In September we will be leaving St. Louis and moving back across the Atlantic to St. Andrews, Scotland.
Unlike when we made the move over here in 2008, my new job is contributing towards the cost of relocation, which means flights, temporary accommodation and the shipping of our personal effects should all be paid for. Being able to take our stuff back with us is a huge deal. In 2008, we paid for the move ourselves and as a result only shipped three tea-chest-size boxes (using Seven Seas Worldwide, an excess baggage company who I wholeheartedly recommend for small shipments). These boxes contained only our luxury items – my mother’s old Nikon, some photograph albums, electronic bits and pieces and assorted Kiwiana – meaning that we still needed to spend a great deal of effort and money acquiring furniture, cooking utensils and other household essentials. This time we can afford to be a little less conservative in what we decide to take with us, which should save us money when we arrive and provide our 19-month old son with a little continuity to his own toy-filled world.
Which is all great in theory. But how do you go about organising an international shipment?
Googling “international shipping companies” provides you with a lot of companies who are willing to take your details and will probably hound you every week until you respond to their quotates. But worryingly, all of these companies’ websites are filled with warnings about the fidelity of ‘other’ companies and worse still, many are littered with the sort of bad grammar and 90s webdesign that makes you think twice about clicking on anything other than the back button. Google’s aggregation of these web-sites, rather than helping me compare them and find the best, only managed to make me mistrust them all.
After a few weeks of online stumbling, I finally hit upon a genuinely useful website – www.movingscam.com. The first thing I read on the website was:
“The number one question MovingScam.com receives is “Can you recommend a good moving company?”. If the answer to that question was easy, then there wouldn’t be a reason for maintaining a web site called MovingScam.com”
That resonated with my state of mind at the time, so I read on, navigating to their international moving page. Again there were warnings about what to look for in an international moving company, but this time there was a list of four companies recommended by users of the web-site forum. I contacted them all and three got back to me with a quote. We eventually settled on Sterling International, whose representative, Phil Aeschleman, filled me with confidence when he beat me to the name of my liaison at the University of St. Andrews (suggesting that he hadn’t been full of hot air, as I had cynically imagined, when he had earlier mentioned that they were in the process of organising another move from the US to St. Andrews).
We had our pre-move survey yesterday, with our move scheduled for early September. The prospect of a team of professional movers packing our belongings is a little strange, but it should certainly be efficient. I hope that in a few months I will be able to contribute to the movingscam forum with a endorsement of Sterling International. Fingers crossed.