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Shipping To Australia From UK: Regaining My Expat Identity

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There’s a lot of debate about shipping to Australia from UK, or even shipping from USA to Australia. Whilst many expats in Australia fly over with just a couple of suitcases, others can regret spending money on shipping their things over.

If you are relocating to Australia, this post is for you. And if you’re already in Australia and haven’t moved your things yet, I’m going to explain why I think it’s really important for your identity.

After nearly 10 years of living here, I feel shipping to Australia from UK is something every expat should do – except for a few things which we’ll talk about in more detail later in this post.

There’s something so comforting about having all of your belongings with you, and it’s something I finally realised how important it is since I moved everything to our new home recently.

I know a lot of future expats wonder what is the right thing to do about moving to Australia. As they pack up their lives, it’s hard to choose just a few items to pack in your suitcase. Then you have the cost of Australia shipping, and finding cheap shipping to Australia can be a massive gamble. I have heard horror stories of things arriving broken.

As someone who has experienced shipping from UK to Australia twice and a recent interstate move from NSW to QLD, I’m going to break down my entire experience as well as reasons why I’m glad I moved my belongings over to Australia. It’s been a long time coming but it surprised me more than anything about how it has helped me settle in Australia much more than I thought.

Hopefully we’ll be able to help you decide what is going to be the best option for your move to Australia.

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Why It Took Nearly 10 Years For My Shipping To Australia From UK To Be Completed

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I finally received all of my belongings last week from Grace Removals.

Obviously my situation probably isn’t the same as anyone else’s, but it took me nearly 10 years for my shipping to Australia from UK to be completed. When I moved to Australia in 2011, it was not intentional.

I Moved To Australia In 2011

First day in Delhi, India in 2011.

I planned to go backpacking around the world for six months in 2011 and I met my Aussie Steve within the first month of being away in India. I had Australia booked on my trip as a stopover before going onto South America, but, as I was at the beginning of my trip, Steve was at the end of his.

After six months of travelling, we went back to his home town of Sydney and decided to stay with his family for a year to save for another year long trip around the world. During that year in Australia, I used my second Working Holiday Visa.

Picking pears in Victoria in 40C heat everyday in 2006 wasn’t exactly fun!

I first came to Australia in 2006 and did three month’s fruit picking just incase I wanted to come back again and use my second Working Holiday Visa. It was an absolutely awful time doing that fruit picking, but that’s for another story.

In 2013 I Moved My Things Into Storage In England

I stored everything in a shipping container for the next few years in Brighton, UK.

On our trip around the world in 2013, we went to England for a visit which is when I moved everything into storage. I just didn’t know where we would end up living, so we put everything into storage which I paid for every month for the next few years.

When we returned to Australia in 2014 after our second trip around the world, we started planning for one more trip around the world. But we didn’t save as easily as we did before and we didn’t go away again until early 2018.

During those four years back in Sydney, I didn’t really know if we would end up living there permanently. Because I had moved there accidentally, mentally I always thought it wasn’t permanent and we’d move to England.

In 2017 I Moved My Things To Australia

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Shipping to Australia from UK in 2017.

In 2017, we decided to ship my belongings to Australia because we wanted to save money in the long run on the storage I had been paying for. When it arrived months before we were going off on our final big trip around the world, we left it all in Steve’s mum’s garage.

We then packed up our Sydney flat, sold our furniture and moved the rest into Steve’s mum’s garage before going on our travels.

Finding A Home In 2020

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Shipping from UK to Australia again in 2019 on Christmas Eve.

When we returned to Australia in early 2019, we actually shipped the stuff we had accumulated from England during the six months when we lived back there in 2018. We had planned to move there permanently but it turned really disastrous which you can read about below, and we ended up moving back to Australia.

Since then, we have been bouncing all over the place pet sitting up and down the East Coast of Australia. We were living out of suitcases and I knew our pet sitting days were limited because there’s only so much you can do. When you’re having moving to new places every few months, it’s fun but also tiring. Plus it’s hard when you’re trying to work remotely and as you get settled, you’re off to somewhere new again.

Our final pet sit was in Agnes Water in Queensland which is the town we fell in love with and decided to move in the end. We love the value for money on the rentals here which are also modern and most have a sea view too! Plus the small town vibes and remoteness of it seemed to attract similar people to us which we love. But it was much harder moving during Covid.


Moving During Covid Was Hard

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Moving our belongings from Steve’s Mum’s house with Grace Removals.

Trying to move during Covid was really difficult with the boarder closures and we struggled to find any interstate removalists happy to move our belongings from Newcastle NSW to Agnes Water QLD.

It wasn’t until we found Grace Removals who helped us move our stuff in the end. Because we weren’t in a hurry to get everything, they told us it would take a couple of weeks to organise because it was a bit more tricky to move our stuff to our remote town in Agnes Water.

When the guys from Grace Removals arrived just last week, I had no idea what it would do for me.

Watch Our Video Of What It Was Like Receiving Our Belongings After Such a Long Time


What Did We Ship To Australia?

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We sold all of our furniture in Sydney back in 2017 and just kept all of our sentimental things including our camping gear, boxes of clothes and bits of kitchenware.


Regaining My Identity

Although I waited a very long time to have my belongings all together in one place, it made me realise a lot of important things. Maybe if I hadn’t have gone through this long process, I wonder if I would feel the same? But to me, there’s something about having everything in one place again which makes me like I can finally settle in Australia.

I tried to explain this to Steve, and whilst he just sees it as stuff and totally didn’t get what I was talking about, to me it’s much more. Having my belongings around me makes me feel like I have my identity around me all the time now. It’s who I am. I need to have the sentimental things we’ve bought from around the world, I need the photos, the jewellery, my paintings I painted whilst at university, and so much more to remind me of who I am and where I come from.

When you start from scratch again, it’s like you have to rebuild yourself all over which for some might be totally liberating. For me personally, it was a hard thing to get my head around. Maybe it was because I wasn’t prepared for it initially, because my move to Australia was accidental, but I definitely realised that for some reason I suddenly feel settled now.


Having Three Lives

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I have always said I feel like I’ve had three lives in this lifetime. I had the one before I met Steve being the party girl living the London life. Then as the girl who then moved to Australia and fell in love with nature (and an Australian!). And, lastly the girl who moved back to England for six months, only realising how much she had changed since living in Australia.

There was simply something about bringing all of my things together last week which seemed to lift a huge weight off my shoulders. As I started to unpack everything, I was looking at photos of my childhood to unwrapping my paintings which still had the wrapping on from the shipping company we used in 2017. And as I unwrapped everything and started to place it all around our home, I felt a sense of belonging again.

Having all of my belongings now has made me feel like I can bring all of those three lives worth of memories together. I no longer feel like the girl who’s had different lives anymore. It’s a feeling like no other and I only hope other expats might be able to relate to this.


Things I Regret Throwing Away

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When I initially packed up everything in 2013 to put into storage, it was a rushed job. I remember just being really ruthless and I threw out some many things I totally regret now.

From photos to books, in my head I used the saying; “if I haven’t used it recently, chuck it”. In some cases this can be a great phrase to think of if you know you’re getting carried away with a bit of hoarding. To me, I threw out things I really wish I didn’t now. And once you throw things out, there’s no going back.

I’m purely saying all of this because I think it’s important to remember that once you do throw anything away, it’s not like you can get it back.


How Australian Homes Differ To British Homes

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I think it might be important to highlight how Australian homes look very different from English homes before I get into what to bring and what not to bring.

Firstly, every home is open plan. This means the front door tends to lead into the kitchen, dining and living room area. I’ve rarely seen a cosy living room in any house I’ve ever been into because homes are built for the heat here. Trust me, it would be difficult to sit in a cosy living room when it’s 35C, especially if you have leather sofas!

You also probably won’t see the use of wallpaper in homes in Australia. The decor is always very neutral and feels like a blank canvas to add to with your personal touches. This means there’s rarely any character which is obvious because most are new and don’t have the history of English homes. I know Steve’s family always thought it was crazy how my parents Tudor home is older than Australia.

I remember reading on a forum once about how an English couple built their house in Australia to be a gorgeous English home and the real estate told them it would be hard to sell because of the many rooms and walls they added in. He was right.

You might not see this in the major cities, but one thing I’ve noticed more and more is the need for a big garage in a lot of Australian homes. I’ve noticed over the years how a lot of Australians have a car port set up where their front garden is, or they’ll have a massive garage in their home to avoid parking on the street.

To be honest, our home has a garage almost the same size as our open plan living area. At first I didn’t really get why this space was needed. Steve told me it’s because of incase there is a hail storm. I must admit, I’ve only ever heard of one and it was so big, the hail stones smashed through car windows. Plus, it’s good to have the car in shade when it’s really hot outside.

But a garage does actually come in really handy because there’s loads you can do with it, which is currently our home gym right now.


Be Careful With Mould In Australian Homes

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Also expect Australian homes to be freezing in Winter. There’s no insulation or heating which you’ll definitely notice. I have lived in some Australian homes where I could see my own breathe in the air because it was that cold.

Alternatively, this goes the same for the Summer too. Be careful with mould in some Australian homes. When you’re looking for a place, you’ll be able to smell it instantly. No matter if the real estate tells you they will get rid of it, you’re basically doomed from the get go.


The Three Months Wait (or longer!)

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I’ve read how other expats prefer to start over again because logistically it will take up to 3 months for your belongings to arrive, and probably longer now because of Covid. This means, when you land in Australia, you’ll have to wait for everything to arrive a few months later, which probably wouldn’t work when you’re having to wait for your furniture. So logistically think about what you can deal without having for three months and pack it.

If it’s an option you could time it all so you could stay with family for a few months and fly to Australia for when your belongings will arrive. Or alternatively, you could get a furnished rental for a couple of months when you arrive in Australia to wait out your stuff arriving. Airbnb do offer month long stays now too!


Shipping From UK To Australia: What To Bring

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You can find some fab vintage shops in Australia, but expect to pay a lot.

I know many people move to Australia just with their suitcases they can fit onto the plane. I have no idea how you can choose just a few items, especially if you have kids as well.

From my personal experience of trying to source decent furniture in Australia, it’s not that easy. Obviously if you’re moving to a major city, then you can easily use Facebook Marketplace to find some cheap used pieces. But, in terms of quality, I don’t personally think Australia is that great at producing decent homewares. You have to pay a fortune to find anything decent, and if I had it my way, I would much prefer to go back to England, find everything I wanted and ship it over (if money was at no cost obviously!).

But it depends on what kind of furniture you like. Because I prefer more of the vintage furniture, it can be really expensive. When we went to buy a sofa from a furniture shop, we searched for ages in Brisbane. We went to so many shops, we decided on the best of the bad bunch which wasn’t cheap at all from King Living. We didn’t buy one from Facebook Marketplace because we couldn’t find anything we liked at all.

Plus, we had a bad experience buying a sofa once in Sydney from a shop. It felt great in the shop but when it was delivered, it was like they had taken the cushioning out. I called them to say but they wouldn’t do anything about it. We regretted that buy and dealt with it for the next four years. This time round, we wanted to make sure we got something that was better quality.


What Not To Bring

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Obviously, a lot of people say you shouldn’t bother shipping any furniture or electricals like washing machines or fridges over to Australia because you can buy second hand when you’re here. We bought both for something like $250 so you can get them really cheap. I suppose you have to look at shipping costs and decide what’s more important to bring.

If you’ve got IKEA items, obviously you don’t need to bring them because they’ve got them in the major cities in Australia. I do think IKEA is a bit more expensive in Australia but it’s one of the only shops I can rely on, knowing what to expect when I buy from there.

When we have moved into places around Sydney, we just hired a van for the day and bought what we could from ebay and Facebook Marketplace. And to be honest, we picked up some nice things.

Don’t bring your car over either. I’ve heard it costs a lot but the main thing is being able to get parts if needed. When we were sourcing our second hand car, I really wanted a Jeep but Steve put his foot down because he said it would be so expensive to fix any parts. So we went for a very much downgraded Hyundai instead. If you’re after an SUV, there’s not a huge choice in brands either.

You also have to be careful about shipping any untreated wood like wicker over to Australia. If customs pick you randomly and find any wooden items or any mud on the back of your shoes for example, you’ll be fined and you won’t get them back. It’s a risk to take!

One more note to mention is about beds & wardrobes as well. I have heard many say that bedrooms tend to be quite small in Australia (they’ve got a point) so it can be hard to find king size beds (that’s super king in England). Many rooms tend to go for Queen size and I have to admit, I’ve not seen many kings in all of the places I’ve stayed in, lived in and viewed. And most places have built in wardrobes so you can save on the shipping space and leave them at home.


Where To Buy Furniture In Australia

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Find the best op shops in your local area in Australia.

Freedom Furniture in Australia is a bit like what Habitat used to be like. It’s one of the better furniture shops at more reasonable prices, but you’ll have to wait weeks if not months to see your purchases as they aren’t made in Australia.

Plus you can find massive op shops in warehouses like Salvos or LifeLine. I have been to so many to try and find second hand but personally didn’t have much luck. I have heard many success stories, so it’s all about luck really!

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We loved these vintage Dutch chairs but they were $4000 in a vintage shop in Brisbane.

If you are into finding some more unique vintage pieces, there are shops located around Australia but they aren’t cheap.

I know Lunatiques in Sydney is run by a guy from Camden who specialises in more mid-century pieces. Plus you have Mitchell Road Antiques and many more which I’ll write more about soon.


How To Ship Your Things To Australia

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If you are shipping your things to Australia, and wondering who to go with, then we have you covered. Simply fill out the form below and you’ll get up to 5 free quotes straight into your inbox which could save you up to 40% off.

We filled out our details below which is how we found Grace Removals in Australia to move our stuff interstate. The form below will help you find movers in Australia as well as international moving companies to Australia, no matter what country you’re from!

We hope this article has given you some clarity about shipping from UK to Australia. We know it’s a daunting process and if you have questions please ask them in the comments below!

Go to our International Moving Companies page for more information about moving to Australia!

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