Believe it or not, we’ve done this before. In 2012 we got rid of a lot of our stuff and went to teach English in South Korea. We did store some things with Daniel’s parents (and they did buy our couches and fridge) but we didn’t have kids back then so we hadn’t accumulated much in the 5 years of marriage since we had moved locally in KZN 3 times already.
So fast-forward to 2021 with two kids, a three year old and an 8 month old. We decided to move back to South Africa for a while and knew our stuff wasn’t worth shipping so we sold almost all of it. I used Facebook to sell all my baby things and Daniel used Craigslist to sell our TV and bigger furniture items. We sold our car to our neighbors and it makes me so happy to imagine all their kids in our old car.
We knew once we sold our beds, couches and dining room table we wouldn’t be able to stay very long so thank goodness my mom and step dad said we could go to their place in Matthews for the last two weeks. My mom is here in SA for a little while and my step dad works out of town during the week so we had a lot of space to ourselves. We moved into their place on April 18 and had to go back and forth (luckily it’s 7 minutes away from our old place) until we were completely out. We started putting things in boxes marked "sell" "donate" "keep at mom's" and then a pile to take to my mom's to pack and take with us to SA.
We had a garage sale on April 24 and it was a lot of work to put prices on everything and set it out in the garage but it was so worth it to get a lot sold all at one time. We did sell so much and were grateful that most of it was gone. The rest Daniel took to donate and we were officially out of our house the next day. I made this video when we had moved out and after finally finishing it and putting music to it, I got very teary.
It was hard for Oliver to say goodbye to so many of his toys but he actually handled it so well! We paid him for some of them and we are actually went yesterday afternoon to get him two toys at the shops with some of the money he made from selling his old toys. He was very excited and chose a red ford mustang toy car and a hotweels formula one racer. I told him he could get one bigger thing or two smaller things and he said he wanted one big really expensive thing. Haha. Not sure where he gets that from?
We said goodbye to family and friends in the last week of April and started packing our bags. It didn’t quite hit me as I was saying goodbye, probably because I had so much to do and it really didn’t feel real until we got to South Africa and it hit me that I’m really not going back.
I bought some vacuum pack bags and rolled the air out of them to help organize our clothes for each of us and to take up a little less space. I didn't vacuum the air out because I was worried TSA was going to check our bags and open one of the vacuum sealed bags and not be able to zip it back up. I wasn't sure what they would do, like leave things out that didn't fit or what, so I just rolled some of the air out to save a little space but not go overboard.
I put a little bit of everything in each bag which didn't sit well with me from a Type A point of view, wanting everything to look neat and be in a nice order, but I really didn't want one bag to be lost or things to be stolen out of (typical at the Johannesburg airport) so I made sure each bag had some toys, clothes for each person, books and shoes. Turns out TSA did check one of our bags but all of them got safely to us in Durban after three very long flights. More on that later!
We did keep a few boxes at my mom’s house because we couldn’t fit my teaching files, photo albums and a couple sentimental things in our bags this time. The hope is that every time someone visits they need to bring a couple of things from the boxes! I took pictures of my old journals and anniversary cards and then threw them away. I hope to make some photos books of Oliver's artwork over the years. I kept a few cards that I couldn’t get rid of like a couple from when Oliver and Callum were born and a wedding invitation etc.
We ended up with 6 checked bags, three carry ons, one diaper bag, a laptop bag, a small handbag, two car seats and a stroller. We didn't go straight to the airport but decided to hire a car and drive up to Pennsylvania to say goodbye to my Dad's side of the family before heading to Washington DC for our flight out of the states. Stay tuned for part two!