One of the most common questions I get asked relates to shipping household goods to Australia – what should you bring and what should you ditch?
Everyone seems to have their own opinions on this, and let’s face it, it’s quite a personal thing.
I’ve spoken to countless people about this topic and overall people have mostly regretted bringing too much stuff, rather than not bringing enough.
As houses can be so big in South Africa, they’re easy to fill with furniture and ‘stuff’. Stuff that is really not essential to everyday life.
So when you get a quote to ship it all to Australia, you may just want to fall off your chair!
If that happens, you’ll probably want to start working out a list of what you want to bring and what can be left behind. But where do you even start?
Let’s take a look at what you could ship to Australia and what you could consider leaving.
What To Ditch
Houses in Australia can be smaller than the one you’re living in now. Many people bring really bulky furniture like bed frames and dining tables and chairs, only to find it won’t fit in their new home or it crowds the room and makes it unusable.
Got older electronic items that are going to need replacing soon?
Don’t bother bringing them – electronics aren’t too badly priced in Australia and you can get new ones with Australian cables and plugs that will be under warranty here.
Appliances are often large and therefore take up lots of space in your container. Because you pay per square foot, if your appliances are older, don’t bother bringing them.
Older appliances also cost a lot more to run so your electricity bill won’t thank you either.
It’s also tricky to find appliance repairs here at an affordable price. If your appliance is not a brand that is known in Australia, it’s probably not going to be easy or cheap to get it fixed if it breaks down later.
You can pick up really affordable second-hand appliances on Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace here, and they can tide you over when you arrive if you are on a tight budget.
When you find your feet financially, then you can splash out on new ones if you like.
Anything That You Can’t Clean Properly
If you ship even one speck of soil to Australia, you can pretty much guarantee it’s going to be found. And that means you’ll be getting a bill to clean it or have it destroyed.
Don’t waste money shipping anything dirty.
Our movers advised us to clean everything like shoes and any sporting equipment with Jeyes Fluid. Not only does it disinfect, but it has a pretty pungent smell, so apparently when inspected by quarantine, they can pick up on it and know you’ve cleaned your stuff.
Untreated Wood Or Wicker
People often freak out about bringing anything wooden or made from wicker.
But you only have to be worried if it is UNTREATED.
Treated wood and wicker is absolutely fine to bring in. If you have any untreated items, a coat of varnish can help it get over the line.
As long as there is no raw wood and no sign of any infestation (previous or current), most shipping companies will happily tell you that you can add it to your container.
You also can’t bring in any plant materials so anything like pressed flowers is a big no-no.
Shells often need to be treated on arrival so factor this into your shipping expenses so you aren’t caught short when your container arrives.
Some species of shells are considered endangered and may not be allowed in at all.
Read more about shells on the Agriculture website here.
What To Bring
If you’ve got some really quality furniture, do bring it.
New and quality furniture is not cheap here.
But if it’s super bulky, think twice.
Things With Sentimental Value
It’s fairly obvious that you’ll probably want to bring all your sentimental items with you. However, if they fall into any of the categories mentioned above, think twice about it.
Consider if it’s really worth the stress and potential extra cost for treatment, and whether you may end up selling it in Australia later on.
Things That Cannot Be Replaced Easily Or Cheaply In Australia
Often sports gear is expensive to replace – things like golf clubs and horse riding gear.
Lots of people also regret not bringing their Venter trailer! But that’s pretty big and would cost a lot to add to your shipping container.
Do some research online to see how much it would cost to replace your items in Australia and work out if it’s worth shipping to Australia or leaving behind.
When it comes to household goods, you can pretty much furnish your entire house with one trip to IKEA.
Kmart, Target and Big W also have lots of affordable household goods from cleaning equipment to linen and even art.
Hop online and visit their websites to see what it would cost to replace your household goods before you ship them all the way to Australia.
Don’t forget that there may be some things that will need to be replaced if you leave them behind.
Factor in replacement costs for these items when you arrive or get your first rental property (I’ve got a post on the hidden expenses of moving to Australia to help you avoid any shock costs).
What Do I Wish I Shipped To Australia?
Looking back I’ve often thought about what I would do differently if we were to ship everything again.
We sold a lot of stuff before we moved here and shared a container from the UK to Australia. We did bring our beds and linen, our 4 seater dining table and chairs (which we don’t use anymore), my small oak entertainment unit (sentimental value as I got that when I lived in France), one couch (we had 2 and sold one), our TV (which we don’t use anymore), clothes, some toys (Mr 8 was 3 when we moved), and most of my kitchen stuff.
Looking around the house now, most of it is filled with items we’ve acquired since we arrived.
But the one thing I do regret not bringing is my curtains!
Everyone told us, ditch the curtains, all houses come with blinds or curtains (legally they have to).
But they forgot to mention usually they are kak quality ones. The blinds are normally the cheapest ones (being rental houses) and barely keep any light out at all. As someone who needs total darkness to sleep properly, it was a nightmare.
Plus curtains are so expensive for decent quality ones here. And we had some really nice curtains in the UK which I duly sold because everyone told me to leave them.
But besides that, I don’t think there is much else I would change.
I hope this has been useful for you if you’re trying to work out what to bring and what to leave behind when it comes to shipping your household goods to Australia.
If you’ve already made the move, do you regret leaving or bringing anything?
What advice would you give to new migrants about to make the move?
Leave a comment below and let me know!
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Paul23rd November 2021 at 7:49 am
Kitchen stuff: This takes up such a huge amount of space. If it is fine bone china or lead crystal, bring it. All others you will probably buy new cheap stuff anyway by the time your container arrives. Do you really need that 40th birthday coffee mug?
Just remember that whatever modern mass produced stuff you can buy in SA, you can buy in Oz, but with more choice, often used and cheaper.