Being digital nomads like us means a few things are a given. A few of them:
- You’ll make friends in different cities and countries around the world.
- You may never settle down in an area, even as you get to know it well.
- You decide to move every so often.
It’s that third one that recently concerned us — specifically, moving from Khon Kaen (in northeastern Thailand) to Krabi (in Southern Thailand). Between language barriers presenting few options and not always feeling like there’s a lot of choices, we decided to go with one option that I’m surprised we hadn’t thought to try before:
The postal service.
That’s right — Thailand Post, in our case. Bear in mind parts of this part will fall into the ‘it worked for us because of our specific circumstances’ category, while other parts will fall into the ‘it will work for you too, but keep this in mind’ category.
Some of those specific circumstances look like this:
- We have very little furniture (a couple of bookshelves and an office chair I splurged on were the two biggest things, but we did a couple of bikes to transport — more on this in a bit)
- We culled a fair bit of stuff — clothes we didn’t wear, stuff that was gathering dust, and so on. Moving is a good time to do that.
- We didn’t want to waste time or money — something that took a lot of time to save a few bucks (or spending a lot more money to save a little bit of time) isn’t worth it.
- We didn’t mind packing our own boxes and putting in a bit of manual labor.
In any case, Khon Kaen to Krabi clocks in at 1,222 kilometers, and we made the move — with all our stuff — for $358.46. Here’s how we did it.
Step one: collect (or purchase) boxes
Pretty much any kind will work, though I’ll note Thailand Post has 6 sizes available from 9 to 32 baht apiece. The biggest one is 30cm x 45cm x 20cm, big enough for plenty of rolled clothes.
Step two: pack it up, pack it in, let me begin
Self-explanatory, right? One thing the Thailand Post boxes are good for is folding in on themselves so they stay closed without tape (but you’ll want to tape it up anyway).
Step three: transport your boxes to the post office
(A shoutout and thanks to Scott and his lovely wife Kat for helping with transport and communication!)
Whether you rent a truck, ask a friend, or schlep it all via your own vehicle, getting it there is sometimes the biggest challenge. We had 23 boxes in total, so we went around back to the loading dock and borrowed a cart (and two of the most run-down grocery carts I’ve ever had the ‘privilege’ of pushing).
Step four: tape and wrap
The staff stepped up here big-time. We got the addresses on, then the staff got taping and wrapping with a sturdy plastic tie. We brought them in untaped, in case we were going over weight limits or needed to be inspected for some reason — apparently, for domestic shipments there are no inspections. The post office boxes are good for up to 20 kilograms, by the way.
Step five: Address and send
And here might become part of the issue for some folks. As explained in the ‘3 Days to Settled’ post, we’ll book a hotel for a few days, get a feel for the area, then meander around the apartment options and ultimately pick one. We could have opted to send everything to the already-booked hotel, but that presents some other issues: where do you stack 23 boxes in a (typically) small hotel room?
Instead, we opted to send the packages to the Krabi Town Post Office, poste restante style. Scott’s wife wrote the following in Thai:
Poste restante officially exists in Thailand, and while you could write poste restante, what was written above translates to ‘hold at the Krabi post office’, so it works out the same. The magic word there is the first one, รอจ่าย (roh kay) — this gets it delivered to the Krabi post office.
Check the rates for yourself over at http://www.thailandpost.co.th/rate.php — 5 kilograms in country cost us the grand price of 95 baht (about $3 USD), while the heaviest box we had (just under 12 kilometers) was 185 baht (about $5.75 USD). It’s all based on weight as you’d guess. I’ll note that the one-price boxes we used actually weren’t — there must have been something lost in translation, or I misunderstood the services available.
Interlude — about the bikes…
Yeah, we didn’t actually realize how expensive shipping the bikes would be. The cargo-type service is called Logispost, and it’s basically the service that handles bigger items, cargo, and such up to 200kg. Each bike cost 1,560 baht (about $48 USD) to ship (recall this is a 1,220km trip and it’s based on zones). That said, it’s a lot easier than trying to A: get it on a plane, B: get it to the bus terminal, or C: get it on the bus.
Step six: travel from old city to new city
Fly or bus — your call. We bussed it from Khon Kaen to Bangkok, then transferred to another bus for Krabi. Looking back, we might’ve splurged on the flight from Bangkok to Krabi, or at least been a bit more cognizant on how long it takes to get from A to B. (Being aware that buses don’t run all night from Bangkok’s largest bus terminal would have helped as well — we don’t always have it perfectly organized!)
Step seven: find a place to move
My usual first step is to jump on Facebook and Google to find some people to work with. We found a couple of local real estate companies and went to see close to a dozen places between the two of them. (Thanks to Nico and Wayne for being awesome.) Trying to take everything into consideration takes some time, naturally. It wasn’t too surprising to learn things were tight with the high season coming (it starts in November), but we eventually found a place we could live with.
Step eight: get everything to the new place
With a place chosen, we worked with the realtor and our new landlord, the latter of which arranged a truck to get to the post office and transport our boxes to the new house. There was still the matter of unpacking and such, but we were in!
The breakdown for the both of us:
- Shipping 23 boxes: 3,450 baht ($106.63 USD)
- Shipping 2 bikes: 3,120 baht ($96.43 USD)
- Purchasing 20 boxes from the Thai post office: 640 baht (at 32 baht each) ($19.78 USD)
- Labels: 12 baht ($0.37 USD)
- Parking at the post office: 20 baht ($0.62 USD)
- Bus tickets from Khon Kaen to Bangkok: 840 baht ($25.73 USD)
- Bus tickets from Bangkok to Krabi: 1,360 baht ($41.66 USD)
- Hotel for 3 nights, booked ahead: 1,950 baht ($59.73 USD)
- Songthaew rides to the realtors: 400 baht ($12.25 USD)
- Truck from the post office to the new home: 500 baht ($15.32 USD)
- Grand total: 11,702 baht ($358.46 USD)
In short, the post office is the way to go. A couple of quick pro-tips:
- Hold onto your receipt and use it to ensure you get all your boxes. All of our boxes (save one) ended up on the same pallet, which made getting loaded easier.
- Count and double-check your boxes every step of the way. Sure, you can hope they’ve done it for you, or you can take a few seconds you ensure you have all your boxes in order. We, uh, forgot one because we assumed they had put all the boxes on the pallet.
How have you moved on the cheap?