Vehicle dilemma: To ship or not to ship

Vehicle dilemma: To ship or not to ship

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

When the exuberant excitement of overseas orders inevitably begins to wane, the questions start to kick in. Which pieces of furniture will fit? Do I bring all my books or put them in storage? Is it worth bringing the piano? And one of the most crucial, do I bring my car or not? For those who own one car and don’t have the hassle of two, it’s a fairly straightforward answer. The government will pay for one car to either be shipped to your gaining destination or be put into storage at your current location. However, if you are a multiple-vehicle household, the answer isn’t always as clear. Here are some things to think about when considering shipping more than one vehicle.

Size can make a difference. In the States, it’s quite common to see really large cars. The roads and parking spaces are wider, and parking garages have ample height and width clearance. In Europe, space is much more limited. The autobahn and motorways are considerably narrower (especially in construction zones) than their American counterparts. Parking spaces are much tighter, and the garages have slightly lower clearances. However, on military installations, there is a bit more road and parking space. We have driven a medium-sized SUV in both Germany and the U.K. without much issue. We tend to park further out and drive our smaller vehicle in the city centers. Also, if you have a larger vehicle due to family size, it can be difficult to find a car that will accommodate you.

The price is right. If you own your vehicle or are close to paying it off, it may be worth it to bring with you. You know how the car handles and you could save money without having to worry about a payment. At the same time, if it’s an older model with a history of mechanical problems, you may want to consider cutting your losses and buying a car when you arrive to your new base. Because shipping a second vehicle will be at your own expense, be sure to obtain different quotes from various shipping companies. If the cost to ship is more than your car, it may be easier to leave it behind.

Location, location, location. You’ll notice very quickly that American models tend to stand out. Granted, there are a few that are the same but more often than not, they’re very easy to spot. That said, if something goes wrong mechanically, it can be more difficult and lengthier to obtain the correct parts. In the U.K., it becomes even more apparent as British vehicles are left-hand drive. Going through drive-thru lanes and parking gates can pose a logistical problem when you drive a car with the steering wheel on the opposite side. It can also present challenges when passing vehicles on the left, as it’s more difficult to see around. On the flip side, it’s much easier to park on the street and gauge where the sidewalk is.

At the end of the day, it truly boils down to what is going to work best for you and/or your family situation. We’ve done both — shipped two cars, and also sold one prior to moving overseas and purchasing a used one at our destination. Because one vehicle is paid off and the other was just recently purchased, we’ll be shipping both of them back with us. Take your time, do the research and you won’t regret your decision.

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