Moving Cross Country (US)
December 12, 2003 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Moving cross country (US). Specifically, my girlfriend and I are heading from Washington DC to Santa Fe next spring. Twice as much crap, but shared costs and some company this time. We also each have a car. And a cat. So - any advice on minimizing costs and hassle? [more inside]

We hear shipping containers/services can be cheaper than renting a U-Haul, and much less hassle. We’d like to take a week or so to make the trip anyway, have some fun, not have to worry about a huge yellow truck. But we each have a car, and driving separately doesn’t sound like much fun – even less than towing one car behind a van. Someone told me you can rent a Winnebago with storage space, maybe?

We’re planning on waiting til we get there to find a place to live. But then – where do we ship our stuff to, if we do that? A storage unit?

Then there’s the cat – we’re hoping to leave her behind with some parents and then someone get her out there involving a minimum amount of drugging. Can you ship an animal somehow, or will someone have to bring her on a plane?
posted by gottabefunky to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
i just did the boston to san fran move over the summer. As far as saving money while driving i can only suggest take as few days as possible (yes, it hurts and i'd like to do the west coast driving again at a slower pace sometime). One of my friends did the same move with a rented uhaul and it cost her about $2400 total, so it may be cheaper to ship (figure 2-3 rooms worth of stuff). However, if your company is paying moving costs and you can take them off your taxes at the end of the year you may want to consider wether you just want to get across or wether you want to take a vacation.

just drug the cat and ship it on the plane, as long as they dont' get out of the cage they're fine. good luck.
posted by NGnerd at 12:38 PM on December 12, 2003

But then – where do we ship our stuff to, if we do that? A storage unit?
Sell sell sell; why rent space on objects you can buy for the same price you spent storing it...
posted by thomcatspike at 12:39 PM on December 12, 2003

About the car, there are services that will drive your cars across country for you. If you arrange for at least one car to get there before you do, then it's just you two in the yellow truck, with the car waiting for you in NM. I would just take the cat with you (but you must have a reason for not wanting to do that)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:41 PM on December 12, 2003

Highly recommend not waiting until you arrive to find a place to live.
posted by anathema at 12:41 PM on December 12, 2003

same price or less
posted by thomcatspike at 12:42 PM on December 12, 2003

Pay for moving service and get the vast majority of the crap taken care of.

Drive the more road-tripworthy car together with the last of your stuff.

Give a friend a few hundred bucks for "expenses" and an airline ticket home to take the other car out for you. Let him or her join your trip or go on their own schedule.

Pack the cats with either your friend or yourselves, or put them on a plane to be picked up at the other end, depending on how you schedule things and if you have operatives on the one or another side of the trip to house them.
posted by majick at 12:43 PM on December 12, 2003

Try PODS Portable On Demand Storage, they bring a shipping container out to you, and then pick it up, and then store it. I don't know if they would ship it - but you might want to look up a local Shipping company and see what the rates of a 16' Shipping container is. Then again, see what the big moving company's charge - it might be similar - and they will haul it in and out of you old and new place - a service which is great!
posted by plemeljr at 12:46 PM on December 12, 2003

You can buy the cat a plane ticket and send it by itself. Call the airlines and ask about pet shipping services. I've flown my animals several times (across continents and oceans) and it was WAY easier than driving with them. If I remember right, it was only about $100 to go from the east coast to the west, and $150 to go from Germany to the US. It's a good deal. I've drugged and not-drugged. I'd say that depends on the animal. Either way, they're going to be pissed at you for weeks afterwards. The only logistical issue is that someone needs to take the cat to one airport and pick it up at the other. There's no storage to speak of and the cat can't wait for you. I've solved this with calling in the services of parents who really wish they had grand-children, not grand-cats.
posted by dness2 at 12:52 PM on December 12, 2003

Response by poster: Wow, that was quick. Thanks. I should explain a little more. Our stuff situation is this: nice enough to keep (not crap), but also nothing to cry over parting with. And, we are both quitting our jobs, so there is no employer involved. And only one cat. So the big question seems to be, sell most of it and go light (only 5000 or so books, clothes, stereo, kitchen, etc) or take it all with us. On the fence on that one.

Right now we're thinking: Ship stuff to storage unit, drive one car to arrive about the same time it does, have friend drive the other whenever, find a temporary place there until we can find a nice one, and have the folks ship the cat once we're settled.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:58 PM on December 12, 2003

Response by poster: Any good shipping companies?
posted by gottabefunky at 1:00 PM on December 12, 2003

I would sign up for AAA, the premium version. It costs about $70, lasts for a year, will give you roadside service (obviously) and I think 75 miles of towing should one of the cars break down. Also will break in if you lock your keys in the car and give you jump starts. One membership can cover both cars. You also get discounts on hotels and restaraunts, and they will load you up with every map you could need, and plenty you don't.
posted by vito90 at 1:04 PM on December 12, 2003

Do not underestimate how much space your stuff will take up in storage. I moved half - half! - the contents of a very small 1 bedroom apartment (< 700 s.f.), including full size bed, small kitchen table/chair set, and right around 50 or so varying sized boxes, and it has packed a 10'x10'x10' storage locker to the>

The rental for the space isn't exorbitant, but that's not my point. My point is, as much stuff as you acknowledge you have, you in fact have way, way more - it seems to all expand around moving time. Heed the advice of others and purge. Once you get a place in NM you will be asking yourself why you dragged so much stuff across the country.

I don't know why that little piece of br tag is hanging out up there, but it won't go away
posted by contessa at 1:15 PM on December 12, 2003

And FWIW: cell phones are a must, too...but you'll be hitting some pretty "dry" patches out West, so spend $20-$50 bux to get a decent of walkie-talkies, with a range of several miles. Ever see the movie "Breakdown"? Yikes.
posted by davidmsc at 1:22 PM on December 12, 2003

As a Santa Fe resident, I can advise you that some times of the year it's much more difficult to find an apartment. Spring is one of those times. Also, be aware that prices are sky-high in town, and there are few good-paying jobs. That said, it's a beautiful place to live. Good luck!
posted by hyperizer at 3:24 PM on December 12, 2003

5000 books != going light. Moving is a great opportunity in life to unburden yourself of the things that weigh you down. Fight the stupid urge to say "maybe one day I'll need this". You won't. Anything you haven't looked at in the last two years is worth selling or giving away. Don't be owned by your possessions.
posted by fuzz at 5:18 PM on December 12, 2003

5000 books != going light. Moving is a great opportunity in life to unburden yourself of the things that weigh you down.

Books, in however large a gatherng, do not burden. They enrich. They delight. They startle and comfort. They inform. They decorate! But they do not burden. Books lack the ability to burden; it is simply not in their nature.

It's worth taking a pass or two through the collection to weed it of stuff that, looking back, you realize you actually don't like (or now realize you're embarrassed to own), but mass purges of books just feel Stalinist.

I've used a couple of the many services such that you (and your pals) load and unload a truck that they drive (and fill up what you don't use with other people's stuff, or commercial freight). Not much more than a uhaul trip both times; probably less once you factor in the gas the truck guzzles. ISTR that at least one of them could do storage too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:39 PM on December 12, 2003

Sell. Sell it all.

I've done this more times than I can count and never has the hassle of moving stuff equaled the liberating feeling of not moving stuff. By the time you pack, ship and store your worldly posessions you'll discover that you could have replaced them for less. If it doesn't fit in the two cars, you don't need it. Better yet, get rid of a car too.

Also, it can be difficult relocating without housing. You get in the position of renting some dump on a week to week basis figuring you'll move as soon as you find something better. Then you either have a hard time finding a better place to live and find yourself in a shithole for six months or; you get so desperate to get out of the temporary place that you settle on a mediocre joint all the while getting raped (landlords can smell desperation) on rent, security and other 'expenses'.

I would maybe put some research into housing before worrying about what I was going to do with everything I had no place to put. You might better have asked, "I'm moving to Santa Fe and need a place to live. Does anyone have any suggestions on the best way I can find adequate housing from DC for two adults and a cat?"
posted by cedar at 8:14 PM on December 12, 2003

Anything you haven't looked at in the last two years is worth selling or giving away.

You know, if I followed that logic there would be all kinds of things that I own and value today (dishes passed down through my family, letters from my uncle from WWII, beautiful furniture, art, my father's uniform and boots, power tools, and, yes, books) that I would have given or thrown away and later had a great deal of regret at losing. And many more things that I would have bought five or six times over (like an iron or a toaster oven) that it just seems wasteful to repeatedly replace.

"Keep nothing in your house which you do not believe to be beautiful or useful." works much better. Things can be beautiful or useful even if you have no use for them yesterday or today. Tomorrow is, after all, a place you haven't been to yet.

My advice - keep the books, and make sure you get the sturdiest cat carrier you can find for shipping the feline via air. Make sure you can stand on it, and that you can swing it around by the front bars (without the cat inside, of course) without it coming open. Trust me that there is nothing worse than having your cat get lose on an airplane.
posted by anastasiav at 8:35 PM on December 12, 2003

Also, here's what we did when I moved from the US to England

-- packed stuff at home
-- arranged for (and pre-paid for) a two-month flat apartment rental before I left (here are some long-term rental places in Santa Fe: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5)
long term rental agents can be very helpful because they manage properties that are meant to be rented for just a few months (often fully furnished) by corporations or by vacationers. Therefore, their properties are almost always extremely well-kept.
-- Shipped stuff, then left (of course I was flying, not driving) so I would be there before the stuff was
-- Stuff arrived, I had 60 days to find a 'real' place to live, all the while living in comfort and not feeling the need to unpack because I was in a furnished place.

I agree with Cedar that trying to relocate without having any place to sleep when you get there can be a nightmare.
posted by anastasiav at 8:50 PM on December 12, 2003

I'm all for the "sell everything" option, myself, but if you decide to move everything, ship non-furniture items through Amtrak Express (dirt cheap). There are limits on the amount of items you can ship in any one day, so plan to ship on multiple days. Also, have a local shipping company (surprisingly cheap) pick up and deliver your items unto you new residence. Call to find out where the nearest station is, and if it's a "regular" (REX) station or a "heavy" (HEX) station -- HEX stations accept larger/heavier shipments. Pack keeping in mind that boxes will be stacked vertically five or more high and palletized (but not thrown across the room ala UPS). Palletized.
posted by user92371 at 1:38 AM on December 13, 2003

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