material girl
June 24, 2011 7:00 AM   Subscribe

How can I transport all of my stuff very cheaply?

I am preparing to move across several provinces. The move involves at least three days driving and one six hour ferry crossing. The sentient beings involved in the move include myself, my 70 lb dog, and my friend.

I have possessions that I've become very attached to in my current home/province. Loads of books, sporting equipment, clothing, 2 bikes, a dog crate and baby gate, binders full of school work, etc. Also a beautiful antique dresser and side table and a bed.

I'm willing to sell the dresser and bed, but am wondering the best way to transport the rest of my stuff, given that I am driving an Echo and most of the inside of the car will be occupied by humans and canine. I'm also broke broke broke.

I'm thinking I'll buy a bike rack for the two bikes (90$). Then maybe a roof bag for the piles of clothing? I have no roof racks and don't think I can afford them. Do roof bags that just go on your roof work? Will it fall off?

Would roof racks be worth it?

I've tried posting ads on craigslist offering to pay small sums of money if people could take some of my stuff, but haven't gotten any responses.

Shipping items is costly as well. I'll get rid of as much as I can, but have no idea how to transport the rest.

Any ideas, metafilter?
posted by whalebreath to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You don't list your location in your profile, so I'm guessing Canada since you mentioned provinces. Check the prices shipping by Greyhound -- I know they can be pretty economical shipping inside the US compared to USPS/FedEx/UPS. Basically you pack up your stuff, drop it off at the bus station, and pick it up on the bus station on the other end - it rides in the luggage section of a passenger bus.
posted by reptile at 7:09 AM on June 24, 2011

Do you have a friend who can store a couple of pieces of furniture for you, with a view to renting or borrowing a minivan and transporting them later? I did that once because I could not bear to lose a couple of nice pieces of old furniture. It's such a bummer to give up furniture because you simply can't buy anything nice new anymore unless you're a millionaire.
posted by Frowner at 7:17 AM on June 24, 2011

Big book collections usually don't get along well with tight budget moves.

Suggest you have an honest internal discussion with yourself as to how much you really NEED each of your books, how likely you are to READ those books again in the near future, and what the cost is to reacquire those books that you will likely read again (either as a used physical book or an e-book) versus the cost to keep and transport the book.

Consider the following:

Donate/Sell your current book collection and

- Just take a LISTING of all your favorite books with you that you can consult for reading ideas in the future

- Make a photo album of your books, and take that instead of the books themselves.

Does Canada have inter-library loan arrangements that would allow you to donate your books to a library in your current province and then potentially have then transferred for you to check them out in your future province (I have no idea, USA native here)?
posted by de void at 7:26 AM on June 24, 2011

i moved from Toronto to Vancouver earlier this year. i had 4 totes (big, plastic Rubbermaid containers) shipped out via Greyhound, and it cost $250 with insurance. only 1 was particularly heavy (about 50-55 lbs).

initially i considered bringing more of my stuff, but when i looked into shipping costs, i decided it wasn't worth it. it might be a good idea to consider storing stuff with friends or family wherever you are now, and then having it shipped out later when you can afford it or as you need something.
posted by gursky at 7:35 AM on June 24, 2011

Forgive me if I am missing something obvious, but every time I have moved, or helped someone move similar amounts of stuff, we rented a U-haul. You would be surprised how much you can pack even in the small trailers.
posted by puny human at 7:44 AM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Is renting a small U-haul trailer out of the question, as puny human suggests? I know you're driving a small car but it should be able to pull the smallest size trailer.

My other suggestion is to contact a reputable moving company and ask if they have any partial loads going between your old home and your new one. My mom wanted to ship me a small amount of furniture and a large well-known moving company picked it up and delivered it within a month - we just had to wait until they had room on a truck going in that direction.

I'm all for getting rid of clutter, but don't get rid of things you absolutely can't replace or really feel attached to, just to save a few hundred bucks. Maybe over the next few weeks leading up to the move you could come up with a few creative ways to raise the $$$ to move the stuff you really want to keep, rather than sadly part with it. Especially if it means that once you're where you're going, you'll have to replace the nice furniture with cheap stuff anyway that will probably cost close to what you would have spent on moving it.
posted by Kangaroo at 7:50 AM on June 24, 2011

canada post is a cheap and reliable way to send parcels assuming they are back to work by the time you need them.
posted by paradroid at 7:59 AM on June 24, 2011

A quick calculation on u-haul's site gives around a $250.00 rate for a cross country (USA) move using their 4x8 trailer. We used one last year to move a piano and couch with room to spare.
posted by puny human at 8:02 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far! Uhaul is not really an option as dropping the van off on the island I'm moving to will cost a fortune.

I'm still very interested in knowing peoples experiences with soft roof bags that don't need a roof rack.

Thanks everyone.
posted by whalebreath at 8:24 AM on June 24, 2011

Response by poster: Moving from Montreal to Newfoundland.
posted by whalebreath at 8:25 AM on June 24, 2011

Drop the stuff off in Newf and take the uhaul back to the mainland. I mean, yeah, it's an extra ferry ride but how much is that vs dropping it off on the island?
posted by notsnot at 8:28 AM on June 24, 2011

Keep in mind that trailers or U-Hauls are charged higher fares on the ferry; you're basically charged by the length of your vehicle or combination of vehicles. So if you towed a trailer, the length you'd be charged for would be the front bumper of your car to the back bumper of the trailer. Since you've got the dog, I'm assuming you'll be sailing to Port-Aux-Basques rather than Argentia, you might find Marine Atlantic's pet policies useful.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:49 AM on June 24, 2011

If you do decide to ship your items rather than using the soft carrier, be careful of scams. Only go through the carrier's official website or a licensed/authorised shipping outlet. There are websites where people bid to move your stuff, or where people offer to send you a shipping label for much less than you would pay through the carrier's website--and these are rife with fraud. Typically the labels are printed off of stolen accounts or with stolen credit cards, and the money you pay the intermediary never makes it to the shipping company--so your stuff could be intercepted in transit and you'd end up paying shipping fees again to get it released. (I work fraud prevention for a large international shipping company, and we see this at least 2-3 times per month.)

A soft carrier is probably your best bet moneywise, as long as you won't be traveling through extreme weather, and aren't using it for breakables. I don't have personal experience with them, but I do have friends who have used them for road trips and seemed pleased with them.
posted by catwoman429 at 9:13 AM on June 24, 2011

I moved around the continent a few times in my younger years and want to say that "a LISTING of all your favorite books with you that you can consult for reading ideas in the future" would've left me in tears every time I consulted it. Find somebody with extra space, box the books, store them. You'll be thrilled to open the boxes when you manage to retrieve them years later. (Stash little knick-knackery in there to fill empty spaces and you'll thrill to reconnecting with your old napkin rings or whatever, too.) Will you still be broke in a year, would a cheap rural storage locker and a trip back to complete the move be feasible...?

I don't have a recommendation for a company because it was twenty years ago, but I once sent a pallet of stuff, mostly books, cheaply, from Ontario to BC using something like a less than load shipping broker, and that worked out pretty well. Be prepared to call around a bit as, if memory serves, the response you will get to trying to move a small amount of personal effects that way will vary pretty widely. Stick to "I need to ship X size/weight A to B" rather than "moving," I think.
posted by kmennie at 9:23 AM on June 24, 2011

Check out portable storage/moving pods. Original PODS - Canada here, but there are other brands. Big bonus is that you put a lock on it yourself and they use their distribution systems to move it, so you don't have independent movers holding your stuff hostage for more money.

We just used one to move halfway across the US, and while the biggest POD was a bit small for all our shit, their smaller units are probably just right for a small amount of things and bikes.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:24 AM on June 24, 2011

I don't have specifics, but I seem to remember a friend of mine shipping their stuff across canada via rail. Might be worth looking into as another option.
posted by cgg at 10:17 AM on June 24, 2011

"Drop the stuff off in Newf and take the uhaul back to the mainland."

The U Haul rates I checked let you keep the trailer for 9 days, so unpacking and then driving back to a drop off center might still be your cheapest option. You could google map it just to check.
posted by puny human at 10:43 AM on June 24, 2011

Oh! You can also ship stuff on the bus.
posted by kmennie at 11:21 AM on June 24, 2011

2nding a train. If you've got a good infrastructure, you can move things fairly cheaply. I know someone who did this, then just picked up the stuff at the train station.
posted by Gilbert at 11:47 AM on June 24, 2011

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