Moving to NYC! From Toronto!
July 12, 2018 5:29 AM   Subscribe

I'm moving to NYC (and, specifically, Brooklyn) from Toronto in about a month. Actually, exactly a month to date. I don't have a lot of stuff, I don't have a car, I hate driving enough to be willing to spend some money. Best way to move?

Stuff I do have amounts to one room in a shared apartment, and most of the common room furniture are not mine.

My stuff includes:

- lots of books, maybe 150-180 or so.
- 2 musical instruments
- a fairly minimalistic wardrobe
- a queen sized mattress
- a bike
- some kitchen stuff--bowls and rice cookers; roughly 2 banker boxes.

I also have the following that I could leave or take:

- a desk, bed frame, two chairs (one ikea Poang, one desk chair), and a dresser/drawers thing.

I am leaning toward doing the easiest thing, which would be PODS (or other portable container services...recommendations welcomed and longed for!!), and I am willing to spend about 1000 (with a bit of room) on this.

But the quote I received came back at 1770, so now I want to look around and see if there are alternatives. All of my stuff wouldn't fill a POD.

I don't have a car and don't feel comfortable driving this distance alone (I do have a driver's liscence, but I haven't driven in a long time).

Some other possibilities I am considering, but have no idea how realistic:
1) freight ship all of my books, big items, and kitchen stuff. Take instruments and clothes as luggage with me. Would this be very troublesome at the border for declaration purposes?

Any other thoughts, ideas, recommendations, experience and anecdata would be much appreicated!
posted by atetrachordofthree to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (12 answers total)
When I moved Vancouver to New York I did ABF upack with the freight option you pay per foot not by weight and it was pretty reasonable (I priced it as cheaper than replacing everything from Ikea). The only hitch was it took a while and I had to get the stuff from the terminal in NY.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 5:40 AM on July 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I’m on the subway so this is going to be a bit scattered.

Brooklyn has an ikea. Replacing the poang, office chair (unless it’s like, a Herman Miller or something) and bookshelves here will be less of a pain in the ass. New York Public Library is amazing and if your job is in Manhattan you will qualify for a card, just show them your pay stub. Brooklyn library system is also great. Narrow your books down to the 20-30 that you actively adore. Sell or otherwise distribute the rest. Asking your friends to carry ten boxes loaded with books when you move will cost you in beer and goodwill. You may have to move a lot. I got lucky and have been in the same place with amazing roommates for 4 years. That is an anomaly. If you get to brooklyn and find you can’t bear to live without specific titles, the Strand and the Housing Works bookstores are great. Housing Works also has locations that sell decent used furniture.

How old is your mattress? If it’s anywhere near time to replace it, just plan to do that when you get to the city. Or rent a room that has a bed. You can buy a decent sub $200 twin mattress and frame on amazon, sleep on that for six months and then replace with a size that fits your space. Honestly there are rooms in the city that will not accommodate a queen so if you need to go down to a full it will hurt if you’ve shipped a mattress that you literally cannot give away in this city. Same with your bedding. Ikea has good prices on cotton sheets

What I did when I moved to the city was I packed two suitcases and 2 18x18x24 boxes. Shipped the boxes Usps where they were lost for 3 months. Because I cane in a cold time I had all of my ‘cold’ weather stuff with me and as it became summer pretty much immediately I had to acquire summer things. So then when I got my boxes back I had a duplicate summer wardrobe and had not been able to take advantage of end of season gear deals for winter boots.

And honestly? I still came with more things than I needed. Anything that has <6>
On a personal note, as you’re replacing your things in brooklyn, please find ways to do that at shops that support your neighborhood, especially shops that were in your neighborhood before gentrification and/or are owned by people of color. Ikea is great for cheap stuff, but a locally owned furniture resale place or out of the closet or housing works will be better for the city. And those place will help you find good things that are inexpensive, as opposed to cheap.
posted by bilabial at 5:58 AM on July 12, 2018 [12 favorites]

I have a suspicion you can't ship things across the border on Amtrak, but give them a call to see: 1-800-377-6914 (Amtrak Express shipping). You can ship things on Greyhound as well, but it seems less likely you can get things across the border.

Do you have any friends or family who could be enlisted to drive? This is really a quantity of stuff suited to renting a van. (If you leave the furniture, you can likely get it all in a minivan, though you might be stuck with U-Haul vans if you need one-way across the border.) The van plus return transport for your friend (if they're not willing to drive back) will probably eat most of the $1000.
posted by hoyland at 6:27 AM on July 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

I don't want to thread sit, but thought I'd add a few pieces of info:

1) Not taking the bike and/or the mattress will hurt a bit (sentimental values), but it's possible. The mattress is rather nice and only about 1 year old. I am 33F and have had lots back injuries, so I can't quite do the 200 IKEA mattress thing (seriously, I've tried), but I also know it might be cheaper to replace even a nicer mattress. So, point noted is what I'm saying :)

2) I am an academic and these particular books are not replaceable and I need them for work. Already got rid of all non-essential books, to be honest. I don't have bookcases to worry about, though. My Toronto place has a built-in wall of bookselves.
posted by atetrachordofthree at 6:32 AM on July 12, 2018

Unless any of that kitchen stuff or furniture is really nice I would just sell/get rid of all of it and replace when you get to New York. It's probably not worth the cost. When I moved cross-country I took stuff I wish I hadn't taken. It's so expensive and really, just not worth it unless they're family heirlooms or something.

I think you're right on about taking your clothes and instruments as luggage on the plane.

The mattress is the hard one--I don't know what you can do about that.

Also, if you live in any of the five boroughs you can get an NYPL card. You don't need to work or live in Manhattan. Brooklyn has its own public library system, as does Queens.
posted by Automocar at 6:51 AM on July 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Serious question - what is the situation you are moving INTO? i dont want to be debbie downer (and i love living in NYC) but a lot of folks dont quite stick the landing. . . between sketchy listings, shitty roomates and a whole host of other issues (including one that rimes with head hugs), folks moving from out of the area are, in my experience, at greater risks of coming in hot, realizing there is some fatal error in their accommodation of choice, and needing to relocate quickly. For this reason i would recommend shedding everything you can possibly do without.

If you have secure and stable accommodations lined up, possibly through your academic employer or a similar connection, feel free to ignore this advice.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:31 AM on July 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

[mods: imsorryimsorry I promise this is the last post-- Exceptional_Hubris' comment made me realize that this piece of info is crucial]

I'm moving to take an academic job and I intend to stay for the long haul (i.e. this is not a temporary, visiting kind of job).

I have a secure and stable sublet lined up for August through January. The room can accomodate a queen size bed. I'd like to find and sign a studio or one bedroom in Queens before my sublet is up.

I genuinely appreciate all the comments upthread, though. I lived in New York for two years in my mid-20s as MA student with no money, and knew the tiny room, the frequent move, the bed bugs, the rats.
posted by atetrachordofthree at 7:47 AM on July 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

Moved same amount of stuff in a portable uhaul pod from SC to NYC

Cost $1400, but 400 of which was local movers in Brooklyn.
posted by sandmanwv at 8:53 AM on July 12, 2018

Also, if you live in any of the five boroughs you can get an NYPL card. You don't need to work or live in Manhattan. Brooklyn has its own public library system, as does Queens.

Sorry, I don't mean to derail this further, but in fact you just need to live, work, attend school or pay property tax in New York State to get a card from the NYPL, Brooklyn PL, or Queens PL. You do not need to be a NYC resident.
posted by andrewesque at 8:59 AM on July 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

OP is an academic, so probably a number of the OP's volumes will either not be available from the NYPL or will not be circulating (belonging to one of the research libraries). Also, while they probably should mostly be available from OP's home institution, presumably OP wants them on the shelves for ready consultation.

The books seem like the sticking point to me--with the weight and volume, you're going to have to use some form of shipping/moving service. I would agree with the people above who suggest ditching just about all the household goods for replacement here. Ship the books and instruments (if too large to carry) (INSURE THEM PROPERLY!!! Whatever five-cent-a-pound default they offer will not be it). You shouldn't have a problem with clothing and such crossing the border. The mattress is a toughie, but I'd say sell it (sounds like the only item worth making an effort to do so properly) and replace here, too.

Welcome back to NYC, and good luck in your new job!
posted by praemunire at 10:40 AM on July 12, 2018

Greyhound does have locations in Toronto. Contact them about rates for shipping the books. Ask them about max box weight and dimensions.
posted by bilabial at 10:58 AM on July 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is your citizenship US, Canadian, or neither? The answer affects how moving stuff cross-border will work, and whether or not you'll need to pay any duty on your goods. CBP Forms available here. If you cross the border with unaccompanied goods, you'll need a full manifest, so plan how you want to list and keep track of all your items *before* you start packing. (I have academic friends and rest assured that you don't have to give the titles of *all* the books, but you do want to have a rough count, and you can't just list 'household goods'.) Importing mattresses from US (or anywhere else) to CAN is uniquely problematic -- apparently due to secondhand mattress sales? -- but taking a mattress to the US, happily, is just fine.

I can recommend ABF UPack pods -- consistently the cheapest of all the pod services I've priced *and also* cheaper than self-driving a UHaul, good service, sometimes will offer discounts to academics if you call personally for a quote. Going NY to Vancouver with roughly that amount of stuff cost less than the PODS quote you're saying you've gotten. Caveat that delivery to Brooklyn, given the lack of parking, will probably necessitate what they call 'live loading,' where you have a specific four-hour window for which you must secure a parking space for your truck, and where you'll either need to have or hire enough people to get your stuff upstairs. If you or a friend are comfortable driving a short distance, you can save a bit of money and a lot of stress by having your ABF pod sent to the terminal hub in Maspeth and just ferrying your things via rented car/truck/UHaul to your apartment. You can do this in your own time, come and go as you please until you're done, and just lock your pod in the secure lot until you've emptied it out.

I have moved academic quantities of books cross-country both by pod and by shipping freight, and though shipping freight was cheaper, it was far more stressful, and I lost a whole box -- the least-replaceable box, of course! -- last time I did it. Pods are great! You can even track them in real-time! There is an IKEA in Red Hook, and you can replace kitchen stuff easily at places like Fish's Eddy or any of the restaurant supply places in Chinatown, but if you have stuff you like, I vote for bringing it all in a pod, then shedding it as needed/if needed. Replacing a household is both expensive and time-consuming. It sucks that you'll have to move again in a few months, but intra-city moves aren't so bad, particularly if you can handle it in stages. If your sublet situation means you have stuff you won't need or want until you get your own place, you may want to look into a pod service that offers storage -- UHaul does this and I think ABF does too, though I don't know costs.

And: congratulations on the appointment! Do be sure you check with your department -- sometimes you can get or negotiate some funds for moving expenses or apply later for some compensation. Not sure which institution you'll be joining, but a lot of NYC schools participate in a library consortium and have great lending agreements, so be sure to look into what's offered; very likely you can use/visit/check books out from NYU, Columbia, and all the other great academic libraries, even if you work elsewhere.
posted by halation at 1:31 PM on July 12, 2018 [4 favorites]

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