Sunday, October 4, 2009

R2I - List of things to pack/bring from US

Most of us would've landed in US with just 2 suitcases and a hand luggage. But, over a period of time, we would've accumulated a number of things. It is absolutely not possible to bring ALL the items back to India. So, you have to now make the hard decision of choosing the items that you want to bring back from US. For the folks with kids, the problem increases in magnitude. Are you confused about what to bring & what not to bring? This blog post is aimed at helping you to decide the items that you may want to bring back from US. Hopefully, you should be able to prepare a list of things/items to be shipped to India, after reading this post.

  • Kids' stuff - Your kid's favorite toys, books, artwork, dresses etc., It is going to be very tough for the kids to cope up with this HUGE change (of moving to India). So, you should make sure that you bring all their 'favorite' items. For example, we brought all of my daughter's favorite toys. However, she still longs for some of the other toys that she played with, during her days in US. She recollects them, especially when we see some of our old pictures/videos.
  • Mementos - Things such as souvenirs, gifts, prizes, greeting cards, photos etc., These are some of the things that you cannot 'purchase' after coming back to India. So, I would highly recommend you to bring them back.
  • Electrical/Electronic Items - Almost all the electronic items are available in India, these days - including flat panel TVs, dish washer, microwave ovens etc., The price of electrical/electronic goods are higher when compared to their prices in US. There is atleast 10 - 20% difference in the price. So, use your discretion when deciding to bring electrical/electronic items from US. You can definitely bring back small items such as MP3 players, laptops, cameras, camcorders, DVD players, external HDD and music systems. You don't have to bring items such as TV, refrigerators, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, fans etc.,  (Also read: Goods in US market - lots of options & cheaper price)
    • Kitchen items - All types of utensils are available in India (in fact, most of the utensils that we used in US are the ones that we bought from India). High quality Teflon coated frying pans/utensils are still pricey in India. You may bring some of them if you like. However, if you are going to permanently settle in India, you have to buy them locally anyways after sometime. So, I would highly recommend to buy kitchen items locally & get used to them :)
    • Furniture - Wooden furniture are very cheap in India, when compared to their price in US. Moreover, you get wonderfully (& custom) designed furniture in India. You don't have to bring your beds/mattresses, as you can buy them locally here. If you are going to live with your parents, then most of the household items may already be there in your parents' place.  You may have to consult them before deciding what to bring and what not to bring. (Also read: Nilkamal's @home - Not designed for me)
    • Dresses - Bring back all of your high quality dress items from US. Though most of the dresses that we buy in US are 'Made in India', there is definitely a difference in the quality between "what we get in India" vs. "what is shipped to US".
    • Documents - Bring all of your educational/work/tax/stocks/bank/property/401k/legal documents back from US. Don't miss items such as your kid's birth certificate, medical documents, PIO card, school certificates etc., I would highly recommend you to convert most of the documents to digitized format (i.e., scan them and burn it in a DVD). That way, you can reduce some weight. Do carry a list of your friend's contact numbers & other important contact numbers in hard copy.
    • IP Phone - Get a subscription to an IP based phone service (such as Vonage, Skype, Magic Jack etc.,). I have personally found that Skype works well - it is cheap and the call quality is also great. You can use it like your regular phone - if you have bought a Skype compatible IP phone. (Also read: IP Phone - Magic Jack vs Vonage vs Skype)
    • Car - Most of the folks sell their Car/Vans before leaving US. The cars that we use in US may not be suited for Indian roads & traffic. I learned that the cars with Left Hand Side driver seat are banned in India. (Note: There is a huge difference in the price of cars in US & India. If you are buying an imported car, the price is way too high. For example, the cost of a Honda Civic in India is about Rs. 13 Lakhs (~$26K))
    You may have to clean-up and sell/donate a lot of items, during this process. You can use craigslist for selling your items to local people - so that, people will come to your home to pickup items & you don't have to ship them. You can donate your unwanted items that are in good condition, to Goodwill. You get tax exemption for the amount that you donated, if you get a receipt from the Goodwill store.

    Related posts:

    Return to India - 25 things to do
    Things to take care of, after R2I
    10 things to know if you are Returning to India


    1. Left hand drive cars are banned in India (except in cases like diplomats etc). So no matter how much you love your car in US, it cannot be taken to India.

    2. Nice list!!!
      I would say when packing bag for usa according to me Absolutely necessary things are:

      Pressure Cooker
      Extra Pair of eye Glass/Contact lenses(very expensive here)
      initial supplies(few clothes/brush paste etc.)
      i have also given a detailed list in


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