Cube Moving?
August 17, 2018 10:33 AM   Subscribe

I'll be moving from the East Coast to the Midwest at the end of the month. I don't have a whole lot of money for moving expenses, but have been considering using a cube moving company. Does anyone have any experience with these, and would you recommend it? My budget is up to $1,000.

The distance will be more or less D.C. to more or less Milwaukee.
posted by codacorolla to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh - should've added: I don't have a whole lot of stuff, and could definitely make due with the 'studio' or smallest option for all services.
posted by codacorolla at 10:33 AM on August 17, 2018

I've had two excellent experiences with ABF U-Pack. Better prices than the competitors I priced (Pods, U-Haul's cube service... it was even cheaper than renting a U-Haul and driving, for my last move, after factoring in fuel). Very responsive with pick-up and delivery. Cubes are well-designed for easy packing and have a small parking-space-sized footprint. You get a tracking code for your cube, and you use your own lock. You can definitely fit a one-bedroom into just one cube, if you're thoughtful about packing strategy and you don't have a super-large couch or anything -- I pre-gamed the move by taping out a cube-sized square in my old apartment to map out where stuff would go, so the actual cube-packing part was a breeze.

If you're in Actual DC, or going to Actual Milwaukee, you'll need to check about parking, and you may need to secure a permit or do what they call 'live-loading' (basically, you have a four-hour window to pack or unpack while the ABF truck waits, so they load it directly onto their truck and go). If you're in a more suburban outskirt and you have a driveway or street parking, you can take your time with the cube and call them for pick-up when you're ready. Another option, if you have a car or want to rent a U-Haul, is to load or unload at one of their terminals -- this can save you some money and also means you don't have to worry about securing parking.

If you call them for a quote, you can sometimes get a discount -- I know they do student discounts, if that applies, and sometimes they'll email you coupon codes if you sign up for a free quote. You tend to get better rates with more advance notice, and summer is high season for moving, so you may want to get in touch with them soon.
posted by halation at 10:48 AM on August 17, 2018 [11 favorites]

Yes, I would recommend a cube service and it would be the first place I'd look into if I needed to move again in the US. With the caveat that this was 10 years ago, I stored some stuff for about a year with Door to Door Storage (now acquired by U-Haul) and then had it moved cross country. It seemed really stress-free to me compared to stories people have of using moving companies. (I mean, I was stressed because My Stuff!!!! Will it be okay??? but not because of anything they did). Halation covers the most important general points above.
posted by tiger tiger at 10:54 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've also used ABF and had good experiences.

Beware, though, that it may be difficult to stay under $1,000 (even though their prices are competitive for the segment).
posted by grobstein at 10:56 AM on August 17, 2018

Also used ABF a couple of times. Once with their cubes, another time with just space in a trailer. Both went great.

uhaul at least used to have a section of their webpage where you could hire load and unload crews on each end. Having people who know what they're doing do this instead of you and your pals makes a difference.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 10:56 AM on August 17, 2018

I used Uhaul pods with load/unload crews. SF to NYC was around $1800 with crews, which were around $500 of that price. It was a positive experience-- the crews were great on both ends and the customer service on the phone was very helpful. Billing was prompt, accurate, and clear. You can save money if you can pack and tow the cube yourself to the depot.

One thing that lowered the price significantly was 1) shopping in incognito mode on the browser, and 2) calling around to get a quote from a human, which was usually even lower than the website quote, and 3) asking them to meet or beat a competitor's lower quote, which U-Haul did.

Definitely figure out the parking situation, and also nail down the company on a date and time window. At least one company I got a quote from didn't make precise windows on weekends.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:02 AM on August 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

I've used ABF U-pack also with great results. All the humans I interacted with were friendly and courteous, including the delivery/pickup drivers. Who it should be mentioned actually showed up on time and were skilled at safely maneuvering their equipment without damaging anything. I don't want to move again anytime soon, but if I did it would be a strong option and preferable to having a crew handle and pack my stuff.

halation mentions some important challenges about cube storage, but there are alternatives: you may be able to get a permit from the city or an OK from an apartment manager to drop the cube in a parking spot. The cube is only as strong as your lock, though, so get a good one and remove any valuables.
posted by a halcyon day at 11:20 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I had absolutely no problem with PODS or with the PODS truck driver, but the movers we hired were TERRIBLE and unused to dealing with a storage pod. I recommend strongly that you get names numbers from your local cube store shop of movers they work with specifically.
posted by edbles at 11:48 AM on August 17, 2018

It has been quite a few years now but I had a bad experience with an ABF trailer (before U-pack was around). The driver extorted me for cash before he would unload the trailer and the company was not helpful in getting my money back, so fuck ABF.
posted by exogenous at 12:31 PM on August 17, 2018

I used PODS to go from CO to NY, and it was 100% hassle free! (We loaded and unloaded the pod ourselves, though, unlike edbles.)
posted by scratch at 1:16 PM on August 17, 2018

We moved from suburban D.C. to SE Iowa six years ago. We did a tonne of comparison shopping on movers/moving. The pack-it-yourself ABF was, hands-down, the winner!
posted by JimDe at 1:30 PM on August 17, 2018

When we finally sold my mother's house, I used PODS to move my ancestral furniture and other items from Houston to NYC. I did the packing myself, which I suggest you do as well considering that you don't have that much stuff to move. This also offers you the opportunity to make sure that your important and/or fragile belongings are appropriately packaged for safe travel. You can purchase boxes and packing materials directly from PODS. They set town the container in the driveway, I filled it over the course of a few days, and then they came to take it away. One of the nice things is that, if you aren't ready to move into your new digs right away, you can keep your stuff in the cube farm for a while for a reasonable amount of rent. Once we were ready, we had a great experience with delivery in Manhattan to two different locations which, believe me, is not easy to get.

The other thing I would recommend, no matter what service you use, is that you invest in plenty of rope and a couple of ratcheting tie-downs to secure your stuff in the cube. Everything, and I mean everything needs to be firmly secured to the cube with rope and tie-downs. Mover bands (essentially gigantic rubber bands) are super useful as well. And you should also have moving blankets you can wrap around any furniture you don't want to get scratched up. We found it very handy to also buy a gigantic roll of stretch wrap to really seal everything together. Don't forget that the cube will eventually be stacked on to a flatbed truck, and maybe go part of the way by rail, and there will be plenty of jostling and bumping and uneven grades along the way. Don't go thinking that just because you put that one box on top of that other box, it will still be there when the cube gets to your destination. You gotta tie that shit in. Anything that can fall over or rattle around, will fall over or rattle around. Your job is to make sure this is a physical impossibility. When we opened our cube in Manhattan, everything was in precisely the same position we had left it back in Houston, and the driver was duly impressed. Apparently it's not in the least uncommon for people to screw that part up. The best thing to do is look around the cube and imagine what would happen to the contents if a giant were to shake the cube back and forth a bunch of times. Anything that might move needs to be better secured.
posted by slkinsey at 1:52 PM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

ABF ReloCubes are cheaper than PODS. I just priced this out last month (New England to Midwest), and ABF knocked the pants off of PODS in price. Moving terminal-to-terminal with ABF is cheaper than an ABF ReloCube, but a ReloCube is door-to-door service, whereas with a terminal-to-terminal move you need to haul your stuff somewhere, load into a trailer, and then do the reverse on the other end.
I would do a quote online, and then call to ask questions and see if you can get a better deal. I mentioned to the woman on the phone that this was my 3rd move with them, and she came up with all kinds of ways to give me a discount. Their phone operators are pretty empowered to change pricing.
I've had nothing but stellar customer service from the office, to dispatch, to delivery folks with ABF.
Buy an array of bungee cords, drape furniture with old blankets and sheets, and tetris thoughtfully.
posted by missmary6 at 2:10 PM on August 17, 2018

I recently did a move from the Midwest to the PNW and used ABF U-pack, terminal-to-terminal. It was about $2400, not counting moving help I hired independently (task rabbit in Chicago and craigslist in WA), which added a few hundred. I have nothing but positive things to say about ABF, from their customer service reps over the phone, to the guys working at the facilities, everyone was extremely friendly, responsive, patient, and pleasant.

I definitely agree with the above recommendation to pack carefully and tightly and secure things from moving around - I had a few boxes that were crushed when they moved/fell but I packed the items pretty well-insulated so nothing was really damaged except the box itself.

I will say that ABF's initial estimate was WAY cheaper than a full-service moving company but you definitely are doing more work than a full-service company if you do terminal-to-terminal (which was about $1,000 cheaper than doing door-to-door plus I didn't have favorable parking situations on either side). I also wish I had tried to negotiate - I accepted the first price they stated, and know I get the feeling that I could've tried at least a little to get them to come down on the price.

As everyone else stated, I think $1,000 is a tough target to hit when moving cross-country, but I found ABF to be a good price compared to all the other options, and I had a good experience and would recommend them. FYI, they also offer up to a month storage for $150, which they let me reserve and then cancel the day the cube arrived and I decided I didn't need it, no hassle.

Good luck with your move, wishing you as smooth a process as possible!
posted by carlypennylane at 4:26 PM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've also had great interactions with ABF. They were incredibly friendly and helpful, and went beyond the call of duty to solve some issues that cropped up on our end.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 4:29 AM on August 18, 2018

We used ABF terminal to terminal relo-cubes for a Midwest to West Coast move about three years ago and we were happy with it (great communication with ABF, and we used a moving company on each end without any problem). Based on our recommendation, our good friend recently used ABF door to terminal for a slightly lesser move (West Coast to a Mountain State, free movers on one end [storage on the other]) and she wasn't happy with it. She said her interactions with ABF started off rough and didn't get better (things like not returning her calls, trailer dropped off outside of confirmed window without any communication, the "walls" you're supposed to put up between the trailer spaces were unusable due to damage). I think there were enough differences in the type of moves that we had that, while I can't account for the service issues, could have played a role in how smooth it was. It was definitely over your 1K budget though.
posted by sm1tten at 8:27 AM on August 18, 2018

« Older How To Enjoy The Summer Jams   |   Need FREE alternative evening news Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.