Help us move with less wailing and gnashing of teeth
September 11, 2019 10:11 AM   Subscribe

We're moving for the first time since we accumulated a lot of stuff. We don't have a place to move into so we need to store stuff. We're overwhelmed by the options, especially since Pods says they can't help us. Help?

We're moving from Cleveland to St. Louis. We will be living with relatives for at least a few months while we look for a house to buy. So we need to take our household of stuff and store it somewhere. Yes, we're getting rid of as much as we can - but not the essentials like beds and dressers and dining room table.

This sounds like a perfect fit for Pods - they can ship and store our stuff! Except they just confirmed that they can't fit in our tiny driveway and can't put the pod on the street due to city rules. We've been fired as customers, throwing our plans into disarray.

So now we're back to square 1. We're worried that we're going to have to pay for 1) moving out 2) transport 3) moving stuff into self-storage 4) storage 5) moving out of storage 6) moving into house. And coordinating all of that with multiple companies.

Can someone talk us through how to avoid that mess? Are there other companies that will transport and store? Maybe even companies that will do everything - empty house, transport, store, put into new house? Other options we're not thinking of? (besides "buy literally the first house you see when you get to town", we've already thought of that one)
posted by Tehhund to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
U-haul has a system similar to Pods, but much more flexible with smaller boxes (you can also haul them yourself.) You pack them up, you or hired hands take them to the depot, and you summon them when you're ready. I did this and it went great. There are also moving companies that will come load up your stuff in a single session, with or without packing service, but I can't speak to those.

You could also store all your stuff in Cleveland in a storage unit, move to St. Louis, then make a trip back with a truck when you have a place to put it. I don't think that would be cheaper, but at least you'd have the benefit of time.
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:18 AM on September 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

You could skip the self-storage step. Have movers take your stuff from your house in Cleveland to their warehouse in St. Louis. You won't have to see it or fuss with it until after you buy the new house. They'll bring it all back to you and into your new house after you buy it.

Or, rent the first place you see in St. Louis (assume you thought of that one).

Also, there are companies like Pods that are not Pods.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:20 AM on September 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

When we moved from NYC to St. Louis a few years ago moving-and-storage was definitely an option. We got quotes from a few companies and went with Graebel Van Lines (although I think they have since closed down that part of their business). When we had the reps come to our apartment to go through the quotes they each asked whether we would need short or long term storage. We decided against it because we didn't have that much stuff and just moved everything into the basement of my parents' house where we were staying while we looked for a house to buy. Then when we did pick a house we got it all across town in a couple of U-Haul trips.

Since we didn't do it I can't tell you how costly it is (I expect it's pretty expensive) but it's absolutely something that a full-service mover will offer. I would start by calling Mayflower and United Van Lines; they will give you a free quote, probably by sending a person out to size up your stuff.
posted by cpatterson at 10:42 AM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Bulky furniture (beds, tables, etc) are the kinds of possessions you might wanna Craigslist out of your life and later replace/upgrade when you move. But I'd also note that if you actually like your furniture (particularly if your bed is comfy for you) then better to keep it.
posted by ovvl at 10:45 AM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

When I lived in Europe for a year, United Van Lines moved my stuff to their storage facility, kept it there until I got back, then moved it to my new apartment. It was all in the same city, but I'm sure they have storage facilities all over. So yes - call any moving company and ask.
posted by FencingGal at 11:43 AM on September 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Even the local small-town moving company I used 5 years ago was able to move me out of my apartment, store my stuff in a warehouse for a month, and then transport it to a new place in another state and unpack it once I was able to move in. This is not an uncommon situation.
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:46 AM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have moved with an ABF container (like PODS) that couldn’t be delivered to my site for geometry reasons. I had local movers schlep the stuff and load the container (and different ones unload at the other end. It was much cheaper than a single full service move.
posted by janell at 11:56 AM on September 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

Check out more storage pod companies too, there might be more options. You can have the pods in the streets sometimes, if you have a permit. We moved from NY to Denver 13 years ago and the pods also wouldn't come to our apt (no driveway, streets too narrow). We ended up filling up a moving truck and going to the pod warehouse to fill the pods on location, and then those were shipped to Denver and stored until we needed them delivered to the new place.
posted by LKWorking at 11:58 AM on September 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Have the Pod delivered to a friend's house, rent a U-Haul, fill it, drive it over, unload into the Pod.
posted by sacrifix at 12:04 PM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you are going to use a full-service moving company, what you are describing is called "Storage in Transit" -- they will pack your stuff, take it away, store it in their warehouses, then bring it to you when/where you're ready to receive it. I just got finished doing this.

Two things:
1. This is very expensive. It's the easiest option for you in that you do the least heavy lifting, literally and figuratively, but you pay dearly for that.

2. If you are changing cities, you will likely have one local moving company (local franchise of Big Moving Corporation) pack and transport, but then your goods will be stored with a different company in your new area. These are two separate entities that are related only in the sense that they are both franchises/affiliates of Big Moving Company. This provides the opportunity for BOTH parties to deny responsibility for damage and loss.

I had an absolutely HORRIBLE experience this summer with Allied Van Lines ... I paid a small fortune and still they lost or broke numerous pieces of furniture and boxes, and both the franchisees involved blamed it on the other one.

The day I took delivery of my possessions, which had been stored for about six weeks, the movers opened the nailed-shut truck crate that had my name spray-painted on it ... the first three items they unloaded did not belong to me, and the fourth was mine but was broken. They also delivered several boxes into my house that had different-color ID tags and clearly were not from my lot of possessions (e.g. blue stickers instead of my yellow stickers). None of the people who delivered the goods were checking anything off a list, they just took everything off the truck and put it in the house. They only took the blue-sticker boxes away because I insisted. I have no doubt that my missing yellow-sticker boxes/furniture were delivered to someone else's house and that person didn't notice or was dishonest.

The original packers/transporters said "oh, well we sent everything" and the storage/delivery team said "oh, well we just delivered what they gave us". I did purchase insurance, and so I will get sort of reimbursement, but not without a lot of fighting.

As much of a pain as it is, you would be better served by overseeing your own move into a storage unit that you control, then overseeing a second move into the final place when you're ready. That way you will know that your items remain intact and nothing goes missing. I had hoped to pay my way out of the hassle with this last move, but it was a complete hot mess and I would never do it again.

And definitely don't use Allied Van Lines, no matter what.
posted by mccxxiii at 12:23 PM on September 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

The PODS-like program from U-Haul involves (at least the option of) much smaller units than actual PODS, so definitely look into that.
posted by gideonfrog at 12:48 PM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I did this when I moved cross country last fall. I used U-Pack, a Pods equivalent - and discovered that while they say they will store your stuff they don't actually store your stuff. What happens is that you load all your stuff into a shipping container. You pay for the amount of space you use - like, we used 13 feet of storage. You have to tetris it in pretty efficiently but it's actually quite a lot of space. The container is only in front of your house for 24 hours. They lock all your stuff behind a big wooden bulkhead: you supply your own lock and they don't have a key. Then, your container goes to your destination, or the closest location they have to your destination, which for me was Portland, 2 hours away. They will store it for a month and then LO the storage rate quadruples overnight and yes, that was a shock. They wanted $950 a month to continue to store it in Portland for me. Ha ha! What fun! So I got a local storage unit and local movers off Craigslist and had the U-Pack deliver the container and unloaded it and then moved everything all over again two months later, which saved me probably $1000 or more but was a giant, enormous, huge, frustrating PITA.

Do not do what I did. I agree with blnkfrnk's second paragraph: get a storage unit in Cleveland. Move all your stuff to that storage unit. Move it again when you have a house. It sounds awful and expensive and it is but there is just nothing about moving that is painless, alas and I don't honestly think there is another even remotely affordable way to do it.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:23 PM on September 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is not six steps like you are thinking. This is two moves and one storage option, so three companies at most.

I agree that you should store stuff in your current city. That way, you can take your time finding a cheap local storage option and maybe even save on moving costs by doing the small stuff yourselves and only hiring out the heavy items for the first move. I live in a small town outside a big city and the highway between us is covered in storage units. They are probably way cheaper than the ones in the big city. Make sure they have a way to pay that will work when you are hundreds of miles away, of course.
Read reviews for interstate movers and realize they will all have horror stories. Buy insurance, as recommended above. Throw some gps trackers into your more valuable boxes along with your names and contact info. Accept that you will lose something, you will break something and one person will be mildly injured.
posted by soelo at 2:35 PM on September 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Can you rent a nearby driveway from another family, for the Pod to live in? Join the local Facebook groups in your new neighbourhood and ask- maybe you can pay a car-free new neighbour like $200 and a six pack of beer to store the pod for a couple months.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 4:17 PM on September 11, 2019

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