Congrats, it's a cross country move !
October 4, 2018 11:10 AM   Subscribe

I decided to take that cross country job and I’m moving! But I am not super reassured with my own logic on how to move across the country and what would be a smarter move. Money savvy, mover experienced Mefites plz help!

I have scoured all the AskMes about cross country moves. I’ve researched options for ABF U pack, PODS, Uhaul pods, Uhaul trucks, Amtrak, UShip and Media Mail.

ABF must have gotten more expensive since the last AskMe, because for one 7 foot cube, I was given a quote of $2600 and that’s without movers. Uhaul pod was cheaper at about $1500, but I still need to pay movers to help feeble me load and unload my furniture into the thing. Local movers have given me rates of $400-700 for loading the cube here in MD. Then I have to find storage because my partner and I won’t have an apartment yet (he has a studio right now that he will move out of and we are searching.) Uship had a price of $400-600 to ship some random pieces but I think I would still have to pay a mover to help me get the furniture out of my apartment.

My father thinks I should keep all my furniture and move it across the country because it would be a big loss in money to re-sell and buy again.

I think I should find some way to sell my furniture and re-buy from Facebook or Craigslist.

All my current furniture is IKEA. The only things I’m sort of attached to are my large-ish Vizio TV and TV stand and IKEA dresser and IKEA bookshelf and an area rug from Target. The rest I can part with, I think. The total price I paid for every piece of furniture in my apartment plus assembly and delivery was about $2700.

I will be driving a Honda Civic from MD to CO and can pack quite a bit in there.

Does it make more sense to pay to ship my stuff? Or sell it for whatever price I can get and re-buy used furniture or IKEA furniture again? I have one month until I move.

Things I would not have to re-buy: A mattress (partner has one) and bed frame.

All my IKEA things that are currently in my apartment that I assume would fit into one cube:
-Queen size bed and frame
-Tall dresser
-Dining table + chairs
-3 seater couch
-coffee table
-TV stand
-4 cube x 4 cube bookshelf
-Clothes, kitchen stuff, books, etc.

I won’t have any money for relocation from my new job, but I’ve saved up about $7400 for possible moving. Granted, a chunk of that will have to be used for first month rent, deposits, etc.
posted by buttonedup to Travel & Transportation (25 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Moving and storing possessions is expensive and you never know if your stuff is going to fit into a new place and/or work with the partner‘s stuff in that space. Also, moving entails a risk of damage, more so with things of perhaps slightly less solid construction such as a lot of ikea‘s offerings at the lower end of the price range. So if you had furniture that is high quality, high value or even high sentimental value that may be worth it. But personally, I’d purge ruthlessly and limit myself to personal items, electrical goods and kitchen stuff. That should fit into your car. Done.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:37 AM on October 4, 2018 [7 favorites]

I also think it would probably cost more to pay to move your large things than to sell them where you are and buy them again where you are going.
posted by onebyone at 11:41 AM on October 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

I just moved this summer and had a similar situation.

Furniture is easy to replace, personal items (books, clothes, kitchen items) are much harder. I had very limited room in my car due to my dog, so I ended up getting a U-Pack just to move the personal items. At that point since I already had the U-Pack, I filled it with whatever furniture fit and got rid of the rest.

In your situation, I wouldn't hesitate to get rid of everything that didn't fit in your car. Good luck moving!
posted by lucy.jakobs at 11:47 AM on October 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

I just moved across country and wound up paying movers, so it might be a slightly different set of tradeoffs. (What with hiring people on either end, it was about the same cost as a cube, and no having to hire folks and coordinate delivery times. Also I hate moving and am in a place to be able to throw money at that particular stress to make it go away.) I brought a lot of furniture with me, and seriously wish I'd brought less -- my Ikea dresser is much the worse for wear, but the bookcases are great, so it's kind of a crapshoot. I bought so much furniture in my new location, it honestly would have been worth it to try to sell more off, and then buy used stuff on the other end. Or new stuff, knowing that it'll last longer, frankly.

(Keep stuff that you love, though. Most of the furniture I kept, I really appreciate having with me, ditto my books and art and other things. It's worth it to me to have the consistency of possessions.)
posted by kalimac at 11:57 AM on October 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of factors here, but one thing we discovered the hard way is that there isn't an easy way to sell furniture - you'll probably have to go the DIY route and that's a certain investment in time and effort. I've moved across the country twice since 2014 (and never again, if I can manage it.) The first time I was moving in with a tolerably-furnished partner, and I gave away basically every piece of (old IKEA) furniture that I owned and threw out what not even Goodwill would take. The second time, we hired traditional movers to move an armchair we were very fond of, bookshelves, and a few other small pieces, plus all our boxes. We investigated cubes and they just weren't price-competitive door-to-door.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:05 PM on October 4, 2018

Bring things that will help with the concept of home, as this will be a big shift. My oldest lives in CO, and thrifting (the Arc, is a big one in CO Springs) and re-selling is alive & well in your new home state. Noodle around on Craigslist’s CO sites to see what is possible, and there is IKEA in the Golden State, so there should be plenty of their pre-owned larger pieces.

I’ve made the drive from MD to east CO via mostly-70, and once you cross the Appalachians, it’s very flat if a flavor of U-haul wins out. Kansas is mighty flat & boring but was manageable as a daytime drive. Plan your audio entertainment accordingly regardless of what time you pass through.

Best Wishes!
posted by childofTethys at 12:11 PM on October 4, 2018

The cost and hassle of moving is greater than the cost of your stuff. Sell it or give it away. Ikea furniture may not hold up to a move. There are a lot of unscrupulous moving companies, check with the BBB is you use one.
Vizio TV, TV stand - easily replaceable, stand might fit in car.
IKEA dresser - they may still sell that model.
IKEA bookshelf - they probably still sell that model.
area rug from Target - bring with.

The rug - roll it, wrap in paper then in a large plastic tarp, put in on top of your car - Get sturdy bungee cords and foam pipe insulation or a pool noodle with a hollow center that you can slice open. Put foam on bungees, open door, attache bungees to interior ceiling handles. Now you have a padded roof rack. Secure the rug really well with rope and more bungees; this is an acquired skill and you may need assistance. If you put a rope in the rug before you roll it, it can be secured to the front and back towing hooks quite nicely. I have moved a 9 x 12 wool rug on a Honda civic.

Clothes, art, memorabilia, books, music, doodads - put the heaviest stuff in your car, or on top in duffel bags(clothes). You can buy a padded moving blanket at the ubiquitous Harbor Freight, or use an old quilt or blanket to protect the car roof finish. The rest, pack and put on blank labels, leave with friends or family. When you have a new place, they can be shipped UPS. UPS will pick up. Books, records, cds, tapes can be shipped USPS media rate which used to be pretty affordable and is probably still worth using, though it requires a trip to a Post Office. might cost several hundred dollars.

You have Ikea stuff that can be disassembled as needed; hire a helper and you should be able to get this done.

I bought a chair on ebay and it was shipped via Greyhound; this might still be an option.
posted by theora55 at 12:15 PM on October 4, 2018

If your Ikea stuff is more than 5 years old, or has been through a previous move, I would get rid of it and replace it on the other end. I've found that it Ikea furniture can survive 1 move, but not more than that... it gets wobbly and loose.

I had really good luck selling Ikea furniture on Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor. I got $100 for this Hemnes dresser that was 5-years-old and not mint condition, to give you an idea of how to price things. Make the buyer come pick things up at your place.

We also got $100 for a 3-seater Ikea couch and $125 for a set of 3 vittsjo shelves (which I paid $180 for a few years ago). I dunno, I think people are willing to pay a little more to avoid having to go to IKEA and assemble their own furniture. This was in the center of a huge urban area (Houston)

So if you have time to do this, you could potentially make a few hundred bucks and save the moving costs - leaving you plenty to replace your things at your destination.
posted by jschu at 12:27 PM on October 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Selling furniture's not necessarily easy, and you may end up having to donate. However, limiting what you're taking to stuff that'll fit in your car or that will ship via USPS is a huge savings. Plus you won't end up making decisions about what apartment to rent based on how it'll fit your existing furniture.

For inexpensive furniture in CO I recommend Home Again Furniture (and we've got IKEA, too!) For apartment-hunting, don't overlook WalkScore. You can plug in work addresses for you and your partner and find areas with a commute that'll work for you both.
posted by asperity at 12:27 PM on October 4, 2018

When I moved across the country, a quick calculation showed that it would be more expensive to move the stuff I had than to re-buy it on the other side. You're not comparing the amount you paid vs what you could sell it for now, you're comparing the cost you paid vs what it will cost to move and store it. I purged as much as I could and moved myself in my car. Start doing a brutal purge now. Start having garage or stoop sales. Get rid of as much as you can.

You would not believe how much great stuff you can find in the Craig's List free section and furniture section. With some effort, you'll have your stuff replaced at low cost. Or, if you re-buy everything new, you'll still be ahead.

The economics of shipping and storing what you have now doesn't make sense. If you had valuable antiques or very sentimentally important furniture you inherited, it would make sense. But, your things are from IKEA and Target. That's not worth the cost and hassle. Moving is hard enough already.
posted by quince at 12:44 PM on October 4, 2018

Congrats on the move! I'm excited for you! I moved from Vermont to Los Angeles in 2015 and have never regretted it.

Sell or donate your IKEA furniture. It's more expensive to move that old stuff than to simply buy new IKEA furniture in CO.

Pack your car as tightly as possible with meaningful items and drive off into the sunset.
posted by boghead at 1:05 PM on October 4, 2018

I've done cross-country moves... four times so far as an adult? Amtrak is great for small things like books, clothes, etc (check out my AskMe here if you haven't seen it). Sell your IKEA furniture, in fact sell all your furniture! Here's what we did the last time:

1. Sell everything you can replace on Craiglist/Nextdoor/FB/whatever. EVERYTHING. Someone came and gave us $50 for our houseplants and they were thrilled to get them. Plus, everything we sold was something that'd come from a thrift store/antique store/alleyway/Craigslist when we got it. It wasn't all high quality stuff.
1a. Put all the money you make selling all your stuff into an envelope. This will be the money you use for replacing your furniture/plants/etc.
2. Be picky when you're replacing furniture. We frequently buy couches for $35, use them a few years, and sell them for $50. You just have to keep an eye out for things you like and not buy something because you're desperate. Our last move, we sat on camp chairs for weeks until we found a futon we liked.
3. Pack up the stuff you're keeping in your car and off you go! Amtrak will meet you at your destination if you sent stuff and you will save so much money on moving and not have to mess around with driving a UHaul cross-country.

Good luck!
posted by jabes at 1:21 PM on October 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

If there are Amtrak stations close to your current place and destination you can look at Amtrak Express Shipping. There are limits (box size maximum 3x3x3ft, no electronics, no furniture) but it's a good deal for books, clothes, household decor, kitchen stuff that you may not want to replace. I used it 2 years ago to ship ~650lb of stuff however I did have to transport my boxes to and from the stations myself.
posted by boffin police at 1:25 PM on October 4, 2018

The thing I regretted most about moving cross country (twice) was taking furniture with me. Like most of the previous comments, my recommendation is always sell or junk as much as possible before moving it.
posted by Jugwine at 1:25 PM on October 4, 2018

Also note that pods get a relatively rough ride, so fragile things like large TVs, mirrors, glassware, etc. would need to be very well packed. When I moved across country I got rid of all my tacky old Goodwill furniture, plates, glassware, almost everything fragile. I only packed the pod with things I couldn't replace or that would be too expensive to replace. Even then a couple things suffered a bit of damage (my fault, not protected enough) or had rub marks from being bumped around and subjected to a long lumpy train ride. For comparison, my brass and woodwind instruments in their cases did fine.

The same goes for any assembled IKEA furniture. Breaking it down to flat-ish pieces could help - I've done that with a MALM bed frame with good results, but not all IKEA pieces can be dis-/re-assembled so easily. However that's only been for local moves, I didn't try moving it via pod.

Generally I'll nth what everyone else says about getting rid of as much of your replacable non-sentimetal-value belongings as possible and going light. It's immensely freeing, it saves a lot of (expensive) logistics, and it lets you rebuild your household to suit wherever you eventually settle in.

And best of luck!
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:33 PM on October 4, 2018

IKEA bookshelves do not enjoy being moved, particularly not in cubes. Some IKEA stuff, like tables and desks, will survive a move okay, but their bookshelves and dressers nearly always end up structurally compromised due to the jostling and banging. It's a lot of hassle for the high likelihood of permanently wobbly furniture. I absolutely nth everyone suggesting that you sell and replace your IKEA stuff.
posted by halation at 1:53 PM on October 4, 2018

The only way to move IKEA stuff and have it survive is to disassemble it back into flat pack equivalent; it is not designed to be moved when put together. Along with everyone else, however, I suggest just loading your car with things sorted by personal value / replacement cost and calling up a charity to bring a truck to take your clean and in-good-condition furniture. The rest, just throw it out to the curb for students etc. You don't need to be trying to sell pieces and parts while you're packing and prepping for a move.

Just pack your car and go, that's it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:58 PM on October 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Any solid wood Ikea stuff you may have is likely to survive, but probably just barely. But on the other hand, outside my building near the dumpster right now there's a really big pine Ikea dresser that has busted drawers. With tables you can unscrew the legs and wrap them.

The cube unit probably won't travel well. They are all over craigslist, so if you really like having one just get one after you move.
posted by jgirl at 2:05 PM on October 4, 2018

Coming in to say that I concur that IKEA furniture will probably not survive a move. If you do try, don’t disassemble it and try to ressamble when you get there. Their stuff really only likes going together once. And trust me, you’ll loose pieces.
posted by Weeping_angel at 3:00 PM on October 4, 2018

Oh, looks like others say it doesn’t transport well all put together either. Okay. It’s still a bitch to put back together and won’t ever be the same after a move. Ikea’s cheap. I wouldn’t bother moving it.
posted by Weeping_angel at 3:02 PM on October 4, 2018

I've done a few long-distance moves. Depending on your willingness to wait before fully furnishing your new place, you probably could find almost everything you need in terms of larger furniture on Craiglist's free section. I don't know if you're moving to a large city, but my experience has been that people who are moving end up giving away almost-new sofas, bookcases, etc, all the time. If you like vintage furniture, you can find that free too. Just set up IFTTT alerts for whatever you need, and if you have the flexibility to pick things up fairly quickly, it shouldn't be that hard. When I made my last cross-country move, I sold all of the furniture I'd collected for free for a substantial profit.
posted by pinochiette at 3:28 PM on October 4, 2018

I've done some long-distance gear moves using camper van company returns - IDK about the US but in some countries campervan companies get a buildup of vehicles in one place as tourists only want to go one way. The last time I did this I moved about 1.5 cubic metres of stuff a 1000km for about $2.00! yes 2 dollars, plus my driving time.

As for loading I've gone to churches, student job search etc previously to get a labourer to help me load.
posted by unearthed at 5:38 PM on October 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Look at ABF Upack not the pods.
posted by k8t at 1:25 AM on October 5, 2018

I have moved cross country 3 times. CA to MA, MA to CA, and CA to ME. The first two times I did a UPack pod, and the second time we used PODS.

I do recommend getting rid of all of your furniture, but don't underestimate how much space your clothes and household items will take up. It is probably worth the $2600 to be able to have a way to move all of your stuff that doesn't involve a moving truck. Bedding, coats, shoes, small appliances. That stuff adds up--both in cost to replace and in volume. You will fit less than you think in your car, and should probably save that space for your TV and any other breakable odds and ends. There are always more of those than you'd think.

You can keep some furniture to fill up the pod. Your stuff will move around in there a lot so it's best to have it packed. Our last move was the only one where we moved furniture, and ironically the Ikea stuff was fine and the only thing that broke was an antique table.

Both UPack and PODS will let you store the pod at their terminal after moving, if you need some time. The quote should include 30 days of storage (calculated from the date they drop off the pod to the date they retrieve an empty pod), and beyond that it's $100ish per month.
posted by apricot at 12:56 PM on October 5, 2018

I just moved from NYC to CO and it cost me about $2500. I had a similar amount of furniture as you (the contents of a large studio apartment) and I got a 12' moving van from Budget for $1600. I paid two guys from TaskRabbit to load it up the morning I moved out ($160 total). Gas cost about $500. A hotel for one night was $75 (I stayed at a friend's house the first night of our three-day drive). Food and incidentals were less than $200.

I considered it all worth it because I really spent a lot of time selecting and purchasing quality furniture over the years and I wanted to hang onto it. Frankly, if it had mostly been IKEA stuff, I'd probably have sold it all and bought new when I moved. The other motivation for doing the move myself in a van was because of my pets--I have two cats and a dog and flying them out was going to be a very expensive and risky prospect in itself, as one of my cats is too large to fly under a seat and would have required either flying in cargo or buying a seat for him.
posted by Fuego at 7:50 PM on October 6, 2018

« Older Question for an ophthalmologist?   |   Best ways to use a Kindle Fire to learn English? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.