Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To ship or not to ship?

One of the most contentious issues we’ve faced since finding out that we’re moving overseas has revolved around what to do with our stuff.  As stuff goes, we’ve got quite a bit of it.   When the Professor and I got married almost three years ago, we received (amongst other gifts) some Le Creuset kitchenware, really nice stainless steel pots and pans, serving platters, luxury bedding, and various assortments of home décor.  We’ve also got around 200 books, a fairly new flat screen TV, several pieces of artwork and some Crate and Barrel furniture that we picked out ourselves.  The problem is that we can’t decide whether we should ship these belongings to Barcelona or if we should sell as much as we can and go to Spain with whatever we can shove into four suitcases. 

Most people who we have consulted about moving to Spain have told us to go with option B, sell your stuff and travel lightly.  The basis of their argument is that first of all, we probably won’t need our stuff.  Apparently most rental apartments in Spain come with dishes, pans, knives, shower curtains etc. and furthermore, many apartments are furnished.   They also point to the cost of shipping itself.   When you ship your belongings, you not only have to pay the shipping costs but you also have to pay a tax on your stuff once it arrives at Spanish Customs.   Of course how much you pay in shipping has everything to do with how much stuff you’re bringing because the shipping companies will charge based on the volume of goods.  Also, how much you pay in taxes depends on the total value of your belongings. 

The Professor and I want to go with option A.  Sell what we can live without, but take all of our nice stuff, artwork, books, TV and some furniture with us.  The way we see it, we’re going to be living in Spain for quite some time (the Professor’s contract is for an initial 3 years, then an additional five depending on his performance, then tenure!).   Therefore it would seem to make sense to bring our belongings so that we don’t have to buy everything from scratch and we don’t have to live with other people’s furniture in case it’s not our style (we’re very particular) and in case we damage it.

However, perhaps the biggest reason that the Professor and I are leaning towards option A is emotional.  Plain and simple, we’re attached to our stuff.  It sounds really materialistic to say this but I believe that your stuff is what makes your home your home.   I know that a TV is a TV and a couch is a couch.  But the painting you brought back from your trip to Colombia is unique, the glass cat statue your dad bought you is unique, the handmade tapestries given to you by your sister are unique.  It would be great if these three things were the only stuff we have that has sentimental value, but the truth is that I’ve always surrounded myself with things that remind me of people and places that I love and I think I’d feel lonely and empty without them.

So, my dear reader, what do you think?   Have I made a convincing argument?  Do you think we should go with Option A or B?  Is there a middle-ground?


  1. As an detached reader: Option A.

    As your best friend: Option A, but give me your food processor and your electric kettle. =P If you don't wanna take some stuff that you also don't want to sell, I'll store it for you in my closet at my parent's place. They're not doing anything with my room. That way you don't have to buy it again when you get back. (Le Creuset will last for sure.)

    Also, take your own knives. I'm geeked out by you using someone else's. =/

  2. I guess "geeked out" is a new idiom the kids are using these days. Point taken--will take our own knives.