Before you pack your things, be realistic about the storage that you will have and the things that you can/will use here. This is a great time to do a huge clear out before you come and hold a garage sale or donate it to charity and use the donation value for your taxes. Also, this will prevent American waste in the landfills which helps improve the opinion of Americans by the locals. If you do bring stuff you don’t need, please donate it to the Airman’s Attic or a local charity shop (will not get a tax break). You can also join the Varagesale group I started, Lakenheath/Mildenhall Sale/Wanted, so that people can give these unwanted items a new home and reduce waste.
Try to pack for a house the size of 1200 square feet or smaller if possible (double for dual military families). It will make finding a home a lot easier! Make sure you ship your household goods (HHG) as early as you can so that they have a better chance of being here once you arrive.
Do not bring small appliances like vacuum cleaners that are 110 volts, you will need a transformer for them. The transformers convert the 240 volt DC (used in the UK) to 110 volt AC (used in the US). The countries also have different frequencies; the U.K. uses 50 Hz whereas the U.S. uses 60 Hz. What does this mean? It means that your items will work at a slower pace. So your 110 volt clocks will not keep time and transformers should not be used with heating appliances such as hairdryers, heaters, curling items etc. The issue with difference in Hz using 110 voltage appliances with the transformers will reduce the life of the item. [i] Turn off the transformers at the wall when not in use. They use 64.8 watts per hour (1.55 KW/H a day and 567 KW/H per year) when idle, use this to do the math on whether you want to keep them running when not in use.
Write down all measurements of the large furniture you are bringing and if they can be dismantled. The reason being for this is that often the stairs in English houses are narrow and steep so while the furniture might fit in the rooms, some people have had trouble getting their furniture up the stairs. I would say that the average house size is 1200 square feet so if you pack with that in mind, you will be able to secure a house that is within your cap and that will save you money.
Ship a box to yourself with sheets, towels and other items you will need straight away which will save you from buying something you already have also this saves you from hauling all over the world in your suitcase.
The base will give you wardrobes (closet size cabinets) and transformers for the length of your tour.
Sofa & Loveseat
Coffee & End tables
Dining Tables & Chairs
FMO will lend you furniture listed above for up to 90 days while you are waiting for your TMO shipment to arrive.
Any heated appliances because they blow up in transformers (i.e. hairdryers).
Holiday decorations except Christmas
Before you bring any of your cordless phones, baby monitors or any other cordless devices check to make sure they can be used over here. Items that are manufactured in the US or Canada may not be designed to be used in the UK and in the European Union. They are designed to be used on different frequencies and the ones from the US can interfere with people trying to place calls for emergencies. If you are caught with an illegal item you will get a warning to stop using the item and if you continue you can get a fine up to £5,000. Just check the items you are bringing over with you that they have a sticker or imprint of CE then it is okay and meets the EU requirements. To be on the safe side, you can get items over here either at the BX or through the Varagesale group already mentioned.[ii]
[i] Royal Air Force Lakenheath, “Before Arrival- What To Bring To England- Household Goods,” accessed May 24, 2013, http://www.lakenheath.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=20385
[ii] Royal Air Force Mildenhall, “Use of Illegal Devices Can Result in £5,000 fine,” updated April, 19, 2013, http://www.mildenhall.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123345085