Packing. Sorting. Recycling.... and going "Really?"

Will it be a 20 foot container, or a 40 foot one?

I’ve moved many times, sometimes to bigger homes, and sometimes smaller. For a long time I was the kind of person who brought along everything, but eventually I got sick of carrying boxes of books that I would never read again and records that I would never play, and sold off tons of things at a yard sale.

We’re now in a house that has been Susan’s home for nearly thirty years, and the closets and attic are a significant treasure trove of memories. Plus we have a ton of dishes, cooking stuff, pottery, and small truckload of music books and sheet music. And three grand pianos, although only two of them are coming with us to France.

I’m pretty brutal about purging stuff. If I haven’t worn it in two years I know that I never will. If I haven’t used it in three or four years I likely don’t need it. I no longer keep a pile of old, outdated computers “just in case.”

Moving to France brings entirely new considerations though. The first and most significant is that France (like most of the world) uses 220 volt 50 cycle power instead of the American 110v 60 hz. Some things like our computer chargers and power supplies can run on either voltage as long as you have an adaptor for the power cord, but most small appliances and tools would simply blow up. So we’re selling off or giving away:

  • Food processor

  • Blender

  • Toaster

  • Kettle

  • Coffee Grinder

  • Waffle Iron

  • Electric mixer

  • Bookshelf stereo

  • Power drill

  • Jigsaw

  • Grinder

  • Table Saw

  • Mitre Saw

  • Electric toothbrushes

  • Vacuum cleaners

  • Car battery charger

And that’s just off of the top of my head.

The challenge of course is that on one hand replacing stuff always costs much more than you expect, or whether you can actually find the one essential thing that you use every day. Even if you’re just moving to another province in Canada you can’t assume that something will be available. If you’re moving to another continent it’s even less wise to to assume that.

On the other hand moving things 8,269 km you’ll pay to have everything packed, loaded into a shipping container, and carried by ship to a port in France. For our relatively small household that will cost us something like $20,000 CAD. Every kilo that we can eliminate will save us money.

Oh yes: all of our 8 1/2 x 11” copy paper, envelopes, and other office supplies are now history. We’re getting ready to move to the oh so cool and elegant A4 standards of Europe.

Another tool that won’t likely see much use in France is my trusty Stanley tape measure. Even though Canada claims to be a metric nation, most carpentry is still done using inches and feet. Once we hit France it’s all metric measurements. I will finally have no choice but to learn my height and weight in in metres and kilos instead of feet and pounds. (In fact the French more or less invented the metric system of measurement, and for many decades the “official” measure for everything were platinum rods and blocks stored in controlled conditions in Paris.)

One good news item is that table lamps and fixtures will work fine, they’ll just need new bulbs and a new plug on the cord.

I actually asked in the Canadians in France Facebook group “What’s the one thing that you wish you would have brought along?” The answer, for me, was reassuring: processed foods like Kraft Dinner and over the counter medicines like Nyquil. I use neither, so I feel safe on that count.