Our furniture finally has arrived here in Panama. Right now the office looks almost like a warehouse, but we hope to clean up that mess in a few days. It's about time to get back to regular office work without answering relocation related phone calls and emails. One thing is to let a moving company do everything for you and pay the high price associated with that. Another thing is to do it yourself and learn quite a bit about the international freight forwarding business.
In the beginning we looked for a moving company and spoke to the friendly staff at ITO Umzuege, a German moving company located in Alamogordo, New Mexico. You might wonder why we talked to someone that far away from the Tampa Bay area. A few months ago we did a road trip to White Sands desert and came across a big sign saying ITO Umzuege. That caught my attention as I didn't expect to find a German moving company in the middle of New Mexico's desert. Later I learned that ITO helps a lot of German Air Force personnel to relocate from Germany to New Mexico and back due to the joint operations between the US and German military.
It turned out that ITO specializes in full service moving which includes everything from packing, through shipping, customs clearance and unpacking. That was more service than we wanted, so we were told to call some of the ocean freight companies they have worked with. So we called Rose Maritime for a quote about trucking and ocean freight from Tampa, Florida to Panama City, Panama. In the end we decided to go with Interworld Freight based in Miami due to the fact that they are a Latin American company with a partner in Panama. It proved to be a good choice as their their Panamanian partner Dualtec Cargo took care of all the hassle getting something out of customs usually involves.
The 40' container was first trucked from Miami to Tampa to our house and then taken back to the port of Miami the same day. It sailed for about a week to the port of Colon at Panama's Caribbean coast. There customs did their thing and after a few days it was trucked 80 km to Panama City on the other side of the isthmus.
In the end we were glad to have chosen the do-it-yourself route instead of the everything-included service provided by moving companies. It's not a big problem to pack boxes yourself and loading and unloading help is available for a small price. To give an example: we paid about $400 to load the 40' container in Tampa and about $180 to unload it in Panama City. The payment in Panama included a generous $30 for beer which the crew of 6 appreciated a lot as it was a Friday and usually Friday is the day of the big party in Latin America. $30 does not sound much, but it really buys a lot of beer here in Panama.
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