Moving without a new address?
August 13, 2007 1:04 PM   Subscribe

What issues we will encounter moving to a new city without an address? Is it a bad idea to live in a motel for a month?

We're moving in October (DC to LA) and because of schedules, the cost of plane tickets etc, we've decided that it makes the most sense to pack our stuff into pods, have them picked up, then drive ourselves across the country (also, fun!). We figured we'd just live in a motel and have the moving company store our stuff for the couple of weeks to a month it should take us to find an apartment. The storage is pretty cheap, and we want to find somewhere nice. What we'll do with the cats is a question for another day, but that's our basic plan.

It just occurred to me though - what do we do about mail forwarding? (having it sent to work or a friend aren't really options). And are we going to have problems getting a new apartment without an address?

My main question is - Are there other things I haven't thought of that make this a bad idea? what are the implications of being without a real address for a month?
posted by crabintheocean to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Rent a mailbox and have your mail forwarded there. Or get a PO Box at the post office.

I wouldn't think that getting an apartment would be a problem - I was able to get a place in SF while living in a hotel several years ago.

If you're really worried about not having a "real" address though, you could always find an apartment to sublet. That would probably be cheaper than a hotel as well.
posted by sanko at 1:09 PM on August 13, 2007

I've done this twice. There's no problem really.

Seconding what sanko said. In one case, I forwarded it all to my parents house until I found a real place. But a mailbox rental works too.

Landlords don't care where you are currently living. They just care about your history and credit. Lots of people arrive in new cities and stay in sublets or hotels so that they can sanely and safely go through the apartment-finding process.
posted by vacapinta at 1:16 PM on August 13, 2007

To get a P.O. Box you have to have a piece of ID with your current correct street address on it, so get the box before you move.

I don't know if you need that for a private mailbox company though.
posted by 517 at 1:20 PM on August 13, 2007

Thanks, I'm having trouble finding an explanation of this online - so I would need to go to an LA Post Office, and set it up, then take the new info to my local office near my old address for the change of address form? And my wife would need to show two forms of ID too?
posted by crabintheocean at 1:32 PM on August 13, 2007

When we moved while I was in high school, we lived in a Comfort Inn for the first five weeks of my junior year. Me, my 2 parents, a chihuahua, and many of my worldly goods shacked up in one room.

The PO box will save you, but so will a hotel with WiFi and a kitchen. It was almost impossible to eat properly with a microwave and a minifridge for that long (for me anyway.) We ate a lot of deli take-out from Meijer and Boston Market, and I can't even remember what we did for school lunches. Really, if you look for an extended stay (which you could probably snag for less than $80 per night) you should be fine for a month. And even if it's less time than that, you'll be thankful for the full refrigerator, bigger sink, oven, and dishes afforded by a place like Extended Stay of America.
posted by santojulieta at 1:33 PM on August 13, 2007

I couldn't get a bank account in my new city without proof of living there. Same with a library card. Those are the only two instances where I would have faced a problem not having an actual address (had to present lease, utility bill, etc).

You could check out corporate housing instead of a motel. Marriott has a program that looks pretty good, Execustay. One of their target groups is folks like you. It's full-on apartments and seems much nicer than a hotel. Not sure if it's too expensive though, but you earn rewards points. :)
posted by ml98tu at 1:37 PM on August 13, 2007

Thanks, I am super familiar with Extended Stay America, and they are a definite possibility.
posted by crabintheocean at 1:39 PM on August 13, 2007

Just out of curiosity, is it possible to immediately get a PO Box in LA? It took 6 weeks for me to get mine in New Haven at the Post Office. MBE or someplace like that might give you immediate gratification if the USPS can't.
posted by cobaltnine at 1:42 PM on August 13, 2007

Just make sure you have a cell phone. We tried finding an apartment while living in a hotel and realized that the managers wouldn't leave messages on the hotel answering machines.
posted by lil' ears at 1:52 PM on August 13, 2007

Check out the private mailbox (not USPS post office). There will probably be more available than at USPS, and they also have the advantage of allowing you to receive packages from private shippers (e.g., UPS, etc) which cannot deliver to USPS P.O. boxes. A friend of mine rented a Mailboxes Etc mailbox in advance of moving a few years back; they are now the UPS Store. Also look at FedEx/Kinkos, Postal Annex, and so on. You can find locations and phone numbers online, then call and ask how to set this up. They would probably fax you a form to fill out, then you would fax that back with a copy of your current ID and proof of address.
posted by Robert Angelo at 2:29 PM on August 13, 2007

I've done this too. Here are my thoughts:

You can get the USPS to hold your mail for a while, then send it to you.

There are lots of hotels that won't care if you have cats. I had one.

Landlords won't have a problem as long as you have a good credit/rental history.

You don't say, however, whether you have a job lined up. That could be hard if your address is a hotel.

Good luck.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:54 PM on August 13, 2007

You can usually get mail at hotels. Why not forward it there until you move into more permanent digs?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:14 PM on August 13, 2007

be careful of mail boxes etc and places like that. i knew a guy that worked there and people would go thru mail on occassion. usually when they suspected the person was shipping drugs (they were usually right and stole drugs all the time). it was crazy as hell and i wouldn't trust one of those places, it's like trusting your mail to the guys at mcdonalds. that was ten years ago though, so it may be different. maybe you could have it held at your old post office.
also be careful of the sorts of hotels that rent by the week. unless you're loaded that is, the ones people rent by the week some crazy stuff goes down. i worked on an ambulance and went to those hotels all the time (fights, OD, drunken/disorderly, etc), even the seemingly nice ones. i also stayed at one for a month, wasn't that bad i guess, just sketchy people and behavior. i met a cop while on the ambulance that told me about hotels that rent for big chunks of time, sometimes have mini brothel type setups where the pimp rents the room long term and it's used by "his ladies." so don't be surprised by the underbelly of the world if you don't have tons of money.
posted by andywolf at 5:00 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone, this is super useful. M.C. Lo-Carb! - I work from home when I'm not on the road, and my wife is transferring offices with the same employer, so thankfully that's not a concern.
posted by crabintheocean at 5:39 PM on August 13, 2007

You can do a change-of-address online - no need to go to your new/old post office.
posted by desjardins at 7:22 AM on August 14, 2007

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