Logistics advice on a cross-country move
September 16, 2022 12:08 PM   Subscribe

We're planning a cross-country move (NC to TX) at the end of this year. Seeking your best advice about some of the logistics! Help us move a houseful of stuff, two adults, two cars and a toddler with as little headache as possible.

We're currently renting, and our lease is up at the end of this year. We're planning on staying with family in Texas when we arrive for a few months while we look for a house to buy. So we'll also need to store all our furniture and stuff for a few months while we house-search.

What I've already decided on:
- We don't want to get rid of most of our furniture and cars and re-acquire them on the other side, so we'll definitely have a bunch of stuff to move. We have been decluttering and getting rid of stuff we don't need, though.
- Budget is somewhat of a consideration but my #1 goal is to minimize hassle, stress and difficulty.
- We're pretty set on hiring movers to load stuff into the truck (or POD?) and to unload stuff on the other side. We're 90% sure we also want to hire movers to actually drive the stuff (as opposed to renting a big van/truck and driving ourselves.)

What I want input on:
- Pros and cons of going the POD route vs having our stuff delivered to a storage unit in Texas?
- We'll probably end up shipping one car, possibly both. Any advice about that?
- Do we need to budget for substantial potential delays with the moving company?
- Any particular recommendations for moving companies? (Or for car-shipping companies?)
- Is it likely to be cheaper to bundle the car shipping in with the rest of the move (ie with the same company)?
- We'll likely hire help for at least some of the packing. Any notes there?
- How much time should I take off for work for the actual move?

Other miscellaneous advice welcomed too.

Thank you!
posted by aka burlap to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
Best answer: For hiring movers, you'll want to get a number of quotes, enough to see the pattern of bids. This last time, we had a few outliers (very high, or suspiciously low) and then the rest clustered right in the middle. That way you can compare directly to PODS, truck rental, or whatever else you are considering.

- Do we need to budget for substantial potential delays with the moving company?

Based on personal experience within the last year and from talking to a mover within the last month, yes. They are still having staffing shortages, especially around drivers, and that can result in delays. Check your contract for how it would be handled -- ours had a clause where their delays resulted in a discount to us, which inadvertently cut the cost of the move considerably.

- We'll likely hire help for at least some of the packing. Any notes there?

We have used movers to pack a couple of times and it went great both times. If you are more short on time than you are on money, it is an excellent option and way less stressful.

- How much time should I take off for work for the actual move?

This would depend on how you actually are doing things. If you are doing a full-service move it can be pretty minimal in terms of your time. But you'll want to have someone at home during the packing and loading, and again during unloading at the other end. For a DIY move, add in the loading, driving, etc. to your timeline.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:59 PM on September 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would use PODS/upack definitely and get local movers recommended in each area based on network (join your area fb group). PODs include pretty reasonable storage costs and you only need to do one load and one unload.
posted by sandmanwv at 1:45 PM on September 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: One thing to consider is the time of year and how long your stuff will sit in a POD that's stored outdoors. Texas just had a brutal summer with temperatures over 100F for 40+ consecutive days in many cities, which might happen again next year. I'm sure furniture would be fine, but items such as records or toys with plastic parts could be damaged. If the POD is stored indoors once it arrives, or if your stuff will go from a POD straight into a climate-controlled storage unit, then you probably don't have to worry.
posted by neushoorn at 2:55 PM on September 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is the patented radioamy(tm) packing method that I used on a cross-country move, and it will really help since have boxes going to multiple locations.

Part 1: Color coding. Get colored labels (such as this or even something like this), and pick a color for each room or location. Write the initial of each room on the label (e.g. all the kitchen boxes have a yellow K label). Label each box on at least 3 sides.

Part 2: Numbering. Get big white labels and number each box (on at least 3 sides). Then use a shared spreadsheet like a Google Sheet and type the contents of each box in the spreadsheet. You can even color code based on your Post It Labels. This eliminates the annoyance of writing on a box and inevitability of losing your sharpies. It also makes it really easy to find things, because you just search your spreadsheet and you'll know what box it's in.

Part 3: Identification. Get big white printable labels and print out your name and address and label each box.
posted by radioamy at 4:34 PM on September 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

We'll probably end up shipping one car, possibly both. Any advice about that?
Unless car shipping is very very cheap and can be done on your schedule, I would rethink this. If you can fit the stuff you won't be storing and the three humans into both of these cars, then I would plan on driving the two days yourselves. Or else, one of you could drive one car out alone, fly back and you could all 3 drive together if there is room in the second car. That way all of your storage is one place and your current stuff is with you most of the time. Hired movers can help pack the cars, too.

Seconding trying to find climate controlled storage, or maybe a pod could be put inside a larger storage unit.
posted by soelo at 5:25 PM on September 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I shipped my car (I despise driving any more than absolutely necessary) from the Midwest to California with Montway Auto Transport and was sufficiently pleased with the experience (note: I do not give a single shit about random abrasions on the car paint job — I’m not saying there was any damage, but I AM saying I wouldn’t have noticed if there was).
posted by aramaic at 6:05 PM on September 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Penske truck with towbar, drag the first car behind the truck. Hire unloaders in advance, leave one car at the new place. Put the big stuff in place. Fly home and gather up travel stuff, and drive as a family to your new home. Watch the weather reports. If you have family in your old area or close friends, maybe the spouse and child can stay with them for a day or two. The two of you could completely empty the old dwelling for good, if you could tolerate it, you could convoy. Having another close couple to go along would be nice. Penske, is the best they used to have a 4 or 5 day unlimited mileage, set fee. I ended up with a 26 foot truck for $599, Salt Lake to Southern Cal, 750 miles or so. The days makes it possible to overnight, with a hella lock on the truck.
posted by Oyéah at 7:18 PM on September 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Sorry for the mediocre read. It is possible to deliver to storage by putting the storage stuff in the truck first, and the temporary living stuff in last, so the kiddo has their life ready.
posted by Oyéah at 7:33 PM on September 16, 2022

Best answer: I moved SF to NYC area. A company paid so...

First thing I learned from a person in my office whose father ran a moving company out of Montana was drivers for the major moving companies are rated. Best drivers get jobs like moving really expensive and rare say cars to an auto show. You want a driver with a low rating.

Second, we were moving 3 kids under 4 at that point. We had lots of crap. 2 cars. It was cost effective to put the two cars IN the moving van. They put them in and built a deck over them to load boxes onto. We ended up with the entire truck. That helped in terms of timing. No other stops for the driver.

I don't know the costs now, but we paid a few thousand dollars more than if we hadn't had the entire truck and hadn't had them pack our stuff for us, and hadn't had them unload to our rooms and unpack the kitchen. Hassle free was a requirement with 3 kids that young.

Do your research. Get a quote in writing and all the details about extra weight costs etc. Unscrupulous people will underestimate your weight and then charge you a lot extra over the estimate when it weighs out more.

As for storage, know that every time you load and unload your furniture, it gets a lot more wear and tear.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:05 PM on September 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have shipped my car from Boston MA to Tucson AZ several times. It cost $1200-$1400 each time. I learned that most companies don't have regular drivers, they act as middlemen, establishing the price and then connecting you with a random driver from a large pool. Once they connect you, it's between you and the driver to work out details. So the driver coordinates pickup and drop-off days and times. I experienced a lot of difficulty with drivers who did not excel at communication and coordination. They would give me a two day arrival range and then show up with 1 hour's notice. Or they would show up incredibly, incredibly late. Or they would give very vague arrival information. This was really, really stressful. I also had a driver who attempted to charge me more money than what was agreed upon and refused to give me my car until I threatened to call the police. I finally managed to find a company that was a husband/wife team of a reliable driver and a communicative dispatcher: Ideal Express Car Carrier Auto Transport. If you decide to ship your car, give them a call.
posted by shw at 8:11 AM on September 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have moved cross country, New York City to San Francisco. Paid for by employer, so not sure about costs, but learned some things:
1) Yes to having someone pack and unpack for you. They are so efficient, and in our experience, way more careful than we would have been with items that could break. I'd be measuring out the least amount of bubble wrap possible, and they'd use 5 moving blankets and 3 rolls of tape on a single item. That said, you will end up with tons and tons and tons of packaging material at the end, so have them stick around to take that all away for you.
2) Yes, budget for delays and plan to have everything you need with you for ~2 weeks on the other side. We ended up buying a new bed while we were waiting. The expected delivery date came and went without nary a hint as to the real delivery date, which ended up being 9 days later. Put an air tag or two in your stuff so you can see where it is on the journey. Don't expect the carrier to be telling you the full truth about where your stuff is while you wait.
3) They accidentally broke stuff. Even though the guys really seemed to be trying to be careful, a few items got crushed/damaged in transit, which sucked. The moving insurance we had through them covered it all, but we did have to take the time to prove the value and file the claim. It wasn't devastating because we didn't have things that were especially nice, but if you have any very important items, think about moving them in your car yourself. (Many fragile items were totally fine also -- but it is shocking when things show up mangled.)
4) In terms of time off, absolutely take off the day they pack/load so you can point things out and keep an eye on the proceedings, but rest assured, they really don't need your help. They're on top of it. Unloading is a much bigger ordeal because you need to do air traffic control, so you should also have that day off, though you won't necessarily know when it is much in advance.
5) If you have house plants, start giving them away to your besties now. We didn't find a single mover willing to move any live plants!
posted by luzdeluna at 5:26 PM on September 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wonderful advice! Thank you so much, everyone!
posted by aka burlap at 6:05 AM on September 19, 2022

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