Whether to ship from US, or buy in France

As I pack up my apartment in California for my relocation to France, I'm having difficulty knowing what to ship v. what to buy in France. Is it worth bringing my relatively inexpensive printer? (HPDeskjet) Will I be able to buy cartridges for it? More cost effective to buy another one in France? The printer is on my mind at the moment, but other things will occur to me. Any information on whether to bring or buy would be welcome.

Hi - I found that I couldn't buy the proper cartridges for my NEW HP. Buy one here.

Spices, yes can be bought from the UK but Red Pepper Flakes and other flavors we like are not available (have had to have mine shipped from USA) The movers packed our stash of Dove and what a happy surprise that was! Wish we had packed more. Ziplock freezer baggies for sure. OTC drugs, most definitely. Baby oil if you use it.

Bon voyage!

Not exactly the same as what you get in the US Southwest, but a good resource I'm sure!

All sorts of chili spices etc. here


I can thoroughly recommend the firm.

Bring your "tupperware" and consider buying up on Ziploc bags! Also, I would bring/buy clothes and shoes from the States, definitely!

For your printer, remember the sizes of paper are different so if you bring yours it may print "oddly" on the A4 and A3 paper size...honestly, I would just buy one here.

In general, you don't need to buy new, depending on the area that you live in you should be able to find a lot of "gently used" items (like the printer) on sites like leboncoin.fr (kind of like Craigslist but a little less "scary") or the classifieds section of AngloInfo.com or SFN. I live in the Riviera and it is very "transient" so a lot of expats coming and going and we were able to buy everything we needed second hand through these types of sites.

One other thing...spices! As in "hot" spices are pretty limited to non-existent here. If you like Mexican/Southwest/TexMex or Thai/Asian spices you should bring some along. I stock up on McCormick's Ancho Chile, Chipotle, etc. when I go back as well as prepared horseradish!

Good luck!!

I'm only bringing furniture, antique, and clothes, I plan onjust purchasing pretty much everything else, but my power tools, I will buy adapters for them, until they break. Any advice on what I should bring from the Colonies? Etats Unis.?


Thank you, that will be good news.

Hi Bruce please tell your wife we do have brown sugar. It's called cassenade and is widely available and we do have molasses, called here mélasse noire de canne de sucre. You can even get Golden Syrup which is popular with us Brits. I've seen the last on sale on French websites as well as the British ghetto in the supermarket.

All of this information is so helpful and I appreciate everyone taking the time to respond. I don't bake--so lack of brown sugar won't be a problem, but I do take otc medicines for allergies and heartburn (when I over indulge) so will definitely plan to bring a good supply. I buy on-line even here in California where it seems there is a shopping mall on every corner so that should be an easy adjustment. I leave a month from tomorrow and although I still have so much to do, I'm getting very excited.

A little more input about electrical items. Apart from the voltage issue, a small device that includes a motor (like a hairdryer) will be designed to run on 110v 60hz in Calif. The voltage can be stepped up to 220v here but the frequency will remain the same. It should be 50hz here so a motor may run slower or less efficiently. Just don't bother. Also, for the items you do bring, don't spend out on plug adapters. The are expensive compared to just changing the plug to a French one, and can be dangerous in some cases due to bad design causing overheating, arcing, etc. You need them for the little power supplies that come with moulded plugs built into them as used on most electronics devices but the current flow is usually so low that is doesn't cause problems. So apart from a few specific items mentioned above, bring as little as possible, travel light and save money. Then buy what you need after arrival. You will often find it will be cheaper to buy online from UK or another EU country even after paying the Postage. French shops are expensive but there are so many other things that balance out if you can learn to adapt to the life. Good luck.

Janice, my wife thought of a few more things. If you bake, they don't have brown sugar here or molasses.If you have lamps, they'll work fine here as the screw in bulbs are the same size. You'll just have to put on a new plug (easy and I'm incompetent) or use plug adapters. I don't know about pc's but macs work on 110 or 220. You just need a plug adapter. Somewhere on your computer it should tell you if it works on 220. Laptop transformers should also be 110 - 220. I think I bought a bunch of plug adapters on Amazon.

Thanks again for all the responses, its incredibly comforting to have such a resource when questions arise. I'm initially renting an apartment near Montpellier so won't need any heavy duty electronics. As a writer, my computer equipment and internet connection are my main concerns. Just to be sure I understand though, I bought an adapter, but, if I understand correctly, I'll also need a transformer? I will check the online sources some of you mentioned. Bruce, I would not have thought of bringing aluminum foil or paper towels! On the car issue, I would also like to do without one if possible. In looking for places to rent, I opted out for quite a few that looked nice but were a bit too rural to manage without a car. With gas in California at around $4.60 a gallon--I know . . . that's cheap compared to Europe . . . I'm hoping that not having a car will make an appreciable difference to my budget. Now back to the packing boxes and, as you describe it so accurately Celeste, the culling.


We moved in Sept. and brought only some furniture. clothes and some books. Our computers are macs and work fine here but other than that, unless you have something that has a 110-220v transformer, nothing will work here. There are a couple of place in Chicago that sell 220v electrical appliances. We bought a couple of small transformers for things we weren't sure we could buy cheaply here. Bombay electronics is the name of one online store and the other is 220-electronics.com. We also bought an al region DVD player as American DVD's and European are a different format.

Of all things, my wife brought a years supply of aluminum foil and paper towels because the stuff from home is higher quality. I had the idiotic idea of bringing a car with us but the process is so complicated that we decided to do without a car for awhile. We are living in centre ville Bordeaux so this will work for us but if you're going to be rural you'll need a car. Unfortunately, California doesn't have reciprocity with France so you can't swap licenses.

Good luck.

Shop around, import from other EU countries with online sales. I buy original Levi jeans from the USA and that is all, I do not save anything but the quality is far better. A lot of things like power tools come from Germany and Italy, electrical goods from Darty especially. Creative shopping wins over all else.

Thanks everyone, your responses are really helpful. It isn’t until you make the decision to undertake the adventure of moving to another country and some of the initial excitement wanes, that all the nitty gritty questions begin --and I’m quite sure they’ve only just started. I know in the states when I’ve had visitors from England, the usual comment is that things are cheaper than in England. Anyway, this site is a fantastic resource.

www.kelkoo.fr is a good online comparison site that covers most online retailers.

It all depends on what you are talking about. I suppose it comes down to

Cost of Replacement + Incremental cost of shipping + modification needed - Resale value in US = X

"Modification needed" might just be the case of a new mains lead in the case of a modern printer, a car would need far more.

If X is big enough to cover loss of guarantee that might still exist for the item in question, then it might be worth it. If you are talking about something for which spare parts may only exist in the US, then you have to factor in those costs as well.

Once in France, you don't have to buy locally, it all depends on what support you need, I am happy to buy from afar when I don't need local after sales service. I did buy a double oven in the UK for half the price of the equiv here in France on the basis that the pan European guarantee would be supported by Darty but never had to make a claim.

Hi , i would advise bringing anything you can as prices of stuff here is becoming a real joke !

not sure about electricals as i belive the voltage could be an issue , but if you will be looking after a garden then any power driven equipment like mowers etc will be worth bringing.

my current ride on and chainsaw were both bought online and shipped here by airfreight + import duty and this was still cheaper by around 20 %


Thanks so much Celeste, sorry I didn’t see the similar post. I also use aMacBook, I’ll bring that and leave the other electronics behind. Are clothes, I general,better,cheaper?