8 questions to answer before moving large belongings overseas

large belongings to move in new home

There are 8 major questions to ask before shipping furniture or big items overseas.

1. Do you really need it?

Moving is always a time for hard questions. Because of the cost and risk of damage from shipping, this is even more the case with international moves. At the same time, happiness and quality of life can sometimes trump what would appear to be more practical concerns. If you really feel you can’t live without a particular item, factor that into your decision.

2. Do you really need it... now?

Sentimental or heirloom items can sometimes be stored in a warehouse, storage unit, or with friends and relatives rather than shipping them. The practicality of this option obviously depends on the length of your stay.

3. How long is your stay?

If you’re moving overseas temporarily for work or other reasons, shipping large and potentially fragile items may be inadvisable. Shorter stays may make using a warehouse or storage unit a practical solution. For longer-term or permanent relocations, you’ll want to refer back to Question 1.

4. Will it fit?

Americans in particular are often surprised by the size difference between theirs and many European homes, especially in European cities. No matter how strongly you may feel about shipping a particular item to your new overseas home, there’s always the possibility it simply won’t fit. Even if the rooms in your new home are big enough, there’s always the chance front doors or staircases are too narrow to fit through.

5. How much will it cost to ship?

Overseas shipping costs can include taxes, customs payments and the cost of other required paperwork. If you can’t afford to ship a particular item, consider a storage unit or warehouse. If using a warehouse, there’s always the possibility of shipping the item later.  

6. How much will it cost to buy a new one?

If you don’t think you can afford to ship furniture or other large items, weigh the cost of buying a new one in the country you’re moving to. If it turns out to be the same or more, and you’re particularly attached to the item, you may consider shipping the item anyway.

7. Have you considered storage?

Using a storage space or warehouse can be a great way to put items aside during a short-term stay, or keep them while you’re looking for a different long-term solution such as selling or donating.

8. Can someone else use it?

If you decide shipping a particular item doesn’t make sense, friends or family may be able to keep it for you until you need it again or find another solution. There’s also always the option of selling items to a second-hand buyer, or donating them and getting a potential tax deduction.

There’s no formula to determine whether or not to ship furniture or large items overseas. Sometimes emotional attachment to heirlooms can outweigh what would seem like practical concerns, and vice versa. These questions are mere guidelines to come up with an answer that makes sense to you and your family.

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