Aussie Expats: Sending things home from the U.K
I always talk about how wonderful life abroad can be, all the travel and fun adventures to be had, but being an Aussie living abroad has its disadvantages too – mainly in the way of on going life admin and how frustrating and inconvenient it can be to sort out from the other side of the world.
Throughout your time living abroad, you’d have to be pretty damn lucky to get away with not having to send something back home at one point or another, be it money, presents or just ‘stuff’ in general. As I’ve been sorting way too much Aussie life admin recently, I thought I’d share my err, wisdom and write a list of the things you’re most likely to be sending back to Australia and the most efficient ways to do so. You’re welcome! 😉
Let’s start with…
As expats living abroad, we all have to get used to missing some pretty big moments back home because let’s be honest, if we were to rush back to our homelands every time someone we knew got engaged, had a birthday or threw a party then we’d never be able to afford to live in London in the first place.
Despite Facebook normally giving me ample warning for upcoming birthdays and big events, I always find myself scrambling to pull together last-minute presents and have discovered that there’s actually nothing last-minute about sending a present from the UK to Australia. First of all, basically nowhere accepts my credit cards online because having a UK address just seems to blow the Australian internet’s mind. Then there’s the whole postage issue if I try to send something over – either it costs a fortune or it takes a really bloody long time to get to Australia.
A fellow ex-Aussie expat Elisha used to live in London and found sending presents such a hassle that when she moved back to Australia, she set up an online gift store called All Wrapped Up which means I now send all my pressies with lovely, handwritten cards for my Aussie friends and family with the added bonus of paying domestic postage (and having to be way less organised). If I ever have a particular gift in mind then she always tries to source what I’m after and then I choose the wrapping, card and message so it all looks really thoughtful. Minimal effort and maximum reward!
You can check out the website here – http://www.allwrappedup.net.au/
Transferring money is a major pain but aside from presents, this is likely to be the second most frequent thing that will need sending home. The Australian exchange rate it pretty rubbish these days which is bad news for those moving over to London but it’s GREAT news for those of us who need to send money home!
I used to work for a bank and from personal experience, I recommend you avoid using your bank to send money back as they tend to charge a fortune and rip you off with fees at any chance possible.
Instead, I’d recommend you use a reliable international currency exchange company as there’s a lot more competition in this market and overall fees tend to be much lower than banks. There’s loads of currency exchange companies out there so do your research and find which one works best for you. I always use Transferwise who I can definitely recommend as I find them to be the cheapest and most reliable – we’ve all heard some horror stories so trust goes a long way with me when it comes to transferring over my hard-earned cash.
I’m not talking about the metaphorical type (though there’s plenty of excess emotional baggage I’m sure we’d all love to ship off), but from a very literal point of view – if and when you decide to move home then you’re probably going to need to send a whole lot more back than what you came with.
You have a few options:
- Be really organised and send parcels back via seamail. This is the cheapest way to send things back but it generally takes around 3 months to get there, so send as early as possible. More info here
- Send it via airmail – this is the quickest way to send things home (3-10 days) but it gets very pricey very quickly. More info here
- Use an international moving company – this is the best option if you genuinely have a lot of stuff, including furniture and fragile things. You can rent a 20 foot shipping container and fill it with whatever your heart desires for about £4000-£5000, and it takes around 3 months to make its way over to Australia. Find out more about container shipping costs here
When was the last time you had to send something home to Australia? Have you ever tried any of the things listed in this post and if so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments.