I moved. My stuff is still 800 miles away.
April 4, 2017 1:33 PM   Subscribe

I didn't have the resources to move my stuff when I moved to Omaha from Ohio last summer. I have a 10x12 storage unit there and I need to get it from NE Ohio to Omaha, and I want to do it as inexpensively as possible, but I'm not actually in Ohio to do things like packing it up myself. How do I find a low-cost long-distance mover generally and how do I deal with things like "we need to see it to give you an estimate" when I'm 800 miles away?

The cost of trips back to deal with this could easily wind up costing more than the actual movers, and I can't deal with that. The storage unit basically has the contents of my 1-bedroom apartment, much of which is furniture I inherited that I'm not ready to give up. I've never actually moved with proper movers before, and I called one place and they said that the rates would start at $6,000 just for the distance and that seemed incredibly high--a calculator on moving.com said it should be under $3,000 but I can't figure out where I should be going to get rates like that. Or is this genuinely a $6k job?

In the past, for long distances, I've used ABF U-pack, but I'm not in Ohio and I don't have anyone there who I can reasonably ask to pack a truck or pod for me. I do have one friend who I can trust with the key to go let the movers in, but there are limits to how much free time that friend has to deal with this, so I can't exactly have them going out a half dozen times to let movers in to do estimates.

I'm not trying to do this for a couple hundred bucks or anything, but I'd like to be able to accomplish this for that under $3k number and avoid having to take vacation time to fly back to Ohio. If it genuinely can't be done, it's not a disaster, but I'm not sure what a reasonable cost for this looks like, since it's the first time. This isn't a company relocation thing, so the more it's going to cost me, the longer it'll be before I get my things.
posted by Sequence to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I just moved. I paid a local service (think Two Men and a Truck) to load up the truck and then used ABF (rental space in truck, not pod version) for the relocation. I used 5 feet of truck for my stuff. I had a one bedroom and kept some furniture but got rid of bigger items like a couch. I had 2600 lbs of stuff. The loading took a few hours and cost about $350 (got a special rate for off season, but estimate about 100-150/hr for loading and for already-packed small space a couple of hours total time). The ABF truck cost $1300 something with a discount for booking over the phone -- I moved about 1200 miles. You'll need a friend to sign for the truck when it gets dropped off and then probably to oversee the loading/sign the "everything seems to be in order" paperwork. I had great experiences with both ABF and the local folks loading and unloading. Basically, by dividing and conquering, I was able to get things loaded and unloaded at each end and moved a long distance for just under $2k.
posted by HonoriaGlossop at 1:53 PM on April 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

It's been several years since I moved, but we moved a 3 bedroom house 1200 miles with the movers packing on one end and unpacking on the other for a little over $7k. So unless prices have risen dramatically, $6k for a lower-service single bedroom move seems a bit steep to me. I do think you'll be able to get better estimates if you can let them actually see the stuff (they might assume worst case scenario if they can't, and they might also be pricing in the hassle of dealing with a client who isn't present). So if there's anyone you can have help on the other end for that, I think it would serve you well.
posted by primethyme at 2:42 PM on April 4, 2017

This might be terrible advice (liability, etc.), but I wonder if you post a craigslist ad for someone to get a uhaul and drive the 800 miles. Pay them for their time and hotel and flight home, etc. I'd think that would come out to less than $3,000.
posted by TomFoolery at 2:52 PM on April 4, 2017

Is the stuff in the storage unit already in boxes/packed up and just needs to be moved onto a truck/into a pod? Or would it also need to be boxed up/packed by whoever you hire? My strong suspicion here is that the moving companies you've talked with are worried about getting into a "hoarder" type situation where they're confronted with a storage unit that needs a ton of work/organization to get loaded, and that's why you're getting such high estimates. Because yeah, just the loading/transportation part shouldn't be that much. My last move, which was a longer distance, was around $5K, and that was including flights, boxes, pet transport -- everything all in (I know because it was reimbursed by work).

Any chance you can post to Facebook and ask if anyone from your location is themselves interested or has someone in their network able to help you do some local legwork in exchange for some cash? I think companies will be less skeptical if they have someone local to deal with (for example, I've never had movers need to come out and look at my apartment to give an estimate -- I just tell them how much stuff and they tell me about what it will cost, with the caveat that if my stuff > what I told them, the price would of course be more. I think the combination of "storage unit" and "absent owner" is probably making them nervous.
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:02 PM on April 4, 2017

have you asked the managers of the storage facility where your stuff is? They might have a recommendation of how to go about it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:20 PM on April 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd see about getting a pod-type container. I just moved with U-Pack. I had less stuff than you did, but I bet you could get an appropriate amount of space for $2-3k, including the shipping part. You'd have to have a friend there to accept the delivery of the shipping container, but not for the pickup.

Moving Help lets you hire movers by the hour. They show up and do whatever--putting shit into boxes, loading trucks, etc. For this kind of thing, assuming that your stuff is already boxed up, I'd bet you could hire two people for three hours and you'd be sorted. When I did this last month, hiring two people for two hours cost less than $150 on each end. You would have to have a friend there to let the movers into the unit (or, possibly, get the manager of the storage facility to let them in with your approval, and explain to the movers ahead of time that you won't be there, and they should use their best judgment, etc) and you'd do well to get your friend to take over a bunch of blankets, etc, to use as padding.

I would be surprised, based on my own experience, if this had to cost more than 3-4k.
posted by mishafletch at 7:46 PM on April 4, 2017

I just moved my 8x20 foot storage unit from Utah, to California, 750 miles. Penske, 5 days, unlimited mileage, $499. If you want insurance, which everyone recommended, then it is another $129. I ended up with a sweet 26 foot truck, because they didn't see the 22 footer I reserved, had a hole in the roof. They are great with one way travel. I and a friend loaded the truck, and drove it. The sooner the better, because these trucks rarely have AC. It was about $900 total, because we stayed a night out, and took some meals along the way. I drove the whole thing. No problem.
posted by Oyéah at 8:56 PM on April 4, 2017

I forgot, we found a kid in a nearby gas station, and paid him 40 bucks to help load. He was great.
posted by Oyéah at 8:57 PM on April 4, 2017

There are some good ideas here generally--though I'm really not on the kind of budget where I'm looking for serious DIY here, my vacation time is considerably more precious than my cash--but this in particular had not even occurred to me:

My strong suspicion here is that the moving companies you've talked with are worried about getting into a "hoarder" type situation where they're confronted with a storage unit that needs a ton of work/organization to get loaded, and that's why you're getting such high estimates.

So, I am definitely going to try to get my friend to go get a couple pictures of the unit in the next couple weeks and will see if that makes it easier to talk to people. I was thinking of it like--it's a storage unit, obviously everything in it is already packed up! But oh, yeah, that's probably not actually obvious.
posted by Sequence at 10:51 AM on April 5, 2017

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