How do I ship a bed frame from Berkeley to DC in a quarantine?
October 20, 2020 8:41 AM   Subscribe

I have a queen-size wooden bed frame that matches my other furniture. But it's on the wrong side of the country from me. Small moves quotes have been ridiculous—$800 from one company, and $4000(!) from another. Craigslist hasn't been fruitful. Ideas?

In another time, I would just post on craigslist until someone with a Uhaul with a little extra space would take the bed for $100. But with COVID-19, things seem...not to be moving that way. (I do wonder if the project seems like a craigslist scam tbh.) I've also looked into the recommended companies from old questions (MiniMoves, Ship Smart) which were way out of the price range for cross-country. I'm out of how do I get this thing across the country?
posted by migrantology to Grab Bag (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How much is the replacement cost? How much could you sell it for in Berkeley? How much is your time spent coordinating a remote sale worth to you? With these numbers you should be able to put a ceiling on how much you are willing to spend to ship, which, if nothing else, should allow you to rule out bids.
posted by Alterscape at 8:50 AM on October 20, 2020

Response by poster: Those are good questions—the bed is in my dad's garage, so I don't need to get rid of it or sell it remotely. It can just sit there happily.

However, I would like to be an adult and have my furniture look nice together. Honestly given the extra volume in most Uhauls I've seen packed, $100 for that seems fair (with me picking it up on this end). I would probably grudgingly pay $200, but have to think about much more than that. I can get an entirely new bed for $800 and I've actually bought a nice bed (in a prior relationship) for $350 from World Market—I guess that's the framework that I'm coming from.
posted by migrantology at 9:07 AM on October 20, 2020

You could use a service like Roadie, in theory.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:26 AM on October 20, 2020

I've had great experiences with ABF UPack, though I think their minimum volume is far more than you need.

However, I also think that you are lowballing the pricing. That would be a good budget for one or two reliable professionals to help with an in-city move. It doesn't leave a lot left over for the whole "driving across the country" part.
posted by yarntheory at 9:45 AM on October 20, 2020 [5 favorites]

Caveat that it's been a long time since I did this myself but an LTL ("less than truckload") freight shipper might be an option. They should provide door-to-door service but you will need to have the bed packaged and ready to go according to their instructions. I shipped a king sized mattress cross-country that way for about $500 (in 2004) which was still less than the replacement cost.

COVID is messing with shipping logistics across the board though. Less travel and movement off all kinds has reduced capacity so costs and shipping times are going up in response.
posted by 4rtemis at 9:52 AM on October 20, 2020

I've been looking for something like this on Craigslist (not to DC) and have seen a few listings on rideshare, so that still might be possible to find (for example, someone recently was going from Oakland to Philadelphia with a lot of room in a Uhaul). You could also try posting on Nextdoor- it seems like the Berkeley board is very active and someone might know someone.

I have gotten all past bedframes free on Craigslist. I would consider abandoning the old one if you're open to it.
posted by pinochiette at 10:39 AM on October 20, 2020

Are you getting quotes for shipping the bed set up as a bed? Do you remember how the bed came to you? See if your dad can look at it and see if it can be broken down into smaller pieces, and then shipping might be easier through a conventional ground shipper. (Though I realize it might already be in pieces.)

I don't think your assessment of $100 is quite right, though. If I were doing a cross-country move with a u-haul full of stuff, a queen bed frame would be an awkward thing to include if it wasn't packed from the start. Driving out of my way to load it up and then wait for someone to pick it up at the other end -- in the context of a cross-country move where I am spending a thousand dollars or more -- seems like a hassle for not much money. Now, if you know someone doing this move, then maybe it's okay because it's a favor as much as payment. Even broken down, this still sounds like an extra headache, and what if it gets damaged along the way.

I know you were glib when you said you wanted to be an adult and have matching furniture, but I also think your assessment of the hassle and time involved in someone doing this for you isn't taking into account adult value of their time and wages.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:55 AM on October 20, 2020 [15 favorites]

If you can get someone to disassemble it, pack it securely in ways that don't exceed ~100 lbs per parcel, and get it to an airport, you could look at Air Freight (generally, shipped in the cargo hold on passenger flights). One airline quotes $392 for 2x100lb parcels from SFO to DCA. However, it's been a long time since I've used Air Freight and I don't know if there are size limitations as well as weight limitations. Or how Covid travel disruptions might affect the service.
posted by expialidocious at 12:19 PM on October 20, 2020

I have gotten furniture shipped to me via Greyhound.
posted by theora55 at 12:32 PM on October 20, 2020 [3 favorites]

given the extra volume in most Uhauls I've seen packed, $100 for that seems fair

If I was moving, I would assume I'd be busy and exhausted, and also worried about getting my uhaul returned on time, and not be interested in dealing with trying to meet someone to pick something up and then meet someone somewhere else to drop something off. Even more so if either end of this is in a city where someone has to drive a big truck they aren't familiar with and find a place to park it.

You are asking someone in the middle of a major life change to do this work for you. People in a position to pay for a moving truck aren't going to want to spend their time on this.
posted by yohko at 1:12 PM on October 20, 2020 [7 favorites]

posted by bilabial at 1:35 PM on October 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Honestly given the extra volume in most Uhauls I've seen packed, $100 for that seems fair (with me picking it up on this end). I would probably grudgingly pay $200, but have to think about much more than that.
This is totally unrealistic.

The absolute cheapest option, assuming you think your own time is of no value, is to figure out how to break it into safely boxed packages (probably 2 depending on the design, given size and weight limits) and ship it with, e.g. Greyhound. You might be able to do this for a couple hundred.

But if new beds that you like cost $350 or even $800 and you have things you'd rather spend your life doing, you should get a new bed. For extra credit, sell your old bed on Craigslist.
posted by caek at 1:38 PM on October 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Here’s some actual bed ship costs through U Ship which might give you another ballpark idea of costs.
posted by AnnaRat at 3:07 PM on October 20, 2020

I got quoted a couple hundred dollars to move some furniture to the junkyard the other day.

I did use Craigslist for some of my stuff to be moved via uhall in a very similar situation to what you described from LA to Chicago in 2009 ish. It cost me 250 dollars, and it was a few boxes, no furniture. I did get my stuff though. I found the ad and reached out. It was a time when criagslist was concidered more reputable than it is now. I dropped off and picked up based on their locations, nothing was delivered to my door.

There's the option if you know the bedframe make and model trying to hunt it down and buy it used in your city.

We did this with a kid bedroom set that was just far far too expensive for us to purchase outright, and it was by far the best furniture purchase I've ever made. If you sell your old one after acquiring the new one, it may even be cost neutral. But, this assumes you would be comfortable with that arrangement, and that the piece was produced in a decent quantity, with a selection of consistant stains.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:48 PM on October 20, 2020

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