Getting your belongings here

There are a few options when it comes to kitting out a house.

Your place might well be furnished but you’re likely to need crockery and cutlery, bedding, toys for the kids, equipment for any hobbies you intend to continue etc.

You can trawl the markets for second-hand gear, or buy new from supermarkets and shops but chances are the imported stuff won’t be great quality and you might baulk at the prices.

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“Hello, port authorities? Could you hurry with the rest of my toys, please?”

It’s also going to be very time-consuming during a period when you’re trying to adjust to a strange environment and sort out a hundred other little things. Besides, buying a load of stuff you already own at home is annoying.

If you want to avoid the hassle by shipping over your possessions then be prepared to pay for it – and read the small print carefully.

After forking out about £300 to send a cubic metre of stuff on a boat, we then discovered we’d have to pay to have it released by Customs in Freetown. There was a warning about charges but no indication of how much – possibly because it depends how much the officials feel like extorting from you. To add insult to injury, the longer they hold it hostage, the more they’ll charge you for storage.

Tales abound of even influential people and organisations having to send representatives to sweat it out at the port to secure the release of possessions. And you can expect to have to fill out an inventory – with values – of even personal belongings you’ve had for years.

A better option could be to use a courier that delivers direct to your new home or office but the charges are likely to be higher. One I’ve had recommended is Mount Aureol shipping. A third – perhaps simpler – way is to pay for excess baggage on your flight over. Friends of ours packed 13 cases when they arrived. How they managed it with two children I’ve no idea but at least their stuff was with them from the minute they arrived.

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