R2I - Deciding on What to Take

The silver lining of relocation is the chance to de-clutter the home front and make it a sane place to chill. Nevertheless deciding between the keepers and the tossers from the plethora of possessions is only but one of the daunting tasks that lie within the dark clouds of moving. Expensive shipping costs add insult to to the cause, unless it is a corporate move.

For a living space above 800 square feet, it is fairly safe to presume the need for a full-container load (FCL). Transportation costs alone for FCL shipments using a basic 20’ container from a door in US to a port in India is upwards of $3K. Value added origin and destination services along with insurance, taxes and other charges add upwards of another $3K.

These price points along with the associated tasks can tempt one into starting anew in India. In many instances, this approach will not prove prudent for it makes financial sense only if shipping charges rake up more than what it would cost to liquidate all belongings and purchase new ones in India. Unless this move was in the horizon from the very onset and every purchase reflected allegiance to that decision, chances are the value of one’s possessions will easily amount to more than the shipment charges. Hence the real choice, in most cases would be whether the wish is to retain company with the existing bits and pieces or favor a new start for an additional cost.

On our part, the decision to ship most of our belongings was relatively easy, as we wanted an acoustic piano while in India. Replacing our Kawai K15 purchased for around $3K, would have been more expensive in India. Also, when we purchased our first home in 2003, we furnished with quality furniture. Ideally our intent was to keep what we had unless the costs proved prohibitive. To assess costs, we ran some numbers around replacement expenses assuming rough pricing in India and liquidation values of our things. That step proved the shipping costs were a necessary evil in our relocation saga.

A lesson learnt by running this list was that replacing better-quality pieces is extremely expensive – luxury taxes and the imported parts in most of the finer objects available in India made for such items to be twice or thrice as expensive to comparable counterparts in the USA. Examples include larger refrigerators (side-by-side and/or sub-zero designer ones) and larger LCD TV’s, which are both dearly priced in India. High-end furniture, crockeries, and other household goods also command a premium to purchase in India compared to US. Also, there are a few other considerations when making the decision to ship or liquidate:
  • Electrical appliances:  Liquidation values for such items are really low in the US but to function in India they require a voltage converter. Some appliances require bulky and expensive converters rated over 300W and designed for continuous use.
  • Electronic items: Except for amplifiers and sub-woofers that require high power, most electronic items only require 50W-100W converters – buying a 100W or 200W continuous rated compact converter with an extension cord might suffice to hook up 110V electronics for a particular room. LCD TV’s are special in that they require both a voltage converter and a signal converter. Even so, for the avid viewer, it can be more economical to ship the high-end LCD TV and use it with the converters in India.
  • Furniture made of particleboard: As these are more prone to damage than real wood furniture, insurance companies place particleboard in their exclusion list. Unfortunately, most furniture available in middle-class contemporary furniture stores in the US falls in this category. Liquidation value for such furniture is also very low. However, the good news is that such furniture is easily replaced in India – better quality furniture made of High Density Fiberboard (HDF) that compares well to the bulk of the Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) furniture stocked in Ikea are available at competitive price points in India.

We started liquidating things six months before our May 2010 move. Below is a representative list of what we liquidated and the rough values realized:




Related Posts:
  1. R2I - Deciding on What to Take.
  2. R2I Shipment - Choosing from Insurance Options and Our Experience.
  3. R2I Shipping Options.
  4. R2I Shipping FAQ.
  5. R2I Shipping Experience.

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