Most cost-efficient way to move from MA to CA?
February 24, 2010 4:39 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way to move from Boston, MA to Santa Barbra, CA? Cost is the major issue.

There are many similar Asks with this question, but none of them addressed my specific issue. My girlfriend and I are moving at the end of the summer. We do not own a lot of stuff. She will be a recent college graduate and the only sizable (though quite sizable) item I own is my Tempurpedic California king mattress. I also have some smaller Ikea furniture, but I may end up getting rid of that and purchase new ones in Cali.

I know most of you will say to ditch the furniture. The mattress is the biggest issue since it is expensive and I probably can't sell a used mattress (for very much).

We both do not have a lot of money and I will be paying for most or all of the move so the most cost-effective way is important.
posted by 1awesomeguy to Work & Money (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I am leaning towards renting a Penske truck for some five or six days driving the 3,000 miles with my mattress and smaller items and spending some four or five nights in a hotel.

Truck rental: about $600 ?
Gas: about $900 at 10 miles/gal and $3/gal
Hotels: about $350 for four nights
Total: $1850

posted by 1awesomeguy at 4:40 PM on February 24, 2010

You don't mention any other vehicles to drive/transport, so assuming there aren't any (or only 1 that could be towed behind the truck) - with two drivers I'd be surprised if it took you 4 days. Do it in shifts and sleep in the cab and there's 300-400 savings.

If there are other vehicles, can you transport everything except the mattress in them and consider shipping the mattress?
posted by ish__ at 4:58 PM on February 24, 2010

Best answer: When my boyfriend and I did the reverse trip and moved from CA to MA, we did not have very much furniture and used a U-Pack cube instead. I'm not entirely sure about the details, but I think getting our stuff from Berkeley to Boston was a little cheaper than what you've quoted above. If you factor in our one-way plane tickets, it might have been a little over that, but not by much, and when you consider the cost of food and time, not to mention the drag of a slow cross-country trip, I thought it was a pretty good deal.
posted by Diagonalize at 4:58 PM on February 24, 2010

If I were you, I'd do a driveaway where you take the vehicle of someone who is moving and needs/wants to fly, and drive it to the destination for them. You can find it on Craigslist all the time, like this person who needs their car driven to Michigan. Sometimes they'll provide gas money. I bet if you watch the site long enough someone who needs their vehicle driven to CA will post. I've seen SUVs and vans posted; also maybe you could tie the mattress to the roof? (I have no idea if you would get pulled over for that).
posted by Ashley801 at 5:00 PM on February 24, 2010

Best answer: Just called Penske and they quoted me $1524 for 10 days (minimum), unlimited miles for a 12 foot truck (1.5 to two rooms). It seems a little bit expensive to me. For that price I would just get rid of the mattress and ship everything.
posted by 1awesomeguy at 5:02 PM on February 24, 2010

Best answer: I did a similar move a few years back (going the other way). There are a few problems with doing such a long distance move in a truck. Not sure if you have driven cross country before, but doing it in four days is an extremely grueling drive. It can certainly be done, particularly with more than one driver, but it will be taxing. Extra days will add extra cost to your price. I think the truck rental and incidentals are going to add up, and could end up costing $2000-$2500 total. Also, if you don't have a place already in Santa Barbara, you are going to need to store that stuff somewhere. However, if you are going the truck route, Penske is definitely your best bet. Cheaper and more reliable than U-Haul. You might hear some things about ABF-UPack, although when I looked into them their price point seemed to become more attractive at larger move sizes. The alternative I ended up using was Door2Door, which I have mentioned here since. They come and drop off a medium sized box container at your location, you fill it up and lock it, and they bring it to you when you want. I believe 1 month of storage is included in the price, and additional storage is available at a very reasonable rate. After everything was said and done I think I paid around $1800 to go cross country plus two or three months storage. However, then you also have to factor in the cost of airplane tickets to get yourselves over there, which is going to be more. If it is really *just* the mattress you are going to ship, you could just UPS it. However, once you start looking around at all the stuff you have such as clothes, dishes, small furniture, computer, TV, etc, it doesn't make sense to sell/giveaway/trash all that stuff just to buy new crap on the other end. I looked at a lot of options, and the only two that are feasible for someone on a budget are truck rental and one of the pod-type do-it-yourself moving services.
posted by sophist at 5:02 PM on February 24, 2010

Even though I reccomended against U-Haul earlier, you might want to at least get a quote for a U-Haul van, they are great for small moves and offer more flexibility than Penske trucks, which are more geared towards business/industrial jobs.
posted by sophist at 5:04 PM on February 24, 2010

Best answer: Diagonalize: U-Pack quoted $2,118 for a studio apartment, but then there is no need to pay for gas and hotels. It takes them five days. This is probably the cheapest option so far if I want to move my furniture.
posted by 1awesomeguy at 5:07 PM on February 24, 2010

Response by poster: ish__: I do have a car, but it is currently in Florida. It is a big Jeep. I may do a separate move later with that car, but I do not have any cars to worry about in MA.

I never considered shipping the mattress. It is huge (California King, 15 inches deep) and weights probably 150 lbs or so. Anyone have any ideas on cost for that?

Ashley801: I did not know people did this. I will look into this more though it may be hard to find a van big enough to big my stuff.

sophist: Checked out Door2Door and they seem pretty good, but unfortunately do not service to Santa Barbara.
posted by 1awesomeguy at 5:16 PM on February 24, 2010

Whatever you decide, don't forget to check out Moving Scam and Consumerist's articles about unscrupulous moving companies.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 5:18 PM on February 24, 2010

The UPS calculator on their site gives a quote for Ground Shipping (4 days) of a 150 pound package @ $150. It didn't occur to me at the time, but if you don't have much stuff it could be an option. I would check with the location you are going to drop it off at first to make sure they are cool with you bringing a gigantic box or two by.
posted by sophist at 5:22 PM on February 24, 2010

I used Broadway Express for a move a few years ago and was pretty happy with it. They have good reviews on Moving Scam. Like U-Pack, you pay by the linear foot that you use in the trailer.
posted by zsazsa at 5:27 PM on February 24, 2010

When I moved to CA from the east coast I just bought a plane ticket. I got here for about $350 in one day- no fuss, no fuss.

I ditched all my furniture I had previously owned, which wasn't much anyway. I brought a suitcase and left my most important possessions in large boxes, for my parents to mail to me once I found a place to live. I think that cost about $100 or less.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:33 PM on February 24, 2010

Yeah, consider shipping the mattress and any other bulky items separately and then see what your options might be for moving yourselves and your more personal stuff: you might get by with a one-way on a SUV/minivan, saving through better gas mileage.
posted by holgate at 5:36 PM on February 24, 2010

Best answer: One-way on an SUV or minivan can end up being as expensive as renting a Penske truck, depending on where you're going and when. (I looked at it for a move from Boston to Chicago, and the Penske truck actually ended up being cheaper. Gas was more, of course, but then again I could fit everything in the truck and didn't have to pay to ship stuff like my bike that wouldn't have fit in the van.)

Do a careful estimate (weighing things, if possible) before you decide to ship everything: even things like clothing and books can really add up. Also, remember that things can get lost or damaged in the mail. I've had boxes of books lost when I shipped them between cities via mail before. Also remember that you'll need somewhere to ship the stuff to (and possibly someone present to sign for packages), and that it's likely to arrive over a spread of days or more. Depending on whether you'll have access to a car in Santa Barbara, whether or not you'll have an apartment lined up, and whether you'll be busy doing other things (looking for a job?), shipping might be problematic.
posted by ubersturm at 6:57 PM on February 24, 2010

Best answer: I've used U-Pack twice, for cross-continental moves. Both times it went really well and it was pretty much the cheapest option. Highly recommended.
posted by tybstar at 7:54 PM on February 24, 2010

Your memail is disabled, so I'll post here. We are likely leaving SB this summer. Wanna buy our furniture?
posted by k8t at 8:34 PM on February 24, 2010

ABF U-Pack is a great option but you might want to keep in mind that you'll need to be able to get a fairly large truck to where you need to load it. Depending on where you live in Boston and where you're moving to in SB, that could be an issue. Or, you know, not, depending.
posted by eleanna at 1:36 PM on February 25, 2010

Best answer: If the only big thing is the mattress another shipping option is Greyhound. I had a cabinet shipped to me cross country that way and it was really reasonable.

When I moved from Milwaukee to SF I did it in a minivan rental and it was waaaay cheaper than a moving van, and I imagine more comfortable.
posted by grapesaresour at 2:27 PM on February 25, 2010

The cheapest way to move across the country is to leave everything behind and take a bus or a train.

Assuming you don't want to go to that extreme, the next cheapest, and reasonable, approach is to ditch the mattress and everything else that is too big to ship via USPS, then buy airline tickets after you boxed up all your toys and ship them to CA.

Remember, you can probably fly to CA cheaper than you can drive. Adding in the cost of the U-Haul or whatever just adds more cost.

Don't be sentimental or romantic. Don't be a slave to your stuf. Run the numbers and pay attention. They sell mattresses in California. How much are you willing to pay to haul your old mattress across the country?
posted by justcorbly at 3:31 PM on February 25, 2010


If I was driving from MA to CA, I'd figure 5 or 6 nights on the road. Gas plus food plus lodging will cost at least $150-$200 per day. Add in the rental cost of the truck or van. What kind of matress would that money buy?
posted by justcorbly at 3:38 PM on February 25, 2010

Response by poster: justcorbly: It's not about being a slave to my stuff. I think the cheapest option to leave all my stuff behind and buy everything new (or even used), but that's the point of this Ask. :)
posted by 1awesomeguy at 1:28 AM on February 27, 2010

Response by poster: Meant to say: "...the cheapest option is not to leave all my stuff behind". I may end up leaving the mattress and just shipping the rest.

Moving sucks... :(
posted by 1awesomeguy at 1:31 AM on February 27, 2010

I just moved from MA to DC, and I FedExed almost all my stuff. I spent about $450 to ship 12 large boxes of stuff (clothes, house goods, kitchen gear, 25-35 lbs each; ranging from 18" to 22" square cube size; I kept them to what I could carry by myself), three boxes via USPS Flat Rate mail, and 7 boxes of books by media mail. It was a lot cheaper to cram my cast iron dutch oven in one of those flat rate boxes than anything else, so if you have something small but very heavy, look into that. (USPS wasn't thrilled about that, though they did it.) However, I didn't really have any furniture to begin with, which helped me decide to do this by mail.

If you can get the mattress folded down and into a large box, you can probably FedEx it. Believe it or not, it was by far the cheapest and easiest--I did the math, and it was a much better deal than USPS or UPS. I had some stuff sent via home delivery to a friends' house and some stuff sent to me by appointment delivery a few weeks later. Appointment delivery is great; it costs an extra $15/shipment and you can pick a two-hour window when they will arrive, with evening and weekend hours.

If you do move by mail: make sure you tape ALL the corners of the boxes--some of mine arrived looking squashed with edges busted (everything inside was fine, though); don't ship in liquor store boxes unless you've wrapped them in brown paper; make good lists of what's in each box; put your address inside each box as well; pay extra for the insurance; and take anything truly irreplaceable in your carryon suitcase when you fly.
posted by min at 7:02 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

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