Moving to Australia 2# What to pack

We have some great news, I was granted a visa this week! It’s such huge relief as we have been waiting for it for eight months now! The visa grant has made our plans even more concrete, it’s crazy to think that our move is only a couple of months away.

So how do you decide what to bring and how to bring it, when you are moving to the other side of the world? We have been in that process for the past six months.  We’ve been slowly going through our possessions and have been narrowing down the amount of stuff we want to bring. Not only have we looked at what we are going to bring with us, but we have also considered how we are going to get these items to Australia. There are many options for different kind of circumstances.


What you can bring with you is largely defined by how you ship it. Once we started looking into shipping, we learnt that we had three main options: Getting a shipping container, sending possessions by mail or courier, or move with suitcases only. We opted for the third option for simplicity.

The first option of getting a shipping container was far too expensive for our budget. We figured that it would cost at least a couple of thousand euros to ship because we are literally moving to the other side of the world. Since we got married, we knew that we would move to Australia one day. When deciding how to furnish our first home, we kept that in mind. We bought most things second hand and didn’t buy anything really expensive. Both of us have moved plenty of times, so I don’t think we get too attached to physical possessions anyways. Based on this information, we knew that a shipping container was not an option. Instead, we decided to sell all our furniture and get new ones from Australia. If you are the complete opposite to us: you love your furniture and would really want to bring it all with you, a shipping container might be a good choice. Still, it would be good calculate if it’s worth it to bring it all with you considering the cost of shipping.

The second option was to send things by mail. This option was rather expensive as well so we went for the third option of bringing only our suitcases. At the moment we are still deciding between three and four suitcases as those suitcases would contain most of our possessions. We would only leave our winter clothes here in Finland and one more box of stuff we would like to have with us later on.  We are hoping that when people come to visit us from Finland, they would each bring a couple of items with them.

Because we are doing some epic travel before our move, we’ve had to reconsider if we really want to carry all those suitcases with us. Luckily one of my sisters has already traveled half of our route and has kindly agreed to take some of our luggage to our later destinations so we can travel lightly the first part of the journey. If you want to move lightly, just buying an extra suitcase can be a great option.

The Dollar Notes travel plan or October

The Dollar Notes travel plan for October

The cost of taking an extra suitcase

The suitcase option was relatively cheap for us. Air travel seems to get cheaper every year, we managed to book all our flights for around 1700 euros three bags included (four from the US to Australia).  It would have been only 300-400 euros cheaper to travel through Asia which is the quickest route, but with our travel plan we get to do plenty of travel and see family as well.

Within Europe, the extra suitcases are relatively cheap. Depending on the airline they cost anywhere from 10 to 50 euros. Intercontinental flights are a bit more expensive, but in most cases, you can take an extra bag with you for less than a 100 euros. You do need to be careful though because some airlines charge by the kilo when bringing extra luggage. We are traveling partly with low-cost airlines like Norwegian air. That means that luggage isn’t included in the “basic fare”— instead, we had to buy two “extra” pieces of luggage. That still came under a hundred euros per piece. If any of you are interested in our experience of flying intercontinental on low-cost airlines, we will definitely write a post about our experience.

What to take with you

So if you opted for suitcases and you are supposed to bring your whole life with you, how do you decide what is important? We started this process with elimination. We decided that we wouldn’t bring items that would be easily replaceable and possible to get in the new country e.g furniture. We also considered the cost, if an item was easy to take with us and relatively expensive to buy new, we could also take those items with us. This would include items such as good kitchen knives. Here are few different categories to consider in no particular order:

  • Sentimental items

Most people have collected plenty of sentimental items throughout their life: letters, photos, drawings, childhood memories and such. Because Mr DN has lived in Finland only in his adult life, he doesn’t really have any of that stuff here. In contrast, I grew up in Finland and my history is here. Growing up my family moved a lot, so most of the memory items from childhood disappeared over the years. Literally, I have one drawing that I made when I was a kid and maybe ten photos of my childhood (my parents have a few more at their place). Those items are important to me so I decided to bring them with me as they don’t take up a lot of space.

Over the years I have also received a lot of letters, taken plenty of photos and collected other important memories. I’ve kept those items because they have reminded me of my travels and friendships that I have built over the years. Now with the move, I decided to get rid of those items, because I feel like I don’t need physical items to remember the good times I’ve had. Instead of keeping these items, we had a midsummer bonfire Mr DN and burnt them. This may sound shocking but it was a good way for me to process the good times I have had. This option is probably not suitable for many, but as I don’t get very attached to physical items, it worked for me. To soothe your mind, I do have digital copies of my photos.

  • Home items

Because we are not taking any furniture with us, we (mainly I) found it important to bring with us a few items that we really enjoy and that make us feel at home. These items include a nice set of curtains, a few good quality sheets, and a few other kitchen items. We are also taking some plates, glasses and mugs with us. We have a really nice set that I enjoy and that reminds me of home. We actually have already sent the plates with my sister to the US so we won’t have to drag them on our travels. We would definitely recommend to bring at least some items that make you feel at home, that can help you with the transition!

  • Clothes

Clothing will take most of the space from our three suitcases. We are bringing only clothes that we truly wear and some more expensive pieces like Mr DN’s suits. Some months ago I went through my closet and kept only the clothes that I actively wear, the rest I decided to sell or to donate. There is no point to take a huge amount of clothes with you if you are limited with the amount of stuff you can bring. In most cases, you can buy new clothes from the country you are moving to. It is also good to consider that your wardrobe might look quite different in the new country. In our case, we are moving from a cold climate to an extremely warm climate so we definitely need a bit of an update to our wardrobes.

  • Hobby stuff

This should not come as a surprise to anyone knowing our excitement for personal finance, we love strategy games, a lot. Actually, when we met we used to play board games together quite often. We have a few favourite games that we have bought and some extensions to those as well. Settlers of Catan is one of our favourites, you can google it if you are interested. I’ve actually converted my whole family to this game and now even my parents own it! Anyways, we have spent quite a few euros on this game and its expansions so we decided that we would like to take it with us. Hopefully, we will meet some nerdy friends in Australia that enjoy the game as much as we do! We do have other interests outside board games so will bring some items related to those with us as well.

  • Important documents

We are scanning most of our documents so that we can reduce the amount we have to take with us. There are still a few documents that you need the originals for and those are the ones we are keeping. These include our marriage certificate, graduation certificates, some tax information etc. We would highly recommend that you would make digital copies of most of your documents, that saves a lot of space!

Final thoughts

An international move may seem daunting and there are many things to consider, but it’s doable when you give yourself some preparation time. Most items you can buy in the country you move to so if you can’t take something with you, it is not the end of the world. And if there is something you can’t get from the new country, most likely you are visiting your home country again and you can bring some important items with you later on.


Do you have experience with a long/distance move?  What tips do you think you could offer?

8 thoughts on “Moving to Australia 2# What to pack

  1. Congratulations on the visa grant! The move probably feels ‘more real’ after getting your visa. Exciting times ahead! I’m not even the one moving but I’m excited! 🙂

    I think you’ve nailed the important stuff to take. As I mentioned before, I only brought a suitcase when I moved here but I didn’t worry much because I have family who could take stuff here when they visit. But because I was only allowed to take 30kg, I only packed some clothes, shoes and books. I know books are heavy but they were that part of ‘home’ I wanted to take with me.

    I’m excited to read about your travel adventures and your move! Good luck!

  2. Congratulations on the Visa (finally!) and being brave to take suitcases only. It would certainly seem to cut down on any clutter in your life, and with a few important items you’re bringing likely to add enough of fin-home to your new aus-home.

    1. Hey WFT,

      it was such a relief to get the visa, the waiting times are really long at the moment. It’s much easier to start processing the move mentally! We have definitely been doing some serious decluttering, now we just need to figure out a way to keep the clutter out from our new home. Any hints? 🙂

  3. Hey DN,

    Congrats on the visa, that’s so exciting. It’s definitely happening! 🙂

    Looks like a good list to me and it sounds like you’ve gotten everything figured out. There is, perhaps, a fourth option (if you’re not including mailing as this) is to ship boxes like this if you wanted to take even more stuff, but it sounds like you’re sorted. Put name tags on all of your stuff, with a shipping address in-case it’s lost, you don’t want to lose these suitcases.

    Just make sure you get travel insurance, there’s even insurance out there which you can buy which includes relocating plus for your first 30 days I THINK (don’t quote me on that, I can’t quite remember).

    I will do some more thinking 🙂


    1. Hey Tristan,

      shipping boxes seems like a good idea as well! We had hard time finding quotes for that option, so we didn’t look into it too deeply. How did you ship you belongings when you moved? Travel insurance is definitely high on the priority list! We have a travel insurance at the moment that covers trips that take less than 90 days, I think we will stick with that for now and cancel it after we have moved. We also have extra insurance for our luggage just in case something happens 🙂 Let me know if you come up with something else!

      1. Shipping boxes was what I used. 2 suitcase sized boxes, as well as a suitcase was all I needed, maybe you could contact PSS and see if they know any good options for you. Can never go wrong with good insurance for your process :).


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