One of the things that all expats have to consider when planning to live abroad is what to do with all of their accoutrements and valuable ‘stuff’ that has been accumulated over a number of years of living in the UK.

So, if you are leaving merry old Great Britain for sunnier climes, should you ship your belongings or buy new stuff abroad?

The main concern when struggling with the ship or buy new debate is going to be international shipping costs versus sentimental value or usability of your property overseas.  So in this article we will hopefully help you break it all down and see which option makes most sense to you and your family.

The cost of buying goods in your new country is going to be a factor of course.  It’s going to be pretty pointless shipping a 10 year old fridge to the States where the electrical system is different and a new fridge would probably be cheaper than the cost to ship your old one out there, but then again, it may well be worthwhile shipping that old fridge if you’re planning to live in Argentina where white goods are very expensive.

Bear in mind also that new goods can make it easier to adjust and blend in more easily into your new life abroad too – and that sometimes you have to pay import duties and extra taxes on certain items you import when moving overseas.  For example, if you ship a TV to Northern Cyprus you’re taxed on it, and if you try and import a fax machine it will be confiscated!  So different countries have different rules and considerations you need to keep in mind.

When planning to live abroad therefore you need to research any import regulations, import taxes or visa regulations within the country you are moving to.  It may well be that you only have a certain window, such as 6 months to ship your goods overseas and import them tax-free.  Within the European Union (EU) there are usually no problems with shipping items from the UK, but once you think about moving outside of the EU you may find some very heavy import taxes operating.

Shipping your car can certainly fall into this category, in some instances you can be paying a 70% import tax on the list price of the car in the country you are moving to, in cases like these it is just not worth taking it.  Also think about spares, if anything goes wrong with your car while you are living abroad, will you be able to have it fixed?

Furniture can often be bought cheaply overseas, so if you are not planning on shipping any heirlooms but just a couple of World of Leather suites, you will probably be best off leaving furniture behind.  Always remember that anything you do not wish to take with you can always be stored for your eventual return, or sent to your destination later.

Shipping goods overseas is usually carried out by sea, and there are many international shipping companies offering services to destinations all over the world.  Always ask for a quote to include the full price of international shipping, loading/offloading, handling and customs fees, you don’t want a nastier surprise than the breaking of Aunt Maud’s urn when you arrive at your destination!  A reputable company will also be able to offer testimonials from previous clients, read them before choosing a shipping company to move your goods overseas.  Also ensure that your shippers are members of the British International Freight Association.

If you decide not to ship your goods overseas there are a number of good ways to clear out your house before leaving.  Expats moving abroad are always easy to spot at the local car boot sale as they never bargain hard, usually give you an extra item for free and are the only ones smiling.  You will probably get better prices using an online trading site like eBay, but this may take a while longer.  Perhaps family and friends will store items you want to keep, you could pay to have stuff placed in storage, and if not, then it’s off to the recycling department of your local tip – out with the old, in with the new.  Think of it as a positive cleansing experience ahead of your new adventure.