Should I sell my furniture or move it to Mexico? This was a big question we faced when we decided to move to Cabo San Lucas. Do we start over and buy everything new, or do we hire a moving company to bring our furniture, art, clothes and other household goods to Mexico?
When we first started thinking about moving to Los Cabos full-time, we thought we would totally start fresh. New country, new home, new furniture, new art, new appliances…you name it. We wanted new everything! We wanted a totally fresh start. Then we began to look into the cost of buying everything new versus moving our belongings with us. And we started to really evaluate what was the smartest thing for us to do.
Our starting point was a pre-move trip to Cabo. We spent a day furniture shopping. There are lots of amazing home furnishings options here. Gorgeous contemporary, classic Mexican and everything in between. There are so many people buying homes here that a whole market has been built to serve the needs of these new homebuyers. Even Costco sells a lot of decent furniture. But after looking around, we realized that we would have to spend quite a bit of money to replace what we already owned with pieces of a similar quality.
So, we came home and began looking at what we already owned and what could actually work in our new Cabo home. We had bought a three-bedroom, three-bath condo in Cabo, which was not as large as our Scottsdale home in terms of square footage, but the basic layout was exactly the same. We started to really eye our furniture and art and realized that we did have some great pieces that could work well in our new place.
We started exploring our moving options and learned that we could move our household goods duty free. We could move our furniture, art, clothing and anything that wasn’t brand new and not pay an import tax. If we were to purchase new items (less than six months old) in the States and ship them to Cabo, we would have to pay a 28 percent import tax. You can get detailed Customs information in the Expats In Mexico/Mexico/Immigration section.
We decided it made sense to move what we needed instead of buying everything new. We were applying for Permanent Residence visas and when we visited the Mexican Consulate in Phoenix, they gave us detailed instructions on what we would need to do. It was a bit overwhelming to say the least. The paperwork needed and the trips back and forth to the consulate made me very nervous. What if we missed a step or did something wrong?
Then a friend suggested we look into a company called Arnian, which is an export moving company based in San Diego. While this is not meant to be an ad for Arnian (there are other companies that offer similar services), I cannot say enough great things about the help they provided us and at a very reasonable cost. We avoided having to go back and forth to the consulate. And instead of having to prepare a detailed Lista de Menaje de Casa (a list of our household goods in Spanish), we just had to provide Arnian with a packing list of what was in each box. They took it from there and did all the necessary paperwork.
Since we were in Arizona, we did have to hire a local company to pick up our things in Scottsdale and get them to Arnian’s warehouse in San Diego. But even with two moving companies, we still spent less than US$10,000 to ship our household goods to Mexico and furnish our new home. And from pick-up date to delivery in Cabo, it took only two weeks.
Were we disappointed that we didn’t make a fresh start? Not at all. We did decide to leave behind a lot that didn’t feel Cabo-like and purchase a few new pieces when we arrived. The result is that we feel like we have blended our Arizona life with our new life in Cabo. We have a home with furniture and art that has history with us, and new local art and a few key pieces of furniture from our new country. The best of both worlds!
You can get more detailed information on your moving options in these two Expats In Mexico articles: “Moving to Mexico: International Moving Companies” and “Moving to Mexico: Self-Moving.”