house or an apartment. If you’re planning on moving to London, perhaps my shipping experience and suggestions of what you should and shouldn’t bring will help.
Recently, I wrote about my excellent experience with an international shipping company. In the beginning of this year they delivered 45+ boxes I had in storage in New York since I sold my townhouse in the end of 2012.
Now that I’ve finally unpacked all the boxes and have everything settled, I can reflect on what should and should not have been in the boxes.
For the most part, I am thrilled about everything I included, even if it doesn’t all quite fit in to my London flat perfectly. In fact, I regret more about what I left behind than feeling like I shipped too much.
Before I left, I sold all of my furniture except for two storage cabinets. I moved to London on a spouse visa, as my husband is British. We felt it would be best for me to get settled in to life here and then ship my belongings overseas. Once we found a flat big enough to hold all of my items, we unpacked them and bought furniture from Ikea that met our spacial and storage needs. This turned out to be an excellent plan for us.
Household Goods to Ship: Art
That white cabinet above is one of our Ikea purchases. I love it. However, even more important to me is the wall art above it. It’s not expensive. I purchased the decor from Pier 1 Imports in New York. It’s a piece that always meant something to me, so I decided it was getting packed for the move to London. When factoring what I could’ve sold it for against what it cost to ship it, the decision was easy. Also, I knew household items like that would be expensive in London.
Also included in my shipment were these decorative accents from Bed, Bath and Beyond.
I actually sent three of them. The other one is featured on another wall in our kitchen. You see, this wall above wasn’t big enough to show all of them together like I had them displayed in my New York townhome:
Again, the pictures weren’t expensive, but I love them. I also sent the two pottery vases you can see in the far left corner. Oh, and do you recognise that teapot on the right? It’s the same one that is in the first art work picture you saw above too. I plan on writing a separate blog on all the kitchen items you should include on a move from the US to London later.
Our flat isn’t quite large enough to hold all the art work I sent from New York. That’s something you’ll want to think about when making your decisions on what household goods to ship. There simply isn’t the same amount of space in Europe as exists in the US, especially if you’re moving from an American suburb. Further, you might want to save wall space for items you purchase on your travels once you live in London.
I feel my art work not only has sentimental value but also represents my life prior to moving. When you live as an expat, feeling parts of your home makes days in a foreign environment easier. There are many other pictures that I sent aside from the ones shown here. I don’t regret sending any of them.
Household Goods to Ship: Christmas Decorations
My suggestion for Christmas decorations is a bit two-sided. Again, since space is a huge issue in London, you probably won’t have any additional storage area like a basement or even large closet. For this reason, I opted to get rid of nearly all my Christmas tree ornaments such as several sets of matching bulbs and my artifical tree. I did keep special ornaments from family and friends, and I am very happy about that. These are some shots of the last Christmas tree I had in New York (pre-blogging days so I wasn’t really concerned about photography skills).
These are some of Christmas household goods that made the trans-Atlantic voyage…
Hey, a girl with a blog called ‘Sunny in London’ has gotta have a gold heel ornament at the top of her tree, right? I wasn’t about to play Cinderella and leave behind that little shoe. 😉
It’s important to bring your favourite Christmas items for your move to London because it makes surviving the holidays as an expat easier.
Household Goods to Ship: Special Products
Some of the best posts in American expat groups on social media include the times when people ask what products aren’t available in London. Immediately, the topic of Mexican food surfaces. It’s incredibly tough to find authentic Mexican food in London. Food items like Kraft Mac and Cheese, Butterfinger, and good peanut butter are a constant battle to find as well.
Then there’s this issue…
For whatever reason, you’ll find the quality of plastic bags and Q-tips just isn’t the same in the UK. Throw as many boxes of them in your household goods to ship as possible. Oh, and ladies, chuck some Secret deodorant in your stuff too if that’s the brand you prefer. Hardly anyone can find it here, and the equivalent just doesn’t exist.
My all-time biggest miss is scented candles and soap from Yankee Candle.
Yes, I know they have a few ‘satellite’ Yankee Candle shops in the UK. But, they don’t have near the variety that you will find in a US location. Let’s face it, you aren’t going to find this one below in a London store…
And at Christmas, this range isn’t available either…
You can’t even find regular bacon as you know it in London, much less a bacon scented candle.
At least I know that Molton Brown has a candle selection that is amazing, if my Yankee Candle collection runs out before my next visit to my home state of Florida.
Household Goods to Ship: Final Thoughts
As I indicated earlier, I have future blogs planned to help anyone with decisions of what to ship if they are moving to London from the US. Specifically, I will write about kitchen, electrical and clothing items. If you’re an American expat living in London, it would be great if you could include household items you wish you had or had not shipped so readers making the move can benefit from all of our advice.
The international shipping company I used is also offering a discount on shipments to people who use my promo code, so if that’s of interest to you, be sure to read this blog review and email me. These are my suggestions on what not to bring and advice for applying for a UK visa.