Best/cheapest way of moving belongings cross country?

We are moving from the Bay Area to a very rural part of NY State. We have checked out a couple of those pod services, and even with getting rid of most of what we have, estimates are around 3 grand. U-Haul isn’t any cheaper. Any ideas, dopers? Thanks.

I did this a couple of years ago (Massachusetts to Nevada), and unfortunately I don’t have any recommendations. Three grand was as low a price as I could find and still be comfortable that the stuff was actually going to arrive.

WE used ABF a few years ago - 2-1/2 trailers. No, it’s not cheap, but packing yourself and letting someone else transport is probably the cheapest way to move a household a long ways.

Went cross country twice in the late 80s. If you can do it for 3 grand now then you’re getting a good deal. Don’t get rid of too much though, there’s a base cost you can’t get around. Try to pack everything you can into those pods or whatever trucks you end up with. If you can, make a plan to get rid of anything that won’t fit after the rest is packed. Later, moving here to RI from NY wasn’t that far, but I packed up a lot of crap just so I wouldn’t add to the price by needing to buy new stuff right away.

Good luck with your move. And remember that it’s stressful for everyone who does it. You’ll survive.

If you’re moving for a job you can take the moving costs as a federal tax deduction if they exceed your standard deduction.

Have a big yard sale, get rid of everything big and bulky. Buy a used van, pack it full, sell the van when you get to your destination. Buy what you need for your new house.

May not be best for you, I dont know you or your living style or your tastes. But it’s an alternative.

Something worth thinking about is how much you’re paying to move on a per-pound basis.

Let’s say you’re moving 6000 lbs for $3000. You’re spending 50 cents a pound. That’s probably an unrealistically low price, but I’ll run with it.

For any item you own that you can buy at a garage sale for less than 50 cents/pound, you’re better off throwing it away in the Bay Area and buying a fresh one from a garage sale in NY.

If you can garage sale or Craig’s List your own items first , the economics get even better.

The key thing is to notice that your, e.g. 4 year old can opener that you bought new is no better than some other person’s 4 year old can opener that they bought new and are now garage-saling. You’re used to yours and think of it as new, versus the other one that you think of as unfamiliar and used and yucky. But that’s silly; they’re both identical used can openers.
Also, most people own vastly more stuff than they truly need. So the choice for those unneeded items becomes to get rid of them now, or to invest 50 cents/lb in making them even more expensive, then either store them uselessly or get rid of them at the other end. It’s pretty obvious which is the smartest move.

Get a quote at:

Shipping by rail is pretty cheap but also kind of a pain in the ass and you do get a very good timetable for delivery. You might want to explore it for some bulkier items that you wont need right away.

This is totally true, but account for the value of your time, too. Can openers are pretty compact. How many garage sales will you have to go to to find all the little things that you didn’t need.

Large furniture is the stuff that’s probably not worth moving unless it’s actually old and valuable, or has real sentimental value.

Also all true. Depending on the rest of the OP’s situation, money may be much more scarce than time. Or it may not.

Different shipping methods charge differently. Some by the cubic foot, others by the pound. Certainly for a pay-the-movers kind of move they charge a bunch to pack, plus packing materials. So while a couch is bulky, 4 heavy dishpacks of kitchen crap you no longer use since the kids moved out could easily cost more to move.

OTOH, for a U-Haul or POD you’re probably more worried about cubing out than weighing out. Jettisoning a generic couch and easy chair may be the difference between needing the 20 foot truck or the 25 foot truck.

All good things for the OP to think about. As you say.

Thanks all. Lots to think about here. Want to get rid of most of the stuff, but bikes, pots and pans, clothes, linens, maybe the couch (new and expensive). Buying a bed will cost a grand or close to it. How to figure this out? Feh.

In general, there’s a difference between moving as a younger single or even a younger couple without kids, and moving later in life when you do have a lot of nominally low-value things you don’t want to jettison. Stuffing a backpack and walking away works fine at 25. Not so well at 50.

You’ll want to check your renter’s/homeowner’s insurance to see if any damages will be covered (that may depend on who does the actual moving), especially if you like your new couch. Moving companies sometimes cover damages at a certain price per pound.

We used Door to Door when we moved from Baltimore to San Diego eight years ago.

I just looked up our contract on my computer, and four of their containers moved across country was just over $3600. We also stored them for about a month, which added extra cost, but i’m not sure how much that was. They were a great company to work with, and none of our stuff arrived broken, wet, or in any disrepair.

As you get older, you also become less inclined to carry heavy things yourself. When we arrived in San Diego, we paid some day laborers to cart our stuff from the containers into our new place.