Sunday, March 6, 2011

What do I do with all my possessions?

Once the K1 Fiance visa application process was over and my visa had been approved and it was clear that I would be an immigrant to USA soon, my challenge was to whittle down all my worldly goods to no more than would fit into two suitcases.  I am in my mid-forties and despite being at heart a minimalist, there was a substantial amount of stuff that I’d accrued during my period on the planet.  It took me a lot of time and mental energy to work out the fate of each of my possessions and I was still sorting through them right up until the day of my flight.

Some of my stuff had already been moved to the USA in advance.  During our back and forth trips across the Atlantic to see each other, my wife, Abby and I had been taking and leaving items in Florida in anticipation of my immigration USA.  These included my laptop, clothes, books, and CDs.  I had also posted over a box of books and CDs.  Although the postage was pretty expensive (£50 for 30 CDs and 15 books), I felt that psychologically it would be good for me to have a few of my personal effects in my new home.

The big things like my sofa, chairs, mattress, etc. had to be got rid of, because basically I would have paid way more in transportation costs than the stuff is actually worth (most of my furniture was cheap and modern, bought at IKEA etc), so it would’ve been cheaper to buy it in the USA as a UK expat, than ship it over there.  Plus my wife has all the furniture we need over in the USA, so there was no point in bringing it.  So I sold a couple of items and gave the rest to friends and charity.

The sticker on my guitar case says it all!
I had to sell or give away pretty much all of my electronic goods too, not only would they be difficult to transport, but they use a completely different electric voltage in the USA to what we have in the UK.  I gave the washing machine to a friend of a friend and donated the smaller items, toaster, lamps, etc. to charity.  I was in a rented apartment with a built in cooker, fried, freezer, microwave, so fortunately I didn’t own much in the way of big white goods.

I am not terribly sentimental about things, but I was sad to see my stereo system go.  I am a huge music fan and I figured it might be quite some time before I could listen to high quality audio again (all music, but classical especially, just doesn’t sound good on a portable player!).  My upset turned out to be misplaced, however, if you read on.

It was inevitable that I wouldn’t be able to get rid of absolutely everything that I owned, so I left some books, CDs, and old photos in a cupboard at my mother’s house and my electric guitar and some LPs in her loft.  I arrived in Orlando with the two suitcases, plus my acoustic guitar in a hard case, after a particularly difficult flight journey which involved an unscheduled extra night in Dublin because of heavy snowfalls in Europe.

Dublin airport was hellish – there were still people arriving even after they’d cancelled all flights and declared the place closed!

Since moving in here and becoming a British expat living in USA, things have gone pretty well, however.  We bought a step-down voltage box, which enables me to plug in and use things such as my British toothbrush re-charger and hair clippers.  The furniture situation here is generally pretty good, although there are one or two changes that we’re thinking of making in the medium term that will provide some extra storage space for my possessions.

I have even begun to buy some new stereo equipment.  I bought an amplifier with giftcard money kindly given to me as a leaving present by work colleagues at my old job, and I’ve bought some speakers with some money I made with Mechanical Turk.  I’m using the tv’s DVD player plugged into the amp to play CDs.  I am now trying to convince my wife that having high quality audio is a priority for any household and that we are now in desperate need of a subwoofer box to fill out the bass end of the sound.  It might not be easy(!)


  1. Hi Paul,

    Your Ikea bookcases are being put to good use over here :)

    I thought I was minimalist too but when I take a look round my flat I am not so sure!!

    Best of luck with the subwoofer - not that I know what one of those is!! :)

    My best to you both


  2. I wouldn't put a sub-woofer on the 'household must-haves list', but if it makes you happy then that's fine by me. :-)

  3. A "subwoofer" sounds like a small dog, doesn't it? Well, it's just as loud, but not quite so cute! ;-)

  4. I agree with you, P, a subwoofer is an *essential*! :-D