The Final Countdown

*Cue theme music*

The movers come in 5 days to pack us up for China, which means we have only 4 days left to get our act together and we’re working two of those days. Of course we have been starting preparations here and there along the way (new roof, new furnaces, new shrubs, fixing discolored drywall, sealing the deck, sealing the driveway, selling the cars, house advertised for rent, getting Kenobi to stop barfing), but it seems like every time I turn around there is even more to do! For fun I’m going to share a list of all the “prepping” we have been doing in the hopes that I’ll remember some of the things I have forgotten…Here goes.

  • Documentation: probably the most important of all is our Z (work) visas, alien employment licenses, and medical clearance letters. We just got everything back two days ago, only to realize we did not, in fact, get everything back. One of my two medical clearance letters was missing. The consulate has since over-nighted it to work and I expect to be able to pick it up on Monday. After that I think we are all set with the paperwork?!

    The first stock-pile
    The first stock-pile
  • Hoarding Stocking-Up: We have been in touch with friends, co-workers in China, and the internet to get the best idea of what items we should plan to bring from the U.S. as they will either be expensive or hard to find in China. We even left an entire suitcase full of some of these with a co-worker on our house hunting trip. The list is quite extensive, but to summarize we will be bringing:
    • Personal care items (lotions/shampoos/deodorants/tampons/sunscreen) as they are either difficult to find or expensive because they are imported. I was told deodorant is especially difficult to find. Perhaps the Chinese are gifted and don’t sweat, but I have not been blessed in that department and will be bringing roughly 5 lbs of the stuff with me.
    • Make-up is quite expensive and has whiting agents in it to lighten skin (the opposite of the look most Americans are going for these days). Our air shipment specifically says not to include it or the shipment might be delayed or taxed, so that has to come in my checked bag(s), of which I am anticipating having 3.
    • Comfort foods and other hard to come by cooking items have been purchased or are being packed including the difficult to find syrup and vanilla extract and popcorn. I have also stocked up on a few choice processed foods (who doesn’t love mac n’ cheesed shaped like star-wars characters?!) and snacks.
    • Gifts: for whomever we encounter and later find out it is customary to give a gift to. In fact we just purchased a shirt for a co-worker to give his driver as a gift. Most of what we have is non-size specific gifts of the chocolate variety, complete with American/English packaging. Our Mandarin teacher said the foreign packaging will increase the value of the gift in the eyes of the receiver. Who knew?!

      New Toy
      New DSLR camera. David is not excited as I am now taking even more pictures these days!
    • Electronics are apparently expensive in China, despite the fact that they are the less expensive option in the states…perhaps they export everything they make? I’m at a bit of a loss on this one, but I did buy a new DSLR camera and accessories to document the journey, and David is in the process of “future-proofing” his desktop computer for speed and awesomeness. I will be bringing my iMac and any other devices I use frequently that can handle the 220V/50Hz input. We are indeed a house divided, but the Mac/PC debate has (thankfully) not managed to ruin our marriage. (We will both be getting iPhones for work, is it bad that I am not-so-secretly pleased about this?) Air purifiers were also procured for the trip as we like breathing clean air (thanks Marla & Mom!), and David found us a fancy router that can facilitate VPN internet options to my apple TV.

      How many engineers does it take to install a solid state drive? So far the ChemE and EE have had a good go at it, but I think the resident ME who recommended the parts would have made quicker work of this job...I stayed out of this one.
      How many engineers does it take to install a solid state drive? So far the ChemE and EE have had a good go at it, but I think the resident ME who recommended the parts would have made quicker work of this job…
    • I have decided an e-reader will be quite handy in getting around the 20 book maximum (or whatever ridiculously low limit is imposed on air shipments). I will then be able to have as many books as I want!
    • Some clothing, while David has dreams of made-to-fit shirts, we’ve been cautioned that athletic shoes and certain items will not be available in our size (at least not commonly), so I have taken this opportunity to get myself some fancy new clothes that will hopefully be better suited for the warmer climate we are anticipating.

We are really taking our best guess on what other things we need to bring with us. As we still have 4 days until the movers arrive, I can confidently promise we will not know what those other things are until 5pm on Wednesday when the movers have left with all the items they think will fit into our air shipment. I’m debating adding a safe to this list not so much for anti theft purposes as fire/flood protection should we have an issue with the apartment. Renters insurance it seems is not terribly common and much more expensive than in the US.

  • Canceling all the things!
    • Is it bad that I was looking forward to calling and canceling our cable/internet/phone service? That means three years of not having to call every few months and dispute the price increase that came out of nowhere!
    • Changing mailing address on some accounts and starting mail forwarding to our company’s PO box for everything else.
    • Services that we will not be using anymore (bye bye amazon prime, magazines, other memberships that I forget I even have sometimes).
    • House and car insurance, although the house insurance is really switching over to a rental policy.
  • Deciding what every-day items to bring
    • Limited kitchen-ware to get us through the basics. Including that old set of pots/pans/plates/silverware that I hadn’t gotten rid of yet from college (procrastination finally pays off!) some measuring cups, bowls, etc.
    • Some pictures from home so we remember what our families look like when we come back in a year to visit.
    • Pet necessities (check out my other post for a bit more insight on this).
    • Some games and books to entertain ourselves.
    • US stamps. Oddly enough, we were told to bring stamps if we want to mail anything in the US. Work will transport letters via internal mail and put them in the US post for us.
    • Limited decorations, and that’s about it!
  • Selling the cars: luckily David knew a co-worker who was in the market for a lightly used truck with ALL the bells and whistles, and I have recently found someone seriously interested in my manual transmission Jetta. The truck is worth almost 10x more than the Jetta, so we were quite relieved to find a taker on that one.
  • Medical check-ups and beyond. For those of us with a doctor in town (me and the pets I guess) I got a check-up and managed to get an insurance policy exception approved through work for a years worth of prescriptions to bring with me to China! All medicine in China requires a prescription (even over-the-counter things we find in the states), western medicine/medications are hit or miss, and the last thing I wanted was trying to find a new brand/kind what have you when we moved. Needless to say, this was a relief when I found out it was an option.
  • Figure out what to do with our US phone numbers. We would like to keep them as we have been the only people to own them and would prefer not to be reassigned a random number in the future. I had a bad experience with this previously as my old work phone had been owned by a college student named Maggie who did a poor job notifying her contacts that she dropped the number and a John who apparently skipped out on his last bill. Figured that one out when I got my monthly call (for 3 years!) that they would be terminating my service unless the bill was paid. They never did, but I digress…Our current plan is to port the numbers to google voice and pick up a paid skype account or other internet based phone option that we can access on our work smart phones. This will ensure our numbers cannot be “re-purposed” to someone else while we are away. Still have not taken any action on this part yet though, have to cancel our current contracts before that anyway.

These are all the things I can remember for now. I will likely update this post at a later date when I realize all the things I left out/forgot to pack.

Congratulations, you survived this entire post, you deserve a prize! Unfortunately all I have to offer you is a furry cat picture. Kudos to you!

Fat Cat is not amused.
Fat Cat is skeptical.

7 thoughts on “The Final Countdown

  1. I will take a furry cat picture with you in it any day! Reading this really hits home that you are definitely leaving and soon! I can’t believe how fast the time has gone between when we first heard you were considering going to China and now! I hope the time you are gone seems to go by just as quickly, at least for us! We will miss you two more than you know but also know this is a wonderful opportunity and adventure for you. We can’t wait to read and hear all about it!


  2. It’s a lot. It really is. It’s kind of mind blowing. It looks to me like you have everything under control and at some point you just have to take a few breaths and say to yourself, ‘What’s done is done, what isn’t done isn’t and really, what’s the worst that could happen!?’
    As someone that is allergic to cats but LOVES them, I wish I could bury my face in your cats fluff. *sigh*


    1. Everyone asks are we ready and all I keep saying is it’s not coming soon enough. I’m ready for the movers to be here and all the “prepping” to be done. What will be will be, let’s get this show on the road!


  3. I had no idea you could port your phone number to Google Voice! We ended up changing from Verizon to At&t because the latter offered a $10/month ‘hold your phone number’ plan which can be easily activated again once visiting or re-entering the US. Google Voice might save us some serious money…thanks for the tip! Also, I appreciated your nod to hoarding haha! Best of luck with the move!


  4. I feel a bit like Kenobi as I read about your preparations (barfing) because the time for your departure arrived so quickly. I’m excited for you and David, what an adventure! At the same time I’m horrified at the though that I can’t jump in a car and drive up 75 to see you when I feel like it.


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