When it was time for us to move from the UK, I had no idea how to go about it and organise everything. We had no furniture, but after respectively 6 and 3 years abroad had accumulated plenty of other things we needed to move – way too much to take them on the plane and put the rest into a small parcel to send by post. As I know there are many students and working people out there in the same situation, I want to write down my experiences to hopefully provide some help for one or the other. So here’s my little guide to moving country without furniture. My first advice would be: start early. You will have to make an estimate of the weight and volume you want to ship, order boxes, pack them properly, and get them picked up by the shipping service.
How many boxes do I need? – This was the most difficult question for me. I found it very hard to estimate a weight and volume of our wordly belongings. Eventually, I started weighting the contents of drawers and shelves, adding them up to see how much they were. I doubt this was a really useful excercise, but it gave me at least some confidence that I hadn’t completely underestimated the (by then already randomly booked) shipping weight. You will just have to make a decision eventually, as only then you can book the parcel service. We ended up sending 146kg plus Giovanni, my trusted ice cream maker. In addition each of us took two bags of 20kg plus 10kg cabin luggage onto the plane. This was about right for us, there were a few things we had to leave behind to get them sent at a later point. You could always buy an additional box and add this to your shipping bill later on, if you are afraid not everything can fit, so just book something to get you started.
Which parcel service to use? – I researched quite a bit to find the best offer for us, for shipping boxes from the UK to Finland, and later more boxes from Germany to Finland. The website I found most useful in the process was Trustpilot. Previously, I had checked various quotes on My Parcel Delivery, but it turned out they only had offers from the larger operators – who were either expensive or apparently not very reliable. In the end, we went with Courierpoint.com for shipping boxes from the UK to Finland. They were very reasonably priced (second cheapest, cheapest was the company with worst reputation) and had very good reviews. The carrier used by the company in both countries was TNT. Our parcels were picked up on time with no problems and arrived in Finland within a few days – much quicker than we had expected. Despite the very large boxes and not very good packing on my side, everything had arrived in good condition – some of the boxes had dents, but no items were broken. For the boxes from Germany to Finland we used Cargo International. This time, delivery took a bit longer, and unfortunately many of my things were broken, despite the parcel not being damaged – again, I hadn’t packed carefully enough. Otherwise, the service and price here were ok too. I would recommend both the services we used, who can ship to a variety of countries (but as far as I know only ship FROM their respective own country).
How do I pack? – If you want to keep it cheap, you will have to send through a parcel courier rather than a removal service. These couriers normally do not take any outsize packages, so you won’t be able to send suitcases or similar. Everything has to be in rectangular boxes and packed in a way, that it can survive drops of about 1 meter height and can stand on any side. So don’t use too large boxes – I ordered boxes of the sizes 76cm x 51cm x 51cm, and they were WAY too large: The cardboard wasn’t thick enough to pack them really full, so I had to find lots of light cushioning material and just hope things wouldn’t move around too much in the box. I would say maybe half that size would be good. Most shipping companies will not insure things like ceramics or electric devices – so pretty much anything that could break. You can still send them, but will have to pack them very carefully, as you wouldn’t get any compensation for breakages. To save on wrapping material and space, use clothes to wrap fragile things: A pair of socks into each cup and a t-shirt wrapped around for example should keep them safe.