Logistics of moving to NY
February 26, 2010 3:00 PM   Subscribe

Moving from the Bay area to New York without knowing where I'll live in NY -- how do I ship my stuff without knowing a delivery address. Alternatively, how do I find a temporary place remotely.

I'll soon be moving to Manhattan, where I haven't lived before. Since I'm in a bit of a rush, flying out there to find an apartment won't work and furthermore, I'd prefer to live in the city for a while to get a feel for the neighborhoods, so I think my plan is to stay in a hotel/sublet for a while and then, find a permanent apartment in about a month.

I am not planning to take furniture, so the amount of things I'll have won't be too great. That makes me think that shipping it to NY is the right way of doing things. However, I won't have an address to ship things to until I get to NY. Ideally, I'd like the shipper to hold them (for a month-ish) until I find a permanent apartment, give them a call with the address, and then deliver things to the apartment but I'll settle for a much shorter hold with delivery to the sublet. Delivery to the permanent place, about a month from now, is preferred as it'd spare me a 2nd move.

So, I'm looking for a solution on how to do this. Here area few ideas, but I don't know how to make them happen:

1. Get a temporary apartment with a known address remotely from the Bay area. It seems tough to get a private sublet like this without an in-person meeting, and corporate apartments seem absurdly expensive in comparison. Ship to that address.

2. Find a shipper willing to pick up w/o a known delivery address, hold for a while and then, deliver to the address I provide them later. I'd pay extra for this service.

3. Box my things and put them in storage in CA, then get them shipped once I know where I want them shipped to. Could I find a storage/etc service that will ship the contents of the storage locker to me? Again, I'd pay extra.

4. The reverse option -- get things delivered to some place in NY. I assume storage locations wouldn't do this, so perhaps a UPS store or something like that? I don't like that idea as I'd prefer for things to end up on my doorstep.

Normally, the PODS thing would be the right solution, but I can't imagine how this would work in Manhattan -- they can't just drop it off on the side of a busy apartment building ...

The common thread here is that I don't want to fly back and forth between the coasts and don't want to ask others for favors. If these plans fail, I can either hire movers or get some CA friends involved, but I'd rather solve these issues with paying professionals, since I can get reimbursed for expenses and my friends will be quite busy. How do I implement solutions 1-4, or are there other options I'm not considering here?
posted by bsdfish to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
We used PODS recently to move to Minneapolis from the Bay Area. We also had no idea where we'd be living until we got here, and it was the only way that really made sense. PODS was happy to hold the filled pod (for a fee) until we were ready for it.

How they do it in a city, or at least in mine, is that you get a permit (in our case, PODS actually handled the permit application process) to block off the space in front of the building to drop the pod for unloading. It was pretty easy, or it would have been had the snow piles not prevented the city from issuing the permit for us, but that's another story. In theory it was pretty easy, we hired movers on this end to do the unloading, which took very little time and the pod could be on its way by the end of the day.

So, I'd contact PODS to see exactly how it does work in Manhattan.
posted by padraigin at 3:11 PM on February 26, 2010

the PODS thing would be the right solution, but I can't imagine how this would work in Manhattan

This is likely correct.

It seems tough to get a private sublet like this without an in-person meeting, and corporate apartments seem absurdly expensive in comparison.

This is even more likely correct.

I think option 3 makes the most sense. Getting an apartment in Manhattan is pretty much unlike any other apartment experience you can have. I can't tell from your question what your extent of the Manhattan rental market is like.
posted by dfriedman at 3:44 PM on February 26, 2010

I have a feeling that there are storage places (like Uhaul) that would accept your deliveries and store them for you. There's one on 4th Ave near Park Slope in Brooklyn that you could call and ask.
posted by Unred at 3:46 PM on February 26, 2010

I can't tell from your question what your extent of the Manhattan rental market is like.

Let me rephrase: I can't tell from your question how extensive your knowledge of the Manhattan rental market is.
posted by dfriedman at 3:47 PM on February 26, 2010

I did something like this, and it became a nightmare.

Short recommendation: just get a storage company like Manhattan Mini-Storage to put it in storage for you, and take care of it when you're here. You might need to get a friend to sign for the storage space and put it all in there. If you can't do this, try to hire someone to do it. MeFi mail me if you don't have any leads on how to do that.
posted by meadowlark lime at 5:23 PM on February 26, 2010

I know nothing about the Manhattan rental market other than it's tough, which is precisely why I'm not trying to get a permanent apartment quickly. Looking at the website quotes, PODS doesn't do NY and Doortodoor would charge $2.6k, which seems entirely too much given that the actual UPS mailing costs would be $300-500.

I'll call a few storage places in NY later, once they are open, to see if they'll accept deliveries. This all just seems like a major pain though ... I can't believe there isn't a simpler solution. Are there movers who won't charge much if I don't have much stuff?
posted by bsdfish at 5:27 PM on February 26, 2010

same concept as pods, try upack.com, i think they do manhattan, and they stored my stuff for a month before i found a place last time i moved. Also, if you're not sure you can keep the cube on the street in manhattan for some period of time, you can rent a truck an load it up at the cube storage place, unload at your new apt, and return the truck within a day for not too much extra money.
posted by brainmouse at 6:28 PM on February 26, 2010

There are plenty of apartments in New York that will let you sign a month to month lease. If you have someone on this end who can scope one out for you, you can lease it for a month or two while you find your permanent place.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:00 PM on February 26, 2010

When I was in a similar situation with a move to SF, I mailed boxes by UPS to the office I was going to be working at. They were nice enough to entertain that idea and I was mailing only clothes and kitchen-ware.

The only other cheap option I can think of is to mail to someone relatively close to where you'll live in NY that has a garage or convenient place to store until you are settled. Then get a zip car to move when you are ready. Know anyone within a few hours of NY?
posted by qwip at 12:56 AM on February 27, 2010

You can ship things to a UPS store, but it seems like you'll have to open a mailbox with them first. However, their FAQ says that you can do that remotely.
posted by cabingirl at 1:50 AM on February 27, 2010

re: cabingirl's suggestion about the UPS store, yes you can open a mailbox with them remotely. That's what I did when I moved across the country not knowing where I'd end-up. You just fax in a form with a couple of pieces of scanned ID. Large items sent, they'll tuck away somewhere until you pick them up.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 9:14 AM on February 27, 2010

Why don't you just sublet for a month (sight unseen, craigslist, etc) and have your stuff shipped there? Then, at the end of the month, move it from the sublet to your apartment? This is the normal way...

You may have trouble subletting sight unseen if you are *sharing* a space, but if you are getting your own, it should be fine. Yeah, it might not be the best apartment and you might overpay by a couple hundred bucks, but that's just how it is...
posted by jckll at 8:44 PM on February 27, 2010

So I found that full service movers were actually significantly cheaper than the PODS cost, so I've decided to just go with one recommended by my friend. A word of warning for anyone considering the same UPS idea as me -- the cost and effort of UPS-proof packing, shipping, delivery to storage, storage rental and then delivery from storage really adds up ...
posted by bsdfish at 4:31 PM on March 2, 2010

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