To Ship Or Not To Ship – Should You Bring All Your Belongings?

To Ship Or Not To Ship-
So you’ve decided to move to Australia but aren’t sure whether to ship all your worldly goods or just start from scratch again when you arrive. Both have their pros and cons so let’s take a look at the options on both sides.

Ship All Your Belongings


The biggest advantage of this is not having to worry about buying absolutely everything when you arrive. From the obvious big ticket items like beds, couches, dining tables, fridges and washing machines, right down to cutlery, coat hangers and kids toys, it can be hard to start again completely from scratch, not to mention costly when you look at the equivalent cost of your belongings if you had to buy them all in Perth.


On the flip side, shipping an entire container worth of goods can also be really expensive, we’re talking tens of thousands of Rands here. Go through your house with a fine tooth comb and if you do want to ship your household goods, be ruthless with items you aren’t sure if it is worth the cost of shipping.

Be sure that electronic items will be safe and work once you arrive, as converter plugs are not ideal to use long term and Australia requires that only registered electricians are able to change plugs on electronic items (although I am sure there are a lot of people who ignore this rule!). Be wary of bringing some older appliances though as you may struggle to get parts to repair them if they break down and need repairing in the future. Also the electricity costs to run older, less energy efficient appliances can make them costly to operate here in Australia.

Another con may be that if you are planning to move to Australia as soon as your household is shipped, you may well be living without your belongings for a good few weeks. Most containers can take anything up to 16 weeks, or even longer in some cases, to arrive so once you factor in waiting for the container to be shipped from your destination and waiting to clear customs in Perth you could be without any goods for several months.

If you are renting an unfurnished house for a period of time before your container arrives, you are more than likely going to want to buy at least some basic items to tide you over like a kettle, some kitchen items like pots and pans, glasses and plates, as well as bigger items like mattresses and something to sit on while you wait for your stuff to arrive. So don’t ship items you are likely to rebuy while you wait, as even buying lots of little cheaper items can add up, unless you are happy to shell out for some cheap or second hand items while you wait for your quality items to arrive.

Buy Everything When You Arrive


The biggest pro in this case is not having to wait for your goods to arrive, you can simply pop to the shops and buy what you need when you need it. This can also help you learn where everything is and familiarise yourself with your surroundings as you will spend seemingly countless days driving around looking at various shops. Ikea is amazing for loads of household basics, from the tiniest of kitchenware to large bedroom furniture. Other shops that will cover all of you basic household needs are Big W, K-Mart and Target and these are in most big shopping centres.


If you are buying everything when you arrive, you need to make sure you have the funds to cover this cost. And if you are arriving with no jobs and limited money, this can be tough. There are plenty of second hand options though, so you could opt to buy buy some second hand items off sites like Gumtree or on your local Facebook selling and buying groups. This works out heaps cheaper, especially if you are buying a lot of items and then once you can afford to replace them with better or more suitable items, you can resell these items (often for the same or close to the same value you bought them for!).

How About A Compromise?

Instead of shipping all or nothing, perhaps a happy medium for many would be to ship some key items of value or a sentimental nature and rebuy some of the basics once you arrive and know where you will be living and what you need for your new home. If you do decide to ship anything, make sure you do your research on your shipping company first though as there are plenty of horror stories when it comes to shipping goods from South Africa to Australia!


What did you end up shipping to Australia? Did you bring everything, nothing or something in between? What do you think the best option is? Let me know in the comments!


Find out more about the cost of living in Perth to help you budget for your move and how to make new friends in Perth when you arrive.

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  • Reply caz2oz 31st May 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Thanks for this post, it’s definitely given us food for thought! We’ve just started blogging about out journey and are awaiting out visa result 🙂

    • Reply proudlysouthafricaninperth 31st May 2015 at 10:10 pm

      Great! Glad it’s been useful to you. I look forward to following your journey, good luck with it all! 🙂

  • Reply Kathy Chapman 16th November 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Hi, informative post… I suppose that if you are considering shipping South African wooden furniture to Australia e.g. a Stinkwood/Yellowwood items, they will probably have to remain in Quarantine for a period of time ? I s this correct… ?

    • Reply Reeva Cutting 17th November 2017 at 2:20 pm

      Hi Kathy, it’s more about the state of the wood than the type of wood. If it is untreated you may face delays and costs to get it out of customs. If the furniture has a varnish or is painted, you shouldn’t have any trouble bringing them in. Hope that helps!

  • Reply Kathy Chapman 30th November 2017 at 10:06 pm

    Thank you for your prompt reply.. The furniture has a matt finish but I shall have to find out from the manufacturers in Knysna if the wood was treated at the time of manufacture… ? Your comment has been helpful, thanks !

    • Reply Reeva Cutting 9th January 2018 at 11:57 am

      As long as it isn’t raw wood with signs of infestation it is likely to be fine but do check the opinion of your removalists when they come round.

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