Sticker Shock -Shipping Containers Are Waste Of Money with International Moving.
Updated: Mar 1
Before I get into the nitty gritty of our shipping container fiasco we wanted to share some tips on how to prepare for a move let alone an international one. Eric and I have bought and sold 5 homes over the last 17 years we've moved on our own without professional movers every time. Not because we were young and able but because we were dirt broke and couldn't afford an extra $5-10 for movers. Moving locally is pretty easy and if you're anything like me you'll essentially toss everything into a box and deal with it when you arrive. Moving internationally can be more daunting as there is so much to sort out before you actually go, here I want to focus on the moving of STUFF aspect and some angles you can evaluate to see what is best for you.
First of all I am a BIG fan of not having an excess amount of STUFF. I used to be, I loved it having everything I could possibly need or want at any time. Yet the older I got the more I realized that the more stuff you have the less happy and more stress it brought to me. So for the last decade I've been slowly purging stuff that no longer brings me joy (Marie Kondo -Style!)
So before you pack it all up and pay a lot to ship across the country take the time to go through it all first. Is what you're bringing really worth the cost to get it there? The biggest question is can you buy what you need there as you need it to avoid shipping altogether and just go with a couple of hockey bags filled up and that's it.
Eric and I plan on moving to Cost Rica at some point so we've been discussing do we container our stuff we've cultivated over the years or do we not. Upon initial evaluation we decided that if we bring a CAR then that's the only way we'll do a container, outside of that it's not worth it to bring what we have. It does help that the home we have in Costa Rica is fully furnished and since we use it as a rental we had to purchase all things that were missing. Granted some of the furniture there is dated but it's all in excellent condition and fully useable. This is the reason why we decided that a CAR is the deciding factor for us. If we find a good car to bring it would be nice to bring newer couches, tools, storage bins but its not necessary.
Thankfully as we received our quote for a shipping container we had some friends that actually proceeded with their own. Their container left Canada in June 2021 and arrived Feb 2022. The original quote was $10,000 plus the cost of duty, taxes and misc fee's they were told. They couldn't provide a quote on the final amount but was told it wouldn't be much. At first things went well the movers came packed it all up and put it onto the container for shipping. Everything was fast, smooth and seamless. Flash forward to Feb when they get the call that their stuff will arrive and they need to pay the remainder of their bill for a whopping $33,000 USD.
WHAT!? How did it go from 10k to 33k?
An insane amount of processing & hidden fees that's how. No one can really explain to them how the bill trippled in price but were met with a it is what it is and pay up or you don't get your stuff.
Based on their experience they said "
Personally after witnessing this experience first hand (as I had a few boxes in their container) It became clear to me that it's defiantly NOT worth shipping your items unless you happen to have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth that you can't live with out. I've started to make lists of things that I can't live without and MUST come with me on the airplane in a hockey bag. Some things I must bring with me to are: My Crystals, Tarot & Oracle Cards, Books -Spiritual, metaphysical, aliens, motivational & biographies of people I like. Notebooks for journaling, Macrame & Pyography tools for artistry and the different crafting stuff I have here. Eric's must haves are: Gaming console, Drum Set, Bongos, not much he's an easy going guy.
So let's get jumping into the sorting process.
The greatest thing to assist me with this process is 3 simple questions.
1. Do I need it? -something you can't live without or actually need for the house.
NO -Donate or sell
YES -Go to question 3
2. Do I want it? -something you don't want to live without.
NO -Donate or sell
YES -Go to question 3
3. Where will it go? (in the new house)
I set up a rule of thumb that if i didn't have a spot for it in my mind it wouldn't come.
Bonus Question: Can I buy it there? -Support local for example I can get a large raw edge wood dining table for $500 in Costa Rica where in Canada they are generally $2000 its better to buy than bring especially since our wood isn't made for the temperatures of that country.
For example here is my dresser drawers. I live in Canada and it's quite cold here right now.
So I made little post-it notes and stuck it to the inside of each drawer as to what each piece of clothing will be doing. Old winter socks will get donated but I need them now. Light clothing like tanks and shorts will stay for use in Canada but we'll take that with us. Anything that was worn out, old or we never really wore was donated immediately. This took Eric and I collectively had 12 dresser drawers packed to the gills, when we were done this exercise over the span of 1 weekend afternoon we got down to just 4 drawers for him and 3 for me. WOW we donated 5 drawers worth of clothing we weren't using now. Remember the weather is continually 30 degrees in Costa Rica we don't need 20 jeans and 10 sweaters we'll need probably 1-2 each max the rest are shorts, tanks and bathing suits. You won't even wear your fancy clothing as no one get's "Dressed up" it's all casual down there.
Another good point to about shipping down furniture is if you come from a different climate than where you are headed to it's good to determine if the furniture will last. A lot of stuff in Canada the wood is a diffent kind so can it handle the high humidity?? Or is it made from particle board and will swell up like a balloon and fall apart quickly? If so it may be cheaper and easier to get new furniture once you arrive.
I've created a PDF list you can download and use as a reminder of area's of the home you can start sorting through and get you well on your way. Just send me an email at DogPawsAndSandyHair @ Gmail.com
Kristy & Eric
Dog Paws & Sandy Hair Be sure to check out our Villa Rentals.
Thinking of Buying / Selling in Canada or Costa Rica? Feel free to reach out as a licensed professional I have trusted contacts to connect you with if I can't do it myself!