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I am planning to move from London to San Francisco, I'd prefer to do the rent searching while I'm actually there, such that I can check different places / options out with my own eye (learning from previous mistakes).

This presents two problems regarding high-value, heavy items (specifically, desktop computer): it's too heavy to carry with me while looking for rent, and I can't post it without a known destination beforehand.

Are there any postal & storage services, which can take care of heavy and high value items for a certain period of time (paying on eg. monthly basis), and then post forward once I settle in?

  • 2
    Is there a way to store stage luggage until needed? on the travel site might be of interest (I don't think the answer covers your exact use case unfortunately). – Gala Mar 21 '14 at 9:16
  • Why not sell your computer in the UK, and buy a new one in the US? Take your data on an external/removable hard drive. – Flimzy Mar 23 '14 at 19:55
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For an item that has no personal attachment, such as your computer (unless you have handpainted the case or something like that), I'd simply avoid shipping it.

Back up the hard drive, put a new one in it, and sell it. Buy a new computer in San Francisco with the proceeds (plus the money you would have otherwise spent on shipping).

This is going to be much less hassle than dealing with international logistics. Save that solely for the items of personal significance you simply can't replace.

For the things you absolutely must ship, I have used FedEx in the past with their "Hold At Location" option. Just be sure to speak with them first because the amount of time they will hold a package at a FedEx store varies according to the size of the package. I've had them hold an 18"x18"x16" moving-box for 2 weeks before, but your mileage may vary.

I'll also note that many self-storage facilities in the U.S. can accept packages on your behalf and hold them for a couple of days. Generally they will not actually put the package into your storage unit, but if you are planning to have a storage unit anyway you could ship items to the storage facility and go there to put them in the unit when they arrive.

  • +1 for not bringin stuff that's not required. You should check about the prices where you move, though usually prices in the US are lower to EU ones (no VAT) – SztupY Mar 21 '14 at 16:54
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If you want to ship your stuff to the U.S. you can use air freight, which takes only a few days in transit and is not that expensive (I paid $500 to ship 800 pounds of stuff).

So one option would be to keep your stuff at home (with friends or relatives), ready to ship. When you find an apartment, have everything shipped to your U.S. address and within a few days you'll get your stuff.

  • It's definetly an option, but I have a strong disbelief of US service providers being unable to deliver on something as simple as transfer-storage-transfer proxying; but my google-fu fails – Gabriel Belinsky Mar 20 '14 at 22:50
  • It's not that simple. International carriers have to play by certain rules when shipping something to the U.S. It may work, but after a lot of research my conclusion was that shipping by air freight was the best option. – Philippe Leybaert Mar 20 '14 at 22:55
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It sounds like you are looking to store your stuff in the UK and then ship it to the US once you have an address. I would suggest you go the other way. Ship your stuff to a storage facility in the US while you are still in the UK. This way you can be present at both ends of the shipping process. Further, you will save yourself the storage fees while the items are in transit. Finally, you will have you stuff in the US as soon as you are ready for it. If for example, you really need something off your computer, you could go to the storage facility, bring it back to wherever you are staying and then return it to the storage facility. That said, I wouldn't bother shipping a computer unless you are already shipping a lot of stuff.

Depending on how you are shipping stuff you may not even need an address before sending it. If you do there are tons of companies that provide self storage in the US. One reputable company that has a national presence in the US and a number of sites in San Francisco is Public Storage. They seem to offer an online rental setup so it should be no problem setting it up from the UK.

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