Monday, March 5, 2012

Moving To The USA... Things to pack & things to forget!

One of the most confusing things about relocating to a new country, is the challenge of knowing what to bring with you and what to part with permanently. Emotionally this is a tough one. Everything's changing and you're leaving so much behind already. So what gets sacrificed and what makes the cut?

Image: widowsphere

Clothing - Remember that rule that says that if you haven't worn something in 6 months you should get rid of it? Do it! My advice would be to collect those staple items that you integrate into your everyday, all time fave wardrobe and lose the rest. Vacuum sealed 'space bags' are great for compressing a large amount of clothes into a small space and are often reusable too if you are careful. My main issue with making clothing choices came from the fact that my 'style' was so influenced by the UK trends/London stores and upon moving to the south... well the styles didn't quite match up. Basically I took enough to last me, items that would let me continue to dress how I do and every time I visit the UK now, I leave space in my suitcase to reinvest in new threads! Great excuse to go clothes shopping right?

Books & DVD's - Books for me was a tough one. I love my book collection, full of old dusty out of prints and even some first editions. Sadly books are some of the heaviest items, so selectivity was ruler over this decision and I had to learn to live without for a while. In several Tennessee locations we have a great store called McKays which is essentially a glorified warehouse full of used books, cds and dvds. Everything is priced cheaply and it's a prime resource for restarting a lost collection! Look out for similar stores in your area. DVD's sometimes pose an issue since the US region and UK region differ - I brought my whole collection in a CD folder (to save space and weight) and we forked out for a multi-regional player so they didn't go to waste.

Mementos & Childhood Items - The hardest to walk about from by far. I was ultimately blessed in the way of my Mum allowing me to commandeer a section of her attic for such treasures. I got creative with a few items though such as baby blankets, childhood award badges and photos. When it came to fabric items that held importance for me, I clipped out sections (light for travel) of writing or pattern, and have stored these small patches in the US, ready to turn into a memory quilt. Childhood awards badges (Girl Scouts, horse riding etc.) were collected and stitched onto a central panel of the quilt for display. My photo collection was carefully narrowed down (and tough choices made!). Those that made the cut were stored in a single, small photo box as opposed to bulky albums, or shared with family and friends who might appreciate the memories too. 

Items For The Future - Sadly now is the not the time to be thinking ahead in terms of material possessions. I was so tempted (especially during the excited/lonely ramp up to starting my new life) to collect items that I envisioned in our new home, especially when they were in sales and I unquestionably loved them. I learnt quickly though that everything I bought and packed, shoved out something I already loved and owned. So sacrifices had to be made!

Official Documents - Definitely one to think about. Before leaving the UK I was pretty vigilant with contacting all my prior educational institutions and requesting notarized copies of my 'transcripts' (lists of each subject/project I studied, grades and comments etc.) so I would be prepared with something more than just my word, when applying for work in the USA. It goes without saying that all your collected documentation from the Visa process so far should accompany you (preferably after making copies and sitting beside you in your hand luggage). If you can, request medical history print outs from your GP, dentist and optician (especially if you have had any complications of significant work done in the past!). Sometimes they charge but sometimes when they hear you are packing up and heading out the NHS can be quite obliging! I also took some time contacting work colleagues and University tutors to gather up some references - these have proved hand so far in my job search! 

Ways To Downsize Your Relocation Load:

Car Boot Sales/Yard Sales - A flexible way to make some fast cash and move stuff quickly. I would recommend organized second hand sales events, for the simple reason that they pull in the crowds and people arrive driven to buy. You can find times and locations in your local paper. Be ready to reduce your prices at the end of the morning though if your main goal is to shift things! 

Ebay - A great source most of us are familiar with, or is suitable for those specialized or higher worth technological items. Make sure you leave yourself sufficient time to end bidding and post your items before your relocation. Also watch out for advertised weekends that encourage free listing - nothing to lose! 


Gifts - Happy memories of an item? See if you can share it with those close to you... one man's trash is another man's treasure and all that! Otherwise you can always donate what you can afford to part with and potentially make someone's day.

Memory Boxes - A great way to set a goal for yourself to reduce down your items of choice. I personally bought a lovely shoe sized keepsake box that fit into a corner of my suitcase, and filled it with small personal items (concert tickets, letters, cards) that I could not bare to part with. I've been saving 'memories' like these since my childhood so I was relieved to find a condensed way to leave nothing behind.

Remember: The basics can always be bought again. The USA has access to so many brands that we in the UK are familiar with, that there really is no need to panic. Just take care of those items that are irreplaceable to you and accept that the rest will come in time, once finances allow. You may even find you rather enjoy all the shopping that follows!


  1. Moving to a new country is no walk in the park. New country means a new life to get used to, new challenges to overcome and new opportunities to grab! Packing everything that's essential is a good start to help you cope up with the changes. However, if you have concerns regarding legal documents, you should not hesitate to approach experts for help.

    Best Law Associates

  2. Nice blog. Thank you for sharing. ASHOKA PACKERS AND MOVERS is well established reputed and professionally managed company having own branches and network all over India.
    Packers and Movers Hyderabad
    Packers and Movers Gurgaon
    Packers and Movers Pune
    Packers and Movers Delhi
    Packers and Movers Bangalore

  3. Its amazing I stumbled across this blog. I would be migrating from the Caribbean to Indiana in November and I needed help in knowing what to pack and what to leave behind. I'm still going through the visa process but I want to be prepared before hand.

  4. This is a very useful post, thank you! I agree that innovations are the most important thing for most businesses because with today’s fast-changing world we need to stay on top of the changes if we want to survive.
    change my address online