That is the question my husband and I both asked ourselves before moving to Brazil. However, we looked around our apartment in New Haven and found that the total amount of the IKEA furniture did not amount to the cost and hassle to rent a container and ship our stuff to Brazil, so we opted not to container. My sister and brother in-laws on the other hand opted to container. They spent approximately $7500 dollars or R$18,000 to ship their stuff and it took almost exactly three months (their stuff finally arrived last week).
I think that in some situations renting a container is a good option, mainly because everything in Brazil is so expensive. But R$18000 is a lot of money and if you are going to make this choice it should not be taken lightly. I mean for us the choice was easy because my husband and I were still living like college students at the time and we really didn’t have a lot of nice furniture. But for a family who has built a collection of nice things, this might be the right choice.
A couple of things to keep in mind before you make this decision:
1. Will all of your stuff fit in the container? My in-laws actually had the opposite problem where they had plenty of extra room but were still paying the premium price. So they shipped items for friends and family (including us!)
2. Will all of your things fit in apartment in Sao Paulo? Real estate is at a premium here in Sao Paulo and square footage is expensive! Even to rent. My in-laws could only afford a 645 sq ft apartment but have enough stuff for a 1200 sq ft apartment.
3. Will your appliances fit in an apartment in Sao Paulo? Everything here is smaller, even the appliances and space is again limited. But I get that in the US things are bigger and better (and cheaper) but be realistic. My in-laws bought a huge two door refrigerator in the US and now they have to spend more money to move their sink to fit it in their apartment. Also their washer and dryer are so big they won’t pass the door into the laundry room. (Just and FYI, their American refrigerator would cost R$10000 here in Brazil – I told them they should sell it, buy one that fits and use the remaining money to pay off the container).
4. Be prepared to wait. Originally, the container should have arrived two months after it was shipped from the US but of course this is Brazil and their stuff was delivered to the wrong port. They then had to wait for another ship to come along and pick up their container and deliver it to the right port. Meanwhile my in-laws had to pay for the extra time it took for the rental of the container and the extra rental time at the port.
5. What will you do in the meantime? My in-laws were lucky because they had us to stay with and help from my husband’s parents. But if you don’t have a place to stay while you are waiting (either here or in the US), you have two options. One, you can stay in a completely empty apartment for two to three months or two – you can stay at a hotel.
Every person who moves to Brazil has a different set of circumstances; some people only plan to stay for a short time, while others plan to make their life here. Whatever your situation, take the time to really weigh the pros and cons of renting a container because you could do a lot with R$18000. One of the things I love most about living in Brazil is living more simply and not feeling the pressure of needing so many things.
If you have any of your own container stories feel free to share!