When we moved to Australia from the UK a year ago, we had some decisions to make about what we would be taking, and what we would be leaving behind. Whilst we wanted to minimise potential shipping costs, we were also a bit beyond the phase of moving across the world with a couple of suitcases and an optimistic attitude.
So after much deliberation and more than one list (who am I kidding, of course I made spreadsheets), here is what we settled on.
What I packed
Our wedding china
I love our wedding china, and we use it every day. It’s fancy, but I don’t believe in saving things for best so they came with us. If we could have left them behind in the UK we might have done, as they were heavy and obviously we were worried about them breaking, but there wasn’t anywhere we could have realistically left them. Then if we end up staying here we’d have wanted to send for it and who were we going to convinc to carefully package up all our wedding china and ship it to Australia for us?!
The good news is we only had one breakage on the way, and the plywood strengthening outers the movers used to protect our boxes full of china have now been repurposed into a set of shelves in our flat. Sorry, unit.
We like them a lot.
Also, I totally haven’t got that #shelfie thing down. Mine are just stuffed full with as much stuff as I can manage, without them collapsing.
I am trying to be less sentimental about objects but as you can see from the paragraph above, it’s obviously not going that well. I have liberated a few things that I was keeping for absolute nonsense reasons, but some I will never ever part with not ever. Letters people have written to me, my granny spoons, the wardrobe scenter my aunt cross stitched for me with our initials on filled with some of the lavender we used as confetti at our wedding (you can see it hanging over Granny’s picture in the photo below), and the origami cranes that my friend made for our wedding present with peace, hope, love and joy written on them.
Photos and art
These probably all count as sentimental items too, but we did bring all our physical photos with us (most are digital anyway) especially those in frames, so we could make our new place feel like home. Ditto the art – most of it is nothing to write home about, just things collected on our travels that mean a lot to us. There’s also the beautiful painting that belongs to my granny, that we’re looking after for her. There’s a long story behind it but it’s one of my most treasured possessions.
Most of our kitchenware
I like cooking, and as I’m gluten free I can’t really buy second hand kitchen stuff for cross contamination reasons. So we shipped most of ours out. There were a couple of things that didn’t make it as they’d gotten a little tired from overuse, but most stuff we boxed up and shipped out. Including but not limited to my beloved Magimix (thanks Grannie!), our saucepans with the strainers in the lid, our Joseph and Joseph nesting bowl set and utensils, and all our wedding cutlery. It was heavy to ship, we have to use adaptors on all our electricals, and I am probably overly attached to my kitchen implements but I don’t care. They’re here and I’m happy about it.
Most of our books
I’m very attached to my books, especially all my Gerald Durrell ones. I won’t let those go, not for anything or anyone. We did go through our books pretty ruthlessly and gave away those we knew we wouldn’t re-read, but we did keep a good number. As everyone keeps telling us, books are expensive in Australia so you don’t let go of them lightly.
About half of my clothes
You might assume I just packed the summer half of my wardrobe and left the rest, but not quite! Moving was actually a great excuse to sort through my wardrobe and find new homes for at least half of it. I’m not going to think too deeply about exactly how much I chucked, donated, or passed on to my sisters because it’s a scary amount in value and suffice to say I’m a lot more picky about what comes into my wardrobe now.
I’m now facing a second round of wardrobe culling, after surviving my first full Australian summer and realising what I do and don’t wear on a realistic daily basis. Especially with going to work most of the time, my flowery summer dresses have barely seen the light of day and anything that doesn’t transition well between blazing heat and blasting air conditioning (eg layers well) just isn’t going to make the cut. Also I tried, but I’m really not a shorts person. I really don’t have the legs for them. So they’ll mostly end up in the Vinnies* down the road from us, too.
Far too many toiletries and makeup
I have a latent goo hoarding habit that I’m quite ashamed of. When it came time to move to Australia, I couldn’t face throwing away so many products lovingly collected so I just chucked them in a big box (or two) and turned a blind eye to the whole situation. A year on, and I have had to buy, like, one shampoo since moving here. The rest is allllll from my steadily dwindling stash.
Oh, sidenote. Remember that time when work sent me on a business trip to Australia about a month before I was due to move out (semi)permanently? Well, the luggage allowance for that trip was extreme (70kg total or something nuts, thank YOU business class) and I had very little notice before I left, so I basically filled one giant suitcase with all the clothes I could grab and the other with all the toiletries I could grab. That definitely helped cut our shipping requirements but I probably wasn’t as selective as I could have been…
What I left behind
Our bed, mattress and bedding
Mattress sizes are different here than they are in the UK so there was no point bringing a bed that we’d never find bedding the right size for, or bedding that we’d never find a bed the right size for. Our bed got sold to the new tenant of our house, and the bedding got donated to our local charity shop in Bedford.
Actually, all of our furniture
We actually didn’t have that much furniture – we were lucky enough to have a partially furnished house in Bedford, and we only had a couple of nice pieces anyway. The rest was a rag tag bunch of stuff found on eBay and Preloved over the years. None of it would have fared well being shipped to Australia, and it would probably have cost more to ship it than it was worth by that point. The nicer stuff went to my best friend, and the rest was sold on the internet. I’m glad my friend has the good stuff, and the rest I don’t miss. It had had its day, anyway.
Sorry, vacuum cleaner. We had a fantastic hoover in the UK, but it wouldn’t fit in a shipping box and would have probably cost more than it was worth to ship by itself. So, it stayed behind. One of my family members is enjoying it on my behalf 🙂
Shipping cars is crazy business and one we were in no mood to take on. There are all kinds of hefty taxes and funny things with registration and all sorts, so even though we loved our car, we just couldn’t ship it over.
I got strangely sad saying goodbye to Woody, our beloved Mazda 3. I think because the process of buying him had managed to become all tied up with the death of my Dad. Still, we took some commemorative photos of him in the social club car park down the road from our house, and waved a fond farewell. I hope his new owners love him as much as we did.
I think this face pretty much sums up our whole moving abroad process tbh.
Our musical instruments
Everything else we left behind I had a lot of peace about and was able to let go of easily. Our musical instruments, not so much. It was just too expensive and risky to ship my cello and S’s 3 guitars and a mandolin out to Australia, not to speak of the keyboard S liberated from his parents attic at their strenuous insistence. Especially if we were only coming here for a couple of years. We sold the keyboard, and the instruments are staying with our respective parents where they are safe.
All soft furnishings
I could have brought cushions but that would have been like paying to ship air. Also, they were definitely past their best. I could have brought blankets, but I was worried about them mildewing en route. I was probably correct in this, because a couple of things we shipped were oddly warped by the time they arrived so they likely did get damp at some point.
No animal products, untreated wood, food, or anything with soil on it
Australian customs are STRICT, yo. Have you ever seen Border Security? I didn’t want them border securitying and potentially destroying my sentimental trinkets so I made sure that absolutely nothing that could possibly be construed as offensive was in any of our boxes. I was careful with the wording of items on our manifest (apparently listing Christmas decorations is always a trigger for inspection, as a lot of people ship wreaths and things which are definitely not allowed. I labelled our baubles as ‘decorations’ instead, as I was quite sure our baubles weren’t carrying any invasive species) and we had no problems with anything being seized and destroyed or held for cleaning ransom. If you’re shipping things to Australia, be very clear on the restrictions because violations can be very expensive.
So there you have it. That’s pretty much what I shipped when we moved to Australia, and what I left behind. Have you ever moved overseas? What did you take with you? Did you give it much thought?!
*In typical Aussie fashion, this is what everyone calls the charity/thrift/op shops run by the St Vincent de Paul Society. There aren’t actually too many charity shops in Australia, but Vinnies are ubiquitous.
If you’ve got the time then I’ve got a pin for you:
I’m trying to really badly reference a song here and I can’t remember it. Or the lyrics, properly. Ehh. It’s late.