We made the decision to move our family from Atlanta, Georgia to Barcelona, Spain in January 2016. Our tickets were already booked, there was no turning back.
We had 90 days.
While making the decision to move was hard, working through the process of moving and immigration is the real obstacle.
If we were single or a couple, things would be much easier. But, when you have two little people depending on you, every decision is heightened.
You want to get it right. You have to get it right.
I pushed the doubts aside (Are we doing the right thing? Are we crazy? What is wrong with us?) and marched forward.
When we decided to move to Spain we had to decide if we wanted to ship all of our stuff, some of our stuff, or none of our stuff.
This is detailed guide on how we made our decisions and how we sold all of our stuff in 90 days.
To Ship Or Not To Ship? That is the question.
We are a family of four with a house full of “things”. Furniture, electronics, toys, clothes and just stuff we’ve acquired over a lifetime.
With any of the above options, it was going to be time consuming and tiring to pack up our 5000+ sq foot home or sell everything. There was no easy option.
First, I had to figure out what we could realistically take with us.
US vs European Voltage
As Americans moving to Europe, we researched and found out, the power voltage of our electronics were incompatible with the European voltage.
American voltage is 120/60, European voltage is 220/50.
Basically, you cannot plug an American electronics plug into a European outlet. (The UK is different from Europe as well).
If you’re traveling outside of North America, you’ll most likely need an adapter plug. All over the world, there are different types of electrical wall outlets. Unless your destination country has the same outlet configuration as your home country, you’ll need an adapter. Adapter plugs do not convert electricity, they simply allow your device’s plug to fit into the foreign outlet.
Here are some common plug types:
Adapter Plug Quick Guide
|Common Destinations||Outlet Type|
|Japan, Taiwan, Central America, Caribbean, South America||A,B|
|Europe, Middle East, Israel, some Asian countries, some African countries||C,E,F|
|United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, some African countries||G|
|China, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji||I|
Electricity Converters and Transformers
If you’re traveling with certain devices, such as older hair dryers and irons, you may also need a voltage converter or transformer.
The world runs on two types of electricity: 110/125V or 220/240V. North American devices run on 110/125V electricity while the majority of the world runs on 220/240V. Converters and transformers change the voltage of electricity to match the voltage of your device.
How to Determine if You Need a Transformer or Converter
The label on your device will help determine if a voltage converter or transformer is necessary. This label may be: a) affixed directly to the back of the device; b) on the AC transformer box of the power supply lead; or c) molded into the plastic on the plug. It is often in very small print.
The INPUT line contains the key information—whether the voltage (V) is single, dual or multi.
Single-voltage items have a small voltage range (such as 100–120V). These small ranges are designed to accommodate voltage fluctuations only and will not accommodate a 220V power supply. Single-voltage devices include older appliances, such as hair dryers and irons.
Dual-voltage devices use a slash to separate the 2 voltages. Example: 120V/240V. Common dual-voltage devices include newer hair dryers, electric shavers and toothbrushes, irons, coffee makers and tea kettles. These do not require a transformer or converter.
Multi-voltage items use a dash to indicate the range of voltages. Example: 100–240V. Common multi-voltage devices include laptops, e-readers, tablets, smartphones, cell phones, MP3 players, cameras and battery chargers. These do not require a transformer or converter.
Converter or Transformer?
Single-voltage electrical devices (ones that use heating elements or mechanical motors) can use a converter or a transformer.
Single-voltage electronic devices (ones that use chips, circuits or electronic motors) require a transformer.
Good news: Many converters operate as both a converter for high-watt electrical devices and a transformer for low-watt electronic devices.
Watts (W) is the amount of power a device uses. Low watts range up to 25W or 50W, depending on the converter. This would be typical of small personal electronics. Electrical heating units will require a “high” setting as they may consume 1000W to 2000W.
Make sure to check the product specifications on your devices and make certain that your converter is rated for the specified power.
Is shipping your electronics from the US to Europe worth It?
For small electronics like cell phones, computers and tables, a simple adapter would work. However for larger items and items that use a lot of power, we would need a transformer.
After much hand wrangling and back and forth, we decided shipping our electronics from the US to Europe was too much hassle.
All electronics were going on sale.
This included apx. 6 televisions (why did we need so many TV’s) DVD players, Radio’s, lighting, hair dryer, hair straighter, kitchen electronics (my husband still morns his kitchen aid mixer) and all power tools.
Shipping costs from the US to Europe
Then we looked at shipping costs.
It is expensive.
We looked at pricing to ship a 20 foot container from Atlanta, Georgia to Barcelona Spain. This container would fit the majority of our things. This included all furniture, clothes, toys, books, etc.
We researched companies online using google and came up with 5 companies vying for our business. The service was door to door. Meaning they pick up the container already packed from Atlanta and deliver it to our address in Barcelona.
These quotes did not include any packing up of the house or packing and unpacking of the container once it reached it’s final destination.
The price ranged from $4,500 USD to $5,500 USD to ship a 20 foot container from the US to Spain.
Why We Decided To Sell Everything
I thought for the price of shipping, we could sell all of our stuff, get to Spain and re-buy new stuff and still be under $4,500.
We decided to sell everything excluding some clothes, books, my husbands collection of vinyl records, meaningful items, some decorations and art and either rent a furnished apartment or re-buy furniture.
Then, I found icontainers.com and their prices were really good. They quoted me $2,800 20 foot container shipping cost from Atlanta, Georgia USA to Barcelona Spain, door to door everything included.
We chose icontainers.com for our shipment. Instead of a 20 foot container, we used a portion of a container(LCL). Once we made the decision to sell everything, we realized how much things we didn’t need.
The quoted price was $985.00 door-to-door. (It didn’t turn out that way, but more on that in another post).
How To sell all your Stuff in 90 days
Now, how do we sell off all the items of a large suburban American home with a lifetime of collecting and adding things.
Little by little.
We started in the middle of February, so we only had 3 months to sell everything we wouldn’t be taking as well as pack.
Websites we used to Sell Our Stuff
I think most people know about craigslist. You list your item with pictures, a description and a price. Then the calls, emails or texts start coming in to buy what you are offering. Craigslist is in pretty much every city in America as well as locations world wide. You pick your city, submit your listing and wait.
Verdict: Craigslist is pretty good for high cost items. Higher end furniture, electronics, cars, etc. We received offers for our car, pool table and inquiries on our more expensive furniture. It doesn’t hurt to list on craigslist but I found the traffic of people coming from craislist was lower than other sites.
- List your item for apx. 15% higher than you want for it and then negotiate the price with buyers. List your higher priced items on craigslist.
- Meet in safe open spaces if possible. If someone is coming to your home, make sure you are not alone (there are many craigslist horror stories).
- Don’t give out your actual address until you’ve spoken with the buyer and you determine they are serious about buying and are on their way. (I don’t like strangers knowing my address so I only give when necessary.)
- Accept CASH ONLY! – There are many scams on cragislist. Some involving wire transfers and paypal. Don’t do it. CASH ONLY!!!
Offerup is an app only online marketplace where people buy and sell items. You can take pictures with your phone, add a description and a price. Input your zip code for your location or the phone will list your location on a map. Chat is integrated into the app, so if someone is interested in your item, they can instant message you right away. They don’t know your phone number or email and you do not know theirs. There is also a rating system after the sale for both the buyer and the seller.
Verdict: Offerup was a great app for selling the majority of our household items. Within seconds of posting, I sometimes received an inquiry for an item listed.
The customer can also make an instant offer via the app. I believe the app was updated where you can pay for items through pay pal. I didn’t use that feature. Offerup users showed up 9 times out of 10 and about 90% bought the item they came for. Using the app was easy and we sold a lot of things this way.
- List your item about 15-20% higher than you will take for it because people will ALWAYS offer less.
- Sometimes the offer is insulting. Don’t get upset, just say No, and move on.
- List your lower cost items here. Low cost furniture sells pretty well. Offerup customers are low cost buyers.
- Similar apps to offerup are letgo; wallapop. I didn’t use those apps, but the concept is the same.
Facebook Groups – I also sold a lot of items on facebook groups. I found garage sale/sales groups on facebook, joined and listed my items. Because you are know (your facebook profile is listed on your posts) it can feel safer listing and buying things on facebook groups.
Verdict: I sold a lot of items on the various facebook garage group pages. People show up and buy what they said they were going to buy. On facebook groups, your item either sells right away, or doesn’t sell at all. You’ll know within the first day. The items that did good on the facebook group pages were wood furniture and electronics.
Tips: Be honest. Follow the rules of the group.
Nextdoor is a website for your neighborhood. Sometimes they are divided by subdivision, neighborhood or city. They have a forum and classified’s section where you can list your items. I listed a few items and received some inquiry but didn’t sell anything this way. I still think it’s a good way to get your items out there.
On the online marketplace giant, you can sell your item and have it featured around the country. After trying to sell our 65inch 3D, 4K television we only had for 6 months on the other sites above with no success (I received very low ball offers from craigslist), I took a shot in the dark and listed it on amazon.
How to list your home items on Amazon.com
- Find the exact item you want to sell on Amazon.com. There will be a small link under the price that says “sell an item like this”
- You will create a seller account, enter a price, enter shipping costs and list. See How to Sell on Amazon.com
- When someone is looking for that particular item, you item will come up as (other sellers of the item).
- Price your item competitively and definitely list the honest condition of the item.
Surprisingly, we sold our TV on Amazon within 2 weeks.
Amazon takes the payment from the seller and handles the payment processing. Once you ship, Amazon transfers the money into your bank account.
Amazon charges a fee to do this, but it was well worth it for us.
I listed our cars and a few pieces of furniture on ebay. I did a “buy it now” for our cars. A bid was accepted, but the person backed out of the deal at the last minute.
Hey it happens.
So, we didn’t end up selling anything on ebay. But again, you may have better luck than I did.
Selling all of your possessions is a tedious project. You always find out you have way more things than you realized. It’s tiring and stressful.
But, I raised a substantial amount of money selling our stuff, that we are now finding we’re having to spend getting our house ready to be sold (Yet, another story).
In the end, we ran out of time. There was still a ton of items we didn’t get to sell because our tickets were booked and we had to go.
I was tired.
I did the best I could and it was acceptable, but I could have used another month or two. So if you are looking to sell all or most of your worldly possessions, start at least 5 months before your target date.
For the items that were left, I donated to charity and gave away to friends and family.
Even if you don’t want to sell everything like we did, you can use the tools above to get rid of items you are no longer using.