What should I ship to Silicon Valley?

There are many unknowns when you relocate to San Francisco, and when you’re trying to decide which belongings should be shipped, here are some general words of advice:

  1. Bring the family heirlooms and photo albums if they’re not too big. They are part of who you are.
  2. Don’t bring anything electronic, it probably won’t work here. One exception for us was our home PC, but we had to buy a US power supply and install it ourselves. Most rental properties come with a fridge, washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, etc.
  3. Only bring things you really love, no crappy wedding presents or bad artwork.
  4. Bring items that are expensive to replace, such as good gardening tools, stepladder, camping equipment, bikes, quality furnishings, the ‘nice’ kitchenware, book collections and the good artwork/framed photos.
  5. Bring the toys and items your kids use right now, not what you think they should use.
  6. Ship the Christmas tree and decorations, or any other objects you use for anniversaries or celebrations. You need to continue the family traditions wherever you are.

We ended up with half a shipping container of goods after some pretty serious culling. We didn’t bring a couch, dining table or outdoor setting. In fact, we decided to not bring anything big in case it would not fit easily into our new home, as we expected to have to downsize knowing the high cost of rent in The Valley. We paid for a full shipping container, as the cost was only $1,000 more than a half container, and in retrospect we could have brought more belongings such as tools from the shed and more kids toys.

In terms of furniture we brought bed frames (not mattresses – they were due to be replaced) and storage furniture from the kid’s bedrooms, our bedroom suite, bookcases, an occasional table and an office desk and chair. We then had about 60 cartons shipped, plus odd-shaped items like a guitar, bikes, ironing board, clothes airer, garden tools, etc.

It feels like we shipped about a third of our house in Melbourne, in terms of volume. We sold a lot of items privately, and at a garage sale, and we disposed of many things in the months leading up to the big move. I’ll advise you about these activities separately.

A general rule of thumb is to ship all your good stuff that is not electronic.