An Expat Buying Toys in Europe
We did it. We made the life changing decision, quit our jobs, sold our house and moved lock, stock and barrel to Spain in search of a ‘better’ life. Everything is great. The Toy castle sun shines, the countryside is beautiful, we are learning the lingo and our 8 year old is in a lovely little village school that only has six other children.
So what do we have to complain about, you ask? The price of the bestselling toys here in Spain is crazy. So as an expat how can you get your child’s favourite toys in Europe?
Trying to Buy Toys Locally in Spain
Last November we went to our local Toys R Us to start our Christmas shopping. When I say local, just over an hour away is the best we can do! Anyway we were on the hunt for the then ‘must have’ Ben 10 Deluxe Omnitrix. There it was, looking all ready to be wrapped and stacked under our Christmas tree, until we saw the price – 35 Euros. Knowing a bit about Ben 10 prices, I knew it was then on sale at Amazon.co.uk for around £14. A few coughs and splutters later, a key item on our shopping list was left on the shelf.
After trudging home slightly disappointed we kick started our satellite internet connection (oh I miss broadband) and got down to the task of ordering things from Father Christmas’ list online. This was the first time I had tried to ship items that are so easy to get in the UK out to Spain. It was quite an eye opener, especially the dent to the toy budget made by the shipping costs.
Postage Costs from the UK
Sticking with my Ben 10 Deluxe Omnitrix example, you have to bear in mind that it weighs 241g. According to Royal Mail this should cost £2.18 to post to Europe – not too bad you think. Hmmm.
So onto finding someone to buy from. Toys R Us, John Lewis and Argos do not ship outside of the UK so that rules them out.
TheToyShop.com does ship to Spain yippee. On no, hold on, changing your delivery address from the UK to Spain increases the standard £3.95 delivery to, wait for it, £22. What?
eBay has a great feature allowing you to sort the results by cost including P&P with the lowest first. There were a few Omnitrix’s available to be sent to Spain with postage starting at £4.99 and certainly no £22’s in sight!
Amazon say that ‘Toys & Games’ can be shipped to Spain. This, however, seems to apply mostly to Amazon dispatches rather than those from their Marketplace sellers. So you happily shop away and when you finally think it’s all over, you go to checkout and choose your delivery address. Take a deep breath as this is where it can all fall apart.
If you get to the credit card page you have won. Otherwise you get the “There’s a slight problem with your order” message where they tell you they cannot ship to your destination. It’s then back to square one for those items where you have to try the “More Buying Choices” box on the right hand side of the product screen in the hope that you can find a seller willing to ship to you. If Amazon themselves can fulfill your order or you can find a Marketplace seller, things are looking up as the Amazon postage rates abroad are very reasonable at £4.98 for this toy.