Our family of five has been living out of suitcases for the last 4 months

Angela Piper
4 min readApr 4, 2022

Or, shipping your stuff overseas is a nightmare

It has been less than a year since my husband and I looked at each other over drinks on our couch in Texas and decided we were going to move our family to Spain.

The room where it happened

It has been 81 days since we landed in Spain, and moved into our fully furnished rental house. It has also been 100 days since we packed all of our belongings into a shipping container to be shipped to us here in Europe.

I have shared a bit in my stories on Instagram about the saga of awaiting our things and recently had a “friend” respond in my DMs that “it’s just stuff”. To that, I say, girl bye.

You see, 100 days ago, I packed 14 suitcases with what I thought was sufficient clothing for all five of us for about a month. In those suitcases I also had to pack: books to sustain my little readers (and myself), blankets for the plane, pajamas, my husband’s recording equipment (he’s a voiceover artist), teddy bears, shoes, coffee cups (just in case), our computers for work, jackets, supplies for our two cats, and of course: Nintendo Switch games to last us until eternity.

I managed to overthink every decision, including adding an outfit for my daughter’s second birthday in the suitcases. Just in case the delivery of our home goods took any longer than the 6–8 week window we were told to expect. It has. 6 weeks longer.

When I packed up all of our things, I looked at the expected weather in Spain in January and February. We were set to land on January 13th and the best case scenerio was that our shipping container would arrive on February 8th, and the latest estimate was around February 22nd or March 1st.

Naturally, I noticed that the weather was supposed to be temperate-at around 55 or 60 degrees and sunny. Spain averages only 62 rainy days a year, and the area we were moving to averages even less. Wonderful! We would have no need for heavy jackets that would take up extra space in the luggage-one sweatshirt for everyone and we’ll be great! The average temperature since we’ve arrived has been 44, and our area has already received 14 inches of rain since we got here. According to this article, March 2022 was the wettest March in Spain in 72 years.

Super.

All of our luggage-hanging out at the airport.

So we arrived with no jackets, cold weather, and about 15 shirts each. 10ish pairs of pants for my boys a piece and plenty of pajamas. Shorts abound for hubby and me and our meager 2 pairs of jeans we thought we could live with for the month or so before our other things arrived.

Okay, so just clothes, right? Everything else is good? Not exactly. Our home here in Spain is fully furnished, and we are incredibly grateful for that. But it is furnished with beds and couches and chairs and dishes. There are no toys for our toddler, no books in English, no family games.

“But Angela, you can just buy those things!”

Sure. We definitely could. Except we already own those things. They’ve just been floating towards us instead of in our physical possession. And as someone who is embarking on a new lifestyle in a brand new country that comes with unknown budgetary needs, I cannot justify repurchasing things we already own simply because we are having to wait a little longer for them.

But the waiting has been agony. I’m tired of the two sweaters I’ve cycled through, my boys have read and reread (and reread and reread) the six books I was able to sneak into their suitcases, and my daughter has officially watched every season of Peppa Pig available in Europe approximately 42 times.

Two of my little bookworms

It’s about more than stuff though. I think that truly, the painful feelings of not having the things we are used to have made this place we are living not really feel like home yet. The feeling that the places we sit and the dishes we use and even the TV we are watching are borrowed is sneakily lending itself to not allowing us to fully sink into this place. We are still just visitors. Waiting to feel at home.

We were told that our shipping container has finally arrived in port and I have no idea what the process will be like to get it through customs and have all of our things delivered to us, but if you’re interested in following along on the journey, please subscribe to my newsletter here.

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Angela Piper

Wife to @davidpipervo & Mom of 3. 📚 Best Selling Author 📍Dallas girl in Spain 🇪🇸 🖊️ Currently writing NYT’s next bestseller