What I packed when I moved to Australia (and what I didn’t)

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.

Deciding what to ship when you move abroad is no small decision. Find out what we decided to ship from the UK to Australia, and what didn't make the cut at www.anestingnomad.com

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.

Deciding what to ship when you move abroad is no small decision. Find out what we decided to ship from the UK to Australia, and what didn't make the cut at www.anestingnomad.com

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.

Sentimental trinkets

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.

Deciding what to ship when you move abroad is no small decision. Find out what we decided to ship from the UK to Australia, and what didn't make the cut at www.anestingnomad.com

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.

Deciding what to ship when you move abroad is no small decision. Find out what we decided to ship from the UK to Australia, and what didn't make the cut at www.anestingnomad.com

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…


Because… bananagrams.

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.

Our hoover

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 🙂

Our car

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.

Deciding what to ship when you move abroad is no small decision. Find out what we decided to ship from the UK to Australia, and what didn't make the cut at www.anestingnomad.com

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.

Deciding what to ship when you move abroad is no small decision. Find out what we decided to ship from the UK to Australia, and what didn't make the cut at www.anestingnomad.com

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.


Deciding what to ship when you move abroad is no small decision. Find out what we decided to ship from the UK to Australia, and what didn't make the cut at www.anestingnomad.com



  1. 16th April 2018 / 07:10

    We shipped bedding, towels, kitchen stuff, some photographs and pictures, clothes and our bed and mattress. The company managed to get it all here but one part of the bed so we now have a beautiful but useless bed… I nearly didn’t ship it and I wish I hadn’t. I keep hoping they find it but no luck yet…

    I love Kmart so we have managed to stock up from there. We rent furnished too – do you? Didn’t want to have to buy new furniture!

  2. Jen
    16th April 2018 / 13:09

    Yes to all of this! I am so picky with what I keep with us for moves and what the movers take. Sentimental things always go with me.

  3. 16th April 2018 / 15:55

    I moved to London with 3 suitcases – I did include a set of towels and bedding just so I could hit the ground running. I moved to Singapore with 3 suitcases and 4 boxes. Definitely no furniture was ever moved, I just now own a couch and a spare bed! Which definitely won’t be moving with me to the next country, wherever that may be. Argh, I’ve just moved house and have so many bits and bobs that I should just throw away, and yet I haven’t. I’ve spent way too much money in the past and now I’m just handing them (them being furniture/fans/etc) because I couldn’t carry it. HA.

  4. 16th April 2018 / 19:29

    Same here. We shipped almost all the kitchen stuff (utensils and gadgets) but left almost all the furniture except the dining table. I shipped over so much sentimental stuff and a lot of toot which I’ve since gotten rid of but I still have the odd appliance with a UK plug, including the hoover which is still going strong 10 years on!

  5. 16th April 2018 / 20:27

    This is so interesting!

    When Jesse moved here, he only brought his computer, some of his clothes, baby photos of him, things I’d sent him and that was that! Boys are definitely different to girls as I’d have 10x the stuff, haha!

  6. 17th April 2018 / 01:37

    I packed banana grams with me too! This is a great post, seriously. I have moved to Brazil, then Italy and now we are faced with a move to the USA, which truly is looking like a lot of work. I will use your advise on packing!

  7. 17th April 2018 / 12:42

    We’re totally the pack a couple suitcases and head off to the other side of the world type. 😛 I’ve never shipped anything when moving, but if I could ship one thing, it would be our bed. Long before Angel and I had any ideas of moving overseas, we decided that even if the rest of our furniture came from second-hand stores or were handmedowns from family, we wanted a nice bed. So we got a bed custom built by Amish furniture makers out of cherry wood–it has a giant wooden headboard with metal engravings on it and it’s gorgeous and I miss it so much. My brother now sleeps on it in the USA and I doubt he appreciates it nearly as much as he ought to. I was also emotional about leaving my car–it’s a ’96 so it’s not like it’s that awesome, but it’s somehow easy to get attached to cars, isn’t it? I gave it to my little cousin to be her college car so I got to ride in it last summer when we visited. Good times!
    Mostly we just use the suitcase strategy. Angel and I have a couple boxes in storage at my grandparents’ home–about 4 boxes and a safe, with important documents and stuff. Everything molds here so I didn’t want to bring original birth certs or diplomas or marriage license, etc. When siblings have come to visit they’ve brought us some of our old things–my silverware from the wedding, a nice blanket I had, some sentimental Christmas ornaments (when you get married in December, people give you Christmas ornaments). Because I’d previously lived in SE Asia, that definitely helped with knowing what to bring along and what not to bring along. We prioritized clothes and shoes because if you want anything higher quality, it’s way more expensive here (i.e. Angel’s fancy-schmancy running shoes….I need to order him another pair before my sis comes this summer because they’re about double the cost here).

    We didn’t bring any electronics because the USA’s 110 electronics have a habit of burning out very fast on 220 voltage, even if you use an adaptor…they just don’t work that well. The saddest losses there were my professional cosmetology tools–clippers, professional marcel irons and flat irons, and my sewing machine, but it was simply not worth it to bring them.

    Things that were probably a bit odd but important to us that we brought: my non-electronic cosmetology tools (I knew it would be nigh-impossible to find left-handed barber shears over here), Bible and Christian books (you can find normal books but faith-related books are way less easy to find unless they are ultra-famous), and word games (since we knew we’d be teaching English)

    Things we ask siblings to bring when they visit: my favorite toiletries brands, running/racing/basketball shoes for Angel (before I married him I had no idea that every sport required its own shoes…and racing shoes are different from training shoes??), art supplies/school books.

  8. 17th April 2018 / 22:05

    This was such an interesting read! While our upcoming move won’t be quite as far, I am already trying to think about what we would take and what we would give away / donate when we get our dream home. It’s so easy to accumulate things but so hard to let them go! I think you did a great job prioritising the important things 🙂

    Oh and there are tons of opshops around if you look! 🙂 Red Cross, Endeavour, Aid for the blind, Lifeline and yes Vinnies (all these within a 5 minute walk of each other at Wynnum, ha!)

    Hope you are having a nice start to your week so far! 🙂

    Away From The Blue Blog

  9. NCM
    18th April 2018 / 03:59

    Hurrah for benefitting from all your many and varied cast offs! All very much still being worn or else saved for best… 😜

    Just wondering… if there are particular things from the UK that you miss, that you might possibly like for a bday present for instance?!?

  10. 18th April 2018 / 22:35

    well goodness this was informative, and i mean that in a good way haha. just wondering what someone would take with limited options and having to condense it all. makes me want to purge my apt haha. i have many sentimental things that i could prob part with but it gets to be so difficult. just little knick knacks. especially bc my mom has pretty much given me everything from childhood and it kind of accumulates. anyway, thanks for sharing!

    xoxo cheshire kat

  11. 19th April 2018 / 01:54

    Ooohh I was worried for a second, I’m so glad you didn’t sell your cello and it’s safe and sound with your family! You definitely brought waaaay more stuff than I did when I moved to the UK – I basically just took one suitcase and a backpack, and bought everything else when I was there. It was quite different for me though because the shared flat I moved into was furnished already and, well, shared. I definitely missed my cooking ware though and wish I had brought more of it like you did (or just bought more)!

  12. 19th April 2018 / 06:43

    I haven’t moved in 8 years! And I seriously dread the thought of ever having to do it. If/when we do, it won’t be far so I cannot even imagine overseas. Any move really just sounds like a nightmare to me. If/when I will definitely be using it as an excuse to cull my things. It’s hard for me to just do it on my own. I have a serious problem with toiletry item hoarding. I got rid of a bunch of stuff but alas all under sink cabinets are FULL.

  13. 20th April 2018 / 15:01

    I’m so jealous you have your wedding china and appliances with you. I cringe thinking of ours just sitting in storage for the past four years. Such a waste! This was interesting to read. We just had a small air shipment so we brought pots, pans and that type of kitchen stuff, bedding and clothes really. I like to donate to the Salvos because they take everything, even stained or torn etc, and send it somewhere it can be repurposed and used. Or at least that’s what they told me when I asked.

  14. 20th April 2018 / 23:19

    How interesting! I had no idea bed sizes were different in the UK! And I love that you use your wedding china everyday. I need to do that too!

  15. 21st April 2018 / 02:26

    I love how you repurposed the shipping crates and turned them into shelves!

  16. 27th April 2018 / 01:11

    I’m quite impressed you guys shipped so much! Did you know you wanted to stay long term? I think for a shorter term I wouldn’t ship anything, but I’ve come to easily say goodbye to most of my possessions haha

  17. 3rd May 2018 / 20:57

    I didn’t know you play/ed the cello! I took lessons on the cello all through middle and high school.

    I can’t even imagine packing for an expat adventure in Australia. I have definitely heard border control there can be tough! It does sound like you did well picking and choosing though. I love that you are using the plywood that was meant to prevent the china from breaking as shelves now! That’s a great way to save money on the expensive moving costs!

  18. 30th June 2018 / 01:44

    Thanks for sharing your story. It was a nice car.

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