I moved to South Korea in 2010 with two suitcases packed with clothes. Eight years later I left with one large suitcase, a travel backpack, and thirteen big moving boxes. Why so many boxes? While most would keep their things at their parents’ house, that wasn’t an option for me. And half of the boxes contained yarn for knitting! Halfway through 2018 I was set on finishing my contract and moving to Germany to join my newly acquired spouse.
By now I was comfortable with moving within Korea since I have used the same mover since 2012. I’ve been able to move my boxes for as little as 5,000 KRW (~5 USD) per box. I had never packed for moving internationally because the last time that happened was when I was six years old. My belongings did end up with me in Korea but that’s because my brother had them shipped to me through his logistics company, a nice perk of working for a Korean logistics company in the USA. Getting my things shipped to Germany was entering uncharted territory.
When I lived in Incheon my officetel was right in front of a Homeplus so I was able to grab large boxes for moving from there easily. However, those cardboard boxes didn’t seem sturdy enough to survive the trip abroad so I decided to purchase plastic moving boxes from Gmarket.
I made an order for the #5 sized boxes because I didn’t want the box to rip open at the bottom due to heavy items and I wanted something I was able to pick up myself. I purchased the boxes in batches of five at a time because I was trying to downsize and pack at the same time. Since my last move consisted of 11 boxes I knew I couldn’t fit everything into five boxes but one can hope, right?
I was leaving with one giant suitcase and a travel backpack but I still planned to keep one box’s worth of necessities that I would ship the day before I left, such as my pillow, blankets, cosmetics, and clothes. My plan was to pack everything else up so I could get an accurate quote. It was a challenge because I still had two months left of work and the weather wasn’t too cold for winter clothes yet.
After nearing the packing process, my next step was to figure out which method of shipping would be the cheapest. My first inquiry was with the Korean post office. I called Korea Post’s customer service hotline and was informed that it would be at least 150,000 KRW for a 20 kg box! I was also told that they would not schedule to pick up the boxes unless I was shipping by air, but my local post office said otherwise.
A friend suggested I search using the term “이민이사” which translated literally to “immigration moving”. I added “Germany” in Korean to the search term for “immigration moving” on Naver.com. After perusing through blogs from recent years I called the frequently mentioned companies. The lowest cost I got was 3 million KRW (~3,000 USD). I couldn’t believe the numbers I was hearing so I went back to the blogs to actually read them. Turns out that many people just left their things and bought them again in Germany because it would be cheaper to do so.
Another option available was to ship my boxes with the airline I was flying. It would be 75 USD per box, less than the Korea Post option. The only downside was that my husband’s car would not be big enough to hold all thirteen boxes upon my arrival.
In the end I took to social media to share my frustration of the cost of moving my things to Germany. A friend with connections in logistics saved the day by reaching out to me and helping me out. All I had to do was ship my boxes to her and the rest was taken care of. Thirteen boxes arrived in Germany in two weeks. The move was a success.
Have any questions about moving from Korea? Feel free to write them in the comments.