How To Save Money On Your Furniture Removals

We are prompted to talk to you about this topic because it is one of the biggest ways you can save money. A lot of people don’t understand how many variables make up a furniture removals quote. So I wanted to explain that to you a little bit. And I would hope that you’re all doing two things: 

  1. You are having a proper assessment done. So you’re having somebody come to the house and assess your furniture. 
  2. You are not trying to compare a registered accredited removalist with a company that’s not accredited. 

So what do I mean by that? An accredited removalist would be somebody who belongs to perhaps BAR or FIDI


Removalists who are accredited are much more reliable. They have a duty of care and they have a commitment to quality assurance within that accreditation. If you are moving with an accredited removalist, you’ve got more protection and are guaranteed a better moving experience.

Remember, you’re giving your worldly goods over to these people to put out on a big ocean and send to Australia.

Cheap and cheerful doesn't always work

I had a lady call me, who tried the cheap and cheerful removalist and thought she would back it up with lots of insurance. Unfortunately, Mr Cheap and Cheerful went into liquidation and her container was dropped off in Brisbane instead of Melbourne. It was 8 days later that she was told her container had been offloaded. She was already receiving penalties and fines from Brisbane Port because the container was there illegally.

So that in itself cost her thousands and insurance didn’t help because the removals company had gone under along with their internal insurance cover. So cheap and cheerful doesn’t work. Rather have an accredited removalist.

I completely understand you’re reading this to save money. Accredited removalists are a little bit more expensive, but they come with guarantees and work standards that will save you nasty and costly surprises

What Not To Bring

I was consulting with a family of four who is looking to move to Australia. They were coming from America. Husband has a job here and they don’t even know where to start.

We started with:

  1. What they did and didn’t want to bring,
  2. How quickly they needed to move, and 
  3. How quickly they would need these items when they arrive.


They were interested in bringing all their beds.  A chest of drawers, dining room table…sort of just a few essentials. No white goods because they were coming from America and that was a different voltage system.

We discussed that what they could look at was only filling a twenty-foot container. Generally, for a family of four or more, it would be a forty-foot container. But if they just wanted to bring a few essentials they could get away with a twenty-foot container.


We then started breaking their list down further.  I explained that the bed sizes in Australia are different to America. In fact, the bed sizes from most countries are different to Australia. Actually, I should say that the other way around. Australia’s bed sizes are different to a lot of other countries. They considered this along with the ages of their children and decided the children would need new bigger beds in a year anyway.

Dining room table

The dining room table is a ten-seater dining room table. Well, I had seen these before, all still wrapped up and in the garage because it’s doesn’t fit an Australian home. Americans and South Africans for that matter have some of the biggest homes on the planet. And often bring oversized furniture and cannot get into the house. I’ve seen it time and time again. 


We were on Zoom and I could see bookcases behind them and I suggested they don’t bring bookcases. Bookcases here are extremely cheap to replace. Leave them behind unless they’re really, really sentimental.

Finally, I had two reminders for them: 

  1.  If there’s anything that you can dismantle yourself consider doing this because having the removalist dismantle and reassemble costs money (unless you are time poor and need this done)
  2. Don’t forget what’s in the back of cupboards and although you might think you don’t have a lot. Once you start unpacking, you find you do have a lot.

Choose airfreight

As we whittled down their list of what they were bringing–sans the beds and dining room table, we now set with kids’ toys, clothes and a few bits and pieces. 

They asked me how much it would cost to send a twenty-foot container. I said to them they could estimate anything between maybe $8,000 to $12,000.  These are ballpark figures and I’ll go into why but there’s a lot of things that influence a quote. 

“That’s a lot of money,” they said. “So why don’t you just send it air freight?” I suggested. Airfreight works on the weight of the goods rather than the volume that sea freight works on. Boxes of air freight–and I suggested five to six standard boxes–would cost them around $5,000. 

Now that doesn’t sound like value for money; I get it. Five boxes at $5,000 is $1,000/ box! But it comes with these two main advantages:

  1. that’s less money they’re spending. 
  2. the air freight is going to arrive as soon as they finish quarantine. They’re not going to wait months for a container and the reason they wanted to bring the kids toys and some of their things was for comfort. 

So in that situation sending five boxes or six boxes at $5,000 worked out as a better option for them for what they needed than spending double that and waiting three months. It also gave them money to replace the goods they needed soon after arrival. 

It might not be for everybody but I thought that case scenario might help you a little bit to just think outside the box of what you want to take and what you don’t want to take.

Do not share a container

Why didn’t I suggest they share a container? Now you might ask me why I didn’t suggest that they rather consider LCL or groupage, which is where you share a container. Well, sharing a container during COVID is not a good idea, basically because there’s a lot of people that are not moving at the moment. 

What happens with groupage and LCL containers is they will wait in port until the container is full. So if you’ve gone with Mr Cheap and Cheerful who’s not moving a lot of people on this shipping line, you could have your container sitting at the exit port for months on end. I literally know people who have been waiting 6 months now for their goods. 

My top tip would definitely be: during COVID, do not share containers. If you see LCL or groupage on the quote, which looks much cheaper, then you will no doubt waste money while you are without your worldly possessions. You eat out more, order more takeaways and are generally out of routine until your goods arrive.  In most cases, you have replaced cutlery and crockery because you just can’t wait any more. 

What influences the price of furniture removals?

I’m going to explain this because I want you to look around. Look at your house and think about whether you know whether this is worth it or not.

“Should I be bringing this?”

The other reason I wanted to talk about this is that I see too many questions on social media where they’re saying how much does it cost to send a forty-foot container from X port to A port. There are too many things that influence a price. 

Difficult access leads to higher labour costs

Look at your house, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is a truck going to be able to get up your driveway? Or are there overhanging trees?
  • Do you perhaps live in a community where they might need a shuttle vehicle to ferry your goods to the truck that might be waiting outside?
  • How much packing is involved? 
  • Perhaps, you’re living in an apartment in London or Paris. Are they going to need a cherry picker to get to your window to move a bed out of the apartment?
  • Do you live in an apartment block where you need a lift? Removalists work all their quotes on ground level and first floor only. Are they going to need to use the lift? This will also result in additional labour because the lift slows down progress and your apartment must be packed up within a timeframe. 
  • Does your home have stairs?. If you’re living in a three-level townhouse, that’s going to add to the cost again because it’s going to be slower for them to pack the truck as they move up and down the stairs. Hence, they’ll need more people power to get the job done in one day.

All of these issues can lead to more labour needed, an extra one or two people for your move will impact the cost. Labour attributes to a big part of your removals quotes. The more they’ve got to pack, the more people they need. Shuttle vehicles, need a person to stay at the truck, to drive the shuttle and then the packers. So, access always makes a difference to your prices. 

Overland transport

Where is the port? Where is your nearest port in relation to your home? Let’s take South Africa for example. If you’re living in Cape Town or Durban, you can’t compare to somebody who’s moved from Johannesburg. Or if you’re living in London, you can’t compare with somebody who’s living in Birmingham because the transport costs to go from your house to the port all add to the price of your removals quotes. The type of transport used overland will also impact the price and timing of your move, whether your container is sent by rail or road. 

Think about what you're moving

Pianos are a specialist item to move and besides perhaps not fitting in an Australian home, you can rent one in Australia should you need it urgently. 

Think about artwork. Artwork or special TVs that need crating adds to the cost. Do you need to bring those items?


The last point I want to talk about is insurance. Now, this is definitely where you need to pay attention when you’re comparing removals quotes. Insurance is usually 3% and shouldn’t be more than 4.5%. Otherwise, they’re ripping you off. Three and a half per cent is kind of the norm for international insurance. 

When you receive your removalist quotes, it will have the total at the bottom. That will NOT include your insurance because insurance is based on the value that you place on your items – which you would not have supplied at this early stage.  Therefore this percentage must be taken into account when comparing quotes.  A quote that has a cheaper total but a higher insurance percentage will end up being more costly.  

Whilst on this point, compare the fine print of the excess. Jewellery is never covered under your shipping insurance. So please make sure it’s included under your travel insurance or if you’re working with us, we will contact Glenn Thomas to get some insurance in place for you for any jewellery items or anything else that’s not covered under your shipping.

Time of Moving

One more about saving money. Look at the time of year that you’re moving. The end of the year for Australia is our summer. And generally, a lot more people in most countries will move during summer. Bear that in mind because the removalists have so much business during summer in whatever country you’re moving from. That influences your quotes because the removalists are not offering any discounts or anything to get your business. They’ve got enough business during summer, prices are at a premium – along with hotel costs, car hire and everything else.

So just a quick recap

The biggest way to save money is to get your goods as quickly as possible. Definitely in COVID, please don’t share containers. It’s just going to sit at the port and the longer you’re without your goods, the more hidden costs you can incur on this side. Please check the insurance that you’re not being ripped off there.

Also, don’t compare cheap and cheerful to an accredited removalist. But understand that an accredited removalist is going to be a much safer option. And you can rather save money in deciding what to bring and what not to bring. Lastly, consider the timing of your move. Summer is usually when a lot of people move.

You can also watch this video:

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3 Responses

  1. It’s interesting to know that beds from Australia would usually be different from our country and other countries. With that in mind, I should mention this to the furniture removal services that I will hire this year. It’s because we will move to a new home, and the bed that we got was gifted from a friend from that country years ago.

  2. It’s interesting to know that choosing the time of our move will help us save money as well. I would ask about that when I find removalists in our area to plan for my move which I have wanted to do since last year. I just want to live in a bigger flat this time, because I wanted to finally get a dog as a companion.

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