The part no one talks to you about when moving Internationally; I believe the reason is because it is a very stressful and a confusing part of the move. I moved to Greece back in 1999 using a shipping container to move my personal belongings but all I could remember it being tidiness and stressful. Had you asked me the details five months ago I could not recall because I had chosen to block it all out. Naturally now with my move to Spain and not remembering all the details from my move to Greece. Yes, I want to take my personal things, "I can ring myself through this process again, it isn't every day I do this, right?" If I had remembered the details a year ago before I began this process, I would have done everything so differently. Don't get me wrong the company has been nothing but professional but that cannot prevent the stress and the expense of the process, so let's talk about the part no one talks about.
You get a job offer, are part of the army or have just had enough and decide to move Internationally whether it is temporary or for the rest of your life. Neither is easier than the other if you are planning to bring your belongings with you. So of course, the first step is to search for a company that not only can make your dream happen but is the best fit financially and willing to care for your belongings as if you were moving everything yourself. In my case because I live inland the search was very awkward, and I had to look at companies on the coast. There are local companies that work with the international companies, but options are limited and when I spoke with one individual locally not only was he wanting to charge me thousands of dollars more than the other companies for less space but every time I would follow up about the rates changing his responses were never hopeful. That was when I decided to try companies on the coast of Los Angeles and came across International Sea & Air shipping. I believe I sent for an inquiry and one fine day while I was at work, either late August or early September I got a call and was introduced to who is now the manager of my account we will call her Heather. From day one she was transparent and straight, and I fell in love with her honesty because I did recall when we moved to Greece, and I kept asking our manager then if we owe any more money and he assured us we owed nothing more. He never prepared us for what was to come. They ended up holding our things for nearly 6 months because we were never told about the port fees and when we left the US, we literally left with all we had.
I spoke with Mr. Dracu and we weighed out our options between everyone we have interviewed and decided not only was it the most affordable, but they did not go by weight but by container rental. Now logically I knew it was going to be a bit more because never have I had an estimate that was exactly what was estimated, unfortunately Mr. Dracu took the estimate seriously, that argument is for later. I put down the down payment, sent all the requested papers on September 22nd and now we were locked in, it was really happening. Heather notified me of a woman named "Julie" was going to call me and go over the inventory. She video called me right on our scheduled time, very polite and easy to talk to. She asked important questions in regard to what items I am sending and what these items are. I guess it is normal when they come in and pack your items, they are taking everything from where they live within the house. I had placed everything I was planning on taking with me over the past year into one room. We did the virtual tour of the room and I believe this video also serves as security for both parties of what items are involved in this move. She also had me take her on a tour from the front of the home and into the home to determine how much the movers themselves will be having to deal with, such as stairs, narrow halls, etc....
The call ended and at some point, Heather and I had set up the actual move date of October 20th.
Nothing was said for weeks because I didn't want to schedule pickup too soon. I am not planning on leaving for a few more months and didn't want my things to arrive before me; also, I had left town for some time and knew I had a lot waiting for me including the actual move, but I had not heard anything from anyone. I followed up with Heather and she said that whom we will call Donnie would call me the day before our scheduled day, the 19th that afternoon I texted her again and she gave me Donnie's number. Now mind you yes, I found this company out of Los Angeles, but the team is based out of New York, I was becoming concerned because we were coming to an end of the day and two-hour difference from Utah to New York I would have left time pass by. I called Donnie and thankfully he was very kind and explained how he was just getting his list for the day for the schedule for the following day. He mentioned as soon as he knew he would call me back, and surely within an hour he called me back and assured me of a time between 8-10am that the movers would show up and assured me this is really happening.
The next morning, we started seeing movement on the street as the employees started to show up and thankfully it was a beautiful day out to make the process easier on everyone. Maybe just minutes after 8am the truck showed up and pulled into our driveway. The initial introduction from their team leader and as each member came into our home introduced themselves. Everyone was very nice and hyped up to get through the day. They got through everything in about 4 hours in that time Donnie had called to follow up how things were going. They were quick, great team to work with and cleaned up after they were done. Unfortunately, that day turned out we were the jerks. Both Mr. Dracu and I were very emotional watching everything leave, plus I had to work from home that day and tried very hard to keep my emotions straight because I couldn't pick up the phone crying. Mr. Dracu on the other hand had to vomit a couple of times, but I knew when he gets nervous that is his outlet and I didn't think much more about it until it happened again hours after everyone left. I had him test the following day and long and behold "Covid". About 30 minutes after he took the test and I was still notifying people, Heather called in to see how the previous day went and I told her the situation and she was able to contact the team. I hope none of you got sick, so sorry! At that point a good week down before I could concentrate yet once again.
Once I was back up and at it, I began to get concerned about the timing of shipment and "When do I pay?". I contacted Heather and she said the invoice had been sent to me. Now, I am not a fan of emails, so if you are like me this is a time you need to check your email at the least every other day. I checked and was about to have a heart attack because the final price was $3,000 more than the quote. In our situation we are also shipping our dogs, we chose not to ship them door to door because it was way over our budget and almost as costly as sending our belongings. With us doing all the tidiness doctor appointments and driving them to Denver we were able to cut the price on half which came out to just over $4,000. That extra $3,000 was my dog's money, so this has thrown me out of existing funds within our budget. Now I am stressing, but I also read in the email that they only had two open shipping dates at that point and the first available was the last week of November and I had to pay before that date. It calmed me a bit to know I have some time to figure out something.
Then I got the email from the moving company in Spain. I am paying door to door service, meaning they pick up from my home in the USA, ship, and have a moving company on the other end that will pick up from the port and bring to your house, unpack and take the trash. Honestly, I don't know how much I trust that part, but we will see. Already I am nervous with these guys and here is why. They sent me a list of documents they need from me in order to pass my personal items through customs 98% of what they were requesting made absolutely no sense. I was looking online to find answers of what these documents were and there were no real answers or explanations. I reached out to the moving company, since my agent was being unresponsive, I was able to connect with his boss who so kindly answered each question I had. Come to find out all these documents were items I only could retrieve in Spain. He did mention I needed my Greek passport in order to have my items released and all the documentation a week before my items arrive. This was MONDAY when I read this email....
Now everyone' s residential situation is different; I am moving to Spain as a Greek citizen part of the United Europe. Logically yes, I need to have my Greek passport you would think. Here is my mess of things and everyone will have their own version of a mess. Ever since Greece became part of the European Union, we can travel anywhere in Europe on our Greek ID, I bought my house in Spain with my Greek ID, so why do I need to get my Greek passport?
Living in Utah we have our assigned Greek Embassy located in San Francisco. The kindest way I can say this, is 99% of the Greeks I have spoken to have said it is easier to fly to Greece to get any paperwork done than to even deal with that location, that is if you even get them to answer the phone. Yes, that has also been my experience over the years I have needed to deal with anything to do with Greece. BUT I have never been documented or actually had spoken or registered with them before and when it was time for my son to go to the army, they found me quickly and called me at work.
Plan B, Madrid. The closet Greek Embassy location in Spain. I contacted them on Tuesday and explained the situation. They were so kind to respond the following day with... I would need to make an appointment and fill out the application and wait 4-6 weeks and then return to pick up. Let's start with the embassy is about 238 miles away from where I will be living, so we are looking at two trips. The issue here at most is not that, but if I could make that trip today to start the application process no problem, but I leave in just over 2 months from today and expect my belongings 3-4 weeks after my arrival. So, plan B is also a failure.
Then to top everything off whether for good or bad, Heather called and said that they found a container to ship off that Friday, but I would need to pay that day. So, I am rushing to the bank to gather the last of our funds, shaking that the last of our money is now official gone, and the move still has so many parts to deal with.
Plan C, Greece. Here is the truth, after the shipping being way more than I anticipated now putting me in debt, how could I possibly afford to go to Greece even if it is cheaper to go from Spain, truth is I cannot. Then I would have to stay there from 7 - 10 days to get my passport which yes this is ideal, and I guess you could say great excuse to spend time with my family. Here are some important things to put in place. I am supposed to start a new job so I can eat and survive since I am going broke. Then my two older dogs are arriving either the same day or following day from me. They have never flown and are high anxiety dogs and now are going to move to a new home without all the family members they are used to. One, I don't have anyone to leave them with unless it's a day care, but it is just cruel to do to them anyway. So, I reached out to a lawyer who was ever so kind to look into if "Power of Attorney" was an option, but unfortunately it is not being I do have to provide my fingerprints. He had given this news to me on Friday, come Saturday I cried so hard that by the end of the day I looked like I had some really bad allergic reaction.
Come the following Monday I sent an email to the moving coming in Spain and told them that I am providing every document I have possible, but that includes my American Passport accompanied by my Greek ID. If they want to tax me "Oh hell, be it" I am so over this and stressing about something that I have looked into every possible way to approach this with no real solution. I am a dual citizen, and they can accept that or not. Oh, and just for laughs the Greek Embassy in San Francisco did end up contacting me a week later to let me know their next open appointment would be in June 8 months from now.
The mover in Spain asked if they could bring the container itself to my house. which has to be the most ridiculous question, being we are talking Europe. Nothing fits on those roads, then they mentioned charging me more to move everything into a smaller truck and on top of everything I still expect to pay a good $2400 in port fees and if they end up charging me taxes. Let's just say there are some hard times ahead.
No, it is not a romantic move unless you are rich and have a secretary. If I had known what I know today, a year ago I would have saved every penny and bought everything over there and just ship off as little as I could from here. My logic is I was a poor kid, then raised a family and couldn't have nice things and now that I am in my last phase and want to have things I worked hard for or created. When I did the inventory it all came out to being worth 50% more of what the final shipping price will cost me. Think of this way before you do step number one. Calculate how much your stuff is worth split that in half and that is what you will pay. So, if your stuff is worth $50,000 you are going to pay about half of that to ship it off. The question is "IS IT WORTH IT?" of course, we like to think it is but really think about that before you start your search.