What to Buy Before Leaving the States

Should I make any big purchases?

In Italy things are expensive, options are limited, and you won’t find places like Walmart with their “always low prices”. It will be much cheaper and easier to make your big purchases while you are still in the states.  Don’t get me wrong there are still options in Italy, but they won’t have the same brands or prices you are used to. Examples of things to buy:

  • Bedroom Furniture
  • Living Room Furniture
  • Gym Equipment
  • Television
  • Patio Furniture

Is there plenty of storage space?

In a word, NO. Italian homes do not have built in closets, pantries, and shelves. Kitchens can be small with barely enough cabinet room for all of your dishware and cookware (let alone food). Imagine everything you own right now and trying to find a place to store it without the use of closets, cupboards, shelves, bathroom cabinets, storage rooms, basements, sheds, or garages.  Some storage items to consider are:

  • Bathroom Storage Cabinets
  • Pantry Food Cabinet/Kitchen Hutch
  • Wardrobe/Garment Rack – housing does provide you with one wardrobe per family member, plus one for military gear… but it is not enough!
  • Clothing Storage/Dressers
  • Coat Racks/Shoe Bench
  • Under The Bed Storage
  • Storage Totes – for decorations, extra linens, outdoor gear

What else is a good idea to buy?

  • Area Rugs – most homes in Italy are all tile and rugs can be expensive in Italy.
  • Pet Supplies – flea & tick and heart worm prevention can be expensive overseas, plus you don’t want to arrive without it. Both medications will be needed year round due to the warm climate.
  • Car Parts – American car parts can be very expensive and take a long time to receive overseas. Make any necessary repairs before you ship your car. Also keep in mind that the autostrada and certain areas require “all weather” or M+/S tires. It may be beneficial to go ahead and buy tires while still in the states.
  • Bicycle Parts – If you are sending bikes with unaccompanied baggage, bikes are required to have a helmet, headlight, red taillight, pedal reflectors, and a bell. We also ordered a bike basket, bike panniers, and bike tubes.
  • Bulk Items – not a necessity, but why not save some money and purchase all of those bathroom supplies ahead of time? Just be cautious of liquids/gels, because the movers technically shouldn’t pack them, but it all depends on who your movers are. Ex. soap bars, deodorant, toilet paper, paper towels. Note: You will have the best chance of sending liquids with unaccompanied baggage.
  • Bedding – European bed sheet sizing is different than in the U.S.
  • Items needed for a specific electronic or appliance to work – printer ink, vacuum bags/filters
  • Craft Supplies – you won’t find any giant craft stores like Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, or JoAnn Fabric, so stock up!

Will I be able to order things from the states?

Yes, most retailers will ship small items to APO addresses, but with certain restrictions (weight, hazards).  Amazon.com will become your new best friend! Soon I will have a list of retailers that ship to APO addresses from the states.

I heard houses are small, should I sell all my large furniture?

I wouldn’t plan to sell all of your large furniture before you arrive. Some houses can be surprisingly spacious and you won’t know what type of housing you will be in until you get here. As long as you are still within your weight allowance I would go ahead and bring the large household items. You can always sell them on the yard sale pages once you arrive.


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