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Packing the mule to Uruguay

It is 1464 hours until takeoff to Uruguay. We have purchased our tickets and reality has set in. We have to pack our lives into 10 suitcases, 2 carryon and 2 personal bags. In the past year we had considered our options for transferring our belongings: packing a sea-van or packing suitcases. Here is an overview of the information that we came up with:

Taking a Seavan

Pros: You can take the stuff that you have acquired over the years.

Cons: You need to start the residency process BEFORE sending the sea-van (to get your things over tax free), provide the government with a bond of approximately $8,000. You do not get this money back until you complete your residency (process estimated at about 5+ years right now) The total cost for a sea-van including purchase, shipping, bond and government inspection estimates at about $16,000-20,000.

Taking Luggage

Pros: You can purchase everything at your destination, no rush to begin residency process.

Cons: Selling everything at a much lower value than originally purchased.


Our process for moving with luggage

Purchase luggage – We purchased our luggage at thrift stores (goodwill, etc.) and at downtown Los Angeles. Our total cost in additional luggage (we already owned 2) was around $350. I also purchased a camera/laptop back which was $100.

Yard Sale and Craigslist – We had to sell things before we moved. We had a yard sale and a co-yard sale with family. The furniture and bigger items were sold on Craigslist. Looking back, we regret not taking pictures of everything and selling on Ebay for a better return on our household items.(The drawback for the Ebay route is that its very time consuming)

Packing – The airline company only allowed 5 pieces of luggage/person. You can have one luggage (up to 50 pounds) free each. Each addition luggage you had to pay $100 for up to 50 pounds. An additional $150 was added for weight up to 70 pounds. Fitting our lives into 10 luggages, 2 carryon and 2 personal bags was definitely a challenge. What stuff do you bring, what things do you leave? When we finished packing, all of our suitcases were beyond overweight. After reshuffling and editing items, we settled on 70 pound bags.

Flying – When we got to the airport, we had an awesome airport employee take good care of us. We determined together that instead of paying all the overweight charges, it was $60 dollars cheaper to fly first class. Yes, you read correctly, first class, we had to take it! First class flyers received 3 pieces of luggage- each up to 70 pounds free. We still had to pay for the remaining luggage which ended up being $250 each. Our total cost of upgrading to first class and luggage fees ended up being $2000 (without plane tickets)

Taking the baggage route and buying new household items/furniture in Uruguay saved us around $2000. In addition, we did not have to put up money for a bond that we would not get back for years and contingent on being granted residency. I would like to note that there are a different set of rules if you are coming to Uruguay with a pension.


What are your experiences with luggage and flying? Did you move abroad and do the seavan route? Share below in the comments.