Going, going... back, back... to Cali, Cali...
November 7, 2007 9:23 AM   Subscribe

I'm moving to California. What's the cheapest way to haul my crap--including a small sports car--for 1,700 miles?

I don't need much room. Maybe a large cargo van would be enough. Or even just an SUV. The only furniture I'm planning to take is a bed. I'd like to rent some type of truck/van that can tow my Honda behind it. I need to find a company that will let me rent one-way only.

I've looked around quite a bit, but everything seems incredibly pricey. Has anyone done a cross-country move like this before? Can you recommend a good rental company, or any other advice on just how I can get my stuff out west without going bankrupt?
posted by dead_ to Travel & Transportation around California (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The cheapest way would be to cull your belongings down to what fits into your Honda and drive here in it.

Definitely do the math on renting a van/truck + trailer to haul your mattress to CA vs just buying a replacement here.

You could also mail yourself the lighter/bulky items, such as clothing, that you simply can't part with.
posted by jamaro at 9:35 AM on November 7, 2007

This is a lesson I learned from low-budget filmmakers. They don't rent their equipment, they buy it, use it, then sell it.

If you have enough liquid cash around, the cheapest way would be to buy a vehicle that will serve your purposes and sell it once you land in California.
posted by nedpwolf at 9:36 AM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

What's your budget?

I've heard of people listing on craigslist or on college campuses (students) needing transportation back home (for the holidays or whatnot) and perhaps you could rope one of them to drive your car to Cali for you (you would pay for the gas). Then you could rent a van from Uhaul, or Penske and drive your stuff.

How much stuff do you have? Could you box and ship your stuff and sell your bed (buy a new one in Cali)? Then you don't need to worry about a cargo van and can drive your car yourself.

When we moved from NY to AZ, we went through Penske (I think) and had a gigantic moving truck and tow for a vehicle. It was around 3,500 - 4,500. At quick glance - it looks like you could get a small truck from them for around $1,600 (booking online gets you a discount)
posted by Sassyfras at 9:36 AM on November 7, 2007

Response by poster: I'd like to keep things under $1,500 if possible. The cheaper, the better, though.

I will not need to take too much stuff, but I would really like to try and move my bed--not the mattress but the frame. That's the part that would require a van.
posted by dead_ at 9:42 AM on November 7, 2007

I agree with jamaro.

I moved to CA from NY two years ago and I sold or gave away pretty much everything I owned before the move.

Then I took what I had left (which amounted to not very much at all, just everything I could not part with), shoved it into my Honda Civic, and drove out west.

I did have a significant amount of books left over, which would not fit into my car. My parents were kind enough to ship them to me, media mail rate, over the course of several months afterwards.

Do yourself a favor and part with as many belongings as you can. Remember that "things" are replaceable.
posted by bacall423 at 9:50 AM on November 7, 2007

Ok, so the main issue is the bed frame and that's worth $1,500 to you. I'd seriously look into having the bed frame professionally packaged and shipped. It most likely will not cost you $1,500 to have it shipped. Box and ship the rest.
posted by Sassyfras at 10:14 AM on November 7, 2007

Check your phone book and call the local national movers - you'd be surprised how inexpensive using a mover is compared to renting a van and hauling a car cross country. 6 yrs ago we moved from TX to CT with a Ryder truck and pulled my car behind. Earlier this year when we moved back it was actually cheaper to have movers do it (not to mention the pain in the ass/headache it is to haul all that stuff yourself).

You don’t have a lot of stuff but if a mover has a truck going out your way and they have a little bit of space left they would rather use the space than waste it.

Oh yeah – we also though we would only need a small van too but once we got things packed there is no way it would have fit. If you do go the mover route make sure you get 3-4 in-house estimates to get a good idea how much stuff you have.
posted by doorsfan at 11:39 AM on November 7, 2007

If you budget is around 1.5k, go with packaging and shipping the bed. UPS has freight and LTL services, I know they ship (or used to ship) a lot of heavy furniture for pottery barn. For the other stuff, pack your car and drive or estimate the number of pallets required and get a freight quote for that as well. Alternatively, you can go with PODS, U-pack or similar service. Though I hear they are expensive.
posted by necessitas at 12:17 PM on November 7, 2007

Seconding nedpwolf.

A friend recently moved from Chicago to Montana. They bought a trailer, loaded it up and moved a condo's-worth of stuff, and then sold the trailer in Montana after they arrived.

Don't know if your Honda is up to towing a trailer with your stuff in it, but "buy it, use it, sell it" definitely worked for them. They sold it for close to what they bought it for new - definitely cost much less than renting a truck or a professional move.
posted by johnvaljohn at 2:41 PM on November 7, 2007

Think about shipping the car, and renting an SUV or mini-van from a regular rental place to drive some stuff in. It only cost us $600 to have a car shipped from the east coast to Los Angeles with DAS - half the IRS mileage rate, and not much more than the gas alone would have cost to drive it.
posted by crabintheocean at 4:09 PM on November 7, 2007

I don't know much in the way of details, but I know a guy who just moved from California to Chicago, and shipped his belongings by Amtrak. He seemed pretty pleased by the experience. Might be worth looking into.
posted by kickingtheground at 7:27 PM on November 7, 2007

I'm going to vote for Penske as well. They give you unlimited miles, and their towing mechanism seems reasonable in cost as well. Not knowing specifically where you are, or where you're going, I can't tell you how much it would be for sure. You should go to their website and get a quote. It looks like it might be in your price range.
posted by Mookbear at 9:53 AM on November 8, 2007

Avoid U-Haul at all costs. Sorry to be all ranty in here but I've got to on this. When you "reserve" a truck with them, it means absolutely nothing. There might be a truck for you, and there might not. And they could care less.

More importantly, a big % of their fleet isn't up to safety standards. We're talking important things like brakes, brake lights, etc.

We had good luck with a Penske truck from an indie rental shop and having a car hauled.
posted by altcountryman at 10:43 AM on November 8, 2007

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