Moving House Between Cities in China

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Raoul F. Duke

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Moving House Between Cities in China
« on: October 13, 2008, 12:41:39 AM »
<This is a rework of an earlier thread that, while useful as such, got a bad start and quickly went off-topic...>

Folks who stay in China for more than one year (or less, if they started with the wrong school in the first place... oooooooooo) often find themselves in the position of moving to another city in China, sometimes one that is quite far away.
How does one go about doing thatmmmmmmmmmm

First of all note that the "relocation services" advertised on many expat sites are outrageously expensive! You can get the job done for much, much less than what those guys charge...

The most sensible way to move cross-country in China seems to be China Railway Express (CRE). Their rates will vary with the starting and ending locations, but are generally surprisingly reasonable. To find CRE, use your local telephone directory (you'll need assistance here if you don't speak or read Chinese), or find their office at most local train stations.

Some CRE locations will load up your belongings, take them to the train, then bring them to your new apartment. Some will also store your belongings briefly (ie a few days) until you are ready to receive them. Others, however, will not. Be sure and negotiate ahead of time what's possible, and make sure you're clear on how everything will happen, when your belongings will arrive in the new city...and how much it will cost.

If CRE will not load/deliver your things, you'll need to find local trucks and drivers to help with this. Some can also provide moving crew to do the totin' and liftin'. You can find a local moving service through the phone directory, through the local CRE office, or through your employer or local friends.

Generally, you pay part of the moving cost when your items are delivered into CRE's custody, and the rest paid when the items are returned to you.

Before moving, you'll need to pack all your belongings securely into boxes. It can take up to a week to get your items moved, depending on how far you are moving, so be sure and pack enough to carry with you in your suitcase! CRE offices generally have secure, good-quality boxes available for sale at extra cost. Using their boxes, however, is not required. Large items, such as furniture, should be disassembled into their components if possible to make them easy to move. CRE will often do some repacking to make your items more secure and stable, and may cover furniture items with cardboard to protect them from bumps and nicks. IT'S RECOMMENDED THAT YOU MAKE A LIST OF WHAT ITEMS YOU ARE MOVING, AND WHICH BOX THEY ARE IN...

Generally, CRE is USUALLY (note the use of the word 'usually') pretty safe when it comes to handling your belongings, and not stealing them. However, you shouldn't push your luck here. Pack your things securely to help them survive riding in a train car...and being thrown onto and off of said train car. You should carry and move all items that are especially fragile or valuable yourself.

Upon arrival, be sure to check your belongings to make sure they are present and accounted for, and in good shape. (This is where that list mentioned above comes in handy...) Don't pay or sign anything until you're happy. It IS reasonable to expect CRE to be responsible for your things, although they will probably squeal like pigs in the process. Ignore this and stick to your guns.

With a bit of planning and care, moving between cities in China can be pretty painless...and a lot cheaper than back home. bfbfbfbfbf

It IS possible to ship some things via China Post. However, this can be considerably more expensive than CRE, especially if you have a lot of stuff, and not necessarily safer from damage or theft. To get more information on this route, check at the local post offices that handles freight and parcels....not all post offices in China do this.

Becster79 originally posted: "What a timely thread, I was about to post about my own moving!

Anyway, I'm moving from Baoji, Shaanxi, to Ganzhou, Jiangxi, so it's a BIG cross country move. I wouldn't even consider doing this in my OWN country, let alone China th_ao, but there you go.

I've decided on railway moving. I have no major pieces of furniture to move (though I have heard of other laowai successfully doing this on the train, entire houses!). Just today I went to the station to enquire about it. They have pretty strict rules regarding packing, don't secure everything up til the day- they will check everything and seal it up (for an extra fee of course!).

From Baoji to Ganzhou will cost me 4.3Y/kg, and if I want insurance, 1% of the total cost. Handling fee is included. Not bad! They even provide a delivery service to a particular address if you wish- again, extra fee, but may very well be worth it, especially if I won't be there for a month or so before it arrives. Oh, and it would take 7 days max, though I don't need any speedy service.

If I do get it delivered, I can get someone at the other end to collect it for me, I just need to fax them a copy of the receipt. That person also must show their ID card.

That's what I have so far. I will send everything in the next month, probably about a week or two before leaving. Though this info also may be useful for someone else."

Ruth originally posted: "I used the train shipping service when moving from Liaoning to Guangdong in Dec 2006.  We had over 40 boxes.  Did I mention I'm a pack rat and I live with one?  Only one breakage (my coffee pot  th_an ), but that was poor packing on my part.  Definitely pack well because the boxes take a bashing.

Take a Chinese friend to the train station with you the day you are shipping.  They will have to write on a sticker for every box. (I have saints for friends; what a chore.)  If you aren't following immediately, definitely get the delivery service because they charge by the day for storage beyond 2 or 3 days of the arrival.

Edit - I was also instructed to label each box with the address of the final destination.  Had a friend write it for me and I made photocopies.  If you are having someone else pick it up you could put c/o the school, or that person's name.

To both of you - good luck with your moves.  Exhausting work, packing."

Cheekygal originally posted: "I sent stuff by train from Harbin to Qingdao, it took something like 3 or 4 days and cost me about 160+RMB for two big boxes and one small suitcase. The only inconvenience of doing it yourself is that you gotta pick it up. You could use some company that would take it from your house, send it and someone at the other end would receive and deliver it to you."
"Vicodin and's a great combination!" (Anthony Bourdain, in Harbin)

"Here in China we aren't just teaching...
we're building the corrupt, incompetent, baijiu-swilling buttheads of tomorrow!" (Raoul F. Duke)

Re: Moving House Between Cities in China
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2008, 02:49:27 AM »
Endnote to my moving experience-

I assume my FAO picked my boxes up from the railway station, when I arrived everything was there in one piece and untampered with (remember I went with CRE) waiting for me in my new apartment here in Ganzhou. Just a couple of things broke, like Ruth, poor packing from me (such as the grinder part of my blender ananananan). From Baoji to Ganzhou, a good halfway cross country move, cost 350Y, plus another 100 whacked on for "insurance" (couldn't quite get out of them exactly what this was though!).

Would have no probs using CRE for my next move.
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Re: Moving House Between Cities in China
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2008, 04:15:38 AM »
This time I had to move via post office. During the Olympic time everything was overpriced and no one wanted to move my stuff for normal prices. So I took gradually bag by bag around 200kgs to the post office and sent around 7 boxes to Zhuhai from Beijing. The post office people were very helpful and did all necessary in order to have these boxes delivered on time. It took around 3-5 days. The only pain was the receiving part: we lived on the 5th floor with no elevator. Boxes were actually all accounted for but due to rainy season they were a bit damaged and wrapped around a few times already on the way with scotch tape (nothing disappeared).