Shipping Stuff to NYC
January 5, 2004 8:18 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend is moving from Chicago to NYC at the end of the month. She's moving into my apartment, and so is leaving most of her furniture behind (no big stuff aside from her dresser, a kitchen table, and some chairs). She also doesn't have a ton of "stuff", so we wouldn't need anything bigger than a small U-Haul, which still costs upwards of $1K. Is there a more sensible way to do this (in terms of cost and time)? Does anyone have any experience with shipping this kind of stuff?
posted by mkultra to Home & Garden (20 answers total)
If you don't care that much about how it's handled, ship it via amtrak. Their rates are incredibly low, but don't expect your stuff to be treated with kid gloves.
posted by ph00dz at 8:54 AM on January 5, 2004

Check out craigslist for NYC and/or Chicago; maybe you can find someone to split the cost of a round-trip U-Haul.
posted by boomchicka at 9:37 AM on January 5, 2004

Sell it there. Buy new (used) here.
posted by mischief at 9:49 AM on January 5, 2004

Send the books USPS book rate.
UPS may offer discounts for shipping over a certain weight's worth of stuff.
Check other truck rental companies (e.g. Ryder, Hertz/Penske, etc.) because rates vary more than one would think.
posted by mookieproof at 10:15 AM on January 5, 2004

it really costs $1,000 to hire a van for a few days? that sounds way too high. i've done similarly in the uk for about 50 pounds ($70) a day (starting at one place, leaving it at another).
posted by andrew cooke at 10:16 AM on January 5, 2004

I've dealt with this dilemma frequently, U-Hauls really are that expensive. Craigslist is a really good place to start -- someone might already be going your way and have room, or would want to split the cost of a move with someone. Greyhound and Amtrak both have shipping options which work pretty well if you are going between major cities and can arrange to get your stuff in a timely fashion on the other end. If she has a smallish amount of stuff and some time, the most cost-efficient thing to do [short of buying a beater car which will just barely make it there and which you sell upon arrival to NYC] is often to rent a van or SUV or pickup truck instead of a U-Haul and then drive it out and back so you avoid crazy-spendy one-way rental charges.

Sometimes or the rental places have cheapish deals on pickups and you can get an F-150 with a king cab [a back seat in the cab] and a cover for the bed which is actually pretty huge in terms of space. Another option which sounds dumb but sometimes works is to leave the stuff in storage and see how much of it you actually need/want/miss once you're there. If you have friends/family willing to put it into a yardsale for you, or store it long term this can be the lowest-stress approach to an already-stressful move.

Also -- word of warning, if you ship non-book stuff book rate and get busted, the post office can, at their prerogative try to charge you retroactively for the stuff you've shipped. Use book rate carefully.
posted by jessamyn at 10:22 AM on January 5, 2004

Another option would be to look for a driveaway, that is, someone who needs a car driven Chicago>NYC. So she could get paid to go there. She might not be able to fit all her stuff in the car, but the Greyhound/Amtrak option will work for the rest.

This, of course, assumes she isn't bringing her own car.
posted by adamrice at 11:58 AM on January 5, 2004

Thanks for the insights. Ryder is unfortunately a non-starter, since they don't offer one-way rentals (and I'm not driving all the way back to Chicago just to fly back to NYC). Amtrak's an interesting idea, but the hassle of getting all the stuff to/from the train station seems to negate its benefits. Renting the largest vehicle we can from Hertz (or equivalent) seems like the way to go, since you can get a van for around $250/day (which is all we'd need, I think).
posted by mkultra at 1:39 PM on January 5, 2004

mkultra - be sure to price out vans. This summer we needed to rent a big cargo van for two weeks, and Enterprise was significantly cheaper when mileage, etc. was factored in. IIR correctly, Enterprise was $800/week with unlimited mileage.
posted by anastasiav at 1:43 PM on January 5, 2004

Be sure to check out Penske, seriously. It can't be said enough. I moved 1500 miles using their trucks, twice, and they're head, shoulders, torso and everything else above the competition. Their trucks are newer and better-maintained, their pricing is usually way better, they allow unlimited mileage, and I've yet to see one broken-down by the side of the freeway.

(No, I am not a Penske employee, just a happily satisfied customer)
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:05 PM on January 5, 2004 [1 favorite]

moving companies do small loads--they essentially stuff your stuff on a truck with a load that doesn't quite fill the truck. they charge you a little less, and your stuff is submissive to the Big Load. that is, you get your delivery on the other person's schedule. my sister and i have made all our recent state to state moves this way.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:20 PM on January 5, 2004

Be careful with LTL movers, though ... READ EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU SIGN ANYTHING ... there's some very interesting disclaimers in the bills of lading.
posted by SpecialK at 3:30 PM on January 5, 2004

(LTL movers = Less than Load movers, which is what crush-onastick was talking about.)

(They sometimes refuse to release your shipment until you pay a 'pickup fee' or something like it, which can run into hundreds if not thousands of dollars. This is rampant, legal (at the moment) and isn't well covered by the commerical codes, unfortunately. Buyer beware.)
posted by SpecialK at 3:31 PM on January 5, 2004

You can buy a trailer and install a hitch for about $600, but might not be big enough.
posted by mecran01 at 3:36 PM on January 5, 2004

I've heard those tales as well, SpecialK. If we were to consider movers, we'd only consider a super-reputable one, which is most likely well outside her price range. As a practical matter, we're driving, if for no other reason than she's bringing her cat.
posted by mkultra at 3:37 PM on January 5, 2004

mecran01- Neither of us own one of those newfangled horseless carriages.
posted by mkultra at 3:41 PM on January 5, 2004

You can buy a trailer and install a hitch for about $600, but might not be big enough.
Thought it was around $200 at U-Haul.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:51 PM on January 5, 2004

Duh, buy a trailer, never mind. The do have the service where they drop a container off, you pack it, then they pick it up and ship it to your destination at the times you set.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:52 PM on January 5, 2004

When I moved from Atlanta to NYC, I rented a Budget truck. Not too expensive, as I recall, compared to U-Haul and Ryder.
posted by Vidiot at 11:40 PM on January 5, 2004

Follow up, in case anyone searches out this thread...

We wound up renting a 10-footer from Penske, which was much cheaper than the other companies (~$600, and you can keep the truck for a whole week). More importantly, the truck itself was clean, comfortable, and well-kept. After hearing endless tales about "tin cans with wheels", dealing with Penske was a blessing. If you've got a one-way move (car rental companies generally can't accommodate this situation for their larger vehicles), I'd highly recommend them.
posted by mkultra at 10:55 AM on February 4, 2004 [1 favorite]

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