To ship or not to ship?
We are asked the question about whether to bring household items often and the answer is that there are lots of factors to consider. However I think the main considerations are whether any of the items are in the category of irreplaceable, have sentimental value or are unique in some way that would make them difficult or very costly to replace. Most if not all of what one needs to live can be bought inEcuador. For example we designed and had built all of the furniture for our house. Are there things we wish we had brought – for sure AND we are just fine.
Unlike some folks, you don’t need to take everything!
If you have enough “stuff” that fits in to the categories of irreplaceable, unique or having some sentimental value to fill at least a 20’ container, then by all means ship them. We’ll talk about how to do so in a moment. Having made the decision to ship, there are a few things to consider purchasing before coming to Ecuador. Items like electronics tend to be more expensive here than in the US so if you’ve been thinking about a new flat screen TV, computer or appliances – buy them before leaving. The same is true of linens. There are lots of options here, but really good quality is expensive. We brought organic cotton sheets and towels with us and are glad we did. If you have some food item that is somewhat exotic or rare, I’d stock up. The regulations about food items change from time to time so please ask before buying cases of your favorite food. However if you have a little extra space, black licorice Scottie dogs from Trader Joes would be most welcome…
So let’s talk about the logistics of shipping and what happens on this end. Whether your coming from the US, Canada or Europe, there are international moving companies that can come and estimate how much you have and what it will cost to pack and load or just load the container. There are also a couple of people here in Ecuador we wish we knew when we did this several years ago because they would have saved us a lot of time and money as they’ve been doing this for a very long time and know all the right people.
What we did was pack everything ourselves then had three companies come to estimate what size container (20’ or 40’ are the options) and the cost. After checking references we chose one and had them schedule a date to come and load everything. Our contract with them was to load the container, get it to the departure port in Florida and ocean shipping to the port in Guayaquil. We then had to find someone to handle clearing the shipment here in Ecuador through Customs, truck it across the Andes to Cuenca, get it unloaded and then return the container to Guayaquil in order to get our security deposit back. As many expats do, we scoured the various forums and located a bi-lingual guy who professed to have the knowledge and experience to do what was needed so we hired him. Guess what – turned out to be a costly nightmare that dragged out for months.
Based on what we learned, having one entity/person responsible for door to door is much smarter. Fortunately we have found one person in particular that has been doing this for over 20 years and can make the arrangements for what needs to be done on the originating end as well as this end. We’ve referred a number of people to Sandra in recent years and without exception she has received rave reviews.
She handles everything and does it well. We receive no compensation for referring people to her and are happy to do so. If you’re interested you can read more about Sandra and get her contact info here. Be forewarned – she’ll be happy to answer questions – up to a point. Since her time and knowledge are what she has to sell, the time will come where she will require a retainer so don’t be surprised.