From DC to Dallas.
May 27, 2008 8:20 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I are moving across the country, from DC to the metro Dallas area. I've never moved cross-country on this scale, so what tips/advice/warnings can you give me about this sort of move?

The Background: My girlfriend and I are moving to the Dallas are so that I can begin graduate school in Denton, TX. She'll be working in downtown Dallas, so we'll be trying to live some place that splits the distance.

The Equipment: We've got 1br worth of stuff, with our largest item being a leather sofa that she got cheap and isn't too keen to part with. I have a pick-up truck that we'll use for the drive, and we can get some, but not all, of the small stuff in there.

The Question: How do we do this? I've read past questions on cross country moving to get an idea, but I'm still a bit overwhelmed. Should I get a pod, a portion of a truck, or just get a Penske truck and drive it to Dallas?

The Bonus Question: Any suggestions on where to live in Dallas? I'm a Texas boy originally, but from the Rio Grade Valley, not the big city. We were looking in Carrolton, Flour Mound, or Lewisville. We're generally looking for nice apartments (generally, 1br+study/extra room) and are willing to spend basically up to $1200 to get something.

Et cetra: Beyond any of this, any general cross country moving/driving/packing tips are more than welcomed. I'm in the dark, generally, so I throw myself to the mercy of the Hivemind.
posted by SNWidget to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The couple times my fiance and I did this, we had so little stuff that it fit in a UHaul. I'm just commenting to say that when we looked into pods, they were really expensive. I'm talking like thousands of dollars to move the little furniture we had. This was three or four years ago, though, so I don't know if they've come down in price. Basically, though, you can settle that option easily by getting a quote from them.
posted by Nattie at 8:49 AM on May 27, 2008

I suppose it depends on your budget and your tolerance for driving a truck. My boyfriend and I did the rent-a-truck deal about 8 years ago with a U-Haul and towed our car behind it. It wasn't too bad. The hardest part was dealing with the towed car, making sure to park in parking lots where we wouldn't have to back up, etc. We both drove the truck and it was not hard to drive. U-Haul also gave a month of storage for free at the time, so we were able to dump our stuff in a storage locker, then we went back and picked up our stuff a carload at a time once we'd found an apartment.
posted by cabingirl at 8:53 AM on May 27, 2008

Best answer: I live in a tiny swath of Dallas that pokes up into Denton county - Carrollton to the west, Plano to the east, Addison south, basically where the tollway and turnpike meet - and that's a fairly good place to split the difference, and if you're from DC then her commute's probably not going to be a shock, but it's not the shortest haul to downtown from there. It depends on which side of downtown, too. Flower Mound will be a pain to get downtown at all because it kind of sticks you with 35 - too hard to get to the tollway. Go much further south, though, and you'll have the major headache trying to get out of Dallas and then over the damn lake and then past that one exit in Corinth that always seems to have a backup and then into Denton.

I would recommend my neighborhood (call it Kelly and Frankford), though I think the apartments are kind of mediocre (Kelly Crossing, I think, looks to be a little newer and nicer, but the other four corners are shabbier). Carrollton gets newer as you go north and there's all kinds of newish complexes near Hebron parkway, but I don't know the price ranges or whether you want an apartment or a Luxury Lifestyle Community Apartment Home(tm). I'm fairly sure you could rent a smaller 3br house in my neighborhood or just south of the turnpike for $1200 right now, and should have your pick of 2br apartments just about anywhere for less than that. Addison leans (or perhaps strains) to hip (sub)urban DINKness and might run a little higher, but is also seems like kind of a fun place to live for a year or two if you're not broke.

Email's in my profile - please feel free to hit me up for more neighborhood info. My job takes me in all different directions, and my househunting last year was in the areas you're looking, so I drive or have driven past everything.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:53 AM on May 27, 2008

Best answer: Best: sell anything that won't fit into the back of the pickup. Build side-rails if you want to stack things high; use plastic tubs to keep things from getting wet. Almost certainly, unless your furniture are valuable antiques, you will spend more to bring stuff than it will cost to buy similar low-end or used stuff when you arrive. This is the cheapest, easiest, and safest option, and you will thank yourself repeatedly if you take this route. Tie the couch on top and make your girlfriend happy.

Second best: rent or buy a trailer, and use the pickup as the locomotive of your own little train. Compare the cost of renting an enclosed trailer at UHaul with the cost of buying an open utility trailer from Harbor Freight, Tractor Supply or a similar company (or buy a cheap used one) -- especially when you add in resale value, buying a trailer can be shockingly cheaper than renting one. Tow safe (not too heavy, get the front/back balance correct in the trailer, check tire pressures, don't drive too fast) but it's not rocket science -- you'll figure it out on the drive.

Third best: rent a truck and tow your pickup behind, or one of you drives the truck and the other the little truck. This is more cost, more hassle, and more trouble than the amount of stuff you say you have sounds like it is worth, but this way you won't have to do any tough sorting now. UHaul usually has the worst maintained equipment, so shop around with some care.
posted by Forktine at 8:58 AM on May 27, 2008

The times I've moved that far, I used ABF, once with part of a trailer and once with cubes. It worked out cheaper than renting a truck and paying for gas, and it meant that we didn't have to drive slow.

All else equal, a commute that doesn't involve taking 35 over Lake Lewisville should get a plus. When there's a wreck on the bridge, it often shuts down one direction of traffic completely for a good hour or more and then the huge backup has to clear.

You might think about living in Dallas proper or Denton so that only one of you has a significant commute. The upside of Dallas is that your commute would be against traffic, so long as you don't need 635. The upside of Denton is that you can get a ginormous 2-bedroom in a nice-enough complex for ~$850, and that it's pretty trivial to find a place where you can bike or walk to campus.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:25 AM on May 27, 2008

Best answer: Lewisville. I'm right between downtown Dallas and Denton, and I love it here. Look at any of the numerous apartments off of FM 3040/Round Grove Rd - there's a shit ton of apts there. Plus, EVERYTHING is off of Round Grove - Applebee's, red lobster, the mall, Walmart, Target, a golf course, fast food eateries, the works.

Flower Mound is too far for you, I think, and the price is too high for what it is. Carrollton is about the same as Lewisville. I currently live around Vista Ridge Mall and pay $685 for a large one bedroom - originally $720 with a prorated discount which makes it $660, $15 carport rental and $10 pet rent. My previous 2 bedroom was originally $1100 and with a prorate, I got it for only $850. And we're talking NICE apartments, so you'll do just fine.

Mefi mail me if you need any help in this area - I've lived here the last 5-6 years after moving from Fort Worth.
posted by damnjezebel at 9:42 AM on May 27, 2008

*bookmarks thread for future meetups*

Once you get settled in, we (all of us in DFW) need to get together! Sorry, no new advice from me that hasn't already been offered, and I'm in Fort Worth so I can't comment on neighborhoods and stuff. Your dollars will go further here, I think, and UNT (is that where she is going) is a prettty good school; Mrs. Doohickie got her bachelors there.
posted by Doohickie at 10:15 AM on May 27, 2008

Oh wait... you're the graduate student.... sorry 'bout that.
posted by Doohickie at 10:16 AM on May 27, 2008

I live just north of Dallas - so feel free to email with additional questions but we also did the cross country move - CT to TX.

We did the move ourselves the first time - BIG MISTAKE. Planning the move back we found it was actually cheaper to use movers and drive the car down. Tons less stressful especially when you get to your destination and you do not have to unload a truck.
With the movers we packed (no limit on weight - just fill up so it doesn't break) ourselves and they loaded and unloaded the truck - even up stairs as our first place was a townhome.

$1200 should get you a nice safe place - try calling local Denton realtors, I've mentioned this before but when we moved back we got a realtor to help find our apt (commission free) and we ended up buying a house from him 3 months later so it was win-win.

I am pretty sure I drove 95 - 85 - 20 and it worked out well. There were shorter routes but this seemed to be the straightest shot sticking to populated roads (after Georgia not much you can do though).

Good luck with the move and safe travels!

Oh Yeah - SAVE ALL YOUR RECEIPTS and plan to have a tax pro do your 08 taxes.
posted by doorsfan at 10:42 AM on May 27, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the good advice, everyone!

I'll send this link to my non-Mefite sweetie, and we'll figure out what we're going to do.

Please keep contributing if you have any other advice - I'd love to hear more about the Dallas area, but perhaps that's for an AskMefi question yet to be.
posted by SNWidget at 11:00 AM on May 27, 2008

Best answer: I think what you've already marked as best answers is good. The Lewsiville area should suit you well.

As damn jezebel and Lyn Never said, Flowermound will most likely be too expensive and a bear of a commute to anywhere but Flowermound.

FWIW, I live in Grapevine (going on 4 years), which is *just* south of the Flowermound/Lewisville area, and I absolutely love it.

When the ex and I were still together, she commuted from here to Denton (UNT) and it was approximately a 30-40 minute commute, so being a bit further north should alleviate that some.

I second the Round Grove/3040 area - there's a ton of goodies along that way; I have and still do frequent that area quite a bit. Be sure to come out to the Grapevine/Southlake/Coppell area.

I'm going to tell you right now that if you are at all a BBQ fan, do not miss Hard Eight BBQ. I've lived in Texas all my life, and have eaten at a lot of BBQ places, and Hard Eight puts them all to shame.

I'm always up for helping out someone new to the area, so feel free to hit me up (email's in the profile) and let me know if you need any other advice, places to eat, go, see, etc.

Good luck!
posted by mrhaydel at 11:53 AM on May 27, 2008

Familiarize yourself with the forums and guides at They were a great resource in my cross-country move.
posted by dendrite at 12:28 PM on May 27, 2008

Moving Advice: I can't recommend ABF's UPack service enough. They drop a half-sized truck at your current place, you pack it up and install a bulkhead, then they drive it to your new place and you unload it. You pay by the linear foot. We used 7 linear feet and paid ~$1300. They are price competitively with truck rental and are prompt and professional.

NEVER use UHaul. The disparity between what you order and what you get and their abysmal customer service only spells headaches for you.

Trip Advice: Think of the trip as a mini-vacation. Plan some stops along the way. Enjoy the drive itself. UPack allows you to schedule when you want the truck to arrive, so there's no pressure to be there at a specific time.

Good luck on the move.
posted by bryanzera at 1:16 PM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

If she's working downtown then she can take the DART. Do her sanity a favor and live somewhere on the light rail line.

As to the move, are you only taking the pickup or does she also have a car? Personally, I'm in the ditch everything and buy new when you get there camp.
posted by 26.2 at 10:20 PM on May 27, 2008

Response by poster: 26.2 - The only problem with living on the DART line is that it's at the opposite side of the city which would work for my commute to Denton. There's (apparently) a bus line that runs from the burbs in Carrollton to downtown that some people have been telling her about, so she might try that.

As for moving - we're going to buy her a used car in Dallas when we get there. No use buying one here, then driving it all the way.
posted by SNWidget at 6:23 AM on May 28, 2008

Not to beat a dead, unsafe truck, but definitely rent from someone other than U-Haul. Our U-haul issue was no truck when they promised us one (they have their own definition of the term "reservation"), but, even worse, there are some serious horror stories of dangerously badly maintained vehicles.
posted by altcountryman at 8:58 AM on May 28, 2008

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