I'm in NYC, my car and stuff is in Atlanta, what should I do?
December 21, 2015 1:27 PM   Subscribe

I live in New York. What is the best way to deal with a car and storage locker full of stuff in Atlanta, Georiga?

I moved to New York City and left behind my car and a storage locker full of stuff in Atlanta. I don't particularly need (or want) the car or anything in the storage locker. The car is a 2004 Hyundai Elantra. What is my best option, and am I missing any possible solutions?

I can swing one (maybe two) vacation days. We have the Friday for New Year's Day off, so I'm hoping to deal with this that weekend. The car is not in great aesthetic shape, and I'm not sure how much that will impact my ability to sell it. (A can of paint was spilled in the trunk, the radio got stolen and there are claw/pry marks on the console, etc.) The car is currently parked at my friend's place and he is watching it and driving it around occaisionally, but this is not a good long term solution.

1. I can fly down, give away or sell anything of value in the storage locker, try to sell the car quick and cheap, and fly back to Atlanta. I can fly down with empty luggage and bring back a couple suitcases of stuff.

2. I can fly down, pack up a car load of stuff from the storage locker, and drive from Atlanta back to NYC. Then either keep the car or sell it in NYC.

3. I can abandon the storage locker and pay the fee to have everything in it disposed of, and have my friend sell the car for cheap and split the money with me.

4. I can put this off for a while, and continue to pay the fee on the storage locker, and work out some kind of long-term storage plans for the car. Either finding a place to store it for a fee, or pay a friend in Atlanta to watch it and care for it.

None of these seem like great solutions to me, and I can't figure out which is the best option, or if I am missing something else. I'm leaning toward #1, but is selling a car in two or three days a reasonable option, via craigslist or something like that? I'm also strongly considering option #2, since I could probably bring enough stuff back with me from Atlanta to cover the cost of gas and some of the plane ticket, and then I would have a car in NYC to make a decision about. Does flying into Atlanta on a Thursday night and getting back to NYC by the following Monday seem like a reasonable schedule?

Would it be easier and/or more profitable to sell the car in Atlanta or NYC, or does that not make a difference?

What are the questions I need to ask myself before I make a decision? Any advice on the best approach to this problem would be greatly appreciated.
posted by davidstandaford to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
Just focusing on the car aspect:

If I were you, I'd take the car to CarMax to get their offer and seriously consider just selling it to them. You won't get top dollar but you'll be able to sell the car pretty much instantly and avoid any craigslist hassle. You could even sign a limited power of attorney to let your friend handle the transaction for you so you wouldn't have to make the trip down to GA yourself.

I highly advise against option #2. Bringing a car to NYC that you don't need is a huge mistake. You'll be prone to getting NYC parking tickets if you try to park on the street, and parking in garages is hugely expensive. Plus selling a car in NY usually requires a recent NY emissions inspection, which your car might have an issue passing. You'd then need to spend money bringing your car into compliance just so you could sell it again.
posted by dcjd at 1:40 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Donate the car to charity and toss the stuff. Move on with life.
posted by AugustWest at 1:43 PM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

This is simply a cost/benefit analysis.

1. Is there anything you actually want? If no:

2. Call the storage place and ask if you can surrender your stuff to be sold at their next auction. Then make that arrangement and stop paying the storage. Easy peasy.

Or 3. Have the friend with your car drive to your storage unit and open it up. Put an ad on Craigslist offering whatever is inside to whoever will take it away. Or just call any charity who will come pick it up and cart it away.

4. The car. Check KBB and see what it's worth. I checked and a Hyundai Elantra in fair condition with 80K miles on it, is around $2k.

Me, I'd sign the car over to my friend and consider it a blessing to him. It's not going to do you ANY good in NYC. Another thing you could do is to sign the car over to your friend, have HIM sell the car and split the proceeds.

If you want a deduction, give it to WABE the local NPR station.

All of these solutions do not have you spending ANY money or time dicking around with it. Do the easiest thing.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:45 PM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

Call up the storage space, find out their rules. Is there a fee for them to take ownership/control of your stuff (and sell at auction)? How much does it cost to have them dispose of the stuff for you? If you sell it on Craigslist, I'd worry that your buyer would show up, take what they wanted, and drive off, leaving the storage locker owners with junk to clear out and nothing of value to make it worth their while. BUT, I bet the storage people have a plan in place. Find out what it is. There will probably be a fee involved, but how does that compare to the cost of a plane ticket down to handle it yourself?

Similarly, mail your friend the title and paperwork on the car, and have them take it to Carmax or any used-car place. Come to some arrangement like they take all the money for their trouble, or the two of you split it, or "$500 for me, anything over that for you" or whatever seems fair. Again, there's some slight lost income, if you think you could sell it for more, but how does that compare to a plane ticket?

About keeping/selling the car, keep in mind that there's no inherent value in the fact that the car is already yours. Consider how much you currently want a car (any car) in your life. Consider, if you got a phone call today that said "You just won the cheapo lottery, you can have your choice of prizes!! Either $1000 or a beat-up 2004 Hyndai Elantra!!" Myself, I'd take the cash, meaning that if I had such a car, I would take it straight to the dealership to sell.
posted by aimedwander at 2:18 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Comparing $$ variables for #1 and #2, is mostly pretty logical.
Plug your car data into the CarMax website for an estimate of sales price, and be sure the 1k miles of the trip doesn't make a significant difference. Also check taxes. Shop for airfare, compare the price of a one-way ticket plus price of gas vs a round-trip (plus check fees).
Then there's the less-logical part. What's in that storage locker that you could put in 2 suitcases, and how much is it worth to you emotionally and financially? What else is in that storage locker that you could fit in a car but not a suitcase? We can't answer this for you. But you say you don't want the stuff and you don't want the car, so we say "why in the world would you want to go to the effort of option 2?".

All I can really say is, I recommend against #4, the car is worth less and less every month it ages, so you may as well sell it now.
posted by aimedwander at 2:30 PM on December 21, 2015

If you want an excuse to see friends in Atlanta and/or have any chance of discovering something in the storage unit that you'd really regret losing, I'd go with option 1 with the intent of giving the car to charity or your friend or doing a quick sale for next to nothing. If not, option 3 seems the clear way to go. If nothing in the storage unit it worth much if anything to you, the time and gas to drive a car up to NYC is greater than the cost of a roundtrip ticket (especially if bad weather could throw a wrench into plans) and just keeping things you don't want indefinitely isn't worth spending more money on.

One way to move beater cars is to check with local mechanics - they often are on the lookout for old but driveable cars. Mine periodically reminds me that he'll take it off of me any time I'm ready to step up to something newer.
posted by Candleman at 2:30 PM on December 21, 2015

I'm in Atlanta and might be interested in your car for my teenage son. (He's driving a 2005 Civic right now that unfortunately has been a neverending cascade of problems.) What might you want for the car?
posted by webwench at 6:50 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

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