In my mind there are two big components to the big move. One is financial and the other is the logistics of the move. Several important decisions have to be made.
Part of my business strategy involves setting up a corporation in Washington State. One of the decisions that has to be made is which bank to use for corporate banking. I have decided to go with Wells Fargo, but I am not sure whether this decision would stick. I did talk to both Wells Fargo and Bank of America, and both of them have special deals for small businesses, but I went with Wells Fargo simply because I was already using them for my personal banking. I am uncertain about the decision because the person in charge of setting up the corporate account has made a couple of mistakes, but I have no doubt as to the soundness of the bank itself. After all, I reasoned, any bank left standing after the big credit crisis has to be on sound footing.
Another significant decision we have to make is what to do with our cars. We have a 1992 Plymouth Grand Voyager and a 2000 Toyota Sienna. Initially I wanted to take both minivans with us, but we decided that the Grand Voyager is really not worth the trouble. We are selling that to a friend for a pittance, and will be taking only the Sienna with us.
It took us a while to find a shipping company that did container shipping to the Philippines, but that’s because we were asking the wrong people. We asked Bayani Commercial, a shipper that serves the local Filipino community, and the price quoted was $7,000 for a 40-foot container from Seattle to Cebu. Googling "container shipping" instead yielded a number of companies that do business shipping containers to the Philippines. We settled with http://www.shippinginternational.com, a company in California. Their price is $3,950 for a 40-foot container. We are going to put the 2000 Sienna minivan in the container together with some furniture and other belongings.
Shipping may turn out to be the least of our worries. What worries us most is the tariffs. Until now we don’t know exactly how much tariff we will have to pay our homeland for importing a used minivan. I have researched this question on the Internet for some period of time, and have asked several people about it, including the chairman of the Philippine subsidiary of one of the big three car companies, who’s a good friend of mine. The tariff rate I have so far been told ranges from 30% all the way up to 150%, and there may be other taxes involved on top of the tariff. Given the uncertainty, it appears that taking a car with us may not make much sense. However, I think we will take the Sienna minivan with us anyway; if nothing else, just to learn the basics of dealing with a government that doesn’t have clear rules. Lesson 1 seems to be to obtain a clear ruling from the consulate in San Francisco about "import regulations", as the shipping company advises us.