Calling a New Place Home – Making the Move

We recently met a fellow US student who was considering moving here to Durham to complete his PhD.  He asked us the question, “How did you physically move your belongings?”  The best way to move abroad depends on how long you will stay in the country you are moving to.  If you are moving from the US to the UK for 3 years or less to complete a degree then the best and most economical way to move is to only bring things you must have and pack them in suitcases.  We rented a house that was mostly furnished.  The small amount of furniture that we still needed we purchased at the British Heart Foundation Store on North Road.  It is located directly across from the bus station.  The UK has many Charity Shops they sell gently used and sometimes new items.  There was a small flat fee delivery charge so we made certain to pick out the furniture and small kitchen appliances we needed at one time to save on the cost of delivery.


We were able to pack bedding, towels, wash cloths, kitchen items, clothes, toys, school books (including all of Joshua and Meg’s homeschool curriculum) and Christmas decorations.  We packed our books and curriculum in our rolling carry on luggage because they normally do not weigh those.  We each had two large checked suitcases and one rolling carry on.  We were hoping to gate check those because they were so heavy but a few times we had to grimace and lift them in to the overhead bins.  There were four of us and we packed a total of three bags each which brought our grand total to 12 bags.  We were able to pack everything we needed to live for one year in those bags plus we brought a few sentimental items to make it feel more like home.  We allowed half of a large suitcase for the kids to fill with lightweight toys of their choosing as well.

Somethings we decided to leave at home in the US:

Pets – Shipping a dog would have cost around $1,500 each way.  It can be VERY traumatic for the dog or cat.  If you are only here a short time consider leaving them in the care of someone they love and trust.  We were blessed to have family and close friends willing  to watch them.  It is not because we do not love them.  It was much harder on us to leave them behind.  We miss them greatly.  It is because we love them that we wanted to do what was best for them.   You can read more here:

Lots of clothing – We were told that we would not need lots of clothes here in Durham.  Most people we spoke with said they wished they hadn’t brought so many clothes.  We allowed each person in our family limited amount of space for clothing.  You really only need a small amount here.  Pack lots of things that mix and match.  Bring layers for winter rather than heavy, bulky items.  Pick up bulky items if you need them at a local charity shop after you arrive.  Our washing machine is very small here and we dry clothes on the radiators and on the clothes line.  You will be amazed how many clothes end up in the laundry basket when they have only been worn a short time.  You will find yourself asking, “Is this really in need of a wash or can it be worn again?”   Read more here:

Many Kitchen items – What do you REALLY need in order to cook meals?  I decided that I only needed a small frying pan, small stock pot with a removable steamer, flour sack dish towels, wash rags, measuring cups and spoons, mix and stir spatula, small cutting board, grater, veg peeler, wooden spoons, a hand held pastry blender, a whisk and a few of my good kitchen knives.  We also purchased non breakable melamine plates and bowls and brought those with us.  We picked up baking sheets, bread pan, muffin tins, mixing bowls and such after we arrived.


Lots of shoes – Leave them in the states.  You need a really good set of water proof walking shoes (I bought Timberland Hiking boots), a few sets of dress shoes and tennis shoes (trainers) for spring and summer wear.  We choose not to have a car and we walk everywhere.  Good, comfortable, water resistant shoes are the best investment for Durham living.

Read more here:


It really seems to be a daunting task to pack up your life into a few suitcases but you may find in doing so that there is much that you can live without and a life not weighted down by material things can be much richer that you could have imagined.  We have found patience and creativity we did not know we possessed.  Never say no to adventure my friends.  You’ll be blessed along the road.







4 responses to “Calling a New Place Home – Making the Move

  1. Pingback: Waiting on luggage | The Haynes Blog·

  2. And you guys made it work! Having just moved, we are realising how much stuff we accumulate and are asking ourselves “do we really need those” and contemplating a much simpler lifestyle. Except for my shoes – that’s a whole ‘nother journey lol

    • Ah yes Island Girl. Your shoes are so beautiful! To England I brought a pair of Timberland Hiking boots, a pair of black flats for dress, neutral heels, riding boots (that I never got to wear) a pair of flip flops (that I wore twice and my feet froze) oh and one pair of trainers. Even that seemed like a lot when packed into suitcases.

  3. Pingback: Return to Durham – Day 1 The Big Easy and the Big Apple | GILESGATE JOURNAL·

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