I'm going home! (for 2 weeks)
November 1, 2009 8:39 AM   Subscribe

ExpatFilter: American Expat returning home for 2 weeks. What should I do while I am home? BonusFilter: Help me decide what to do with all my worldly posessions that didnt go Expat with me.

I'm an American Expat whose been living in the Far/Middle East for the last 3 years. I'm returning home for 2 weeks for vacation and to visit family and friends whom I havent seen since I left.

2 Part Question:

1 - What things should I do in my hometown (San Antonio, Tx) since I will physically be there? One example is getting my Drivers License updated as it will be expiring next year. I'll also be getting a safety deposit box at my bank to store my important papers (currently being stored in a firebox at my parent's house). Fun suggestions welcome too.

2 - Before I left, I basically threw all my junk that wouldnt fit in my luggage into a 10'x20' climate controlled storage unit and left. Most of this stuff is not worth shipping overseas (3BR House worth of furniture, small appliances, books, old clothes, etc). What should I do with it all? My first thought was donating to a Veterans group but the ones my parents contacted all said they really only wanted money instead of household goods. Goodwill is my last resort as they will come and get it all. Any other recommendations? Tax deductible preferred but not required.

Thank you for taking the time to read.
posted by Fiat124 to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
2) Some alternative places to donate might be Salvation Army or St. Vincent De Paul Society. Also, you might check your library to see if they accept book donations. My library has a separate book store they sell in donations in to fund their regular library operations.
posted by sharkfu at 8:56 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

There's a war vet who's currently living in a tent in San Antonio, who needs as much help as he can get. Maybe you can give him your stuff and help him start a new life.
posted by watercarrier at 9:00 AM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

To question one -- among the first things I did when I returned from the Middle East were eating pork products in all of their forms and having a good microbrew.
posted by proj at 9:05 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

1) Tex-Mex and Mex-Mex. Carnitas. Tacos Al Pastor. Breakfast Tacos. Migas. Cerveza Mexicana.

2) When I recently moved from Austin I gave almost everything to Goodwill. The Austin Library didn't take book donations so the books went to Goodwill as well. The donations were tax deductible and money they raise selling your stuff is used to train/employ people in the area.
posted by birdherder at 9:18 AM on November 1, 2009

1) The first thing I would do is eat a bacon wrapped bacon sandwich with a side of bacon, but that is just me.

2) Agree that goodwill is the way to go, why are they your last resort? They offer an amazing service, they'll take pretty much anything, give you a receipt for taxes and it really does help those in the community with job training, employment and other services.

You might also think about giving the books, movies, cds to maybe a teenager in your family to sell on half.com or take to half price books for some extra cash, they might appreciate it.
posted by magnetsphere at 9:39 AM on November 1, 2009

Thanks for all the pork suggestions but I havent lived in the Middle East for almost 2 years. When I moved to the Far East from there, the FIRST thing I did eat was the proverbial bacon-wrapped bacon sandwich with a side of bacon then washed it down with the biggest glass of beer I could find.

Goodwill is my last resort because I'm sure theres a smaller, less visible charity I dont know about that could really use some donations and I like to help the little guy if I can.

Good suggestions all; keep em coming!
posted by Fiat124 at 10:04 AM on November 1, 2009

Foster kids being "emancipated" might need furniture. Habitat for Humanity as well?
posted by salvia at 1:44 PM on November 1, 2009

The food/beer thing is a nice way to come back. Careful, though. When I was home this summer (2 weeks got lengthened to 7), my weight sort of ballooned. Enjoy, but, uh, in moderation. Except for the carnitas. Go to town on those.

Do things you can't do where you live now. Go to a Spurs game, for example, or watch a movie back home, in the style of theater you grew up in.

I also (see the above ballooning portion) tend to buy clothes and shoes when back home. Also, certain food items, like spices, sauce mixes, dip mixes, things I can't get here in Japan.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:20 PM on November 1, 2009

See if you have a local Step Up organization with a shop that you could donate things to. They tend to help out families in need which are actively trying to make better lives.

Are there any people your family knows of who are just starting out on their own from parents / large houses full of roomies / etc that you could give stuff to?
posted by strixus at 4:28 PM on November 1, 2009

You got the driving license covered, on my list are also super-fun things like:
-Hair cut
-Dentist/doctor regular check-ups
-Grocery run for "exporting" stuff back to your new home for yourself, friends, or a party
-Clothes and shoe shopping - if you are in the Far East, and are any sort of typical American, I am guessing you may not find this easy

(How are you going to renew your DL with no current US address? This is my quandary, but I still have a year to solve it...)
posted by whatzit at 5:01 PM on November 1, 2009

If it's a storage place like the ones I've seen, sales are usually allowed and common. Put a small ad wherever garage/rummage sales are put where you are - mention furniture and household goods specifically. Show up Saturday with a few friends and a couple folding chairs, maybe a pocketful of small bills if you're feeling ambitious. Open the storage unit, sit in the chairs. Have people make their best offer, let stuff go for a song if they seem down on their luck. Chat with your friends, help people load the big stuff in their cars. Donate the money, or treat your friends to a night out. Anything leftover, Goodwill picks up.
posted by donnagirl at 6:09 PM on November 1, 2009

"How are you going to upxate you DL with no current US address?"

I just use my parents' address, where all my mail goes anyway.

When I was last back I reduced my 10x10 to a 10x5 and it was quite liberating. Mostly just books and shelves waiting for me. When you are gone for years at a time it is worth doing the math on how much you pay per month for storage costs and figuring out where your break-even point is where it would just be easier to buy all-new stuff if / when you come back.

And yeah - lots of tacos and bacon cheeseburgers and milkshakes to keep up the energy for shopping for all your favorite things to export when you return. I usually go to a Target, buy a huge rubbermaid and a roll of duct tape, fill the container with all my favorite goodies, toiletries, etc., and then just tape it shut for shipping. Enjoy!
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:53 AM on November 2, 2009

So many good answers! Here is my list as of now:

0 - Get prepaid SIM card (T-Mobile Probably)
1 - Renew Drivers License
2 - Bank (Change PINs to ATM cards, Get Safety Deposit Box, Close Unwanted accounts)
3 - Meet with Accountant
4 - Meet with Lawyer
5 - Storage Unit (Get smaller unit, Move keepers from large unit to small unit, Donate unwanted items to Goodwill)
6 - Check-up with Doctor
7 - Check-up with Dentist
8 - Buy shoes
9 - Buy clothes

1 - Spurs Game (Go Spurs Go!)
2 - Eat Out (Taco Cabana, Chic-Fil-A, Whataburger, Hooters, John the Greek, Wildfire Coffee)
3 - Wander around Wal-Mart/Best Buy to see if there is anything I need
4 - Buy souvenirs for all my friends here

There are probably more things that I will think of, so I will update the list as I think of them for those who are interested.

Thanks again for all the help!
posted by Fiat124 at 6:43 AM on November 5, 2009

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