Cross-Cross Country Move
May 4, 2016 2:01 PM   Subscribe

I need advice to prep for a cross-cross-country move! I moved to Palo Alto, CA this year to live with my boyfriend, but I left most of my things (no furniture, just books, clothes, personal stuff) in storage in Philadelphia. My boyfriend is a student so I knew this was short term and didn't want to deal with bringing all my things to CA. Then I got a job! In Wisconsin! I start in September so I have time to plan this. Basically, the problem is I have my things in two different coasts and need to have them end up in the middle of the country with me. And I don't own a car. I will be buying a car but I need to figure out if it is more cost effective to rent a car (don't put mileage on a new car/don't register it wherever I buy and then in WI) or get a car in Philadelphia and do the move. I need to get to WI in mid-August, so I have to bring together all the stuff from CA (not too much stuff, but a bit more than two suitcases), then Philly to pick up all my winter stuff, and land in WI. Since I don't have an address in WI yet I can't send stuff ahead, which adds to the problem. Suggestions on how this can be streamlined are welcome!
posted by octomato to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a reason you have to drive? If you don't have a car it seems like it would make more sense for you to get a moving container service (I. E. PODS) where you load up everything in the container, they pick it up and store it until you have an address in Wisconsin for them to deliver to.

Bring your two suitcases with you to Philly. Fly to Philly. Load up your pod. Send it to storage. Fly to Wisconsin with what you need for two weeks or so. Buy your car and get settled with an address. Instruct pod to send to your new address.
posted by Karaage at 2:14 PM on May 4, 2016 [8 favorites]

If you're buying a used car, buy one that has been in California for its lifetime. There's far less wear and tear on a car in Bay Area climates than you'd find in WI or PA. If you're buying a new car, it doesn't matter.
posted by quince at 2:20 PM on May 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

Agree with Karaage. Last time I moved across country from CA, I did something similar. The difference was that I used a moving service (Northstar) that picked up my stuff and stored it for me, which also turned out to be cheaper than PODS.
posted by ejs at 2:21 PM on May 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

Given a choice between buying a car in California or Wisconsin, California wins hands down. My sister has a '66 Mustang from California and it STILL doesn't have rust. And cars from that era are usually held together with rust.

Do you have anyone in Philly who could supervise the loading and moving of your stuff? If so, try ABF UPack they are smaller than PODS and usually less expensive. They can provide a couple of folks to load it for you, and that will be cheaper than going yourself. Or a traditional mover. Call the storage place, they may be able to recommend someone to you. I've used Bekins an Mayflower and they're both just fine. Your quotes shouldn't be too different because they're interstate moves. ABF can hold your container locally in WI, and then deliver it to you once you've secured a new place.

Then just load your nifty car up with your gear and head up to your fabulous new job!

Honestly, this one should be cake. Also, you should be able to plot a pretty fantastic road trip out of this!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:48 PM on May 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

Seconding ABF U-Pack. Used them to move from PA to OR and they were amazing. Great customer service, cheaper than the other options including the Pods at the time I moved last year. Call them and they'll be happy to discuss all the logistics with you.
posted by FireFountain at 5:14 PM on May 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've done this sort of thing a couple of times now, and any decent mover won't balk at picking up your stuff at a storage locker without you and bringing it to you (or even to another storage locker).
posted by Etrigan at 5:43 PM on May 4, 2016

I think Karaage basically has it, but I have one caveat, since my wife and I moved from CA to WI a couple years ago (and we're moving again to Michigan in a couple months). That caveat is that P.O.D.S., Units, U-Haul, and ABF don't necessarily deliver everywhere, so their availability may depend on where exactly you plan on moving to in Wisconsin - we moved to Eau Claire, and couldn't get locker-box type delivery to here from any of those companies, but I would imagine that you'd be fine going to someplace like Madison, Milwaukee or its suburbs, or even places closer to the Twin Cities. What we did do was go with ABF, who also offer a service where you can rent a portion of a 26 foot trailer. The trailer offers the same amenities as the boxes, it's just a trailer, and how much you pay depends on how much of it you use. You can either have it parked at your residence at either end or load and unload at the ABF terminal nearest you if you don't have someplace to put the trailer. You can have your stuff stored at the terminal for however long you want - there's normally a charge, but they gave us a month and a half free. We found a place within a week of getting here, so I think our trailer was only in storage for a day or two anyway. There's a base cost for the trailer, but after that they charge by the foot with a minimum of 5 feet. We ended up using 7, but they knocked our price down a bunch without us even asking and it ended up costing under $2000 for the whole thing.

As far as buying a used car, absolutely buy it in California. I had heard that cars get rusty here, but the degree to which it happens and the decay I see on cars on the road still blow my mind.

One note on Units - we plugged in our info on their site, and since they didn't deliver to Eau Claire, we started getting bombarded with spam and cold calls from other moving companies for about a month - like 7 calls and emails a day. It seems like their actual business is selling your info and moving stuff is just a sideline. We left a negative review on Yelp about it, and then started getting spammed by Units HQ trying to get us to change our rating - they even altered their website to notify you that they'd do this, but only for a couple days, to act like they were taking it seriously, and then reverted their site back to normal. Shady, shady fuckers.
posted by LionIndex at 7:22 PM on May 4, 2016

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