But important considerations can bring the final prices much closer together than you might think. Many items can’t be shipped by normal sea cargo, such as pets (see next section), and furniture or other large pieces would cost a fortune to send by air. First things first. Categorise your belongings into lists of what you want to send onward and what you want to bin, donate or sell. Many items are obviously one or the other – for instance, that Dh300 Ikea sofa in your guest room would cost much more than its actual value to ship.
Items you’re on the fence about selling may be worth an ad on souq.com or dubizzle.com to see what you are offered. It’s best to ask several moving companies for quotations. Make sure that the company gives a full door-to-door quotation. Some of them give door-to-port quotations only, which would require you to separately move your goods the rest of the way. There are different ways of shipping goods by boat. Paradoxically, the larger and more voluminous your stuff, the faster (albeit more expensive) sea shipping can be.
“If your volume is small, you can use a groupage and share with others – but this can take about 15 to 18 weeks,” said Kevin Wieczorek, the branch manager of Allied Pickfords. Most companies have ever-larger options up to full shipping containers. According to Mr Wieczorek, a family of four sending belongings and furniture would need about 24 cubic metres of space, which would cost about Dh30,000 to ship to the UK.
If you need it there faster, air is the way to go, but airline cargo operations are much cheaper than popping your things in the post. Etihad Crystal Cargo charges about Dh14 per kilogram to New York and Dh10.30 per kilo to London, although their office is at the airport, so bringing your stuff there for a quote takes time. It takes three to five days for you to receive your baggage, including flight and customs clearance. Finally, consider sales tax or VAT liabilities. If your goods are relatively new, you may have to declare them with customs.