Part Two: To Store or To Ship? is stressful, time-consuming and expensive. Logistically, moving overseas or cross-country is daunting. In part one of this series we looked at being clear on what to take. In this post (part two) we’ll focus on the costs and considerations of shipping and part three we’ll compare these to storing.

Shipping Small Amounts

When I first arrived here, I went directly to work and needed my clothing and some work materials. I took everything I thought I needed immediately in a couple of suit cases and boxes on the flight I took to Sydney. If you are only taking clothing, a small amount of personal belongings and toiletries, try to take as much as you can on the plane. It is your cheapest option.

Small goods shipping is based on weight and dimension, so you’ll need to have this information when you call to get pricing. If you have just an item or two more, let the airline know you are moving overseas and see if you can add extra weight and/or oversized items such as sporting equipment to your fare.

  • Phone ahead and tell your story, you might find someone willing to give you a deal.
  • If travelling with your items is too expensive and/or your items are simply too difficult to carry, a few boxes can be sent via UPS, FedEx and regular mail carrier and the cargo division of airlines.
  • Cost is in the hundreds for a few items.

Calculating and Shipping Larger Loads

After two years, we were ready to move back to the US and I shipped nearly everything I owned back to Colorado with my partner at the time. I have also moved across the USA previously and similar advice applies. When you have a household or number of belongings to ship, here’s what you need to know:

  • If you’re shipping more than a few boxes, it is much more cost-effective to ship as much as you can in a single load via boat overseas and via truck on land.
  • Shipping by truck or sea is based on square footage/meterage or weight, whichever is greater.
  • Shipping via plane is also available, but consider how much you want to spend and move when you consider this option, as it is expensive!  It is calculated on weight and dimension.
  • When you ship overseas, you MUST use an overseas moving company. They put together the shipping manifests, inventory your items and organise your paperwork for customs. This is well worth the money! If not, shop around to see if your budget will allow for a moving company to pack and unpack you.
  • You must factor in insurance for your possessions. Especially consider insurance if you’re not travelling with or moving your own boxes. As I was researching this post, I came across stories where people’s containers were swept overboard at sea and they had to replace everything without it.
  • Be realistic about what you really want to move. Shipping is expensive and many things you will replace in your new home once you get settled.
  • Cost is too variable to estimate, but more you ship the more it costs.

Partial loads: You do not need to have an entire truck or container load to ship. In the industry, this is called “LCL” and stands for Less than a Container (or sharing a load) if you’re looking on-line for someone to tag onto. This is how pricing and space needed is calculated (unless I’ve gotten it wrong, it is always in metric):

  • A cubic metre is length x width x height = cubic metres so 1m x 1m x 1m = 1 cbm or square metre.
  • As an estimate, 1 cbm is 6 cardboard tea chests or 12 book boxes.
  • If you have less than 15 cbm, you need to go LCL.
  • If you have more than 15 cbm and less than 30 cbm, it will be cheaper to pay for an entire 20 foot container, regardless of whether or not it’s filled.
  • Cost is typically in the thousands, especially with insurance.

Full loads/Containers: A container is 1×20 ft and will carry up to 30 cbm of cargo. If you are shipping everything you own in your house, this is your option.

  • If you are under the 30 cbm, you’re in the LCL (see above).
  • If you are over the 30 cbm, it is cheaper to get an entire container. You can share your load with someone who only needs LCL. Each shipping company has its own policy on this (whether they arrange or you do). If you arrange, be sure to check out insurance for shipping other’s goods and have things in writing BEFORE you agree to this option. 
  • If you have lots of stuff — you can upscale to a 1×40 ft container or ask your shipping company.
  • Cost is in the thousands

Packing and Inventorying

If you’re moving to another state or overseas, check into having someone pack and/or move you. As I’ve moved oh so many times in my life, self-service has been my standard. However, when I moved to Australia I was forced to spend the money to get my items catalogued, documented and clearing customs, which meant professional movers.

  • It is more expensive and it is far less stressful!
  • Depending on if you want only packing, only shipping or full service (plus insurance) estimate a minimum 10% above your shipping costs.

I choose not to include pets in this series as it is already too long. Expect a post on shipping and quarantining your pets in another post soon. 

Next week…Part Three: Storing and Cataloguing

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9 Responses to Part Two: To Store or To Ship?

  1. Another informative post on the subject of moving! I almost always read the comments as well as the posts as there is often more useful information to be found. The internet is a great thing when used in this manner.

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