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This was by far one of the most frequently asked questions I received whenever I announced my big plan to move to Paris. Valid question. I had been living on my own, renting a small house, and over the past 5 years, I had acquired an impressive number of belongings, despite having only 540 square feet to my name. From plants to paintings, to cooking spices and kitchen accessories, things accumulate, even if you’re a minimalist like me.

c'est la vie coffee mug

Moving is an excellent time to reevaluate the belongings that have accumulated in your home. Moving to a different country might actually make this evaluation a little more straight-forward, because there are a lot of things, such as electronics and furniture, that simply can’t come with you. My embarrassingly large collection of Eiffel Tower and French-themed paraphernalia, from my former life as a French teacher, was also a no-brainer for obvious reasons.

Fortunately, I’m not a particularly materialistic person so the thought of downsizing didn’t faze me too much. I sorted my possessions into three categories: Things to Get Rid Of, Things to Store at Mom’s House and Things to Bring to France. Mom also participated in the repartition of my belongings. She created this category: Things Mom Would Like to Keep for Herself. My KitchenAid Stand Mixer, my KitchenAid Immersion Blender, and my couch, among other things, were assigned to this category…

Things to Get Rid of and How to Get Rid of Them 

Tag sales can be a great way to get rid of a lot of stuff as long as you’re willing to put in the time for an all-day commitment. The big upside here is that people literally remove things from the premises. Even if you’re not making a lot of money, you no longer have to figure out what to do with those items. Promoting your tag sale is essential for success. We posted for free on Facebook (as an event & also on Marketplace), Craigslist and Yard Sale Search, and we also hung up several signs around the neighborhood a few days in advance. We found that not nearly as many people come on the second day and early birds tend to arrive about an hour before the posted start time. If I were to do this again, I would instead go all out during a one day tag sale. 

We tried our hand at selling what remained from the tag sale on Facebook Marketplace. This has been rather successful and relatively easy. We mostly listed bigger ticket items, like bookshelves and silverware, but we also made groupings of like items. For example, we posted a pie plate, a pie crust protector and a silicone dough rolling mat as one listing. When a buyer contacts you about your listing, you set up a meeting point for the transaction. Grocery store parking lots are perfect for this. Most buyers have been pleasant to interact with and have showed up on time, with the exact amount in cash. If you’re looking to get rid of some things at home, this is a solid approach.  

Anything that we felt was not worth the time it would take to sell on Facebook Marketplace was donated to Goodwill, immediately following the tag sale. Essentially, anything with a value of less than $10 fell into this category. 

I tried selling some clothing and bags on Poshmark, but I haven’t had much success. This site seems to be flooded with sellers, and it’s hard to make your items stand out. I’ve only had one sale, and I’m proud of myself! Considering I went through the trouble of taking nice pictures, writing detailed descriptions, and creating postings, I’m just going to leave my account active and play the waiting game. All of these items are sitting at Mom’s house.

Things to Store at Mom’s House and Why

If there was anything that didn’t make sense to transport to France, yet I couldn’t bear to get rid of, I stored it at Mom’s house. This included old childhood toys, momentos and notes, books in French, and my teaching materials. I had to ask myself while sorting, “If I were to move back to the United States, would I be upset about no longer owning this item?” Also, if my best friend Sophia wrote, “Don’t throw this away” on it, I kept it, even if it was a weird drawing from elementary school. She’ll know…

Things to Bring to France and How to Bring Them There

When flying, checked bags usually have a limit of 23 kilograms, or 50 pounds. On international flights from the USA, many companies give you one checked bag for free, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some airlines charge for each checked bag. The cost for checked bags vary greatly depending on the airline and the flight class that was booked. Paying around $100 for a second checked bag seems to be the norm.

Through Air France, as a Flying Blue member, we paid 40 euros ($44) for a second bag when we called ahead of time. In comparison with other airlines, this is a great deal! In total, we checked in three large suitcases (paid only for one) and brought two small carry on suitcases. The only thing missing from this photo is a laptop bag and a purse.

five suitcases for moving to France

Shipping internationally is really expensive. Let’s consider shipping the equivalent of one suitcase. Shipping 23kg would cost over $125 through FedEx, DHL or UPS. Considering this price point, checking a second bag with Air France was the obvious choice. Granted, we didn’t bring everything with us this time, but we’re planning to return to the States around the holidays, so we’ll bring more things over on our way back to France. 

What Did I Actually Bring to France?

I have no shame in admitting that Jonathan’s clothes took up approximately one-third of one of the large suitcases! 

As for what could be found in the remaining space:

Related: Things I Bring Back to France From the United States

If you were moving to another country, what’s something that you would absolutely have to bring with you??

framed tile
What Are You Going to Do with All Your Stuff?
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17 thoughts on “What Are You Going to Do with All Your Stuff?

  • September 5, 2019 at 1:23 pm
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    I must have spent what was the equivalent of $5 or $7 on kraft mac and cheese when I was in London because I was craving mac and cheese…I totally get the powdered cheddar!

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    • September 5, 2019 at 1:34 pm
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      I believe it! The funny thing is that it was actually Jonathan who was more concerned about the lack of mac & cheese in France than me! We considered just bringing over some cheese packets but research led us to a much better solution. I’ll let you know how it turns out 😀

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    • September 5, 2019 at 8:31 pm
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      Thank you for honoring our 25 (!) year friendship by hoarding, and also for loving me when I’m bossy <3

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      • September 7, 2019 at 7:00 am
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        I’ve accumulated a lot of evidence regarding the bossiness… 😛
        <3

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      • September 11, 2019 at 8:02 pm
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        There’s something very special about a favorite wooden spoon. I get it. Plus, it’s easy to pack. I use one that I bought in Greece as a gift for my grandmother a long time ago. It’s just right and priceless.

        Come to think of it, I’ve picked up several wooden spoons in my travels and they are great souvenirs. I’m curious to see what new and great “truc” you will find for your new Parisian kitchen as you wander around the city! Staying tuned!

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        • September 16, 2019 at 8:35 am
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          I’m excited to see what I might find aux marchés aux puces!

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  • September 5, 2019 at 4:10 pm
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    The beautiful thing is your mama can probably ship you a few boxes of Mac & cheese the next time Stop & Shop has a sale. (I see nothing wrong with any of your choices)

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    • September 5, 2019 at 5:34 pm
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      You’re right, she probably could! I’ll mention this when we talk next. Thank you for your support 🙂

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  • September 5, 2019 at 7:31 pm
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    Don’t forget the importance of donating a lot of your stuff to a college sophomore moving into her first apartment…beyond grateful! 😍

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    • September 7, 2019 at 6:53 am
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      I’m still waiting for my repayment via baked goods 😀

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  • September 5, 2019 at 8:04 pm
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    I marvel that your friend Sophia knew years ago that a bold move was in your future! Looking forward to following your smooth transition to a new life!

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    • September 7, 2019 at 7:32 am
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      Well, I don’t know if it will be a completely smooth transition, but for any hiccups along the way, I’m sure it won’t be anything a good pain au chocolat can’t fix!

      Reply
  • September 5, 2019 at 9:00 pm
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    I’m loving your blog, Ellen! This is such an exciting adventure. I would definitely want to bring my cat, Maisy! Maybe some of my favorite Christmas ornaments, too. I can’t wait to read more.

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    • September 7, 2019 at 7:22 am
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      At the airport in Paris, I saw a woman with a huge pet carrier that she was transporting on a dolly. I swear it was big enough to hold a bear, and I truly expected to see something wild and ferocious when I peeked in. It just a big, black dog. I was mildly disappointed, but it also made me consider that, if I had a pet, regardless of it’s size, I would also want to bring it with me! I think transporting a cat would be much more manageable though lol
      Thank you so much for following my adventure!

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  • September 6, 2019 at 1:11 pm
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    I’m so impressed by your packing and ability to downsize! I can’t believe the number of items you managed to squeeze in there. Thanks for posting about this–it makes me happy to be able to follow your adventures from a distance.

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    • September 7, 2019 at 7:13 am
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      I found a tea infuser and a thermometer rolled in a tee-shirt this morning… Near the end of my packing session, I think I was in a bit of frenzy! It took some finagling but I managed to be just under the weight limit on each bag by less than a kilogram. My greatest packing achievement was definitely the yoga mat.
      Come visit! I didn’t do nearly a good enough job cooking for you the last time we lived together and my skills have greatly improved since then. Also, there’s a good vegetarian restaurant down the street 🙂

      Reply

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