Help me with the logistics of an interstate move
November 14, 2018 6:18 PM   Subscribe

It looks like my husband and I are going to be moving from Albuquerque, New Mexico to San Francisco in a little less than a couple months. Neither of us have ever really moved. (Our only move was from a small apartment shortly after college to the house we own now, and that was ten years ago.) How does moving work?

Basic outline seems to be:

1. Get quotes from moving/truck/PODS companies and choose one.
2. Get packing supplies.
3. Get rid of stuff we don’t want or need.
4. Pack stuff.
5. Load stuff.
6. Move stuff.

We’re coming from a three-bedroom single-family home going to (most likely) a one-bedroom apartment. We each have a car, and we have a small dog. We haven’t decided if we want to use a PODS, drive a U-Haul, or hire movers. We have boxes. Our families are here, so we'll have at least a little bit of storage space here.

What steps are we missing? What should our schedule look like? What kinds of things do you wish you had known when you moved from a suburban area to an urban area? Any and all guidance would be appreciated.
posted by jroybal to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'd say you have the basics down. Plan to take several weeks to pack.

The thing I learned from moving from a 3 bedroom house to a 1 bedroom apartment is that you really need to be ruthless about how much you get rid of. I spent the first two years in that smaller apartment fairly steadily getting rid of things because it was just too cluttered.
posted by kbuxton at 6:44 PM on November 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Move #3 to #1, and move #4 to #2. Packing takes forever and doesn't have to wait on your knowing who's doing the moving.

There are a sheer ton of moving logistics threads on AskMe. Have a search for some great advice, especially on:

-the deceptive ways moving companies price and handle the process - you want to go in this knowing the deal and your full range of options. It is very easy to get ripped off.
-a list of items to pack in a set of "open me first" boxes that will see you through the first few days in the new place (eg, toilet paper, coffee maker, etc).
- how to pack everything, including some great hacks, and how to label stuff most helpfully
posted by Miko at 6:53 PM on November 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Hi, I live in San Francisco. Not knowing anything else about your situation, I suggest that you think/plan for what you're going to do with your car(s). Parking can be a tedious game or a nightmare depending on where in the city you live, and you'll save many headaches by having that figured out beforehand. If your new apartment has two parking spots included, well, then disregard and boy am I jealous. I live in an area (Upper Haight) where parking is on the tedious game end of the spectrum, but it'd be a whole 'nother level of ugh if I had two cars to juggle.

As far as movers/pods goes - think about the grade of the street you will be living on, because if it's too steep, things can get tricky -I had a friend do the pod thing but they had to park his pod up the block and around a corner because of the steepness of the hill. Most movers understand this kind of thing when you say "San Francisco" but every year there are funny pictures of moving trucks stuck on abrupt grade changes... this happens even in neighborhoods that aren't usually thought of as the hilly ones.
posted by gyusan at 6:55 PM on November 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

Make a "Fixer" bag, cords, adapters, basic tools, wide tape to label with, door stops, things that would be a challenge to find fast to solve issues.
posted by Freedomboy at 7:20 PM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

I moved from a small house to a one bedroom in another state when I went away to school. I had family who could help me move and so I didn't hire movers. We hired a truck and moved it ourselves.

It's worth looking at your apartment layout and deciding what won't fit BEFORE you arrive. I actually had an idea of how I would lay out the furniture. I got rid of some things because when I started to plan where they would go ... there wasn't anywhere for them to go. Obvs, it's easier to do this if you have actual measurements.

It didn't take me long to pack (a one-bedroom can't fit much), and it didn't take me long to unpack either. I like to GET IT DONE, so I'd say a couple of days on each end? The most time-intensive part was probably just accumulating enough boxes. (You can buy them, but it's surprisingly expensive.) Some people will want to/have to take more time. You can start by packing non-essentials, like books and out-of-season clothes and kitchen items you only rarely use.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:23 PM on November 14, 2018

We did the opposite, we moved from a very small 1 bedroom apartment that only had two small closets to a 2 bedroom plus dining room apartment.

While we were moving out, we had boxes stacked towards the ceiling in the living room of the old place, it was a struggle to move around. When we moved into the new place, our entire apartment's worth of boxes fit in 1/4 of the dining room.

So I'm Nthing be ruthless in getting rid of stuff. Maybe pack summer clothes separately and drop them off at your family's for storage but otherwise get rid of it. Especially if your closets are small. You just don't realize things like decorations, or luggage, or mementos just have nowhere to go when you move into a small place.

Does your new apartment have any kind of additional attic/basement storage? That helps a lot and will let you be more flexible in what you can keep.
posted by cali59 at 7:36 PM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

When you're moving to an urban area, you'll also have to consider the actual location. You might have to reserve parking spaces out front for the moving truck. The movers may have to use a smaller van than they normally would. You might even have to get a parking permit from the city, depending on the area.

If you have movers (rather than a pod), be ready to live for a few days without any of your stuff. The timing won't be great on either end. You'll need to live out of a bag or two for a few days before and after you move.
posted by hydra77 at 7:54 PM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Unless this move is temporary, resist the urge to store stuff with family and friends. There's the stress of keeping track of belongings kept in different places, and the strong likelihood said stuff will either end up inconveniencing your loved ones or accidentally damaged.
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:57 PM on November 14, 2018 [7 favorites]

Pack a box or two of the things you'll need for your first night and first morning at the new place, including some treats. Moving is stressful enough without your bedding being on the bottom of a bunch of boxes, etc. So, bedding, bath stuff, etc. Glasses, an indulgent beverage. Same for in the morning, kettle, coffee, whatever.

Have a great move!
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 8:15 PM on November 14, 2018

I unfortunately can't recommend a specific site because I can't remember what one I used the last time I moved, but there are websites out there that will let you do your floor planning as to where to put your furniture ahead of time. It was SUPER HELPFUL for me to know ahead of time what furniture I had to get rid of and how to squeeze everything into my smaller apartment.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:05 PM on November 14, 2018

2soxy knows where it's at. Toilet paper is the first thing you should have available.
posted by Justin Case at 6:34 AM on November 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Doggo may pee on unexpected things, or exhibit other totally out-of-character behaviors. I'd have dog-mess-response materials in your "fix-it" bag.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:58 AM on November 15, 2018

This recent Ask on moving might be helpful.
posted by Goblin Barbarian at 8:15 AM on November 15, 2018

Penske 5 days unlimited mileage, $499 for a 22 footer, maybe a little more for a bigger one. Store your cars at the new home, after taking a load in them. Fly back, uber to Penske, pick up your truck, pack it and drive. Be ready to pack the truck when you take the cars over.
posted by Oyéah at 8:35 AM on November 15, 2018

Before you decide on renting a big truck, first decide who is comfortable driving a big unwieldy truck with low visibility and who doesn't mind long haul driving. Also know that you have to leave an additional deposit on the truck and will be offered special insurance at a higher premium rate. Your own insurance will likely not cover you in a rental truck, but you might have some coverage if you have an AmEx or Visa card that you use to rent- check on that.

Also decide whether you know how to pack a truck for a long haul drive. There is an art to this and if you have too much leftover space or pack too loose, things will get badly damaged in shifting around. There are moving companies that do "truck pack" only, and it is well worth the investment. Last time I moved I hired truck packers on the starting end, drove the big truck myself, and hired movers-in on the other end. It was cheaper than hiring a moving company end-to-end, especially interstate, but you have to be comfortable with driving that truck.
posted by Miko at 2:22 PM on November 15, 2018

I would strongly advise *not* driving anything like a box truck in SF without having some experience driving there (or at the very least someplace significantly denser than Albuquerque).

And I'd also think about selling one of the cars.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:48 PM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

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