Bluenose Girl

Packing Up Your Life - What to do with all your stuff?!

moving abroad, packing

You are moving country! You have your visa in hand, very exciting! Now what are you going to do with all your STUFF?! It can all seem a bit overwhelming, but broken down it’s not so bad, just some decisions to be made, then time to get into action.

1. De-clutter

For every scenario there will be a slightly different approch.  The best place to start is de-cluttering.  Take a weekend (or 3), and call in help of a friend or 2 for help to keep you on track. Go through each room and box and bag the things you don’t use or need. Decide if you have time to sell it (ebay, a yard or boot sale) or if you are going to give it away. Some charities will arrange for a pick up of items, or check if you have a local Freecycle.  You could also post a message on Facebook with the items you are giving away and a deadline to pick them up by.

2. Shipping Quotes

Next, if this is a long term move and you are thinking of shipping your furniture and belongings, call around and get at least 3 quotes.  Make sure you are comparing apples with apples, does the quote include door to door, what does the insurance cover, as well as how long you will have access to the container etc.  If you are unsure, this will help you decide if shipping is right for you and how much you can afford to bring.

If you are moving abroad short term this is the time to research what the different airlines charge for excess baggage.  This will help you decide which airline to buy your ticket with and how much you can afford to bring.

3. Storage

If your move is short term and you will need to find storage for your stuff, it won’t likely be worth the cost to ship it over and back (unless you are lucky enough to be doing a company move and they are footing the bill).  I wasn’t sure if I was moving to England long term or not, so I wanted to keep some of my household stuff just in case.

I invited my good friends over and had them put dibs on my bigger stuff.  As well, at this time I was lucky that a friend of  a friend had just bought a house and finding themselves broke after the purchase were happy to take some of my furniture, the family cottage was in need of a new bed and TV, and my Dad’s love of storage sheads also came in very handy.  That along with a few other friends who said they would be happy to keep stuff  for me and I was set.

This means that there will be some wear and tear on my stuff, but I don’t have to pay for storage.  I made notes of what went where so I could keep track, and find things should I need anything in the future.  Now as my the years go by and my move becomes more permanent I purge a few more things each visit home and bring back some things back with me.

4. Purge

If you are brave and want a clean break then do a good purge, get rid of your stuff except the stuff you can fit in to your bags. It’s very freeing, I did it on my first attempt to live abroad in 1999 (other than my photo albums and beloved books).  You could try the 100 things challenge, reduce the “stuff” in your life down to 100 things. A girl I know did this to prepare for her 6 month camper van adventure, you can read about her experience here: Selina’s, Made In the Moment site.

5. Practice Packing

Once you get most things packed in boxes, you will need to finalize what exactly you are bringing. Time to get practice packing! By now you will need to have decided how many bags you are bringing, and have those bags at hand. Next, gather your stuff and see if it fits! My dad is a genius at getting things tightly packed, and perfectly fitted in to make the most of the space, I don’t know what I would have done without him (I own a lot of clothes).  It took me a couple trial runs and on the last night I was still coming to terms with this sweater and that book that wouldn’t fit.

Be sure you know exactly what you can carry on the plane (each airline will detail this in their baggage section on their web site).  Make the most of this for things you can’t do with out (medications), or easily replace (important documents), laptop and such.

I would love to hear any of your packing tips, feel free to leave them below in the comments.

*photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/malias/