If you’re moving to London soon, one of the questions probably pestering you is what to pack! When the visa is sorted, the home rented out or sold, the flight booked, the kids’ schools picked out, and perhaps your London apartment already squared away (thanks for that speedy service, London Relocation!), it remains to be seen what will be moving to London with you. Let’s take a look first at what will not.
Moving companies charge by the size of the cargo, so one of the easiest ways to lighten the load when moving to London is to leave the furniture behind. Most apartments are available furnished, so it’s best to see what space, décor, and furnishings you have to work with and purchase any additional needs in the UK (stores like John Lewis, Homebase, Habitat, Heal’s, and IKEA are perfect for that).
As for household appliances, I’d say the ones to definitely not bother with are higher wattage items like blenders and coffee makers. If your home voltage is different than the standard UK voltage of 240V (in the States it’s only 120V), such appliances will burn out without a hardcore transformer to convert electricity. As for another bulky item that isn’t furniture or an appliance, per se, unless you’re an avid cyclist, just use the convenient Barclays bikes and store/sell yours at home before moving to London.
Last comes the clothing. If prior to moving you watched any Diamond Jubilee coverage recently, um, you should have a good sense what the weather here is like. I used to give it benefit of the doubt after first moving here, but this spring and start to summer has crushed my morale. It’s been lousy. Temperature has started to warm above the 60s (finally), but the gloomy grey skies and rain still looms and spits in your eye. Perhaps it’s worthwhile packing a few your favorite sundresses, tank tops, and sandals, but trust me, upon moving to London you won’t wear summer clothing like that much unless you run away to Greece or Spain on holiday like so many locals do (and now we know why). At any rate, just assume you won’t have the same amount of closet space and storage as at home, so donate as much clothing as you can part with prior to moving to London, else be prepared for a good portion of your wardrobe to sit stacked in storage containers wherever they’ll fit. And word to the wise for men: leave your baggy jeans, trousers, and sweatshirts (and gleaming white and thick tennis shoes) at home! It’s time to go Euro and wear clothing that actually fits you and the occasion.
When my husband and I were moving here, we didn’t ship one single item of furniture. And while I couldn’t possibly strongly suggest this as advice for you, I do have to confess that, could I do it over again, I would have insisted on bringing our own bed. The quality of furniture in a London apartment will vary, and our fate was a crap bed a la IKEA with a thin, hard mattress and creaky frame. Again, I’m not putting this out there as a To-Do, just something to maybe consider if your London Relocation agent places you in your new flat before you’re actually moving to London and you can anticipate space and whether the landlord will remove what’s already there.
Where the appliances go, in view of the abovementioned voltage issue, all we brought over for our countertop was a French press and water kettle, both non-electric, and simply purchased an inexpensive toaster over here. Actually, one common appliance in Europe that is SO worth buying after moving is an electric kettle (pictured)—seriously, it boils water so fast! Why isn’t this a bigger deal in the States?! Otherwise, low wattage items like computers, TVs, DVD players, and VCR (who would pack a VCR these days?! I did, ya big jerk…) are fine for moving, as they’ll be UK voltage compatible. At the very least for those, you’ll need to purchase adapters to convert your home country’s plug to a UK one for the outlet, and at the very most you can buy a converter or transformer (try an online retailer like Argos) should any item not be able to handle the different voltage.
As for the clothing moving with you, let’s just say there’s a reason we typically envision the British in wools and tweeds and trench coats and boots. London typically feels in a state of perpetual autumn or spring, so arms and legs don’t see the light of day so often. The liberal sense of fashion here really helps, I think because we’re all stuck with little closet space, so it’s best to mix-and-match what you have in all new and unexpected combinations; it’s actually quite fun and has me shopping much less than I used to back home. Ladies, I say stick with a range of items you can easily layer like leggings, cardigans, and scarves…oh, the scarves are bliss as an emergency cover when the temperature fluctuates or wind picks up. Other key accessories are, sadly, a compact umbrella that you can carry in your bag every day (you just never know!) and a cute pair of Wellies (Hunter brand is popular, and the floral patterned ones at Liberty department store just plain darling, so maybe wait to buy those after moving!).
Such is a cursory overview of what and what not to pack for your UK relocation. It’s hard to part from our belongings sometimes, but it’ll ultimately feel good to be without—what’s key to remember is that moving won’t be about the stuff but the experiences you’ll relish for a lifetime.