Moving cross-country. No new address. No money... Yikes!
August 11, 2010 3:22 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I are shipping all non fixtures from our 1 bedroom apartment across the country. We will not have a new address until after we move. What is the best way to ship everything?


1) What is the cheapest way to ship everything? I do not care how long it takes, as long as it is affordable. I plan on doing some USPS media mail. What about non-media mail stuff? Is it best to use UPS, USPS, or FedEx? I hear UPS is cheaper for larger boxes.

2) What size boxes should I try to ship so everything is the cheapest possible? Many of the shipping companies charge more for boxes that are larger than a specific size. I have a lot of things I need to ship so what would give me the optimum size/cost ratio.

3) How do I ship my boxes without me having a physical address? I heard USPS offers a service where you can ship packages to their stores and pick them up with a valid ID (but then I would need to use USPS for everything). UPS has a mailbox service that accepts mail from all carriers. They will even hold it for you. The UPS mailbox has an extra charge, and I am not sure if they will sell me one over the phone or online...

Please share your experience (even experiences unrelated to shipping) if you have done a similar move.

Thanks! :)
posted by 1awesomeguy to Work & Money (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Is this worth it?
posted by 1awesomeguy at 3:26 AM on August 11, 2010

Have a look at

Shipping one big ass box is cheaper than lots of little boxes. And they can store it for you while you find your next situation.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:46 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

PODS. I had some friends move from DC to Boulder, CO. They packed their life into the PODS box, PODS stored it for them while they drove out to Boulder, found a place to live, called PODS, and told them to deliver - easy and done.
posted by BZArcher at 4:17 AM on August 11, 2010

We used ABF U-Pack for our move from Seattle to Orlando. We'd looked into PODS, but their smallest pod was twice the size (and twice the price) of the little ABF "ReloCube". It was totally easy -- the cube takes up one parking spot, you load it yourself, and you put your own locks on it. You can track its progress as it moves, and I believe it was 6 days total door-to-door for us (other companies quoted up to 14 days).

We booked the cube initially when we only knew the destination city, but didn't have an apartment lined up yet. They were totally cool with that. Checking their site, it looks like they'll hold your cube at their service center for up to 30 days for about $100, until you find your new home.
posted by themissy at 6:08 AM on August 11, 2010

I'm in the process of using ABF U-Pack as well, moving from middle of Iowa to central Texas. My stuff is currently being stored in San Antonio until I can make it down there this weekend. themissy didn't mention above that you get 3 days to pack it up and 3 days to unpack it, so you can take your time with it and not rush.

The only thing I have to tell you about the ReloCube is that since it is 8 feet tall (but has a 6 foot by 7 foot rectangular base), you are going to have to "pregame" the packing of it if you want to get the job done quickly and smoothly. Everything sort of needs to be packed on its side.
posted by King Bee at 6:18 AM on August 11, 2010

When we moved from San Francisco to Minneapolis without an address, we used PODS.

The only hitch in the system was that there was a bit of a kerfluffle with getting a permit to put the POD on the street, since we moved into a building without a private driveway in which to park the box. This may be a bit of a problem with any similar service, depending on where you're moving, but it worked out fine in the end (in our case we ordered the POD for delivery on a holiday weekend when the city offices were understaffed). The company (be it POD or ReloCube or what have you) should be able to tell you whether you will have to get a permit for street-parking the box and whether you will need to obtain that permit for yourself or whether the company will do it for you, as well as what additional costs this will entail.
posted by padraigin at 7:24 AM on August 11, 2010

I also came here to recommend that you use PODS or something similar. I used ABF U-Pack for my last long-distance move. One cube cost approximately $850 to move to Brooklyn, NY from approximately 1000 miles away. I don't know where you're moving to, but if it's to NYC, expect to have some issues trying to park a relo-cube thing on the street :) Ditto for any densely populated city of course. Otherwise it was fine.

I've moved via USPS and FedEx before, but I had a destination address (and obviously, few material possessions). I'm not sure how many boxes the USPS would hang onto for you - if you're moving an entire house, they might not be so happy about, but I'm basing that entirely on a gut feeling. You could probably find out by calling them, after going through a few hundred phone trees :)

Good luck
posted by jacquilinala at 7:40 AM on August 11, 2010

Here is another vote for ABF U-Pack. I used their 6x8 "Relocube" and shipped it terminal-to-terminal. We rented a UHaul and loaded everything at their terminal in California, drove across the country a few days later, found an apartment, and then rented another UHaul to pick up our stuff once it arrived in Connecticut. It was $1600, plus another $100 or so for the trucks.

I thought about doing media mail and UPS cargo shipping, and spent many, many hours researching many, many different options. ABF was truly the least expensive and easiest way to go. We had mostly boxes of books, clothes, and other household stuff, and no furniture except for our bed.
posted by apricot at 2:49 PM on August 11, 2010

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