Unitasker Wednesday: Stuffed meatballs maker

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

If kindergarten students can make spheres with playdough, adults should have no trouble forming a ball out of ground meat with their hands. This is why I do not understand why anyone would be interested in the stuffed meatballs maker.

At just over 10-inches by 10-inches and one inch high, this flippy-floppy item is supposed to improve the way you make stuffed meatballs. First you fill both sides of the meatball maker with meat. (I assume we use a spoon because one of the “great features” of the stuffed meatballs maker is that you do not use your hands.) Then, you make indentations in one side of the meatballs with the hinged cavity maker and fill it with cheese or sauce. Finally, you fold over the top side of the device to seal the meatballs. Again, I assume that the meatballs just roll right out of the meatball maker into a pan for baking.

This would be great if it actually worked. Reading the reviews tells me that I have made erroneous assumptions. The stuffed meatballs maker does not fully seal the meatballs closed, nor do the meatballs simply slide out of the device. They have to be pried out of the meatball maker and then sealed by hand. In addition, you have to wash the meatball maker as well as the spoon and your hands.

Save yourself some time and money and just use your clean hands to make stuffed meatballs and thoroughly wash your hands afterwards. I know there are some readers who do not like handling raw meat so wearing disposable gloves will keep your hands clean. Disposable gloves have many more uses than a meatball maker too.

Reader question: How best to pack and move delicate, fragile, and oddly-shaped items

In our Ask Unclutterer series, we provided advice about moving to New Zealand. One of the comments on that post was:

What should I do with awkward items, like framed artwork? I know it comes down to how much am I willing to pay to keep the item, whatever it is. It just pains me to think about keeping the art and ditching the frame, then paying again to have it framed. What about antique lamps? I have several floor & table lamps that are not only sentimental, but gorgeous. Three of them have very delicate glass shades. *flinch* Rewiring shouldn’t be an issue, just the packing. Should I use spray foam and pack like drunk elephants will handle everything?

Thanks for a great question. I have moved 13 times in the past 28 years, including two trans-Atlantic moves, and I have learned quite a bit about transporting household goods — not just from my own experience but from other military families as well. The first step is to get a professional to service and prepare for moving any:

  • Items with interior moving parts such as grandfather clocks and other time-pieces;
  • Large musical instruments like pianos, harpsicords, harps, etc.;
  • Items that require special skill to disassemble and reassemble such as billiard tables, sculptures, antique furniture, etc.

If possible, hire a professional moving company to pack any irreplaceable, sentimental, fragile, or expensive items. If you wish to pack the items yourself, we’ve listed some advice below.

For transporting artwork and delicate items, the Museum Conservation Institute at the Smithsonian states that you need three layers of protection; a protective wrap, a shock and vibration layer, and a protective outer shell.

Protective wrap covers the surface of your item and prevents scratches. The material used depends on what you are transporting. Cottons and flannels can be used with many things but they can stick to varnishes and some paints. Paper can be used with some items but make sure it is archival quality (acid-free and lignin-free). Plastic sheeting can also be used but moisture may build up and damage your item.

The shock and vibration layer protects against sudden blows (shock) and persistent small bumps (vibration). This layer should be “springy” meaning it needs to have an elastic memory to allow the cushioning effect to occur repeatedly. This material is often a type of foam. The type and thickness of foam depends on the weight of the item and the type of shock anticipated. A good option is pick and pluck foam — pre-scored foam sheeting that allows you to remove bits at a time to create a custom-shaped hole in the foam to protect your item. Check out this video on how it is used.

The protective shell is the outer layer. It provides a hard, puncture-resistant wrap in the event of rough handling. (The drunk elephants you mentioned above.) The hard, outer layer also allows delicate and oddly-shaped items to be closely placed or stacked. The protective shell can be an extra-thick, reinforced, cardboard box with corner supports, or a custom-made plywood box. I do not recommend using household plastic bins for delicate items on long distance moves. They are not sturdy enough. You would need heavy-duty plastic totes that will not be crushed if they are dropped or if other boxes are stacked on top.

About your artwork… I would suggest that you leave it in the frames. It may be more susceptible to damage both physical (rips, scuffs) and environmental (warping from humidity) when removed from the frame. During transport, the frame can act as a protective case for the artwork if it is packed properly. Consider wrapping it in a soft cotton or muslin fabric (protective wrap), add edge protectors (vibration protection), and package it in a heavy-duty cardboard or plywood box (outer wrap). Alternatively, you could pack your artwork in a flat screen TV packing kit.

The final step is to ensure that all of your fragile items are properly labelled FRAGILE and if required, THIS SIDE UP, and DO NOT LAY FLAT. If English is not the language spoken at your destination, you should print your own stickers with the translations to be sure the unloading crew understands.

For those that are interested in how museum artifacts are transported, take a peek at the photos and descriptions at Inside the Conservator’s Studio.

Thanks for your great question. We hope that this post gives you the information you’re looking for.

Do you have a question relating to organizing, home and office projects, productivity, or any problems you think the Unclutterer team could help you solve? To submit your questions to Ask Unclutterer, go to our contact page and type your question in the content field. Please list the subject as “Ask Unclutterer.”

Unitasker Wednesday: Capabunga Artisan Bread Saver

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Artisan is a term used to describe food produced by non-industrialized methods, often handed down through generations but now in danger of being lost (also known as home cooking). An artisan baker is a craftsperson who is trained to the highest ability to mix, ferment, shape and bake a hand-crafted loaf of bread (also known as my grandmother).

Interesting though these definitions are, most people buy their artisan bread at a bakery where bread making can be automated to some extent. There are variable speed, electric mixers and blenders, and proofers and ovens with accurate timers and fine temperature controls — a long way from how my grandmother made bread using a bowl, a spoon, her hands, a clean linen cloth (which at other times acted as a tea-towel), and a wood stove.

I guess if some people buy their bread at artisan bakeries they would also purchase the Capabunga Artisan Bread Saver to ensure that their bread stays fresh as long as possible. To keep a loaf of crusty bread fresh, you have to cover the cut portion to keep the moisture inside the loaf while allowing the crust to stay exposed to keep it, well, crusty. My grandmother told me that. She also told me that waxed paper or foil wrap and an elastic band (all of which you probably already own) would work really well.

Thanks to reader Joy for bringing this unitasker to our attention.

Innovative organizers to carry your gear

Every once in a while, we feature organizing items in development. Here are a few that help you transport your gear from one place to another effectively and efficiently.

E-Hive

The E-Hive is a sturdy carrier similar to a briefcase that can store and charge up to four phones and three tablets at the same time. It is lockable but lightweight with a comfortable handle. The no-slip elastic straps inside the E-Hive keep your devices secure and prevent damaged screens. One of the best things about the E-Hive is that you do not have dozens of cords strung all over the place.
e-hive transportable charging station
I have travelled a lot with my family of four so that meant 4 phones, 4 sets of earbuds, and a few other devices. We each dragged along USB chargers and cords and crawled under furniture in each hotel room trying to find enough available outlets. How I wish we could have had the E-Hive. We wouldn’t have forgotten the charger we had plugged in behind the curtains. We could have locked our devices when the hotel housekeepers came into our room.

I have a feeling it only works on the North American power grid (110V/60Hz) but it would be great if it was able to work anywhere in the world.

The Mommy Bag

backpack diaper bagMy children are adults now but I still remember struggling with various types of diaper bags when they were babies. I think The Mommy Bag is the best diaper bag I have seen in quite some time. For one thing, the front part of the bag opens fully so when you hang the bag on a hook, you have full access to what you need to change a diaper — including a changing pad. The neatest part of this bag is that the small side pocket has a slit so you can pull diaper wipes out one by one! The other side pocket is insulated to keep milk/formula cold. The Mommy Bag has 20 interior compartments so nothing gets buried in a big mess at the bottom of the bag. It also has a compartment for a 15-inch laptop so when baby falls asleep you can get some work done without having to haul around a separate bag.

It would be a great gift for any parent or caregiver. The only disappointing part is the name –“The Mommy Bag” doesn’t make it sound inviting for fathers, grandparents, or other caregivers.

SideKick: The Ultimate Gym Fitness Bag

Finally, people have put some thought into creating a gym bag that is not just a large, formless sack with a strap! Sidekick has three compartments — one main compartment and two separate compartments at each end. The end compartments have wide openings so it is easy to get a pair of shoes in and out, and they have ventilation holes to prevent moisture build-up. Sidekick also comes with a mesh laundry bag you can toss directly into your wash. The interior is lined with elastic strapping to keep your water bottles upright and your gear organized. Sidekick has detachable backpack straps to convert it from duffle bag to a backpack. It is extremely durable with heavy-duty, snag-free zippers and magnetic snaps instead of Velcro. But my favourite thing about the Sidekick bag is that it has an interior support structure so it stays upright making it much easier to find everything inside.

ultimate gym bag sidekick

Travel Bag Buddy

The Travel Bag Buddy secures a bag or purse on top of a rolling suitcase with an adjustable elastic strap and extra sturdy buckle. It sounds familiar but this item also holds your essential travel documents, phone, cash, cards, and a few other items to give you quick, convenient access when you need them. The Travel Bag Buddy works with almost all bag sizes and handle combinations. The bag strap can stay attached to your secondary bag and reattach to the handle in seconds so it will never get lost. Travel Bag Buddy folds flat so you can store it in your purse to keep your travel information organized and RFID protected.

Travel Bag Buddy - RFID Protected Travel Organizer and Secondary Bag Strap

I have seen many people (myself included) fumble with purses, bags, passports, boarding passes, and electronic devices while going through airport security. It is frustrating and time consuming. If everyone had a Travel Bag Buddy maybe we would all get through security checkpoints faster and in better humour.

 

What do you think of these designs? Would you invest in these products? Do you have any suggestions to make them better?

Unitasker Wednesday: Pie markers

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Canadian Thanksgiving is fast approaching and with the smell of pumpkin spice lattes wafting out of every coffee shop, our attention turns to pumpkin pie. (This is my favourite, super easy recipe.) With only four adults in our family, it is pretty easy to cut the pie into equal pieces. If you have to serve pie to five or seven people, it gets a little tricky to cut pieces into equal sizes.

That’s why you need a collection of Pie Markers! Pie markers score pies (and cakes) in equal proportions for serving your guests perfect slices. Made of durable food grade aluminum, these pie markers will make sure that you will not waste time trying to equally slice your pies with a knife which will be inaccurate and time-consuming.

Buy an entire set of pie markers so you can cut pies into 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12 slices. Just remember that the diameter of each is almost nine inches so the entire set will create lots of clutter in your cupboards.

If you would like to avoid the clutter, this video shows you a trick for using a simple piece of paper (which you likely already have) to find the centre of a pie. In the video they score a line across the centre of the pie but if you want to cut the pie into an odd number of pieces, do not score across the centre, just make a little X to mark a line out from the centre and use a protractor (clean it thoroughly first) to mark the angles around the pie according to this chart.

Unless you are running a bakery, restaurant, or catering business and need to mark many pies and cakes every day, use a piece of paper and protractor. They will take up a lot less space in your kitchen cupboards.

Reader Question: What to do with partially used toiletries

Unclutterer reader Joan sent us an email with this question:

What should I do with toiletries and similar items that were tried but we do not use? I have a number of products I purchased but did not care for. Also, I was an cosmetics rep for over 20 years, and that was many years ago. I have a large number of products stored in my basement and I would like to find them a new home.

This is such a great question. There are many reasons why we may have unused or partly used toiletries lying about, including:

  • You purchased an item and it does not work for your hair/skin type.
  • Guests (including children who have gone off to college) left items at your place.
  • You are moving and the moving company will not take any liquids.
  • You received items as a gift and will never use them.

The first step is to check if the products are expired. Some cosmetics/toiletry company websites will allow you to look up the lot number and see how old the product is. You can also inquire by email or use the website’s contact form. Two great independent websites for checking products are Check Fresh and Check Cosmetic. Both of these sites list lot numbers and expiry dates of most major brands.

If the product has expired unfortunately, the only thing you can do is dispose of the product and recycle the container. It seems like a waste but when the products degrade, they may do more harm than good. They may be contaminated with bacteria, as they breakdown they could irritate your skin/hair. Some products (specifically sunscreen) are no longer effective past their expiry date.

For products that have not yet expired, here are some uncluttering options:

  • Contact local charities and ask if they accept partial bottles as donations. Do not be surprised if they say no. Due to health/sanitary concerns, many charities will only take new, unopened products.
  • Have an Uncluttering Party and invite your friends or neighbours in for a “swap meet.” You might be able to unclutter your items and get items you would actually use.
  • If your workplace allows, leave items in a common area for fellow co-workers. (Always check with your human resources department first!)
  • List your items on Freecycle, craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or other type of online classified ad site.
  • Offer items in your neighbourhood groups such as Nextdoor, or Facebook neighbourhood groups if you belong to any. My neighbourhood has a ‘Buy Nothing’ Facebook group that has been very successful in helping people get rid of what they don’t want while helping others get what they do want.

Thanks for your great question Joan. We hope that this post gives you the information you’re looking for.

Do you have a question relating to organizing, home and office projects, productivity, or any problems you think the Unclutterer team could help you solve? To submit your questions to Ask Unclutterer, go to our contact page and type your question in the content field. Please list the subject as “Ask Unclutterer.”

Unitasker Wednesday: Personalized peanut butter spoon

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Wouldn’t it be great to have your own personalized peanut butter spoon when you eat peanut butter right out of the jar? No longer will you have to use a regular, everyday spoon for such an exalted task!

This custom-made spoon is hand stamped one letter at a time and made with non-toxic ink. (We would certainly hope the ink is non-toxic!). The vendor suggests that if you choose to use your spoon you should wash it the dishwasher to avoid abrasive hand scrubbing to prevent the ink from wearing off.

I’m not sure why you would buy a spoon if you do not plan on using it. Maybe at $25 (plus $10 shipping) you would want to keep it pristine, as a decorative item mounted on the wall with a souvenir spoon collection — but then again, with Comic Sans typeface, maybe not.

Thank you to professional organizer, Hazel Thornton for bringing this unitasker to our attention.

Book review: The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life

In The Minimalist Home, author Joshua Becker suggests that one of the problems affecting many of us is that we are living in homes that mass marketers want to sell us instead of the homes that our hearts and souls crave. Even the highly publicized “minimalism home” with white-washed walls and stark rooms with the occasional piece of expensive (and probably uncomfortable) furniture, is not what we truly need. Becker states, ” Successful family living was never about the size of a house. So, make more of the people within your household, and make less of the house itself.”

The Minimalist Home helps readers define their vision and set goals for how they want to live in their space, whether that space is an apartment, house, cottage, houseboat, or mobile home. Becker gives readers practical advice on how to engage and motivate family members to create the ideal home for everyone. He believes that with less stuff occupying your home, there will be fewer worries on your mind and you will appreciate and make better use of what you do own. You can then focus on your family and enjoy activities together. I appreciated this particular quote:

The goal of minimalism is not just to own less stuff. The goal is to unburden our lives so we can accomplish more.

In The Minimalist Home, each room has a dedicated chapter, from family rooms to bedrooms, from outdoor spaces to hobby spaces, and even spaces dealing with family pets. Within each chapter there are sections on defining the vision and goals for the space, implementing a step-by-step plan, and reflecting on possessions to include items that tell your family’s story. There is a “minimizing checklist” at the end of the chapter so readers can ensure they have reached their goal. The Minimalist Home also includes maintenance guides — from daily maintenance like putting away the mail and dishes, to yearly maintenance such as spring cleaning and filing income taxes.

This book has no glossy photos nor examples of the latest home décor trends. As a matter of fact, Becker does not propose rules on how much of each item to keep or toss. He encourages the reader to analyse his/her lifestyle and minimize to that level. It is a very nice change because so many books about minimalism make the readers feel that they are keeping too much or shaming them for feeling sentimental about souvenirs or heirlooms.

The last two chapters in the book are particularly interesting. Becker discusses the advantages of downsizing, not just when the kids have left for college or at retirement, but at your current stage of life, whatever it is. He raises points such as it takes less time to clean and maintain a smaller house, and mortgage payments and utility bills will be lower too. The dollar-value calculations he shows, reinforce his reasoning. Becker also recounts the stories of several people who minimized and downsized and then were able to pursue their passions — from travelling to volunteering for various causes. He states:

…minimalism doesn’t guarantee that you can find meaning and significance in life. But it does, almost always, open your eyes wider to these issues and create a context where you can think through them better.

If you are looking for help to define your vision and set goals, to work together as a family to create a welcoming home that is your ideal of comfort, that nurtures your passions, The Minimalist Home is the book you need.

Unitasker Wednesday: Snap-on bedding labels

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Today’s unitasker is Snap-on bedding labels. These simple to attach, snap-on labels that tell you the size of bed sheets. For about $16 USD, you get four labels. I’m assuming one for each of the flat sheet, fitted sheet and both pillow cases.

You do not need spend $16 USD on this item if:

  • You buy different colours of sheet sets for different sizes of beds in your home and put a colour-code chart in your linen closet to remind people which colour of sheets are which size.
  • You only have one size of bed. All of the sheets would be the same size regardless of colour.
  • You use the same colour of sheets for all the beds but launder the sets of sheets on different days and store the sheets for the bed in the room in which the bed is located so they don’t get mixed up in the linen closet.
  • You use the same colour of sheets for all the beds but you own a Sharpie permanent marker and decide to write a small letter in the corner of each sheet/pillowcase indicating what size it is.

If you do not do any of the above, and have not read our article on how to best store your sheets, feel free to purchase the Snap-on bedding labels.

We’d like to thank reader Ann J. for alerting us to this unitasker!

Book Review: The Real Simple Method to Organizing Every Room: And How To Keep It That Way

At first glance, The Real Simple Method to Organizing Every Room is like many other organizing books. It has information about uncluttering and some nice glossy pictures.

BUT…

This book is much more than that. It provides great advice on how to pare down your possessions and create not only a functional home, but a stylish one too. My favourite quote is:

A streamlined home is like a symphony with pieces that work together. Instead of assigning items specific roles and hoarding junk in a drawer, imagine that your home is a boutique where everything works together.

The uncluttering and organizing instruction they give is relatively standard — group your items together, decide what stays, and eliminate what you no longer want or need. They furnish a great list of options on where to donate most items. I like their suggestion of labelling bags of raggedy clothes as “unsuitable for resale” so charities can sell them directly to textile recycling without wasting time sorting through them.

The Real Simple Method suggests that readers practice small, simple habits that make a big difference in the look and functionality of the home. This way they only spend a few minutes each day doing housework rather than spending most of the weekend moving things from one pile to another. There is plenty of useful advice on how to get family members involved in a positive and productive way (no bribery or coercion involved!).

Throughout the book there are beautiful, glossy, eye-pleasing photos — and they are realistic. The closets and drawers are full of clothes. The rooms have a typical amount of normal-sized furniture and there are colours! So many home décor magazines I have seen use scaled-down furniture, have only a few items of clothing in each closet or drawer, and the colours range from white to beige. The Real Simple Method is a nice change!

In the book, each room is assigned its own chapter. Within each chapter there are suggestions about how to make the room functional. For example, the experts suggest that the most efficient way to organize is to make sure the room is arranged to allow you to move through it freely without crisscrossing. This will help you perform tasks in an orderly manner.

Each chapter contains a list of the tools (furniture, stylish storage items, etc.) for the suggested look and functionality of the room. There is also a section within each chapter that gives alternatives for small spaces — great for those who live in apartments and small homes. The experts also include a checklist for tidying if you have five minutes, 15 minutes, one hour, or a whole weekend and provide time-saving tricks on to how to keep the room organized and clean with minimal effort.

For each room, they take one clutter problem area that most readers have difficulty with such as the junk drawer (kitchen), handbag (bedroom), or shelving (living room), and do an in-depth exposé into how to conquer the chaos and create a functional stylish space once and for all. There is a guide for hanging wall art, a list of ways to set your table incorporating colour and style elements, and suggestions on how to store your fine dinnerware and stemware dust-free so you can be ready to entertain in minutes.

From indoor spaces to outdoor spaces, from kid spaces to pet spaces, this book covers it all. If you are looking for a book that not only provides useful organizing advice but helps you create and highlight your own style, all while doing less housework, check out The Real Simple Method to Organizing Every Room.

Unitasker Wednesday: The Prepdeck

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Reader Pete brought today’s product, The Prepdeck to our attention.

The Prepdeck is designed to organize and unclutter your kitchen work surfaces. It includes a fold-out cutting board, 15 containers in four sizes, a storage compartment for knives and utensils, an accessory drawer with prep tools (grater, slicer, juicer, etc.) and a removable trash compartment for collecting scraps.

The Prepdeck is large and cleaning all those little parts would be a challenge! As Reader Pete put it, “I shudder to think of the potential for cross-contamination, especially if you’re a meat-eater.”

In other words, Prepdeck duplicates everything that your kitchen already has, all of which can be easily cleaned in the dishwasher. Not to mention the fact that the little containers have to be stored in the fridge individually while the Prepdeck remains unused taking up almost all of your counter space.

Here is the thing though…

I just finish setting up my youngest kid at college. The Prepdeck would be very helpful. The cutting board would be easier to clean and sanitize than the chipped and stained countertops in the dorm kitchen. Having a small compartment for collecting scraps means they wouldn’t fall on the floor and attract pests. The Prepdeck’s little containers hold just enough for one person and are small enough to be stored in the fridge in her room. She could fill up the containers at home on the weekends and have enough fresh fruits and veggies for the week. Being able to store all of her own kitchen tools in one spot would be beneficial as well.

Actually, for anyone living in a dorm, small apartment, or RV, and doesn’t already have kitchen tools, the Prepdeck would be the way to go.

Should we call it a large, cumbersome, multi-tasking unitasker? I’ll leave it to our readers to decide.

Reader Question: Moving to New Zealand

Reader Charlee writes in with this question:

I’m having difficulty finding helpful information on moving overseas permanently. Most articles are about temporary moves and what you should store in the US or take with you depending on the length of your stay. The majority of those are for military families.

My husband is from New Zealand. We’re planning to move there within the next 2-3 years. We’ve been hard core uncluttering our home of 15 years, and are planning an enormous sale soon of stuff we don’t want now, then another shortly before the move to get rid of the remainder — the stuff we’ll use until we move. Do you have any advice about moving permanently to the other side of the planet?

This is a great question Charlee — not just for moving from one side of the planet to the other but even across the continent.

The first step is to investigate the country you’re moving to. Your husband is from New Zealand so I would assume that you have visited there a few times over the course of your marriage and are probably very familiar with how people live, what their homes are like, and what the cost of living is. If you don’t know, check out websites written by expats. Social media sites can also be a good resource. You can learn a lot from following journalists, businesses, and social services (health care, police, etc.) on Twitter.

Here are a few things that might not be so evident to our readers.

Vehicles

In New Zealand, they drive right-hand drive vehicles on the left-hand side of the road. A North American vehicle would probably need modifications to meet New Zealand’s auto standards. You would likely need special auto insurance and/or special licencing. Additionally, it would be very difficult to sell your vehicle (even for parts) when the time came. You might not even want a car in your new location if you are living downtown in a large city and auto fuel and parking fees are more expensive than a bus pass.

Recommendation: Sell the car before you leave even if you have to use a rental a car for a month before you move.

Electrical items

The electrical power grid in New Zealand is 230/240V and 50Hz. In North America, it is 110V and 60Hz. You can get a “step-up” transformer however, they are designed for short-term use and will cause your electrical devices to wear out very quickly. However, some lamps and lighting can be re-wired so if you have an antique or very expensive lamp, ask an electrician if it would be possible and feasible to re-wire. Computers, laptops, tablets, and phones can work on both 110V and 240V. Check your systems. You might only need to purchase a new power converter.

Recommendation: Sell or give away anything that plugs in and does not work on 240V/50Hz power.

Cost of the move

I am assuming that you will be paying for your own move (as opposed to an employer paying for it). If this is the case, calculate the cost of the move. Most moving companies use volume to calculate the cost. For example, it might cost $6,000 USD to move 1000 cubic feet (a small 3-bedroom house). This works out to $6 USD per cubic foot. If that old sofa in your basement takes up 65 cubic feet, it costs $390 USD to move. (Check out this household goods volume calculator.) Is that old sofa worth $390 USD? Would it be better to buy a new sofa on arrival? Consider that you will have to pay import duties on the current value of all imported items.

Recommendation: Do not pay more to move goods than the goods are worth — with the exception of sentimental items.

Import restrictions

Depending on the country to which you are moving, some items are not allowed to be imported. Usually these consist of hunting trophies, food and agricultural products, unfinished wood, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and ammunition. Some children’s toys, furniture, and craft items may not be permitted if they do not meet the country’s safety standards. Medications that are over-the-counter in one country, may be restricted because they require a prescription in another country.

Recommendation: Check importation restrictions via Customs Services of the country you are moving to. Consider selling or giving away restricted items before you move. If you are keeping restricted items, start the process for ensuring these can be imported when the time comes.

Documentation

Managing your “stuff” is pretty straight-forward compared to the amount of documentation you have to keep track of for an international move.

Vital Records

Ensure you have original copies of all your important documents including birth certificates (long form with birth location and parents’ names), marriage licences, divorce decrees, passports, wills, powers of attorney, etc. It will be difficult to get them replaced once you move. Carry these documents with you but make a copy of each and store them in a secure cloud location.

Insurance and licencing

Contact your auto and home insurance companies. Ask them to provide proof of insurance for as far back as you can go. You may need to contact previous insurance companies as well. Try to get at least 10 years of positive history. This will help you get insurance in your new country.

Obtain a driving licence abstract from your State. This will show how long you have been a licenced driver and your past driving infractions. Getting 10 years of history will help with your auto insurance. Depending on your new country, you still might be required to pass a driving test.

Health records

Contact all of your medical, dental, and other health providers and obtain a complete health record. Often it will be provided on a password-protected CD. If it is on paper, scan it, and keep a copy in secure cloud storage. Check the vaccination requirements of your new country and get your shots before you go as it might take a while before you can access their health care system. This is especially important for children who may require specific vaccinations before they can attend school.

Pay for legal and financial advice

I cannot stress this enough — pay for professional advice from a lawyer and an international tax accountant (not your Cousin Vinny who “knows a guy”). There are legal and tax ramifications when moving money from one country to another. The laws are complex and depend on your specific situation (citizen, resident, immigrant, visa holder, etc.). The last thing you want is to get arrested at the airport by the IRS for tax evasion when you return to the US for a family reunion! These will be initially expensive appointments but you will sleep better at night knowing that you are operating within the law.

Your wills, living wills, powers of attorney, etc., although valid when created in the US, should be re-done in the new country to adhere to their laws. Should anything unfortunate happen, you will not waste time in courts to be able to access finances or determining a proper care plan.

There is much more we could add about document management and moving in general so check out these other Unclutterer posts that might be helpful.

We hope that we’ve given you some good information here Charlee and our readers often chime in with incredibly useful advice so please keep your eye on the comments section.