“Do I ship my stuff to my new home or do I sell it and replace it in my new country?” That is the question many expats are forced to ask when deciding what to pack (or not pack) when moving overseas.
For many people, this question comes down to cost: is it cheaper to ship everything or to sell everything and buy new furniture in your new destination? It’s helpful to frame this decision by answering the questions below.
Do you have expensive stuff?
If your home furnishings are expensive items, then you will get a fraction of that back if you sell. And worst of all you’ll still need to replace your items, regardless of which country you move to. If this sounds like your situation then it’s more likely that shipping makes sense.
Is there anything you’re emotionally attached to, such as family heirlooms?
You’ll need to think hard about selling, storing, or shipping your items. If you have a family heirloom then selling might not be a viable option.
How long will you be abroad?
Whether your move is due to work, retirement, or just a different lifestyle, it’s important to consider how long you will be overseas for. People moving for school or a fixed time know they’ll be abroad for a finite period and should factor this into their shipping calculations. If you’ll only be gone a year or so then shipping may not make sense — after all, for some destinations it can take several months just to receive your stuff. But if you’ll be abroad for an extended period of time you may want the comfort of your own things.
How expensive is the country I’m moving to?
Some countries have much higher costs of living than others so you can expect that home goods in these countries will be particularly expensive. Cities like Sydney, Moscow and Tokyo have a very high cost of living and replacing many household items is not cost effective.
Since, for most people, cost is a primary driver, to help you think through the “Ship It or Sell It” quandary we put together the very first IKEA Global Price Index. This index compares IKEA prices across a range of countries for basic items you would need to furnish a two bedroom home. In some cases, the differences are pretty staggering: a sofa that costs $550 USD in Canada is close to $1,000 USD in Egypt. And a set of four dining chairs is $176 USD in Spain while just a short hop away in the UK they’ll cost you $232 USD. So before you say, “I’ll just sell my stuff and buy IKEA furniture since it’ll be cheaper” make sure you’ve done your homework.
We used IKEA to map out our starter home in ten different cities across the globe. We used the USD at its current exchange rate to normalize the costs.
Below you’ll find cost comparisons of:
A sofa, coffee table, bookcase, floor lamp, one full bed and two twin beds, two bedside tables, two dressers, a rug, a dining table, and four dining chairs.
|NOCKEBY Sofa||750 USD||799 CAD 550 USD||799 AUD 548 USD||579 GBP 825 USD||649 EUR 708 USD||64,990 YEN 556 USD||599 EUR 653 USD||7,645 EGP 977 USD||3,045 SR 812 USD||2,775 DHS 756 USD|
|HEMNES Coffee Table||139 USD||150 CAD 103 USD||250 AUD 171 USD||120 GBP 171 USD||120 EUR 131 USD||19,990 YEN 171 USD||100 EUR 109 USD||1,495 EGP 191 USD||595 SR 159 USD||545 DHS 148 USD|
|BILLY Bookcase||79 USD||100 CAD 69 USD||95 AUD 65 USD||55 GBP 78 USD||69 EUR 75 USD||9,000 YEN 77 USD||59 EUR 64 USD||895 EGP 114 USD||345 SR 92 USD||275 DHS 75 USD|
|KVART Lamp||49 USD||40 CAD 28 USD||50 AUD 34 USD||35 GBP 50 USD||40 EUR 44 USD||4,500 YEN 38 USD||40 EUR 44 USD||395 EGP 50 USD||199 SR 53.08 USD||145 DHS 39 USD|
|MALM Bed Frame x2||389 USD||389 CAD 268 USD||419 AUD 287 USD||245 GBP 349 USD||259 EUR 283 USD||43,990 YEN 376 USD||273 EUR 298 USD||3,579 EGP 457 USD||1,295 SR 345 USD||1,195 DHS 325 USD|
|MALFORS Mattress x2||229 USD||249 CAD 171 USD||199 AUD 136 USD||100 GBP 143 USD||109 EUR 119 USD||14,990 YEN 128 USD||129 EUR 141 USD||1195 EGP 153 USD||545 SR 145 USD||595 DHS 162 USD|
|HEMNES Side Table x2||100 USD||70 CAD 48 USD||99 AUD 68 USD||40 GBP 57 USD||50 EUR 55 USD||5,999 YEN 51 USD||30 EUR 33 USD||495 EGP 63 USD||195 SR 52 USD||195 DHS 53 USD|
|STOCKHOLM Rug||200 USD||249 CAD 171 USD||300 AUD 206 USD||160 GBP 228 USD||179 EUR 195 USD||29,990 YEN 256 USD||179 EUR 195 USD||1,995 EGP 153 USD||895 SR 238 USD||845 DHS 230 USD|
|TOTAL||2,107 USD||2,323 USD||2,801 USD||2,345 USD||2,619 USD||2,321 USD||3,328 USD||2,818 USD||2,665 USD|