Cost-effective strategies for moving from Hawaii to LA
March 19, 2013 11:12 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to plan our move from Oahu back to Los Angeles. We have too much for airline baggage, but too little for a shipping container. We're selling all the furniture and big items, and planning to buy used replacements when we arrive. We're paring down our belongings as much as we can bear, but it's still not going to fit in airline baggage. I'm talking medium-value, medium-sized things like baking pans, shoes, small kitchen appliances, and books. What's the cheapest way to ship all this little stuff?

I don't care how long it takes. Is there a shared container solution that would let me take advantage of the economy of shipping containers without having to rent an entire one? (Something like the UPack ReloCubes is way too expensive, at $4000 terminal-to-terminal, and too much space besides as we don't have furniture.)

Do the options really boil down to dragging a couple big boxes in to FedEx, UPS, or USPS? Is one significantly cheaper than the others?
posted by lostburner to Travel & Transportation around O‘ahu, HI (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What's the rate on excess baggage for your airline? Is there an upper limit on what you can take?

USPS is often the cheapest of the three couriers you mention. But do go into a post office and ask - they may have some rate that saves you some money which you can't find online. :)
posted by mdonley at 11:17 AM on March 19, 2013

If you could figure out the unit cost of shipping your books and baking pans to LA versus repurchasing them when they get there...

I've moved across the Pacific a couple of times, and the only books I have left are books that I can't find here in Canada at the library.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:19 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

For media, USPS Media Mail may be your best bet. A better bet is to digitize everything and get rid of the books. (I don't practice what I preach, but if it were $4000, I'd reconsider.)

As for the rest, have a yard sale, take the money, fold it into your pocket and then buy other, similar stuff at someone else's garage sale in LA.

You can buy pots, pans and shoes in LA, new, CHEAPER than it would cost to ship the old stuff from Hawaii.

That shit is ALL easily replaceable.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:23 AM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

I don't know about rates specifically, but are you aware of the fact that you can have excess baggage? You have to pay for it, but most airlines will let you have up to ten bags per person. I've worked on reality shows that shipped all our camera gear via excess baggage - it was the cheapest, safest option.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:22 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

This referral service will apparently allow you to get multiple quotes.
posted by Dansaman at 12:52 PM on March 19, 2013

Look into excess baggage fees and also air cargo fees. I shipped some stuff air cargo when I was in a similar situation- too much stuff for regular checked baggage, too little for movers to deal with.

I will also gently nudge you on the small appliances, baking pans, and books. Books that have specific sentimental value get a pass, but the rest of that stuff is just stuff. Sell it, donate it, and replace it when you need it once you are settled in LA. For the kind of move you are doing, be ruthless about what is fungible and what is special to you.
posted by ambrosia at 1:47 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: We just moved from Oahu to Seattle and we ended up going with DHX. You go to their office/warehouse off of Nimitz by Sam Choy's and they give you as many 4' x 5' pallets as you need and pallet wrap. You load the pallets up yourself, wrap it up and they charge you by the pallet and by the height. Our three pallets about 5' high ended up costing us ~$1,100. They also give a cash discount versus using a credit card. We ended up giving a lot of our stuff away and buying it all again sure adds up. I don't know if DHX goes to LA but it's worth checking out.

If we were to do it again we probably would have kept even more and gone with a fourth pallet. I'm heading out the door but will try to write more later. Feel free to memail me if you want. Good luck!
posted by snez at 1:55 PM on March 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

I checked and DHX does have an office in LA. They have regularly scheduled shipping dates and the total time from the day we loaded up the pallets to delivery to Seattle was about 3 and a half weeks. One thing I should mention is you will need to go pick up the items at their LA location as they will not be delivered to your door. You'll get a phone call when it's arrived and you have a certain number of days to pick up the pallets before you start getting a storage fee. We had some incredibly delicate items on our pallets and everything arrived safe and intact. It helped that we put all boxes of books and other heavy items on the bottom half of the pallet and then put breakable items on the top center surrounded by other boxes and we wrapped it tight with plastic. When I picked up the items in Seattle, I had planned to break the pallets down there but the pallets fit into the truck I rented and they simply loaded the three pallets right onto the truck and they remained secure until I got to my place.

Overall it was a very positive experience and far cheaper than any other option we looked into and I liked that either the whole thing was going to make it or it wasn't - no missing boxes like I had with USPS.
posted by snez at 4:12 PM on March 19, 2013

Response by poster: snez, I will definitely look into DHX. That sounds almost ideal for our situation. We may have just a single pallet.

I also hadn't thought about loading up on airline checked baggage. Looks like prices skyrocket for most airlines after 2 bags, but it's probably worth taking as much as possible in those two.

Media mail is probably worth checking out in more depth.

I'm definitely in the mindset of ruthlessly paring down, selling as much as possible, and getting equivalent used stuff on the other end. I'm not sentimental about things, and I actively dislike having a big investment in objects lying around the house. I've moved enough times to really dislike that kind of accumulation.

But still, one needs a pop-up toaster. And some pillows for the bed. And the quilt from Aunt Sally. Books could probably do with some purging therapy, but the total amount of stuff under consideration is less than an SUV-load.

And for each thing we definitely need and already have, selling and re-buying it would involves negotiating with strangers from Craigslist on each end, being home to meet the buyer, driving out to meet the seller, online posting and searching, and so on. Definitely a time sink and possibly a money sink; we're doing it for the big stuff and most of the little stuff, but for some of it there's probably a tipping point where hassle and cost of transporting is less than the hassle and cost of replacing.
posted by lostburner at 4:43 PM on March 19, 2013

We used Rainier Overseas Movers to move from CA to Australia, with a partial shipping container (a "lift van"/pallets). They were great, much cheaper than mail, and packed for us too. It was awesome. They were great.

We pared down pretty ruthlessly as well, but balanced that with the fact that we'd already pared down/moved a couple times and really really *hate* shopping.

If you don't like shopping, nothing sucks more than getting to a new semi-empty place and having to make a list of all the crap you didn't take and re-purchase it all. The yardsale won't cover the cost, and personally, I'd rather pay to keep what I have and avoid shopping... ugh.

Good luck!
posted by jrobin276 at 7:26 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

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