When moving to Sydney, there are three things you need to think about before you start packing.
1. What are you going to pack in your suitcase and will it tide you over until your shipment arrives? (Our shipment took over 3 months to arrive.)
2. What (if anything) can you box up and send to have with you before your shipment arrives?
3. Packing up your house, do your really need to take everything?
What is going in your suitcase?
After you get your flight to Sydney sorted, call the airline and ask about increasing your baggage allowance and what they charge for extra bags. Sometimes it works out better financially to split the weight between two bags if you will not be charged an extra baggage fee.
There is no need to go too crazy with packing up your whole wardrobe and taking it on the plane with you.
Remember that second item above about the box you’re going to ship to yourself? That’s for the overload that won’t fit in your suitcase.
Don’t pack your large bottle of shampoo or other toiletries. You can buy those there plus they add weight to your baggage.
I know this seems obvious but once you start packing up you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll run out of room. The space saved by not packing large bottles or toiletries, in general, could mean an extra pair of shoes.
If you have any control over when you move consider going during the summer months, December to February. You don’t have to pack as many clothes and, if you’re moving with kids, it’s summer holidays for Australian schools making the change into a new school easier instead of starting mid-year.
Important documents to bring with you
To rent an apartment in Sydney you will need to pass the 100 points documentation check.
What the heck is the 100 points documentation check?
You will need certain documents that add up to 100 points (see examples below) to verify your identity and prove you are eligible to rent in Australia.
Take a look at the list below and make photocopies to give to the rental agents in Sydney. Of course, you can make photocopies in Sydney but make a few right now to give yourself a head start that way you’re not running around Sydney looking for a copy machine.
Be sure to pack the originals in your suitcase or, even better, in your carry-on as you will most likely be applying for more than one apartment in Sydney.
The 100 point list is also used by Australian banks when opening a new account.
Other records to pack in your suitcase are your medical records, children’s immunization records or school records.
If it cannot be replace, take it with you.
Give some thought to things you just couldn’t bare to loose like family heirlooms or family photos that you treasure. Make room for those in your suitcase. If it’s frame photos, ship the frames but pop out the photos and pack them.
Even if you decide to get insurance for your shipment, things that cannot be replaced will be gone for good if something happens.
I’m sure everything will be fine, but I’m a worst-case scenario type of person and would just rather have the peace of mind knowing that they’re safe in my carry on.
Pack a box of things to get you through until your shipment arrives and send it to yourself in Australia.
Shipments to Australia take time. Like I said above, our shipment took 3 months.
Even after your shipment arrives in Sydney, Australian Quarantine needs to go through the boxes. The time needed for that varies from container to container and is not included in your original shipment ETA.
To help tide you over consider sending a few thing to the hotel or your vacation rental.
I filled up our box with a few kitchen items, like my favourite chef’s knife and a paring knife. I could have just gone out and got a cheaper version, but I love my knives and know that using some crappy ones would have just been too frustrating on a daily basis. As far as dishes, glasses and cutlery, we made a quick trip to Target and Kmart at Bondi Junction to pick up a cheap set to use until our shipment arrived.
Other things that you might want to consider sending in a box to your hotel in Sydney are kid’s supplies, like stuffed animals and other toys, bed sheets, towels, pillows (consider vacuum sealing them) and blankets.
If you’re moving from the UK (or another country that uses the same voltage) then maybe consider taking an air bed too.
If you are arriving in the fall (Australia’s autumn is around the end of April and May) then add some winter clothes to the box. There is no need to pack a bunch of sweaters in your suitcase since you probably won’t need them until June or July.
Moving to Sydney in the winter? Great, cut down on your travel load and send some of your winter clothes through the post.
If you’re able to get everything you need in one suitcase that is under the weight limit, then stand up and take a bow because I have no idea how you did it.
My suitcase was full to the max even after we had packed up a large box to send to our hotel.
Now the hard part, packing up the house.
When you start interviewing movers they will meet with you at your house and do a walk through to get an idea of what is going and what is not. It’s a good idea to do a walk through first so you know for sure what is not going to be shipped. No need for it to be part of your estimate.
As far as what to pack and ship, well the only advice I have is, if you don’t love it then leave it.
When we finally got our shipment and started to unpack we couldn’t believe what we chose to ship. So much of it just wasn’t worth the money to ship and could have easily been replaced.
Making hard decisions
If you just can’t decide whether to bring something or not then you might want to consider doing what I did and let Craiglist or EBay decide for you.
I placed ads for a few things with a price that I would be happy to sell it for. If someone bought it then it was meant to be; if not then we shipped it. Most of everything I sold on Craigslist was gone it a couple days and I can honestly say that I don’t miss a thing, except for our sofa from Pottery Barn that I absolutely loved.
So why did I sell it if I loved it?
Well, it was about 7 feet long and would have been impossible to move into our very small apartment.
That is one of the things to think about if you’re moving from a house, especially a large American style house. With rents being so expensive in Sydney, chances are you will end up in a much smaller house or apartment then what you lived in back in the States. Downsizing your household before you go is the best option in the long run.
After our shipment arrived, we didn’t have space for our extra bedroom set as we had moved from a three-bedroom house in Seattle to a one-bedroom plus office (more like a walk-in closet) in Sydney. It was a hassle to get rid of it on the other end.
It really is best just to get rid of as much as you can before you move and be done. Plus this will save on the overall cost of your shipment.
Odds and end you might want to get before you ship anything
If you’re moving from the States (or any country that uses 110V-120V), before you leave, go out and buy a Step Down Transformer 220v to 110v AC Converter.
Those are hard to find while in Australia. We got one on Amazon after our move and ended up paying a lot for international shipping.
Just order it now and toss it in a box to ship with the rest.
If you have a Sonicare toothbrush, buy extra replacement heads. Sonicare is not readily available in Australia and replacement heads are very expensive. We use one of our transformers with an adapter just for charging our Sonicare toothbrush.
Don’t go too crazy with the over the counter medications. It might look suspicious.
Of course, if you’re going to live in Sydney for a couple of years, you’ll just need to get use to the products there, but I have to say that when I get a cold I really missed the power of Nyquil and have never found it’s equal here in Australia. I have a friend who feels the same about Tylenol PM.
I also stocked up on contacts, about a two-year supply. I pack those in my suitcase though. No real rhyme or reason behind why I did that.
What about prescription drugs?
You can bring a three month’s supply with you to Australia as long as you have a copy of the prescription, written in English, with you “certify that the medicine has been prescribed to you to treat a medical condition“.
For a quick guide of what you can and cannot bring with you into Australia click here.
What about cash? How much can I bring with me on the plane?
There is no limit for the amount of cash you can bring on your person into Australia. However, you do need to declare sums over $10,000AUD.
Are you bring your mattress to Australia?
Australian Mattress sizes are different from of the UK and the USA.
For this reason, if you decide to bring your mattress, which I recommend doing because mattresses are expensive in Australia, be sure to bring extra sets of sheets.
Of course there are bed sheets and linens in Australia, they just won’t fit your mattress as well as ones from home.
If you have anything to add please let me know in the comments below. I will definitely add it to the list.