Relocating from Upstate NY to the Silicon Valley/San Francisco. How do I get myself and my belongings there?
January 24, 2012 6:16 AM   Subscribe

Relocating from Upstate NY to the Silicon Valley/San Francisco. How do I get myself and my belongings there?

After some wavering I decided to take a new job, and I need to move in about two weeks. I don't own much, but it's enough to pack a car full. Outside of driving, what can I do and, more importantly, how (what numbers do I call, how much will it cost, etc)?

Any other relocation hacks are welcome, too!
posted by jander03 to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There are so many ways to answer this question. What are your priorities? Why don't you want to drive?
posted by jon1270 at 7:16 AM on January 24, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for asking!

I'm reluctant to drive because I have a car that's breaking apart and it's a long tedious drive.
posted by jander03 at 7:21 AM on January 24, 2012

I suspect any moving option that includes moving your car will cost at least as much as the smallest U-Haul van with a car trailer, which runs about $2100. That seems like a lot to spend on moving a car that's "breaking apart." Since you don't have furniture, you might be best off selling your car and as much else as possible, finding a cheap way to transport bulk items (Media Mail for books being a classic), and then flying. Southwest's baggage policies would seem to let you take (optimally packed) boxes at $1/pound with the first 100 pounds free, which is actually less than my movers charged per pound on my last (much shorter) interstate move.
posted by backupjesus at 7:36 AM on January 24, 2012

Are you getting any relocation benefits? Are you planning to take the car to the West Coast? Will you even need a car in SF? I just did a quick quote at Upack, assuming 1 bedroom apartment worth of stuff from Albany to SF - it's almost $3000 - but maybe on par with a Uhaul after you buy gas a 12 miles a gallon all the way across the country. Upack does not include getting your car to the West Coast though. Uhaul still involves a long tedious drive, with the bonus of doing it in an uncomfortable truck.

If you really don't have much stuff you may be able to get a break by working with a moving company and being flexible about the dates. I had some furniture to get from IN to GA years ago and we did it cheaply by allowing the moving company to use our stuff to fill out an almost full truck at their convenience.
posted by COD at 7:47 AM on January 24, 2012

Best answer: I'm not sure that bringing a falling apart car is a good plan. You're going to need to get an out-of-state car to pass a smog test before you can register it.

You're probably better off packing your stuff on a couple of pallets, dropping them off at a freight company at the nearest airport (I've had good luck with Forward Air from Albany to SFO) and pick them up a week later at SFO/SJC/OAK. The cost will depend on the weight of your stuff. I ended up building some 4'x4'x8' wooden crates to ship my stuff. It's about 1/4 the cost of a truck rental.

Join City Car Share when you get out here and reserve a pickup truck to go get your stuff from the airport.

Shipping your stuff by truck will give you an excuse to take a week long vacation somewhere random. Just buy a plane ticket from NY to SF via somewhere you want to visit, by the time you arrive here all your stuff will be here too.
posted by foodgeek at 8:04 AM on January 24, 2012

Best answer: I once moved from the Hudson Valley to San Francisco via Amtrak. It wasn't the easiest, or fastest, but it was pretty cheap and a unique experience. What you do is buy your train ticket and then check your belongings as baggage. I checked through a pick-up truck's worth of stuff - no furniture, just big boxes and duffel bags. You get so many bags/pounds free with your ticket and then you pay per bag/box afterwards (like $10 a bag under 50lbs. or something). If you pack your stuff well (I used cardboard boxes and wrapped everything well) you get off at your destination and claim your stuff. You can even leave it for a day or so before you claim it. I had a family friend with a truck waiting for me at Emeryville (Amtrak doesn't go directly into SF, they shuttle you over on a bus but I wasn't gonna do that).

I started at the Albany station because they had a freight loading dock that I literally backed up to with my stuff. Poughkeepsie was closer to my home but they were less able to handle the "freight."

The train ride itself was long and had lots of delays. People love to tell you just how awful and third world Amtrak is, but I loved it. I really is a weird, wonderful way to see the country and meet people you'd never otherwise meet. As long as you bring some food (stuff on board is pricey), a bottle of booze, and an extra sweater (they keep the AC on high) you'll have a good time.
posted by gyusan at 10:31 AM on January 24, 2012

Response by poster: To follow-up:

I shipped using Amtrak and flew myself. The freight was incredibly cheap - they just plastic wrapped everything on a pallet which I collected about 8 days later in Oakland.

I've recommended Amtrack to others.

As for the car... my situation allowed me to rent for a couple weeks before buying a used car off Craigslist. I sold my old car before moving.
posted by jander03 at 10:12 PM on November 5, 2012

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