Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Move 1-2-3 (Part1)

Revived my blog and am hoping to blog semi-frequently based on how much time I get. I had originally created a blog because my friends wanted to know about life back home in India. 10K view - I lived in the US for 8 years and moved back about 2 years back now - so this is how I moved back...

1. Decide : The hardest part! :)

2. Pick what you want to move
- Disposable Furniture
Got rid of a lot of disposable IKEA type furniture, there is a good chance it wont survive the long trip home on a ship. Sold all of it on Craigslist to local buyers.

- Electronics
Preferably sell everything off, I had a speaker / amp system that I had assimilated over time with a lot of pain, so I HAD to get that, but I sold off every other item - again on Craigslist. The TV was the hardest to sell! Buy a transformer from the US if possible, its hard to buy an off the shelf transformer from here that works reliably and has a reliable voltage output. I bought a 300W / 500W transformer from Fry's , works like a CHARM. Houses in Bombay are smaller and I have a major issue regarding speaker placement and furniture placement at home - thats a topic for another blog! :) We were also unable to get rid of our food processor, we dont use it as much and an Indian make processor is preferable for Indian maids to handle and destroy over time - as opposed to your pricey Cusinart food processor!

- Propah Furniture
Here again we decided to sell off most of our furniture. We only brought back our bed and mattress, again only because we loved our mattress.

3. Picking a mover
This was very hard. I spent a lot of time asking and researching the right movers, almost everyone had a bad experience with movers that someone else was praising - so very hard to pick a winner as such. I used UTS Worldwide. I know the website doesnt look like much, but I had an AMAZING experience with these guys, while in the US and even once my stuff showed up in Bombay - the people in Bombay (their liaisons) were super professional and got my stuff out in record time and with the least pain. They even have some rudimentary online tracking of where your stuff is. Also, any good mover will give you an in-home estimate of how much it will cost roughly. Prepare atleast a month in advance to get this going.

4. The Stuff Move
We had about 30 odd boxes, the movers came in and boxed everything, make sure your cutlery is nicely packed and padded to avoid heartache on the other side - be prepared for *some* breakage though. We were fairly lucky here, we lost a couple of wine glasses in our move. So 30 boxes, one giant mattress (Queen) , bed and my music system. All this cost about $5K in 2006 to move from SF to Mumbai. The move itself cost close to $4.4K, the once it got here there were assorted bribes and such that had to be paid - I forget the exact numbers but I can safely say that we blew through my $5K move allowance. In moving parlance, we had a half container I think or a small container. People always try to hook up and try to share a full container, its supposedly cheaper. That might complicate the customs clearance later maybe?

- Transfer Of Residence (TR)
Check the Indian Consulate website for the latest rules, but this facility can be availed by NRI's moving back one time only. So you get favourable duty rates on items you bring back, I know of several people who go on a buying spree thinking that items are cheaper (sometimes they are) in the US than in India and do a TR to bring those back. Anyhow, my stand is that if I'm living in India I'd rather buy items here, support is easier and you avoid all the voltage conversion stuff, again there people buy EU spec items to work around the voltage imcompatibilities - to each his own! :)

- The Process
So we got back, my stuff took about 2/3 months to come via ship, yes it sails across the world, thats the cheapest option. Once my stuff showed up, the mover guy came, took my passport and other docs, did the paperwork - I had to goto the docks in Mumbai to do the customs part - which is just a elaborate dance to get a bribe - you pay your bribe and get done with it. Your stuff is now free to go wherever you want. Be-aware of extra local octroi (atleast in Maharashtra) - eg. I was moving some stuff back to Pune, the Octroi people charged me 1K odd to let my stuff pass, again bribes. Sigh..

More in part 2...sustaining the green card, getting bank accounts, pan cards, moving money, investments,cars, loans....


Prasanna said...

why move/ship .. just get rid of most stuff and use the 5k+bribes for shopping in India .. not sure how much farther that money will take you nowdays.

Aki said...

Thats a good point. The stuff we brought back either had personal (read memory) value or was something we didnt want to go looking for again in India. I like to think that I brought back close to the bare minimum of stuff, so that gives you an idea of how much it might cost to bring back more items. 5K is approx 2L - you could get all the major appliances of your house with that budget - fridge, tv, ac/s, microwave,gas burner, water filter etc...

Sir 5foot5 said...

You seem to be one of those guys for whom things work out fine. In the long journey across the seven seas, all you lost was 2 wine glasses? If it was me I bet I would be left with just 2 wine glasses.

Aki said...

Absolutely I was super lucky - infact we had braced ourselves for the worst - and were pleasantly surprised to see that most things made it OK.