Our packing for moving to Spain

December 6, 2022

Packing for moving to Spain is bittersweet. It is a lot of work and can trigger a bit of anxiety – honestly, I bet every person on the move feels a bit of cold feet during this process; so if you are feeling it, you are on the right path!

Back to packing, did you decide what you are going to do with your belongings – bring them all? Bring only some? Put in a storage and deal with this latter? All valid possibilities. We brought almost all our stuff, as I have done in my previous international moves. So, if you decide to do the same, keep reading as I share some of those memorable moments. 😉

What we packed and what we did not pack

We are a family of 3 and lived in a three bedroom apartment. We didn’t bring a car and our furniture was not that big either; we did not bring our sofa, table, bed nor our kid’s furniture, because we felt we wanted to update these and this would be a good time to do so, but we did have an office at home, with 4 computers and some six screens, computer tables, bicycles, side and center tables, mirrors, clothes, books and bookshelves, toys and more toys, plus some other furniture pieces. We had a total of 199 volumes (boxes) packed.

packing for moving to Spain
Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels

Initial contact with the moving company

We contacted the moving company, Road Runner, 4 months before our planning time to move, and booked their first visit to our place for the next month. They went, checked everything we would be moving, concluded that everything could be packed in a day and asked about our documentation to make sure we would be able to receive our goods in Spain.

A few days later, they gave us our price estimation. It was about $8.000 at that point, but we were informed that we would still need to include insurance and other minor costs, and also that there could be some extra payments on the other side. We agreed and set the day for them to come and pack, three months later.

Will the moving company come?

I was quite anxious about receiving the moving company’s bill. I thought that our move would only be considered booked for real after we paid the first half of the charge, so I called and e-mailed several times asking for the bill. They were always saying that they would send it soon, but it was not coming. This did add a layer of anxiety to the process; I wish they told me upfront that they would expect to be paid just in the end, but that is not what happened…

So, days passed and when the moving day finally came, I wasn’t sure they would appear; after all, I had not paid. But appear they did, and on time. It took a crew of 6 people a whole day, beginning from around 9 and finishing around 5, to pack everything. One neighbor complained that we had too many boxes on the corridor, so I learnt that I should have informed the community in advance that I was going to move that day; other than that, we had no incidents.

Disassembling and packing for moving

Furniture was disassembled with the help of handy Hubby, that can’t help joining once he sees a screwdriver; glasses were packed in so much paper that they became the size of pots – no bubble plastic was used, to my disappointment. But maybe it was for the best; imagine unpacking and popping at the same time, it would take a lot longer. Also, paper is way more ecofriendly.

Each box was filled, then closed and had our initials, the room and general content type written on top. Something like “ABC, kitchen, pots” or “ABC, Kid’s bedroom, toys”.  Furniture and other items too big to fit in a box were packed in makeshift boxes and strong paper and had the same information written on them.

The crew was experienced and knew exactly what to do; some rooms had one person boxing our goods, others had two, and they switched as some tasks were finished; it was impressive and fast moving.

The uber important Red Box

A very good tip that comes to mind is that the movers will probably have at least some boxes in a different color were you can put special items that you want to unpack first when you arrive. Our’s specials were red, while the normal boxes were cardboard color. I would recommend you put your tools to assemble furniture in those special boxes.

We didn’t know about the red boxes and only found about it when everything else was packed. So, when we were unpacking in the new home, we couldn’t remove some of the big furniture that was left or rebuild our own until those damn tools were found. Guess where they were? In box 198 out of 199, the second to last box we opened! Check with your moving company if they have special boxes. If not, take your own markers or tape and make some huge red stripes on the box that has the toolkits.


Kiddo was in the school for most of the day we were packing for moving to Spain, which helped a lot. When he came back, a lovely neighbor and friend offered to stay with him while the action was still going on in all rooms of the apartment, which also helped a lot. Kiddo did come to see some of what was going on, to have a bit of that experience; it seems to me that seeing the goods being packed is part of the farewell to that place, and he deserved this opportunity. Seeing is better than just knowing about it.

What couldn’t come

We took everything we had, except for the furniture that we wanted to update, food – even my spices had to stay, because they are food, and some are also plants (oregano, basil) ☹ and inflammables – which means quite a few cleaning materials were left, and also the compressed air to clean the keyboards.

By the end of the day, everything else was boxed and put in the moving company truck. From there, the truck would go to their storage and wait until the day to be boarded on the ship that would bring our goods to Spain.

Leaving home for the last time

We went to a hotel after our packing for moving was done, as we didn’t have beds (or anything else) in our home after the packing. We booked the moving company for two days before the plane tickets just in case the crew were not able to finish all in one day (which they did, as expected). But we did stay in our home a lit bit after the moving crew was gone. It was, of course, strange to see it all empty, except for our own luggage, but I feel it was an important part of the transition to see the apartment void of us and our things.

There is something about a big move that needs to be appreciated and lived through, bittersweet as it is. It was a move I had been preparing for 4 years and I couldn’t be happier that it was happening, but it was also the end of a time in our lives and a farewell to some of our dearest friends that we left in the US, hoping strongly that we will see them again in our new home in Spain. Laila & Ben & Ryan, Miriam, Pedro, Odila, Alvarado, Jairo, I am talking about you.

Next: 15 lessons about moving goods abroad (including costs!)

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