What made you decide to move to Windsor, UK?
Our property in the US was a vacation rental for which we relied on holiday makers (primarily from the UK and Europe) to keep it running. With COVID and the subsequent travel restrictions, we had no business so were forced to sell.
When did you start planning your move?
Late August we decided to sell and in mid-September we decided we would ship certain items back home to the UK.
What were your first thoughts about moving?
We were extremely daunted about everything at the start like what to include, how much will it cost, what size of container do we need and so on and so forth. We have moved a number of times before, but we never had to do it remotely from 4,000 miles away!
What did you research before you moved?
Lots of things! For example, shipping companies, storage facilities (in Orlando), import tax and customs duties, and the transportation costs at each end i.e. getting the container to the port in the US and getting the container to our home in the UK from the port.
How did you choose your removal company?
We found two removal companies. One of them did the removal of our chosen possessions from our US home, wrap them and store them (in their storage facility in Orlando). That gave us breathing space whilst the house sale went through, and we could put a bit more time and effort into getting the right company to do the shipping for us.
We googled shipping companies and narrowed our search down to around six. The main considerations we factored in were cost, politeness of correspondence and a quick handle on exactly what we had as well as what we required. We also had to work out whether a US or a UK based company was better for customs and transportation requirements at each end. We decided that having a US based company who had “eyes on” our consignment, could see how it had been packaged, how big it was, types of items being shipped etc. was most beneficial.
Which service level did you choose?
We chose door to door. It was explained that this would probably work out cheaper and would be the most straight forward based on the items shipped being allowed to stay in the same container right up to our door. It was also decided to go with a 20ft exclusive container rather than a 40ft shared. My point of contact in Orlando clearly explained the benefits of doing it this way, benefits also supported by other companies when still in the deciding phase.
What were things you didn’t realise you had to prepare before your move?
I didn’t realise we would have to price each item for importation tax. I was unaware that I would have to pay this as the furniture was ours and wasn’t being imported for trade. However, because this was our second home (not our primary residence), we were subject to it. Pretty much everything else was either expected or we had found out prior to the process commencing
What admin did you have to prepare?
Only inventory lists for each of the removal companies used and as stated above, a price list to go with that inventory for the shipping company for customs reasons. Because this wasn’t a typical move in terms of relocating us, only some of our possessions, no other admin was required.
How did you find the packing and cleaning process?
We had to employ the assistance of friends to go around the house on FaceTime and put post it notes on items we wanted to ship. The removal company was booked and on the day of moving, our friends returned to assist the removal company. We would have saved hundreds of dollars if we had been there to do this ourselves of course. Items of furniture which held either a monetary or sentimental value were shipped back along with personal items and clothes. At this stage we did not know that we would be using an exclusive 20ft container. Had we done so, we would have chosen more items (furniture) to ship back as the 20ft container was only 60% full. I continually had in my head, the idea that we needed to get everything in a 10ft x 8ft box.
Did everything go according to plan?
Yes! Even though we weren’t there, we were in constant communication with our friends who, despite saying it was a long an arduous process, ensured us everything was fine.
What would you recommend to others to make the moving experience as stress free as possible?
Do all the packing yourself, this will save a lot of time and money!
Did your move cost as much as you thought?
Yes, but it would have cost more if we had chosen other companies. In the end, we had to employ 2 removal companies (one for packing, removing and storing our possessions) and the other for shipping. Apart from unpacking the container at our end, we had to rely on professional for everything, which of course drove the cost up.
How long did it take for your things to arrive?
Sooner than expected – 9th December it left Florida, and it arrived with us on the 12th January so just over a month. Everything went according to plan, and we were kept very much in the loop from the moment my contact arrived at the storage facility in Orlando to see my consignment, to the day it arrived back here in the UK.
What was something you wish you had known before you moved? Do you have any advice?
Because of the situation we were in, we had no choice but to do it remotely. However, if things had been different, we would have packaged everything ourselves which would have vastly reduced the cost of man-hours. I would have also established exactly what method of shipping I was going to use (20ft, 40ft or shared) BEFORE packing the house up as we would have shipped more items back for the same cost.
Thank you so much Kevin for taking the time to chat with us. We wish you and your wife every success in your new home!