Preparing for an overseas move is a lot more complicated than preparing to move across town, or even across the country. The cost of bringing your home furnishings and personal items with you can end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars instead of the hundreds you will pay to move within the US. While you may be able to get away with packing everything and moving it across town, the financial burden to do that with an international move is staggering.
My solution is to downsize before I go — eliminate, give away, sell, pass along and otherwise divest myself of stuff. To do this takes time and planning.
- InventoryStart by conducting an inventory of your possessions, then designate which ones you want to keep and which ones you want to get rid of. Divide the keepers into two groups: what you will move, and what you will store.
- Be realistic about the items you want to get rid of. Are they really in saleable condition? If you saw it on EBay or someone else’s yard sale, would you buy it? If something truly isn’t in saleable condition, put it out to the curb.
- Garage and Yard SalesOnce you have your list of items to sell, determine the best venue for them. I’m not a big fan of garage sales — way too much hassle for way too little return, in my opinion. Some people love them, though, so if you enjoy a good garage sale, it can be a good way to trim down your belongings.
- Craigs ListMy personal favorite place for selling large items like furniture is Craigs List. Craigs List started in the US and has recently gone international, with listings for Canada, Asia, the Americas and Europe. You can list items you have for sale at no charge, with pictures, and the listings are good for 30 days. I’ve sold desks, tables and chairs, office furniture and equipment, art, and other items with great success.
- EBay EBay is an excellent way to sell small, light, easily shipped items. You have to set up a free account, and they charge nominal fees for listings and a percentage of the sale price when your item moves. Some items move very well on EBay, others not so much. Electronics, books, DVDs, designer sunglasses and the like do very well there. Second-hand furniture, clothing, jewelry and such, not so much.
- EtsyA relatively new online marketplace site, Etsy, advertises itself as “Your Place to Buy and Sell All Things Homemade.” If you have one-of-a kind jewelry, craft items or art, this is the place to sell it.
- AmazonFor books in new or like-new condition which are still in print, Amazon allows you to sell your copy alongside the new copies they have available. Just search for the title and the matching edition, then click the link on the right that reads, “Have one to sell? Sell Yours Here.” Follow the prompts to enter the correct information, and leave the rest to Amazon, including collecting the money.
- Specialized Collections, Art, Crafts or MemorabiliaIf you have specilized collections or memorabilia, there may be specialized websites where you can offer your items for sale.
- CharityUltimately, you may end up donating some items to charity or needy younger relatives. Don’t neglect to get a receipt for tax purposes if you give household goods, used clothing or other items to Goodwill, Salvation Army, your local church, homeless shelter or other charity.