How to Move Your Life Across the Country

Despite eager efforts to grow up and embrace adulthood, I have come to the realization that the school year is the unit of time by which I, and all my friends, still live. This means looming May graduations bring the promise of more East Coast transplants!  As excited as I am to have more friends nearby, I do not envy their daunting task of moving one’s life across the continental United States.

Even after securing shelter, which is a feat alone, you have the issue of relocating all of your belongings some 3,000 miles away.  Each person has a different approach to this stressful process, but they tend to fall in one of three categories: 1- Drive your life cross-country yourself, 2- Pay someone else to move your life, or 3- Get rid of most of your crap and buy anew.  Here are the lessons learned from my friends, so hopefully if you are one embarking on such a journey you will have it easier than we did.

1. Drive your life cross-country yourself

This option is pretty self-explanatory and makes sense if you already own quality furniture or furniture that you do not wish to part from. This option also assumes a great deal of time and patience, given that you will be driving X-thousand miles across the country and often many moving truck rentals have a maximum number of miles you can drive per day with their vehicle.  Prices for popular rental companies like U-Haul, Penske and Budget are contingent on the size of truck and distance traveled. I found that from most Midwest locations the price range was $550-950. And for your own sake, convince a roommate or someone to accompany you for the long drive and Cracker Barrel dinners!

2. Pay Someone Else to Move Your Life

If you have some sweet corporate relocation package then by all means get someone like Allied or Two Men and a Truck to move everything for you, but at a pretty steep price ($2,000+).  For other, more frugal folk, cheapest way I have heard of doing this is through U-Pack. My friend Lauren essentially bought space (say 6 feet length-wise) in a moving truck and U-Pack assumed the responsibility of driving her stuff cross-country.  U-Pack offers the option to pack your furniture yourself (cheaper) or have someone do it for you (more expensive). Her move from St. Louis to NYC cost roughly $1,000 with the packing the truck yourself option.

3.  Get rid of most of your crap and buy anew.

This was the road I took and served me well.  For starters, you get two carry-on items and two checked bags with a plane ticket out East.  Break out a couple big honkin’ duffel bags and stuff all the clothes you can into two checked bags that weigh less than 50 pounds (possibly no fees for this anymore!). I would pack laptops and sensitive electronics in your carry-ons.  Then I packed four 2 feet x 2 feet boxes with towels, sheets, shoes, pictures, and any other knick-knacks I deemed important enough to take with me and took these boxes to FedEx to be shipped. I compared pricing between FedEx, UPS and USPS and FedEx was by far the cheapest carrier and also offered insurance for me to ship these four large boxes to NYC for $80 total!

Once in NYC, I went to the Brooklyn IKEA and bought a new life. I bought a dresser, night-stand, lamps, plates, desk, rugs, coffee table and sofa for roughly $550 and my roommates and I rented a U-Haul from IKEA and drove our new furniture back to our Manhattan apartment for $30. (If you want to make a great impression on your neighbors start assembling your IKEA furniture, hammering and all, at 2 a.m….) Next, and most importantly, I purchased a new bed from 1-800-Mattress for roughly $300 (it was on sale from $500 and I think a good mattress is a must!).  This option can easily be done for under $1,000 or less if you can get down with IKEA furniture or buying  from CraigsList– just be weary of mattress or couch purchases from that site for fear of bed bugs.

Any other tips from those that have taken this journey?


2 Responses to “How to Move Your Life Across the Country”

  1. I can’t get the no charge for baggage link to work

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