Cross-country moving advice sought
July 14, 2007 8:35 PM   Subscribe

Best way to move my stuff from Vancouver to Toronto?

Hello Mefites!

I'd value some of your practical advice on the best way to move my stuff from Vancouver to Toronto.

I am moving for grad school at York. But here's the hitch: I'm going to be traveling in New York from August 1 - 17 with my girlfriend, and we're each limiting our stuff to a backpack. I don't have a ton of worldly possessions to move, but I definitely have too much to bring with me on my NYC trip.

Do I fly back to Vancouver and try to take everything by plane? Do I mail my stuff? Greyhound Courier it?

Hot moving tips are greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
posted by radiocontrolled to Travel & Transportation around Canada (7 answers total)
Greyhound would be my first instinct. We did the reverse move, but ended up going the self-pack mini-container because by the time we got all new ikea junk, pots, lamps, etc, we would have spent almost as much money.
posted by maledictory at 8:49 PM on July 14, 2007

I moved from Hogtown to Vancouver last summer (also to go to grad school) although I suspect my wife and I had a bit more in the way of filthy loot (plus El Pug) to get from there to here.

What we ended up doing: Used Greyhound to move all our essential books and CDs (about 25 boxes). It was only about $400 or so, and we paid for it by selling the books and discs we left behind. Big stuff -- one big bed, bookshelves, couch, tables, chairs, etc. -- went by Phillips Moving and Storage, Toronto agents for North American Van Lines.

I did a lot of looking and researching moving services and my conclusion was it would not be worthwhile to save a couple of bucks and get a budget mover, given that the moving biz seems to be a cesspool of scam artists and douchebags. (Google "Two Small Men with Big Hearts +complaint" for more horror stories than you'll want to read.) In the end, the move cost $1500 -- about $500 more than 2SMwBH quoted -- but the "extra" money was well worth it for the piece of mind.

(Stuff we couldn't lose, ie my wife's portfolio and other invaluables, were packed into the back of the car, along with M. le pug.)

In the end, Phillips was awesome -- the guys showed up on time, were quick and professional, and moved the goods out of our flat in record time. They delivered on time with a minimum of fuss and didn't charge any extra hidden fees, which seems to be the favoured trick of the shady moving crowd. Highly recommended.

Good luck!
posted by docgonzo at 9:35 PM on July 14, 2007

In my experience, while Greyhound courier is cheaper for heavy shipments for shorter distances (e.g. within Ontario), it is significantly more expensive than the mail and other ground couriers (UPS, FedEx Ground) for longer distances (e.g. Toronto to Edmonton).

My experience with movers is like docgonzo's: the savings from using a less expensive mover is not worth it. We twice chose a mover based on price and were not happy with the results. The third time we went with Tippet-Richardson and were very pleased with the results.
posted by winston at 5:01 AM on July 15, 2007

When I moved from Toronto to Vancouver and back, I didn't have any furniture to shuttle across the country so it ended up being very simple: pack as much as possible into the two suitcases I had, and ship the rest via FedEx.

The trip back to Toronto was the worst in terms of bulk, with a bike and a computer in the mix, and aside from a poorly attached hard drive mount coming loose inside the computer (really my fault, luckily it didn't smash into anything important), it all arrived safely about a week later. I think all told, it came out to about $250 to ship a bunch of boxes, computer + monitor, and the bike.

The only caveat is that you'll be without most of your worldly possessions for a week or so, but since you're going to NYC this isn't a problem. If I had to do it again, and didn't have to move furniture, courier would definitely be the way to go.
posted by chrominance at 10:17 AM on July 15, 2007

I moved from Prince George, BC to London, Ontario last summer, also for grad school.

My advice: get rid of things liberally. Look into freecycle; ask friends; check out Craigslist, and so on. Figure out what is actually worth keeping. If it will be cheaper to get a new one, do that. Moving across country is expensive.

I did that, then sent the bulk of my stuff by Greyhound. If you time it right, you can minimize your living-out-of-a-suitcase period (and, if you time it really well, you can make that your time in NY). I had a week or ten days in Vancouver before I continued on to Ontario, so I sent my stuff on ahead, went and made my trip to Vancouver, and it was waiting for me to pick up when I got to Ontario.

Oh, also, regarding new stuff-- don't make the same mistake I did and buy all new stuff (unless you've got the money and want to). There will be a lot of students getting rid of (often slightly) used stuff for much cheaper. Check out freecycle and craigslist before you go shopping and factor that into your cost analysis.
posted by synecdoche at 10:51 AM on July 15, 2007

Ah, grad school.

Back in the day, going to grad school from Portland to Madison WI, I got rid of almost everything I owned- gave it away, sold my bike and what furniture I had- shipped books by USPS at the cheapest rate about a month before I left, and arrived in Madison with just my clothes and sundries in 3 suitcases. Greyhound would allow something similar, but this is a perfect time for you to rationalise your life. You'll have decades to get new crap.

Congratulations- these are exciting times!
posted by ethnomethodologist at 11:09 AM on July 15, 2007

My mother was involved in a lot of local Vancouver moves when she worked for the health ministry and swears by Movex. Their website suggests that you save money by loading your stuff yourself, which in your case sounds like it would be pretty straightforward.

(She also confirms docgonzo's warning about Two Small Men--says it's staffed by ex-cons.)
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:36 PM on July 15, 2007

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