Packing Up – Cutting It Down

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Once you have made the decision to relocate to another country, and have found a new home abroad, comes the fun of packing up your worldly goods.

You’ve probably moved before. You suddenly realise just how much stuff you’ve managed to accumulate over the years, especially in the attic, under the stairs, the garden shed, and garage. It’s shocking. Trust me, I know. It’s even worse when one of you is a bit of a hoarder. And if you think packing up for a move in the same country is hard, packing up for an international move is worse.

So what do you do with all that stuff? You have three options:

  1. Downsize
  2. Take it all, and accept the costs
  3. Put some of it in storage

Shipping your possessions abroad is expensive. We chose to downsize as moving our furniture to Crete cost £6,600. While this cost included a reasonable amount of space, we still had to be ruthless. If this is the option you choose, you will also need to think long and hard about what you need, and what you can live without.

Thanks to my husband’s hoarding of items going back to the late 1970s, we had a LOT of stuff, and much of it was just unnecessary. As hard as he found it, he accepted that it was time to let go of some of his rock music, speedway, ice hockey, rugby league and pub memorabilia. I traded in vintage items at the time and had stock. My husband has a cleaning business, and we had a lot of his stock in the garage, plus a folding caravan.

For my husband, letting go of some of his collections was hard but, together, we sat down and made a plan. His records stayed, as did badges, and some of his sports shirts. The rest was going. The rest we attempted to sell, through a number of avenues. These included:

  • Ebay (obviously!)
  • Facebook groups for specialised interests
  • Etsy (for my stock)
  • Gumtree
  • Auctions
  • People who sell memorabilia
fire-sale
Everything must go!

I’ll be honest – it was time consuming and hard work, but it all added to the moving fund. Some things made more than we expected, some things made less. As we had a cash buyer for our house, we didn’t have time to be too fussy, even if sometimes it was painful to watch things sell for far below what we knew they were worth.

Finally, a week before move one (I’ll explain later) when we had no time left, we held a ‘Bring a bottle, take something away’ party. We invited pretty much everyone we knew, and laid out all the things we weren’t taking but still needed to dispose of. We got rid of a lot. While it wasn’t exactly our trash, it certainly became other people’s treasure. Some even came the following day to take away stuff that they didn’t have room for the night before. The rest went to charity.

I have to say that, even after all that, when we got to Crete to unpack, there were still items that we wondered why we had taken with us. It’s the nature of the beast.

In another blog post I will look at finding and choosing a relocation company, and my recommendations for packing up, plus the additional difficulties when you have to be out of your house before the date you move abroad.

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