Planning a cross-country move with a baby
January 19, 2020 12:06 PM   Subscribe

After this question, we narrowed our search quite a bit to Bellingham, started the house searching process, and now we're under contract on a house! What are the logistics of moving across the country with a baby (Philly to Bellingham)?

Thank you again for all the thoughtful responses to our previous question. We have family in Bellingham and had a hunch that it would be a winner for us, and you helped us nail that down.

My husband is flying out for the inspection and barring any catastrophes, we'll be closing on the house in mid-late February. We are not contingent on selling our current house, and we are planning on doing some cosmetic work on the new house before we move out there, so we hope to stay in Philly until the bulk of the work is completed. We'll have estimates for said work done at the same time as the inspection (contractor is already lined up to join us).

Post-inspection, the plan is:

- Get a U-Pack container and fill it with seasonal, rarely used things, and books/DVD/knicknacks/not-needed things, and ship it off to be delivered at a later date in Bellingham.
- Get listing photos for current house taken after U-Pack.
- Based on work estimates from contractor, hire a moving company
- List current house after we move

We don't know where to start with regard to moving companies for long distance, and we have heard some horror stories. How do we organize the move so that we have everything we need for us and baby between packing and sending it off and then getting on the plane? And do you have recommendations for companies that have excellent guarantees? Like, within 3 days of expected delivery date or money back?

We are also at a loss as to how much to keep or give away/sell. We have some furniture that we care a great deal about because they were either family heirlooms/antiques, or made by or custom for us. But we also have a lot of stuff that could be nice to keep but maybe it's not worth moving 3k miles.

Basically, any and all advice you have for us would be greatly appreciated. Lessons you learned, things you did or wish you did, etc. Thank you!
posted by ancient star to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can't speak to every part of your question, but my wife and I did once move from VT to CA with a nine-month-old
- as well as and two cats and a dog. After much discussion of the logistics, we found that the most sensible approach was for my wife and son to stay with my family (in NY; my mother and stepfather drove up to VT to pick them up) for about 10 days. When they set off for NY, I set off in the car for CA with the dog, the cats, the houseplants, and the first wave of essentials: air mattress, towels, dry goods, lightbulbs, toilet paper, etc. We bought a roof rack for that purpose.

It took me about 6 days to drive cross-country, and I had another 3ish days to unpack a little, find the closest supermarkets, eat a bunch of tacos, etc.

Then, about 4 days after they'd left VT for NY, my wife and son flew direct from NY to CA, where I picked them up.
The next day, the U-Pack truck arrived with all of our stuff. We had timed it so that I would arrive in CA before the first promised date of the U-Pack's arrival. I do think the truck may have arrived a day or two before that first promised date, anyway, so you might wish to budget for such an eventuality, as you'll be required, I think, to be at home to receive the truck.

It was complex, but not hellishly complex. The worst part was the cats yowling all day long as I drove. I drowned them out by listening to Iron Maiden at top volume.
posted by Dr. Wu at 12:54 PM on January 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

We did WA to FL with two adults and our 9month old. We got rid of as much as possible. That's the best part of moving! But also we didn't really have furniture as we had been borrowing stuff from family. Take what you love. There's plenty of stuff in Bellingham to replace basics. If you're self funding the move I'd for sure get rid of the junk/ubiquitous items. We do our shopping at thrift stores so there wasn't much we felt we had to keep.
We decided to have an adventure and actually drove (in 3 weeks) down the west coast and along the US Southern coast all the way to South Florida. We half stayed at motels and half stayed with friends and family. Saw lots of art and national parks. Saw even more of the highway ;)
We did this with a Ford fiesta stick shift (sub-compact) so we're probably really weird and just travelled the most minimally. It was really great! It was cool to introduce our Bebe to a bunch of friends. We don't post pics online of the wee one so it was an introduction for most of them. Lots of fun catching up, etc...
Again, we like band style touring even though neither of us are currently in bands. Moving tour! YMMV

Edited to add the stuff we had shipped was arranged with a moving company that got arranged with relocation funds. I'd never had that experience. So I don't have much knowledge except paying professionals to do stuff is awesome if you can swing it.
posted by PistachioRoux at 2:43 PM on January 19, 2020

My partner did what Dr. Wu did and drove across country with our cats and a basic home setup. I stayed with my sister for a week and flew out with our 9 month old. Our movers delivered our chattels about 10 days past the end of the scheduled delivery window, so we all camped out on an air bed and in the travel crib until they arrived. Our new landlord loaned a bit of outdoor furniture and a few utensils so we could get by. I might not use a cross country mover if we have to do it again, for the money it was kind of a hassle.

However I do recall feeling like I couldn’t help pack our house at all, I was just stuck under the baby while my partner did it all. If you have friends who could help with packing you may find it relieves that feeling some.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 3:01 PM on January 19, 2020

We moved from AZ to NJ with a 2 year old (and 2 large dogs) last year. It went pretty well, all things considered. We brought very little with us, but we did not have much furniture we were attached to because we had been fairly nomadic for the prior 6 years. We got rid of everything except what would fit in 2 Pods, plus what would fit in our car, plus what living/baby essentials I could take on an airplane. We weren't selling a house, just left when our lease was up, so the timing was a bit easier.

The logistics:
I flew with the 2 year old (and baby 2 in utero) and whatever essentials we needed for about 2 weeks. We stayed with my in-laws as a "soft landing" for a few months as they had some baby stuff already in their house, like a pack n play. We didn't want our dogs to go on the plane, so my husband drove them cross country in one of our cars. My father in law actually flew out and did the drive with my husband. We shipped the other car. The day before my flight, husband and FIL packed the Pods up except for mattresses and bedding. The day of my flight they drove me to the airport, finished packing, then supervised the Pod pickup, then left on their road trip. My MIL picked me up at the airport and we went to her house. Husband and FIL arrived about ... 4? days later. We had the Pods delivered to my IL's house the week after and unpacked stuff, either for storage in their garage until we got our new place, or to use for the next couple months.
posted by permiechickie at 5:57 PM on January 19, 2020

We did IL to NC with a 16 month old. We paid for cross-country movers, and the internet was full of stories about bad moving experiences so I was stressed out the entire time. Note that our movers did a lot of things the internet describes as signs of a sketchy mover: big deposit up front, charged by volume and not weight, upcharges on the day of ... but it actually all turned out OK: they came before the estimate, and actually pretty quickly, and only broke like two minor things and didn't hold my belongings for ransom. I got multiple quotes and took the one that was roughly in the middle and only accepted moving quotes where they sent a person out to look at my stuff. It was more than the internet moving estimating website said it should take by about a factor of two, but it was a full-service move.

I think one reason I felt some sense of protection is that they were listed on my employer's discount page so maybe they didn't want to irritate my employer?

We drove down with an air mattress and pack and play (Travel crib) along with a bunch of suitcases in a compact SUV. I ordered some things from Amazon with a delivery date of after our arrival.
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:29 AM on January 20, 2020

We moved across the country with a four month old (and two cats).

We had movers come and pack everything up the day before we left - we had packed three giant suitcases with everything we needed for the first couple weeks. We spent the night before we left with my brother (though a hotel would have worked too). My brother drove us to the airport so he could help us until we dropped off our bags, since we had the suitcases, the baby, and two cat carriers.

My dad had flown out to our new apartment a day before we were scheduled to arrive. He rented a car, bought litterboxes, litter, and cat food, and was there for the delivery of a mattress. He picked us up at the airport (met at baggage claim to help with our bags). He went with my wife the next day to buy a car, which we needed to do anyway - if we hadn’t we would have just used a rental until our car arrived.

We slept on the mattress on the floor until our things arrived about two weeks later.
Baby slept in a travel bed - just a little one since she was so small, but a pack n play sized one would have worked too (I highly recommend the Lotus travel crib - super easy to set up and easy to carry as a backpack, but on the pricy side).

The move was for work and our costs were reimbursed, so we brought just about everything with us (including having a car shipped). Having people pack for us was amazing - when we moved again a year later (and paid for it ourselves), we decided that paying for packing was worth the cost.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:40 PM on January 20, 2020

Oh, and the movers were fine, but not great. They did an excellent job packing - nothing broke, though one futon disappeared during the process. 2/3 of our stuff arrived a few days ahead of schedule, the remaining third was quite late but luckily didn’t have anything we really needed ASAP. I think that’s pretty much par for the course - I’d ship anything you really need but can’t take with you instead of relying on cross country movers to get it there at a particular time.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:43 PM on January 20, 2020

I've done several moves, one east coast to west coast, one west coast to east coast, and one southeast to northeast. The last two, we used ABF (U-Pack) and they were GREAT the first time and so-so the second time. They are by far the cheapest though, so I'm still quite happy with them.

One thing no one seems to talk about is the fact that the east coast is a furniture mecca compared to the west coast. All of the furniture on the west coast is new, bland, and way more expensive than it should be. If you have pieces that you like, take them with you because you're unlikely to be able to replace them.

How are you moving your cars? Moving vehicles can be expensive (literally more expensive than the moving truck) so if you're moving on a budget, you might want to consider driving. We did about 400 miles a day, planned our hotel stops ahead of time, and treated it as a roadtrip/vacation as much as we could. If you have the time, I recommend it!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:49 PM on January 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

« Older Dog Training Schedule   |   Adapting to Ask Culture Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.