France is pretty close to the UK, so when moving here permanently, you really have a choice when it comes to removals: to use a BAR registered removals firm, a “man with a van” or simply rent a van yourself. How do you decide which is right for you, and what are the pros and cons of each option?
Planning early will help you make the right decision. Take a good look at what you are planning to take with you, and bear in mind not only the costs, but the aggravation factor of, say, packing up everything yourself - and underestimating the bulk, which can be very easily done! Even if you are not taking heavy goods (such as beds and kitchen appliances), you may well find that what looks as though it will only need a relatively small space in a medium sized van will in fact need much more. If you are doing it yourself, it’s probably a good idea to think about getting one of the larger vans you can rent from Europcar so you don’t have a sleepless night before the big day wondering how you are going to fit everything in!
There are plenty of good removals companies going to France every day. Recommendation is always a good starting point to find the right one for you - do you know of anyone who has used an overseas removals company that you could ask? If not, look for ones who are members of the British Association of Removers (BAR), and find out about their experience and knowledge of moving to France. We recommend speaking to three movers for quotes. They should visit your home to survey your belongings and calculate volumes and packing requirements before they offer you a written quotation. Make sure the company has its own vehicles and packers, and ask if they offer a groupage rate: sometimes firms double up if they have another assignment to the same region - and this will keep the cost down. Make sure you discuss insurance too.
Moving lock stock and barrel may seem like a huge challenge, but an experienced removals firm will take the worry out of it for you when you have so much else to think about. This really is what you are paying for.
Take some time to assess your belongings and think about whether you really need to take everything. Now is a good time to have a sort out and chuck out – after all, you are starting afresh, and may well wish to purchase some furniture items when you get to France. This will save on removal costs, as well as lessen the amount of packing you have to do. Some firms offer a service whereby unwanted items are transported to a local charity for you. Weeding out is always beneficial! Remember that France has many modern furniture companies such as IKEA as well as “brocante” shops and second hand furniture sales as well as numerous “vides greniers” or attic sales if you want to go for the character look.
Quote rates for shipping will be based on many factors: the size of the load, the distance they have to go, the type of items and the number of men required for the job. Supply as much detail as you can to the company, including details of your new home and where items are to go once there. Once you have decided exactly what you are taking, make an inventory for yourself. This allows the company to know exactly what they are taking, and will help you when you unpack - with each box properly numbered and ticked off against the inventory – and you could also think about putting which room each item is destined for. It will also help in the event of an insurance claim since you will be able to prove the company had the items concerned.
Man with a van
The advantage of employing a “man with a van” is that it will be much cheaper than a removals company. If you are not taking large bulky items but still feel you cannot do it all on your own, this is a good option. It is important to go on recommendation and to check whoever you hire is adequately insured, and has experience of moving to and driving in France. Make sure you know how far his service extends to, and whether he supplies packing materials/boxes etc. Ask if you can speak to any of his previous customers - a good one will be more than happy for you to do this. Make sure you are in a receipt of a written quotation, and know exactly what is included; you don’t want him to simply drop your boxes at your front door in France and drive off!
The DIY option
This is a good option if you are the organised type, and do not have heavy items to move. You should, however, consider that costs can mount up – and be sure to weigh up the pros and cons of this, instead of hiring a “man with a van”. You may find the extra help as above is worth a few pounds more. Factor in the cost of van hire, petrol, tolls on French motorways, perhaps roping in friends to help who have to be fed and watered and the sheer hard work of it all!
If after taking all of this into consideration, you think it is for you, and are not worried about a bit of hard graft, you can make the journey into a bit of fun and pat yourself on the back when you have safely moved all your worldly goods to your new French home. This was the option Mr. Fix It and I chose and yes, it was hard work and yes, we had far more “stuff” than we had at first thought and the van was full to its gills but yes, it was also a fun experience!