Thursday, May 12, 2016

Moving to Puerto Rico: Shipping Your Belongings


{Our first beach day in Puerto Rico, July 2014}

My kids appear a lot on this blog, so every now and then I get inquiries on what it is like to move to Puerto Rico with a family.  So, I thought I would do a series of posts on what I have found. Hopefully it might help some others out there to make the move.

We moved from western South Dakota to western Puerto Rico. Ben came to Puerto Rico on a plant collecting trip once in graduate school in 2005 and once to interview at UPR-Mayaguez in 2013. We decided to come without any more visits or arranging housing ahead of time. So, yes, I never set foot on the island until we arrived on one-way tickets with the whole family.

Some folks are exemplary and get rid of all their belongings and just bring luggage. Others, like me, decided to bring the household. I figured if I was going to move to an unknown place, I wanted familiar toys and goods around the house. I'm so glad I made that decision. For example, I really value sleeping on beds that are not toxic. There is no way that you will find organic cotton and wool mattresses on the island. And shipping a mattress here from a distributor would be prohibitive. Anything sold on the island is imported (there is very little industry here making anything), low quality, and the sales tax is quite high (currently 11.5%). Once piece of good news is that IKEA is on the island, so that is one way to purchase furniture if you choose to not bring much with you.

I looked into several moving companies and we ended up using UPack, otherwise known as ABF Freight. They get a five star rating from our experience. They brought the container right to our home in SD. The norm is to leave it for three days before picking it up. They left it on Friday and didn't pick it up until Thursday, so we got a total of five days to pack it. Then we paid to have the container stored for two months in their yard in South Dakota while we were busy driving around the mid-west. They said to call them two weeks before we wanted it to start it's journey south. We gave them the heads up and it took a total of two weeks transit time. I was quoted 10 days. Not sure if that was ten working days or ten anytime days. Either way, it was pretty much right on time. The ABF employees in San Juan took care of the paperwork at the Customs House to get it out of the port and then had it delivered to our home on the west side of the island the next week. Nothing was amiss in the truck. And we were never charged more than what was quoted to us.

I recently heard of Global Relocations, Inc. Someone on Friends of Rincon used them to ship from California and had a good experience shipping at 40' container. For the east coast, another option that got good reviews was Compass.

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