Moving quickly and lightly, but cheaply?
January 16, 2006 6:38 PM   Subscribe

Moving just a few bulky things halfway across the country ... what's the economical way?

I'm moving to Texas to be closer to my girlfriend. But my job just went buh-bye (company closed down), so I'm doing it on a shoestring. There's a few pieces of furnture and stuff that I like a lot and don't want to get rid of, so I'd like to take them with me.

The problem is cost. And timeline. The timeline is 2.5 weeks. The easiest way, renting a PODS container and putting my stuff in it, costs $5700 for the one-way trip. A one-way U-haul is the cheaper route... it only costs $1000 for a 10" truck. But then I have to drive it, and I was planning on using some plane tickets I already had (was going for a visit, and now I'm staying...) to move. This is really just a few things -- a mattress and boxspring, a futon that collapses flat, two dressers, and some clothes. I'd move in a minivan if I had one that I could drive one way like that.

Can anyone think of an economical way, say $500, to ship this few items? It's Portland to College Station, but Portland to Austin works as well.
posted by SpecialK to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Amtrak ships stuff cheap, although they don't necessarily take good care of what they're moving. For stuff that's reasonably resilient, they should be pretty good.
posted by ph00dz at 6:42 PM on January 16, 2006

Doesn't U-haul rent vans? I haven't done it, but I swear I've seen them before.
posted by MrZero at 6:46 PM on January 16, 2006

You can rent a minivan from any of the big car rental agencies for a one way trip. I just checked Budget really quickly, they're quoting $300 for a minivan for two days going Portland to Austin. Doesn't use up your plane ticket, but gets your stuff there!

Keep in mind too, that even if your plane tickets are non-refundable, if you ask the airline may give you a voucher instead that you can apply to future flights, might be worth looking into.
posted by orangskye at 7:14 PM on January 16, 2006

I'd move in a minivan if I had one that I could drive one way like that.

I've rented vehicles on a one-way basis from car-rental companies several times. The rate seems to be steeper (I paid about $80 for a single dayas recently as 3 years ago), but that may be cheaper than the truck. A Google Maps route from Portland to Austin is 38 hours of driving, so you could probably do it in 4-5 days of 8-10 hours of driving. If that rate prevailed for a minivan, then you'd be spending $300-$400 on the rental. At 20 mpg, you'd need 120 gallons of gas, and so you'd probably be paying $200-$300 for gasoline. This would get you and stuff there at $500-$700.
posted by weston at 7:22 PM on January 16, 2006

On the minivans, if you rent one, make sure you actually will have room *with all the seats in* to fit your stuff. You can't just take out the back seats and leave them somewhere.

Some of the newer minivans, however, have seats that fold down into the floor. That's what I rented to move cross-country, and I fit an amazing amount of stuff in it. I'm pretty sure I used Budget, who said they couldn't guarantee the fold-under seats but ended up having nothing but those in their minivan fleet.
posted by occhiblu at 7:26 PM on January 16, 2006

There are several companies such that you load some stuff on a truck and erect a bulkhead, and they fill up the rest of the truck with whatever. Maybe other people's stuff, maybe bulk cargo. ISTR that it usually works out cheaper than uhaul once you factor in buying gas.


a mattress and boxspring, a futon that collapses flat, two dressers, and some clothes

The cheapest way to move that is probably to not move it. Sell or give away what you have, and then buy other used stuff when you get to Austin.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:40 PM on January 16, 2006

I moved from Florida to California using Ship Smart and I couldn't have been happier with the way the way the estimator on their site worked (dead on!), the people handled picking up my items, the care with which each item was packaged, and the speed with which it arrived in the new location. They were even able to pick up my items, box them up for me, and wait until I arrived in California to give them a location to ship my belongings!
Nothing was damaged, everything was as promised, prices were reasonable enough that I didn't have to cry over getting rid of every last stupid thing.
posted by mztreskiki at 7:57 PM on January 16, 2006

One company that does what RUO_X described is ABF, but I'd also agree, you'd be better off selling the stuff there and buying new stuff if that's really all you have.
posted by jessamyn at 8:25 PM on January 16, 2006

Yeah, I didn't want to say that earlier, but I think you could sell your furniture, ship your clothes, and buy decent new stuff with the same cash in the new city. Much less hassle.
posted by MrZero at 8:31 PM on January 16, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. Looks like I'm selling it here. Even with the decent rates provided by ShipSmart and other household goods carriers, it simply costs more than the stuff is worth to ship it from A to B. And the few things I really want to take with me cost nowhere near enough for it to be worth driving for three days in a U-Haul.
posted by SpecialK at 2:14 AM on January 17, 2006

Greyhound (as in the bus) used to ship parcels. I don't know if they still do. I like the idea of just selling your stuff and then buying anew in Texas.
posted by FergieBelle at 5:41 AM on January 17, 2006

I just moved from Portland, OR to NYC and decided to sell my bulky items as well. And I found that you don't have to price things super-cheap for them to sell on craigslist, especially if you post pictures. The biggest exception being futons. I bought mine for over $600 and got less than half that.

For those non-bulky items, I decided to mail the rest via USPS! I found the post office rates quite reasonable, and better than the Amtrak option because rather than having to go pick up my packages at a different destination based on their timeline, USPS delivered them to me. As my packages were rather large (all under 70lbs, but some just barely) and quite numerous (19 in all) I tipped the mail person every time he made a big delivery. Even though all the packages were mailed on the same day, they came in over the course of a week. He was very gracious and appreciative and even tried to give me back some of the money. The people on the sending side were far less gracious.

Good luck with the move.
posted by funkiwan at 7:49 AM on January 17, 2006

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