Handy Husband and I have moved A LOT. We are no stranger to packing up our stuff and moving across town, across the state, across country.
Moving across an ocean to a foreign country was new for us.
Bring. It. On.
The biggest warning you will get when moving to a European country from the United States is the homes are a lot different than what you are used to.
“A lot different” is code for smaller. Unless you are uber-wealthy, a typical European home is going to be a lot smaller than a typical home in the United States.
Americans must not heed The Warning because The Warning was repeated ad nauseam. You could almost hear the relocation person shaking his/her head over the phone like we were the umpteenth fools he/she had spoken with that day that wouldn’t heed The Warning.
Not us! Get our merit badge ready because this was the kind of challenge we thrived on. Purge half our stuff? No problem. Unless it’s my stuff. My stuff is really good. Let’s start with Handy Husband’s stuff. 😉
Selling our possessions on CraigsList or donating them became a part-time job. I started rotating my donation drop-offs to various locations after I got a “third time this week, huh?” comment.
Here are some of the things we sold, donated or gave away.
Furniture: couches, dressers, recliners, tables, office chairs, bar stools, desks
Appliances: refrigerator, washer and dryer, wine fridge, freezer
Small Appliances: slow cooker, hair dryer, alarm clocks, vacuum, lamps, etc.
Tools: anything that plugged in, lawn mower, weed trimmers, extension cords, etc.
Fun stuff: kayaks, trampoline, clothes we didn’t wear often, treadmill, toys
Seasonal: wrapping paper, Christmas ornaments, wreaths, fake Christmas trees
Sentimental: my grandmother’s china, the hat I wore to my Mother’s funeral
Transportation: our car
Here’s what went in storage: my piano. Yes, I miss it. No, I don’t want to talk about it.
Here are some of the things we packed:
beds and nightstands
dining room set
outdoor table (which we are using as a desk)
a few side tables
computers, monitors, printer (the plugs can be switched out)
linens and bedding
I have to say. There isn’t one thing
of Handy Husband’s I got rid of that I missed. It actually felt good to lighten our material load. Part of me thinks I could have been a little more ruthless, but then the kids wouldn’t have any toys. So there’s that.
I made pancakes this weekend and had to whisk the batter by hand since I got rid of my electric mixer and haven’t replaced it. That wasn’t the end of the world. My kids didn’t even notice their pancakes were a little lumpy. It did take me a little longer to cook a batch of pancakes because I no longer have an electric griddle and had to use a single pan. The horror! It sounds downright spoiled when I say it that way. And really, in the grand scheme of things, it is.
We were allotted a 40-foot container to have our household goods shipped to Ireland. I was 90% certain we wouldn’t fill the container after The Great Purge, but no one told me just how full the container ended up being. I only saw our stuff being loaded on a truck.
Sometimes my competitive streak comes out in weird ways. This was one of those times.
A half empty container!!
Oh, and that big box is my mattress. My sweet, sweet mattress that I missed so, so, so much. I cannot overstate how much I missed that mattress and a good night’s sleep.
The container was only half full. Actually, that isn’t quite correct. It was a smidge over half full. Our household goods used up 1,100 cubic feet of space inside the 40-ft. container. To be half full, it would need to fit in a 20-ft. container, which has a capacity of 1,170 cubic feet. However, it is tricky to pack a container to maximum capacity with a mishmash of household goods, so closer to 1,000 cubic feet is more realistic.
My point is, if I was compelled to reduce our load by 100 cubic feet in order to fit in a 20-ft. container, I’m pretty sure I could have done it.
It was super interesting to see the container pull up in front of our house. We’d been explaining to the kids how our stuff would be shipped to Ireland, but I didn’t think they’d get to see the actual container.
The seal on the container was broken by the movers when they parked in front of our house. This meant our container was not physically searched by Irish Customs, which is why we breezed through that process. Basically, as soon as the container was unloaded from the boat it was ready for transport to our house.
This is not the case with everyone. You need to be prepared (with receipts) to have your belongings questioned by Customs.
You know that irrational feeling you get when your kid is on stage singing for the first time? They are probably dressed as a turnip in the school play and pick their nose the whole time, but you still get that lump in your throat and you wonder just how waterproof your mascara really is? Yeah. That totally happened to me when the Irish Relo truck with our container pulled up on a dreary Monday morning with all of my earthly possessions.
That container represented an end and a beginning.
We have been in a state of transition for several months. We’ve had a fantastic time visiting friends and family. We’ve enjoyed exploring a new country. Really, there hasn’t been a whole lot to complain about. But I was so ready to feel settled again. Ready to not be living out of a suitcase. Ready to get into a routine. Kids (and me apparently) need that. Ready to putter around my house. Ready to embrace our new life and adventure here. Ready to get on with it.
And so we have. This weekend we walked to the beach, rode bikes in the park and people, we hung some pictures! I’m sitting here on my comfy bed writing this post and reflecting that it truly has been a happy day.
March 4, 2018: Important Update on Moving to Dublin: Finding a house in Dublin right now is hard and expensive! A much larger percentage of homes for rent in Dublin are furnished or partially furnished. You’ll have a much easier time finding a home if you aren’t bringing a lot with you. I love having all my “stuff” with me, but it put more pressure on us to find a home. I also think about if and when we have to leave Ireland. Moving all our stuff back to the U.S. is going to be expensive if we have to pay for that move ourselves. Also, think very carefully about moving to Dublin with pets. I won’t say it is impossible to find a home that accepts pets, but it is one step down from impossible. You will most definitely have to make big compromises on your location if you bring a pet.
If you have questions about our experience, you can always email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to know more about living in Ireland, check out these posts:
Thinking about visiting Ireland? Read on!