Being that this move was so different than any other move, I actually learned a lot in the process.
1. Shipping things oversees
At first, my husband and I were going to try to take our belongings with us instead of having to get a furnished place in Lucca. Through research, we quickly learned that that was not a feasible option. We have been told in the past that if you are okay with things arriving months later that slow boating items are very affordable. This would have been perfect except that slow boating belongings does not exist anymore. I looked at freight companies that will move your stuff for you overseas and that would cost thousands of dollars.
I learned that M-bags exist at the post office. This is a cheaper way to send papers and books and not have to pay customs.
If you are going to send a package with items that are not books and papers via the post office, fed ex, etc. be prepared to have to pay a customs charge to ship it and an additional customs charge to receive it.
2. Portable Storage Units
Moving trucks use to be the only option to move your belongings from one location to another. You could rent and drive the truck yourself or higher a moving company. Now there are things as portable storage units, which turned out to be the perfect option for my husband and I to send the items that we wanted to store with family that lived in another state without us having to do it ourselves. This is how it works: a company drops off a moving container (multiple sizes available depending on your moving needs); when you have the container ready to go, the company picks the container up and drives it to your final destination; there it is dropped off; you or others unload the container (since our family was storing our belongings they were the ones that unloaded it); and once it is unloaded, the container is picked up again.
a) I contacted PODS (www.pods.com). They are the cheapest option right now that I found. When I called the first time with my dates and what I needed, they set me up with a reservation number and I told them I would call later to actually pay for the moving container. When I did call later, I was extremely disappointed to hear that the original service rep that I spoke to didn’t even try to look to see if there were available containers for the weekend I needed. It turns out that there were not any available, so that was time wasted and I was back to square one.
b) I then contacted the next affordable option. U-Pack (www.upack.com) was $30 more expensive but they had availability for when I needed the container and their customer service was fantastic. They called with the timings of everything and gave help instructions. When they give you a time frame for drop off, I was pleasantly surprised that they showed up earlier in that time frame.
3. Selling or Donating Items
My husband and I opted to only keep our most valuable and memorable belongings. Everything else that wasn’t going to Italy needed to be sold or donated. Here are the options for selling and donated items.
a) To make things easier on myself, I donated most of our clothes to Goodwill. Remember that your donations are tax-deductible.
b) However, if you feel that your clothes are really valuable and would like to get some cash for them, some places do pay for clothing. Boston has The Garment District. I advise that you get there early in the day, because they only pay for so many goods in one day.
c) The quickest way to sell lots of your household items at once is to host a Rummage Sale. You can advertise these sales in the local paper or on Craigslist.
d) Unfortunately, I was unable to have a rummage sale, because I lived in an apartment building, so I came up with a different plan. It was much more time-consuming than just having a rummage sale, but it was effective. (i) I created a Picasa photo album (picasaweb.google.com) with all the items I was selling and at what price (all prices have to be negotiable). I made this album open to the public. I first shared it with friends, family, and coworkers. (ii) I created flyers of the furniture and big-ticket electronics to circulate just in our community (which contained over twenty apartment buildings and townhouses) with the permission of the community security. (iii) I then created an advertisement on Craigslist (www.craigslist.org). Best to title advertisements like this as a Moving Sale. This way, individuals know right away that you are selling more than just a few items and that most likely you are selling big items like furniture, which I was. I also attached a link in this advertisement to the Picasa photo album. If you are looking for the best time to post advertisement, I was advised to post on Thursday or Friday morning. People like to do their shopping on the weekend, and it definitely worked. I was contacted by many people who had specific items that they wanted to come and pick up. We would arrange a time and people would stop by. Special Note: I would advise not to do what I did. With my husband already gone to Italy, I had many strangers coming into my apartment with me there alone. It is not a safe thing to do. I had one gentleman show up for a piece of furniture at 10:30pm (3 hours after our agreed time). He had come from a Boston Red Sox game and was intoxicated enough that he took a cab to pick up a television stand. It was humorous to watch him try to cram this stand into a cab car, but I also realize that I should never have allowed someone into my apartment at that time. (iv) Some friends, who were moving at the same time, told me of a website I should look into for selling books called Blue Rectangle (www.bluerectangle.com). This site lets you compare buyback offers from five different companies: Bookbyte, Cash4Books, SellBackYourBook, Powells, and Better World. Most of these companies pay for shipping. You just need to box the books up. It was super easy to do this all through PayPal. The companies just dumped the money into my PayPal account, which I easily transferred to my bank account. I received every dollar that was quoted to me in two weeks or less. (v) For any books that I wasn’t able to sell that I wanted to dispose of, I found yellow donate containers on many street corners around the city.
Special thanks to all the people who helped me through this process with their valuable insights and knowledge.