Question for CO

Some months ago the female-type parent announced her intention to relocate to Texas. She had been considering moving house for some time. She, like many others, has become disillusioned with life in California. Her decision is not a surprise. She has, however, done me no favours by moving up the date from late 2019 to late 2018.

Within the next year I will have to find a way to transport a number of items to the United Kingdom. There really is no practical way for me to go next year as I have commitments elsewhere. How should I manage this?

Author: Christopher-Dorset

A Bloody Kangaroo

19 thoughts on “Question for CO”

  1. Are we talking California to the UK?
    Roughly what cube? Just books and clothes etc or furniture?

    Does she really want to live in Texas, does she really know what it is like?
    Ghastly climate, all sorts potshotting each other in the streets of Dallas and Houston, hideously materialistic.
    Very republican.
    I only lived there a year and couldn’t get out quick enough!!!!
    What actually is pissing her off with California? Might be a frying pan into the fire job!

  2. the only advantage is that she would release a hell of a lot of capital as the houses are vastly cheaper there.

  3. CO: Mostly books with some furniture and a few garments. I could probably fit everything in a 10’x10′ container and have room to spare! Those things have personal meaning and I’m not keen on losing them.

    She has never been to Texas. She is planning on going to Texas on holiday in Spring, to the Hill Country, to see what there is and look at houses. My mother is a Republican. California’s government is now openly hostile to anyone to the right of Karl Marx and life is increasingly difficult for those living in the interior of the state. Taxes, fees, surcharges, etc. are designed to hurt those living in rural and semi-rural regions most as they are gerrymandered into districts that the Democrats have no chance of winning, anyway. It’s virtually impossible to do anything if you have more than a minuscule garden. It’s hideously expensive and the atmosphere is increasingly toxic.I advised her to perhaps consider moving into a smaller residence near work in order to cut back on expenses and responsibilities. If she still wants to leave after a few years she can do that with less baggage.

  4. So, too much to airship.
    Not enough to fill a container.

    What they generally do is build a wooden crate to fit your goods, then hold it in their warehouse until they have several going to the same destination. They then pack several crates from different people into a 30′ container and ship out to the destination. UK is generally Lowestoft of Watchet , they then ship it on by truck to you. This works fine if you do not want things immediately. Will take 3+ months or more to get it. If you want it quicker then you will pay through the nose.
    To facilitate this you need to pick a mover that specifically has international connections, generally larger companies. They will have the contacts, marshaling ability for part loads and the distribution networks. Plus they will have experts who can export pack. Make sure they are members of the international movers association.
    Export packing is quite different from domestic, boats go up and down in rough seas trucks don’t! So all goods have to be packed solid in their boxes, no airspaces or voids at the top of boxes. Furniture if it is good has to be overwrapped in water resistant padded sheets. Fragiles are triple wrapped. The crates themselves are then solid packed too, with bracing as necessary, ply and wooden sheets so none of it can move internally within the crate. This is not a job you can do yourself, if you try they will not insure the goods.
    You will need three quotes.

    Do not consider to have your mother’s move simultaneous with yours. There will be a cluster fuck and you will end up getting her stuff. It happens.!!!!
    Yours should be done first, with sufficient people watching to check the correct stuff is packed, preferably laid out for them.
    You do realise that this is going to be hideously expensive? We are probably talking in excess of $10,000 I am out of touch with prices as I haven’t done it since 2009 when we moved stuff from Brum. You may also consider having it warehoused and stored and paying for it in the US until you actually decide to settle down properly. Not amusing dragging it from pillar to post. In which case they do not need to export pack it straight away. But it has to be made clear that it will come out of storage and go overseas to facilitate their storage
    When you consider the price of international shipping it becomes quite amazing what you decide you can live without! Most modern furniture, unless made of good solid hardwood can be easily replaced. Ikea style crap .better to burn!! About the only stuff that has to go, are heirlooms, good clothes, not cheap rags.and books,good china and good glass. Good USA cooking equipment, which is very expensive to replace in Europe by comparison for some reason.

    Make sure your mother checks out jobs in Texas before she moves, because the cost of living is so much cheaper there the wages are crap compared with California. Minimum wage is only about $6.00??? Some kind of bloody joke. Ordinary supermarkets sell absolute crap because that is all most people can afford.Any quality and its off to World foods and their skyhigh prices.
    Sorry, but it sounds to me that she has done insufficient recce-ing about Texas. I can understand her need to escape California but perhaps her choice is not good. She ought to look at other places too. Jobs first, cost of housing second and then the politics, one cannot live on rhetorical hot air blown by blowhard politicians!!

    Any other questions?

    Why the reference to gardens? There is no way there is the water to grow veg in Texas and too damned hot, no rain in the summer at all in some parts and usually restrictions as to use. Water is like gold dust in some areas and hideously expensive, you can’t drink it either in the summer, it is like a swamp and smells of algae! So there is bottle water too to buy!
    Most people are into xerophytic gardening. Or none at all!
    What rains you do get in summer are generally linked to violent thunder storms or tornados. The weather is VERY violent compared with California.

  5. CT, sound advice from CO as ever. Particularly the suggestion you store the stuff in the US until your destination is known. How’s about doing this temporary storage in Boston where competent shippers to Europe are two-a-penny, shipping rates competitive and of course shipping times the best available?

  6. AND……it occurs to me, you could pop into Boston quite cheaply at short notice to oversee the shipment. 🙂

  7. CO: I might just stick with my books, then! I had only three pieces of furniture in mind. One was a handmade table of solid eucalyptus, one was a handmade bookshelf — solid oak. The final one is a circa 1910-1920 Japanese tansu. Beautiful piece, but not worth quite that much and more easily replaced! I might just stick with getting my books moved over. That will be a fortune in and of itself!

    My next move will hopefully be my last. I might move house once or twice, but I have no desire for yet another international move. I am, if nothing else, painfully self-aware. Germany is a bloody waste of time. There are laws dictating how I can urinate. No, that’s not a joke. Urination is a regulated activity in Germany. If I have the temerity to order an old book, lithograph, etc. from outside the EEA the Customs-SS with their Stasi-esque zeal will detain, open and inspect it to see if I am obliged to pay duties. Everything over €5 must be paid in person! At the same time, this dive is turning increasingly third world. I am almost invariably chuffed to bits at how much cleaner England is, at how much more reliable the internet is, at the punctuality of the trains! I’m simply awed at how much less dog scat there is in England. Germans are bloody disgusting. I sometimes want to hurl rocks at cars because I always risk stepping on barkers’ biscuits when I have to step off paved roads.

    My mother is a theatre nurse with extensive experience. She wouldn’t do too badly, although she would still be paid far less than she is in California. I will bring this up with her, but who knows how are this will go. I mentioned that there are other states, even Nebraska, that don’t have Texas’s baggage. She’s actually been to Nebraska and enjoyed it. Then again, it’s hard to take someone who’d rather eat his eyeballs than live in the USA entirely seriously about such issues.

    In California gardens are regulated to death and the state government is really cocking up vis-a-vis water policies. Anyone with more than a few hundred square feet of land is being crushed by regulations dreamt up by the intellectually less gifted cousins of garden slugs.

    Janus: And how am I to transport such things over 3000 miles? As a rule I do not travel more in the US than I absolutely have to. It’s a bloody nightmare to do anything there. And Boston? If I wanted to go to an international terror centre I’d rather go to Tehran. I actually appreciate Iranian culture and history. The food is quite good, too.

  8. Janus: I can only count on 28 days paid holiday. Why would I waste that in a country I dislike? I’d rather buy a few new pieces of furniture if the cost of shipping would be that high. I’m sure a British craftsman would be happy to oblige me with a bespoke bookcase or five.

  9. Incidentally, airfare to Australia is often not terribly expensive. I can use holidays in Japan as a chance to buy Japanese cookware. It’s far better suited for my purposes than either the European or North American varieties. The Japanese have a point in respect to avoiding clutter. Better a few, high-quality and practical pieces than heaps of rubbish.

  10. Before you decide I would have a quote on shipping all your goods and just the books. To see where you want to pitch this
    By the way, antiques and good second hand furniture have gone out of fashion in the UK. Everyone wants the minimalist white look. So if you actually want brown, that is wooden furniture, prices are much softer than they used to be. Not worth shipping unless good antiques.

    When you are shipping transatlantic it is not worth screwing about with any do it yourself, especially if you are only a part load as you will be. By the time you cost your own time and loss of holiday nothing in it.

    I presume your mother wants to garden then? From what I can gather the only place without regulation as to water use in the USA are those where sufficient water falls from the sky! Sorry to point out that most places like that are Democrat!! Actually I don’t think the use of water and regulation of pesticides etc has a lot to do with the politics of the state, more likely the climate and fisheries and quite right too!. With commercial irrigation now everywhere and too many houses being built, most places are getting a bit short. I hate to say it but I don’t think your mum has thought this through. She needs to get her priorities in order as to what is the most important.
    Availability of work and at what price salary.
    Housing, availability and price.
    Climate, wet states are often depressingly rainy or cold in the winter. Many Californians who come up to WA to retire because of cheaper property prices get depressed and return to California after a few years. I personally know several who have done that. Not a good idea! Does she live in the very dry East of California or nearer the coast? What is the rainfall of where she lives, annually?
    Politics must surely come fairly low on this totem? Personal issue must come first.
    Moving loses friends especially for older people, what about partners spouse etc.
    I think you need to find out what is really the most important to her before any decision can be made on relocation.

    PS Property taxes are ridiculously high in Texas but then I expect they are in California too, (They are not here) Must be inquired into before you buy. Mainly because of paying for poor peoples hospital bills. Texas has always been ultra mean on medicare plans and Obamacare. But there is a statutory obligation to give people primary care. Some buggers going to pay and in Texas it is the householder. Family style house will pay 4000 a year or so.

    Books, I always sift mine before every move. Keep all reference and classics but most current novels and cheap paperbacks go straight to the Charity shops. Saves a fortune and you don’t have to keep buying new bookcases!

    Moving internationally at your own expense is a wonderful way of keeping down the crap!

  11. By the way, unless you are using oil for heating, gas central heating is half the price of air conditioning! Not sure whether you knew that or not. Needs to be added to the computation.

  12. CO: Her boyfriend would have been happy to have moved to Texas yesterday. He’s a Texas fan and he’s talked her into it. I’ve made it clear that, should she move, I would have no interest in visiting her. I know some good people in California and they make the time tolerable. For her, it doesn’t matter. She has periodic episodes of utter stupidity. I forwarded her your warnings and she dismissed them out of hand — she was adamant that taking a 55pc-pay-cut was worth moving to Texas. The mind boggles. Property taxes in California is actually quite low. She will have to pay twice as much in Texas.

    She lives in the drier, rural east. It has a very Italian climate and is dry except for the winters. She’s not a tremendous gardener, but she wants to have a few plants to tend to.

    When my father entered a spiral in 2014, he threw away most of my belongings. Meth and alcohol rarely a good combination make! I don’t have too much, really. Those things I do have hold a fair amount of meaning. Expensive art books, classics, school books, etc. It would cost me under £120 to get my belongings from Germany to the UK. So far, it would cost me perhaps £800 to ship what I have in California to the UK. Not too bad. I can certainly manage that. I am still looking for different quotes.

    I’ve looked at the cost of replacing the few pieces of furniture I’d like to keep. You are, of course, right. It wouldn’t cost me more than £1500-£1800 to replace the most expensive piece. Other than my remaining books and a few trinkets that can go in with them, there’s really nothing irreplaceable. I will have to sort out my numismatics later. The part of my collection that wasn’t stolen is sitting in bank vaults in California. I’m happy to keep them there for now, but I will eventually need to bring them with me to the UK. I need to check about bank vaults in Dorset or getting a large, fire-resistant safe!

  13. Pity you haven’t the time to travel yourself, Christopher. The hold space allocated on a transatlantic liner used to be massive and free. Most passengers didn’t need to use their allocation and we managed to ship a lot of our household goods back to the UK. Friends did the same back to the States and for a family of five they had a lot to go. You get it packed by recommended shippers and taken to the ship.

  14. CT: Forgive me if I begin by seeming to question your worthy parent’s sanity, but why on Earth would she ever want to move to Texas, of all places? What CO says about the Lone Star State is true enough for the area where we lived but does not even begin to address what, to me, is the single greatest disadvantage of living there: the heat!!! Air conditioning is a necessity, not just a luxury. One of the longest weeks of my life was spent one July waiting for a repair part for my home system to be shipped in. If your mother does visit the Hill Country in the springtime, she’ll find it pretty enough but already starting to turn uncomfortably warm. CO and I were married in mid-May and the temperature was already well on the turn. Fortunately, all the day’s business (the ceremony followed by lunch for the bunch) was concluded early enough for us to get back to the air-conditioned house and live to tell the tale. I lived and worked there for something like 20 years and stolidly accepted it. When I took the money and ran (retired early), CO was bright enough to point out that nobody was *paying* me to live in that (expletive deleted) heat anymore. Apart from indolence, inertia and just plain laziness, I have a fierce dislike of moving but soon saw her point, and so here we are in the Pacific Northwest.

    Weather. If your mother doesn’t mind the annual rainy season, then she could do far worse than consider this part of the country. At least the rain itself is much more predictable here than in California, where it seems to be, “all or nothing,” with either floods or drought depending upon the year. CO is dead right about the weather in Texas being violent. It wasn’t until after I’d moved to a Dallas suburb that I discovered that I’d picked the area where most tornadoes enter the Dallas area, then learned from one of my new neighbors exactly why my house had a brand new roof on it. For this reason, I’d avoid the whole “tornado belt” in the middle of the USA. Even “ordinary” storms can be “gully washers” or “frog stranglers,” as I’ve heard them called, depositing a lot of water in a short time. A stream behind my house used to regularly overflow its banks and inch towards my back door. I know a road in San Antonio (which your mother ought to visit if she does indeed go to the Hill Country) that at one place dips down to a small culvert bridge, where there’s a substantial white post some 12 feet high, marked in feet so that one knows the depth of the water before driving into it.

    Money. Ooh, that felt so good that I’ll say it again: Money! The One-Star State finally put the minimum wage up to USD 7.25/hour. They had to, simply because that’s now the Federal minimum wage. By contrast, it’s $10.50 in California, $9.75 in Oregon and (drum roll) $11.00 in Washington. As pay in her profession varies from place to place, this link may be of use: (scroll well down for a state-by-state looksee). There are others as well. At a glance, there appears to be less pay difference than I’d thought between different parts of the country, although there’s enough to make that a major consideration. By coincidental happenstance, Wife #1 was an OR nurse who, early on in her career, ran into an interesting geofiscal situation. The hospital where she worked was located in a northern suburb of NYC but for some reason was treated as rural rather than big-wicked-city, with a correspondingly much lower pay scale. In order to avoid such devils in the details, it would pay to do a bit of looking around. On the outgoing side, differences in the cost of property taxes, utilities, insurance, food, etc. should all be taken into account.

    Getting there. To use one possible iteration of an oft-repeated-with-variations line from the old *Get Smart* TV series, “If we know who and where, it’ll tell us how and why.” Local agents of all the big moving companies (Allied, United et al) can generally be relied upon to do a good job at each end of the trip but, inevitably, not all local agents are created equal and customer comments should be sought. One can save time and effort by having them do everything or save a few dollars by doing at least some of the packing oneself. It should be obvious but still bears repetition that quotations should be obtained from more than one outfit.

    Regarding your own international move, I cheerfully (having written way too much already) defer to CO, who has gone through it more than anyone else I’ve ever known.

    I’ll be here if you need anything else from me. Good luck to you both!

  15. Oh dear! Perhaps she ought to go to Texas as a penance!
    55% pay cut? She has it bad, seriously no hope!!!
    I’m sorry the parents both sound so screwball, perhaps a continent between you is the best idea, often is! Me too with some of my relatives.
    My mother informed me of my father’s death and funeral by a 2nd class letter to my lawyer! They opened it by mistake and phoned me at work in London, by driving hell for leather I made the funeral with 5 mins to spare, was she pissed I got there! Needless to say quite unsuitably dressed.
    I never mentioned it to her subsequently, wouldn’t have given her the satisfaction!!!
    Shit happens, got a draw full of T shirts. Actually as one gets older one derives a great deal of entertainment realising quite how eccentric they all were/are including me. But then I always did have a bizarre sense of humour!

    Are those books being air freighted or sea at that price.?
    Did you get a price by giving a cube measure?
    The price is generally a computation of volume and weight, have they seen them?
    Otherwise it won’t hold good.

  16. I reiterate, pack it yourself and it is NOT insured!!!
    Ships still founder, my ex lost 2 cargoes that way mid Atlantic.

  17. Sheona: One reason why I chose to repatriate to Europe was that virtually everything in the US was such a bloody nuisance. Everything there is so expensive and stressful. Sweden is cheaper. Norway is cheaper than parts of the US. I grew sick of travelling in the US when I had to commute between California and Minnesota. Some people still have good experiences and good on them. I simply can’t justify passing up the chance to be with my adopted family in New South Wales or with old friends in Japan and Denmark.

    Cog: My mother will simply not consider living in any left-leaning state. She insists that it has to be solidly Republican. I’ve hinted that there are other conservative states but she’s treated my protests like so much white noise. The heat? She argues that it can be hot in California, too. The weather? She’ll live with it and try to live higher on a hill. The property taxes? She argues that there is no state income taxes. She ignored me when I mentioned that state income taxes is deducted from federal income taxes. Her boyfriend likes Texas because of its conservatism and its gun laws. That’s reason enough for her! All else is inconsequential and she’s made it clear that I’d best not press the point. I, of course, fully understand and appreciate your points. She is unconcerned, the boyfriend even less so.

    CO: She’ll have to learn the hard way. She’ll be 54 this year, 55 when she plans to move house. If things fall apart it won’t be that easy for her to get it together again. Her boyfriend is in poor health and probably won’t make it to 60. The more I think about it, the sillier it gets. Living in the United Kingdom would give me the advantage of having two bodies of water separating me from the relations. The motley collection of Huns with whom I share certain chromosomes have this native distrust of all things British and are not comfortable crossing the Channel. The father’s relations are too far away and, other than the acceptable older brother and wife, too poor to manage that flight! One really must be grateful for such mercies!

    The books would be air-freighted. The quote is based on sending 130 kg in up to 4 large boxes. I could just about manage that. A bit more or less wouldn’t really hurt. The company apparently specialises in such moves and has a good reputation.

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