We moved from the US to India recently and sent some of our stuff via ship. A lot of people asked us for more details and hence this post. I used some of the info I already had from an acquaintance.
How much to ship? Most of the shipping companies have a "mandatory" minimum number of boxes or "volume level" that you have to ship. They charge a fixed amount for that. Anything above this is charged @ a per cu ft rate that varies from one carrier to the other. This minimum number is usually 15. We did not have so much stuff so we found out a company in which the minimum number was lower ~ 7. The size of the boxes was 18 x 18 x 24 inches ~ large. Check this link to see what does 100 cubic feet of boxes look like? - http://www.upakweship.com/100_cubic_feet_boxes.htm Sea shippers mostly go by number of boxes/gross volume to determine charges (avoid the ones which try to bring in the weight into calculation). Some of them also do something called 'palletization' for your stuff, which is nothing but wrapping it all together and placing it on a wooden platform that can be easily lifted by machinery. This will increase your chargeable volume, but is not avoidable unless you book a full container. Volume based shipping is also called LCL (less than container load). If you have bigger stuff like furniture, you can also opt for FCL (full container load) – 20’ or 40’ containers.
What to ship? We shipped toys, books (mine and my son's), clothes - big bulky winter coats and jackets , kitchen utensils, bedding and other household stuff ~ cutlery, decoration items, photo frames. We did not ship any new electronics (TV, home theatre system etc). If you want to do that make sure that the items are in their original packing (the shipper will insist on this). You might have to pay some duty too on newly bought electronics. Customs Duty - Avail the Transfer of Residence clause in Indian Customs, since otherwise the customs duty will apply on everything and the rates will also be higher. Customs duty will depend on the stuff you are carrying and how the customs folks evaluate it. At a high level, all ‘used’ household goods are allowed duty free (so make sure you take off the tags of all new stuff). Electronics like TV, Home Theater are charged @ a concessional rate of 15%. Refer: http://www.globemoving.net/customs_regulation.aspx
When to ship? The average time it takes for the complete process from the time the shipment is dropped at the warehouse to the time it reaches the destination is 10 weeks give or take a week. It would be best to send your stuff a week or 2 before you leave from the US. You can either drop the boxes at the warehouse yourself or choose a pick up from home option. You could also choose to ship door-to-port, port-to-door or port-to-port to reduce shipping cost (though you’d obviously need to arrange your own transport for the portion not covered). From the day the shippers pick up from your residence, they need at least 2-3 weeks to give you the invoice. The goods usually leave shore within 4 weeks of pick up. Please note that these shippers are mostly agents and the actual shipping company is different, with whom they have contracts. So they will find out the earliest available ship for your goods and send you the tracking information.
How much does it cost? The total volume of our 7 individual boxes added up to around 32 cu ft. The cost was $515 for 32 cu ft. Then we had to pay an additional Rs 13000 ~ $300 for customs clearance, home delivery and the local agent's fee in Bangalore. So it cost us about $800 and it was worth it! Make sure that you pack your stuff properly as it is moved about a lot and not exactly handled gently. Personally, I would have chosen stronger cardboard boxes. Mine arrived in good condition but a little more rough handling and they could have broken down. All the glassware was perfectly OK, but some of my non-stick kitchen utensils were slightly deformed.
I used to be famous for falling into a deep sleep faster than the speed of light. I could sleep anytime anywhere. From when I was 6 or 7 up to a few years after that I used to promptly go to bed by 7:30 PM. If we were out for a party or a dinner then I was usually found asleep in one corner of the room on a sofa or chair or anything remotely comfortable. My parents had to carry me back home. My "sleeping" reputation travelled far and wide in the family. Relatives told their kids to go to bed on time like Didi! As school gave way to college, I became famous amongst friends for my notes aka doodles and scribblings...because I was sleeping in class. When I had to borrow notes to complete mine I tried explaining to people that the deadly combination of a monotonous lecture and the dull whishing sound of the classroom fan made me sleep. I slept in front of the computer during my first job training with a big software company. I could sleep standing in the bus while holding on to the pole. I have slept while someone sitting 3 feet away was talking to me. I have slept in a room full of people watching a movie and in a dance party. In fact background noise and having people around made for better sleep conditions. It made me feel safe! If this ain't enough I have slept while talking to my husband (at that time my fiance) over the phone. He remembers that till date and makes sure he mentions that as often as possible, especially when people are around. My reaffirmations that I do love him don't help. Can't blame him, what guy wouldn't feel bad about his fiancee sleeping while talking to him. How worse can it get? I have slept in a work conference call and thankfully didn't get caught. But believe me that was just one time ~ it was very late at night and I was tired that day. Moving on to recent years, after marriage my husband and I went to call upon a set of friends and I blinked a couple of times while sitting on their couch. I fought that lovely, untroubled, warm feeling when sleep engulfs you. But it didn't work and I did end up dozing off for a minute maybe two. The puzzled hosts tried to smile it off. They would have forgotten this solitary incident but for my incorrigible ways. When they came over to our place a few weeks later, I ended up dozing on my sofa! This time they were more than perplexed and offered to leave since I was visibly tired. Fortunately, they got to know me better with time and realized it was nothing personal. And we are great friends to this day. But now I have to tire myself out to sleep peacefully. Even after that there is no guarantee that I will sleep blissfully through the night. Is it hormones playing hooky, age catching up or is it a side-effect of motherhood?
There is this new Limca ad featuring Hrishita Bhatt and Viraf Patel ~ did you know Viraf was the Grasim Mr India 2005? The music is so refreshing and light! And the lyrics are beautiful. Though I am not a fan of being drenched in Limca or water for that matter.
Here are the lyrics - Yeh nok jhok shararatein hain, Phuharon ki yeh sazishen hain. Thandi aahein, aur nigahein Phir se apni bana lo na. Soyi soyi khwahishon ko, aaj phir se jaga lo na.
Taaza taaza rishton ki yeh, taaza taaza ibaratein hain. Shabnamon ki taazgi mein, khwabon ko tum dooba lo na. Khathi meethi in lamhon se, mastiyon ko bicha lo na.
Things I like about being in India - The weather is great (in Bangalore as compared to the other places I have been to in India) - not too hot and not too cold - Labor and services (maid, cook, carpenter, plumber etc) easily available - supply is more than the demand! - Fresh fruits, veggies, juices are awesome! - Chaat, golguppe, mithai yum yum - Sense of freedom and being among your own - More CLEAN public rest rooms available as compared to a few years back - No need to set up playdates for your child, you can walk out the door and he/she can play with kids in the neighbourhood. - Sun-drying clothes gives them this fresh feel.
Things I don't like about being in India - The roads are narrow; road expansion work in most of the areas is half done (in Bangalore) - Traffic is BAD! You could be stuck on a 2 kms stretch for more than 30 minutes. - Parking is still a sore point - jisne pehle gaadi ghusa di, spot uska ho gaya. - Most of the malls and tourist spots are still not children/stroller friendly - Prices of furniture and household electronics are too high - inflation at its best! - My hair goes for a toss - its frizzy - ALWAYS (thanks to the humidity) - The fully-automatic washing machines don't "completely dry" the clothes :(