Moving to the US: do I sell or do I rent a storage unit?

The  only sure thing about moving to the US is that it’s temporary. It’s temporary firstly because my visa says so, and secondly because I can’t be so far away from my family forever.

My friends have suggested to leave everything behind and rent a furbished apartment in the US. This is probably the most reasonable option for most people, but for us, this option won’t work. It might sound childish but if I’m moving, I’m moving with my stuff.  Besides a storage unit is not cheap, al least in Munich, which is one of the most expensive markets for real state.  For example, the average storage cost is €1 per day (for the basic package and the smallest unit). This means that it’ll cost me €1 x 365 days x 3 years = €1 095 to leave my belongings behind. It doesn’t seem a big fortune but it is also not the most cost efficient solution, because in addition I will have the extra costs of paying for a furbished apartment in the US.

Besides, I don’t want to sleep in someone else’ s  bed for the next three years, while my own bed gathers dust in some storage unit in Munich. The same with my desk, my design sofa… Luckily for us the company is paying for the move, otherwise I would have had to reconsider.

However there are certain things we simply cannot take with us either because they won’t work in the US (home appliances) or because it simply doesn’t make any sense (old books from the Uni). With this in mind we’ve been cleaning out for the past few days and we now have a very good idea of what we won’t be moving with us.

And what to do with all the boxes of old tech equipment, clothes, books and appliances? There are basically two options: to sell or to donate them.

EBAY: I spent a full afternoon listing all in Ebay Germany. However I’m not very optimistic about the outcome.  Why? mainly because people do not buy crap or old stuff.

  • Crap being = my collection of German language books underlined and with notes all over the pages.
  • Old being= my husband’s 1996’s introduction to calculus manual

AMAZON: I have also considered Amazon as second hand sales channel. However they charge 0.99€ per sale and apparently they even have a lower response when it comes to “gebraucht” = “used” books than Ebay. So I don’t think Amazon is going to help me this time.

LOCAL SECOND HAND BOOK STORES: I called four of the most popular second hand book stores in Munich. They all responded the same: “they will accept my books (as far as they are in good condition), but they are unable to pay“. They can however give me book credits to be used to purchase other books at the store.

They definitely didn’t get my point… I am trying to get rid of my books, not to find new ones!

SELLING ONLINE: In Germany there is a growing number of companies buying second hand stuff online (from old tech equipment, to clothes and shoes). Most of them offer a very simple process:  you sign up; you list and ship your items to the designated address, and as far as they are in good condition, they will pay you in your bank account. The only trick is that they set up the price, so don’t expect to make a fortune.

Some examples: Second Herzog, Textil Ankauf, Momox.

You can donate your second hand clothes, toys and sometimes even books to CARITAS and other local NGO’s. They have an office in Munich city center where you can drop your bags to donate. Go to their site to learn when they are open for donations.

EXPAT SITES: such as InterNations, Toy Town and Expat Blog. They all usually have classified ad listings with stuff for sale.

UNIVERSITY: There are many notice boards inside the different buildings and on street lamp posts. I have never used this option in Munich. However I presume that the student market is also a very good audience to consider when selling second hand.

Have you recently moved to the US from Europe?

What did you do with your stuff? Did you sell? did you donate? did you put it in storage?


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