We've more states to cross than items to ship.
August 27, 2006 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Our furniture's fate hangs in the balance. In one month, we move on a shoestring. our shipment is too small too interest moving firms. Does anyone know how to get four pieces of furniture from Texas to Washington without blowing our budget?

We're leaving North Texas at the end of September. We will drive ourselves and whatever we can stuff into our four-door to Southern Washington.

We've made our peace with leaving most of our furniture behind. But we've got a handful of things we'd like to hang on to. A set of bookshelves, a drafting table, a hand-made end table and a computer desk. The total weight does not even approach what the moving companies I've spoken with consider the minimum for this time of year.

Renting a U-Haul isn't an option, as only one of us has a driver's license. None of these things would fit in the car, even if they were the only thing we brought. Are there any methods of small-scale frieght that I'm overlooking? Any and all thoughts are most appreciated.
posted by EatTheWeek to Travel & Transportation (28 answers total)
Is it possible that you could rent one of the small u-hauls that hitch to the back of a car? They're inexpensive and because your car is hauling it you'd only need one driver. I do think you need something put on the back of your car to attach it to, but this might be the easiest and cheapest way.
posted by theantikitty at 2:07 PM on August 27, 2006

I find it hard to believe your shipment is too small to interest a moving firm. I've made some pretty small moves before.

Are you only checking with the huge companies? Perhaps you should try the phone book for someone local to either your current locale or your destination...
posted by twiggy at 2:10 PM on August 27, 2006

Many removal companies will do a split-load, using space left from another removal, it just requires some flexibility about the delivery date.
posted by Lanark at 2:25 PM on August 27, 2006

Often you can squeeze into another person's moving load if you're flexible about times. When we wanted to move one dresser from Boston to Sacramento, we called various Boston moving companies and asked when they were headed our way next and they were willing to take it. Rather than movers, you might want to look at shippers - companies that move specific items rather than whole houses.
posted by serazin at 2:25 PM on August 27, 2006

Lanark - you beat me to it!
posted by serazin at 2:25 PM on August 27, 2006

I should add that, alternatively, if the other posters suggestions don't work out, you might try the opposite scenario as my first idea. Renting a small truck and hitching your car.
posted by theantikitty at 2:30 PM on August 27, 2006

You could hire a couple of young people with pickup trucks.
Or look into shipping your car, and rent a truck yourself.
posted by leapingsheep at 2:40 PM on August 27, 2006

posted by killy willy at 2:41 PM on August 27, 2006

Door to Door?

There are lots of similar companies. Google will help.
posted by autojack at 2:42 PM on August 27, 2006

When I rented a Budget truck for a recent move they only wanted one driver's license.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 2:49 PM on August 27, 2006

What about a general freight company? Get a pallet from somewhere, buy a roll of stretch wrap, get it all firmly packed and then send it. If you can estimate the size and weight of the goods packed, you should be able to get an accurate quote. The only thing might be loading the goods onto a truck without lifting equipment.
posted by tomble at 3:10 PM on August 27, 2006

Here are a couple of possibilities:

1)When I moved half way across the country, the movers most certainly loaded my stuff in with somebody else's. I know because they were a little delayed dropping the other load off south of me. Yes, they will only give you a time frame when your stuff will arrive, but who cares as long as it's after you've arrived. Don't cross off your furniture or the big moving companies.

2)Rent a u-haul and hook your car to the back via a trailer hitch. I've seen this on the highways many times.

3)Got a kid brother or cousin etc. that would like an adventure? Hire him/her to drive the car while one of you drives the u-haul. Treat them to a big dinner in Washington or some other form of bribery.

Good luck!
posted by bim at 3:15 PM on August 27, 2006

There are several companies that work by combining your stuff with either other people moving or just general freight. I've used a couple of them successfully but can't remember which.

The way they work is that you load up your stuff, and then erect a bulkhead -- they might have a bulkhead in the truck that you just put up, or you might need to nail one together with two sheets of 4x8 plywood and a few 2x4s. Then they drive, and you unload.

They have minimum lengths. When I moved a single large wall-unit from Gainesville FL to D/FW, it cost about $500 in 2001/2002.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:32 PM on August 27, 2006

These items probably don't mass all that much. Rather than renting a u-haul (of who knows how marginal condition) I'd buy a $200 harbour freight trailer, equip my car with a hitch and be on my way. You can probably sell the trailer for close to what you paid for it once you done and even if you can't the cost of the trailer will be less than a one way rental from u-haul.

I'd wrap the items in packing saran, tie them to the trailer with rope and then tarp the load so you'd have some expenses for those items too.

On the upside you wouldn't have to worry where your stuff is or how it is being treated.
posted by Mitheral at 3:42 PM on August 27, 2006

I'd like to second the idea of a small hitchable U-Haul trailer. I rented a U-Haul recently to move and I used my driver's license to rent it. They never needed anything else.

If your shoestring status is temporary, perhaps you can find a cheap storage facility and just store your stuff until you have enough money to ship it. Small-town facilities will give you better rates. It kind of sucks to spend money to keep it in Texas only to retrieve it later, but I know how attached people can get to pieces of furniture!
posted by christinetheslp at 3:54 PM on August 27, 2006

Response by poster: The trouble with renting a trailer is that we're driving a Chevy Malibu. The transmission isn't up to the job of towing.
posted by EatTheWeek at 4:51 PM on August 27, 2006

Response by poster: Oh, and the rear fender is kind of, ahem, tied on.
posted by EatTheWeek at 4:52 PM on August 27, 2006

In that case, you may be better off renting a truck and towing the car instead.
posted by antimony at 5:04 PM on August 27, 2006

Is it possible to place an add in Craig's list in Washington and see if anyone is moving to Texas and wants to swap a couch and some furniture?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:06 PM on August 27, 2006

Oh, and the rear fender is kind of, ahem, tied on.

LOL. Well I guess that means that the Malibu can't be the lead vehicle!

May the force be with you. :)
posted by bim at 5:10 PM on August 27, 2006

I just used UPack. You pay by space. I was very satisfied.
posted by rachelpapers at 7:14 PM on August 27, 2006

I've done the "rent a u-haul and tow your car" thing. If you're concerned about driving such a beast, it's really not that bad especially once you're on the highway. You just have to be careful pulling into gas stations and the like (always find a way to pull through, backing up is a pain). On the downside, the cost of gas will be pretty high, so the shipping options might prove more economical.
posted by cabingirl at 8:20 PM on August 27, 2006

I second (third?) PODS or UPack.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:55 PM on August 27, 2006

Here's the link for U-Haul vehicle trailers just so you can see what you're dealing with on that end. Of course U-Hauls are notorious for breaking down and towing a trailer adds exciting new dimensions to driving a strange vehicle...
posted by nanojath at 10:20 PM on August 27, 2006

Don't attempt to hitch anything bigger than a bicycle to a Malibu. Not only are you going to pay $100 or more to have the hitch put on there, but you'll tear up your transmission.

With that said, why isn't renting a U-Haul an option? I only have one drivers license, and I could go in and rent one. Whether or not another person is going to be a passenger is none of their business, just don't let them drive.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 7:08 AM on August 28, 2006

Mr. Gunn writes "I only have one drivers license, and I could go in and rent one. Whether or not another person is going to be a passenger is none of their business, just don't let them drive."

Because they have to get their car to washington as well. Renting a U-haul truck and car transport one-way is going to be around $1000 before insurance and taxes.
posted by Mitheral at 7:59 AM on August 28, 2006

You might be interested in UShip, a shipping brokerage service. You can either ship the car and get a UHaul for the trip, or ship the furniture (Either as household goods, or palletized(which might save you some money, but is a hassle).)

I'm going to assume that you've already knocked the furniture down as flat/compact as it will go, and you still can't make it fit? (If not, dismantling furniture, padding between pieces with the roll foam they use for laying pergo, and using cling-film to secure the mass together really eases shipping/storage. We've got two bookcases, an entertainment center and a coffeetable leaning against the back of our closet because we really don't have the sq. ft. at the moment to use them.)
posted by Orb2069 at 8:53 AM on August 28, 2006

I used UShip to move furniture from Dallas to Buffalo. The company I hired went in, wrapped all the furniture, loaded it on the truck, brought it to my house, unloaded, unwrapped, and brought it in. I shipped a pretty large roll-top desk, a plate cabinet, judge's chair, and some boxes.
posted by jdfan at 1:38 PM on August 28, 2006

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