Part Three: To Store or To Ship?

If you’ve been following this series, you’re nearly ready to move! In Part One we looked at what to part with and what to keep. Part Two focused on what and how to ship. For those things you have to store until you get a new place to live or absolutely cannot bear to let go of — let’s look at storing.

Get Organised

Before you move, getting organised is the top priority. If you’ve been following this series, by now you have a list of your belongings.  

Go through your ‘to keep’ list:

  • Do you need and/or want the item in your new location?
  • What’s the replacement value of the item?
  • Is the item something that you cannot take with you due to either shipping limitations and/or country restrictions? (more below)
  • What’s an approximate weight and/or size? AND
  • Given this information, do you think it would cost more to ship than replace?

Shipping vs. Replacing

Once you have your list completed, you can then decide if this item is better stored than shipped. As an example, let’s say you have a much-loved old arm chair (like Martin’s chair from the TV series Frasier). I estimate this chair weighs 100 lbs/45 kg and has wood and/or stuffing that may need to be checked out for custom’s clearance if you’re moving overseas, so will incur additional charges in the new country.

Ship if: 

  • You’re already shipping a lot of items
  • It fits in your new place
  • You are certain your item will clear customs and/or are willing to pay the additional costs to get it fumigated or destroyed
  • AND (like Martin) you cannot live without it

Store or replace if:

  • You are trying to keep your shipping costs down
  • Your partner is complaining that this item belongs in the rubbish (or does not like it)
  • It can be easily replaced less expensively in your new location
  • And/or it does not meet customs requirements

Storing Things You Want to Keep

Storage is a great option if you have expensive furniture, artwork and/or sentimental things that you cannot bear to part with.  Importantly storing is a requirement if you are moving internationally or aren’t moving your items immediately. The most common options are either self-storage or at a specialised warehouse.


This is a typical neighbourhood self-storage facility (Bel-Red Self Storage, Bellevue, WA). You rent the size unit you need, it is secure as you keep the key and will be either temperature controlled or not. To find a facility, it is as easy as typing “self-storage unit” into Google and going to the sites listed. Each site should have dimensions of the available units and an on-line estimate as well as any features of that property, such as 24 hour access, wine storage or guard dogs.

If you are trying to save on expenses or have a small amount to store, perhaps you can keep your items at a friend or family member’s house, as suggested by realanonymousegirl.  

Or perhaps you’re renting your property after you move and can leave your items in your property and list as furnished. Be sure both your insurance and lease covers this option. 

Warehouse Storage

The odd-looking wooden box below (St. John’s Hall Storage, UK ) is called a container and is purpose-built for your items by a professional moving company. Depending on how much stuff you have, you may have multiples. If you are moving overseas, your items will be properly boxed and cushioned before this wooden container goes into a larger overseas shipping container. 

This is the best option if:

  • You will be storing for a lengthy time and do not need access your items
  • You will be moving your items later and want them ready to ship
  • You’re shipping internationally 

The moving company packs, catalogues and stores your things. Some moving companies will allow you to pack and catalogue, so ask if this is possible. If you are self-packing, you will need to check the policy on items such as food or perishables, medications, electronics, combustibles, gardening implements and if you’re moving overseas, anything wooden, woven, dried, feathered or stuffed before you start.

Surprisingly enough, although this sounds expensive, it may actually save you money (and definitely time!) as a moving company will often supply the packaging materials, labels and lists as well as being much more efficient than you or me. Warehouse storage may be cheaper than self-storage as you pay to be able to access your items.

Before You Ship or Store

  • Make (at least 2) copies of your documentation or as herschelian suggested, use a carbon ledger book.
  • Take photos and/or videos of all valuable items such as jewelry, furniture, China settings, artwork and/or things that may need to be replaced by insurance.
  • Take one copy with you and give one copy to a trusted friend or family member in a sealed envelope.

When it comes to moving, there are so many options and tips. What are some of yours?

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3 Responses to Part Three: To Store or To Ship?

  1. thedailydish says:

    When we moved from Philly to Portland, we had to prioritize. We were moving from a large, 3-story house to a 2-bedroom apartment – at least for the first 6 months, while we tried to sell our house. We could only bring so much. The most important and/or necessary items came w/ us. The rest remained in Philly.

    Once our house sold, it was on to move #2. From the apartment to our new home. There was a time lag – meaning, we had to clear out our old house prior to settling on our new one. So in the interim, we were forced to store. Although we’d thought we’d done a thorough clean-out before moving the first time, we realized we’d still kept a lot of unnecessary stuff, mostly b/c we’d been able to. For the ~1 month period of storage, we’d rented a POD. ( I cannot say enough about how great the experience was. They delivered the POD to us in Philly. We loaded it. They picked it up from our home, transported it to a storage location, then – at a predetermined date set by us – they delivered to our new home in Portland, Maine. It didn’t come cheap, but for the convenience and excellent service, I would gladly pay again.

  2. Fantastic service and so convenient! I never heard of it before. Thanks again for sharing.

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