What will I need initially for the move to San Francisco

Have you ever been camping, or away on holiday and thought how remarkable it is that you can live happily with the contents of your car or suitcase? We really don’t need that much ‘stuff’ to survive for a short time period.

When planning your big move, and deciding what to bring there are three time brackets to consider:

  1. The first few weeks upon arrival
  2. The first six months
  3. Annual holidays or celebrations

Focusing on the first few weeks, you land, go to your temporary accommodation, and collapse in a heap of exhaustion and excitement. You probably brought about two suitcases each, or the maximum your airline will let you carry. You should have clothes suitable for the local weather, medications and toiletries, and important documents (birth certificates, marriage certificates, medical records, travel insurance docs, drivers licence, etc). The kids ideally have something familiar and comforting, such as bedtime blanket, teddy, or NintendoDS (get a power adapter at the airport so it will work).

In the coming weeks you’ll be buying a car, getting a Californian driving licence, renting a house, etc which will all require some paperwork from home. A record of your driving history (obtained from your Aussie car insurer) can save you hundreds. Immunisation records for the kids are crucial for school enrolment. Any previous rental references are also handy when you apply to lease a house.

You should have a few boxes of belongings air freighted (we ended up with six) so that you can set up a basic house when you arrive. We brought favorite recipe books, crockery, cutlery, two wine glasses and plastic cups, along with a mixing bowl and our good knife set. A selection of photo frames and nick-knacks to decorate the living room also made the house feel like home. We brought a box of teddies, toys and scooters for the kids. My hubby flew to San Francisco a few weeks before the move for work, so he brought bedding and towels for the four of us, and stored them at work. It cost us nothing to do this, compared with the hundreds of dollars spent on air freight.

Once we leased a house, I did a few trips to Target to buy items that we needed immediately, and weren’t already on their way in our shipping container. For example, a new saucepan set, a new vacuum cleaner, a sandwich grill, oven mitts, coat hangers, tea towels, shower caddies and a bean bag. Kitchen appliances from home would not work here if they were motorized, so I bought a mixer, toaster, coffee machine and food processor. We purchased 4 single mattresses and 4 pillows as we only had our Queen bed being shipped. It might seem like an expensive shopping trip, but we spent about $3,500 all up.

There was plenty more spending to come once we had the basics sorted, but initially we needed surprisingly little.