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I'm relocating from the Toronto area to Amsterdam in a few months, and there's some things I'd like to bring with me. I'm already hitting my checked-luggage allowance on other stuff (most notably a bicycle), but still would like to bring my computers (and peripherals, if possible) with me when I relocate.

Punching in an approximate raw weight and size value for my equipment (2 desktops + 5 monitors) for Fedex/Purolator-type services gives me a shipping cost of about CAD$800. Private cargo forwarding services give me a quote for about $300 if I palletize the lot (which I'm willing to do - I have access to pallets and basically everything I'd need except a pump lift/forklift). If I can do it on a pallet, there's probably more I'd ship as well - a second bicycle, and likely some other odds and ends.

Question is, does anyone here have any better ideas? Ideally, I'd like to avoid breaking down my gear if possible, just because of the amount of it and the fact that some of it is already rather temperamental (yes, really). Packing a bike for air travel is OK, but unscrewing computers into individual parts is not because it's a lot of work and more of a PITA than it's really worth.

  • Honestly, I had this question when I moved and it's a bit silly to ship any of it (though I understand why you want to). You have to worry about shipping AND adapters / transformers. I wouldn't do that. If anything I'd take some of the nicer PC parts and re-build later. Buy new monitors later for sure. – la femme cosmique Feb 25 '17 at 9:45
  • Not to mention, you may have to worry about import tax over the ridiculous cost of shipping anything. If it's only for a few months, do without a PC or get a laptop. I had to do this for several months, not ideal, but it is better than shipping a PC and 5 monitors. – la femme cosmique Feb 25 '17 at 9:46
  • I'm moving for a timescale of several years is the thing. – Sebastian Lenartowicz Feb 25 '17 at 14:02
  • Oh sorry, I'm stupid. I read 'in several months' as 'for several months'. I'd honestly sell the parts and re-build overseas. Definitely just get the monitors overseas. Shipping the PCs is doable but it may make more sense to just ship a few parts and re-build. I don't think shipping the monitors will be worth it, IMO. Especially with potential import tax. – la femme cosmique Feb 25 '17 at 14:59
  • I would advise disassembling computers if you ship it over the air. Six years ago I didn't, and I got my cooler with processor off the motherboard. – Eugen Martynov Feb 25 '17 at 15:21
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When I moved from Germany the the United States, I just sold my monitor and bought a new one. It wasn't worth the cost to transport it. I removed all the internal parts from the computer case (I knew how to put it back together again), shipped those, and put them back in another case when I got to my destination. I left the case and power supply, since those are both fairly cheap, but heavy and bulky.

The internal components are the most expensive parts of the computer, but are also the smallest and lightest parts as well. That worked out well for me, but there were some things working in my favor. First of all, I had built the computer myself from parts. I don't know how easy it would be to do this with a manufactured computer; it might be hard to disassemble or there may not be a suitable replacement case available. Secondly, I know how to assemble a computer. If you don't know how or don't have access to someone who knows how, I wouldn't go this route.

  • > or don't have access to someone who knows how. -- he is moving to Amsterdam, not some godforsaken remote village in Belarus. amsterdam pc reparatie returns a quarter million results in Google. – chx Aug 24 '17 at 21:01
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The universal answer for transporting items with high transport cost to value ratio is to sell them before relocating and buy new on destination.

If the transport costs are about the half of the value of the desktop, you'll be better off selling it even a bit under market value than to pay that costs and loose your time for preparing transport.

Unless it's really high end, but then you should go with specialized cargo services to prevent damage.

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Extra (additional) checked luggage cost typically 50 $ or 100 $ a piece, for 50 or even 70 pounds, depending on the airline. That seems to be the cheaper way to get additional stuff transported.

For the computers, unless it is bleeding-edge-hardware, the best is to remove and bring only the hard disk (or a backup of it). Towers are cheaper to buy than flying them around, and monitors anyway; and for both you would potentially need to buy expensive transformers in addition (which alone cost what a new monitor costs)

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    Last I checked, most monitors these days accept most world power standards - the ones I've got on my desk, for instance, are labelled as rated for 110-240V. All I'd need would be new cables. – Sebastian Lenartowicz Feb 26 '17 at 17:27
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Some airlines allow a lot more pieces of checked luggage than others. While this depends on the origin and destination, you can sometimes go as far as up as 10 (!) pieces, see this question of mine from when I moved to the Netherlands. I brought a single desktop computer which I stored inside the box its case had come in, with the Styrofoam padding, and with space for the mouse, keyboard and some more stuff. It made the journey fine (although I did have all the data backed up just in case). I also dis-assembled and bubble-wrapped a monitor - but that wasn't a piece of checked luggage in itself; and I'd be more worried about those.

You can have a look at some Dutch (online) stores for prices of monitors and other parts to see if the hassle, the transport costs and the risks are worth it: Alternate, AFuture and others; Tweakers.Net has a price comparison mechanism; and of course there's Marktplaats for second-hand items.

  • I've already booked my flight, and I'm going to go with the ocean-freight option. It's the cheapest, and the least hassle. – Sebastian Lenartowicz Apr 9 '17 at 15:22
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    @SebastianLenartowicz: Fair enough, but other people will be reading your question as well, so I'm not answering just you, really :-) – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Apr 9 '17 at 16:24

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