I thought it might be useful (for myself and others) to document the cross-country moving process with tips of what worked and didn't work for me. Moving cross-country is a huge endeavor, and my move happened over nine months (with an eight month gap of travel in the middle).
First step: packing up all my things. Back in August, I packed up everything in my apartment, all my worldly possessions, into lots and lots of boxes of varying sizes. I used my car and a U-Haul to transport my boxes and things to various friends' homes for safekeeping while I was traveling and figuring out my next steps.
- What worked: using Craigslist to get moving boxes was a great resource. I had probably close to 100 boxes for my move, and there was no way I was going to be able to collect that many boxes randomly, and I certainly didn't want to pay for that many boxes. People are getting rid of moving boxes for free on CL all the time!
- What wasn't so great: although saving money on a storage unit was great, having to collect up all my things from five friends' homes was quite tedious at the end. God bless all those friends who stored all my stuff, but I don't know if I would do it that way in the future… It's a toss up– saving money versus convenience… When moving, sometimes convenience wins.
Second step: determining how to move all my stuff cross-country. Once I had made the decision to move to the Bay Area, I had to start figuring out how I was going to get my things across the U.S. I did some research (note: I'm not a super-researcher as some of my friends are. I get frustrated and tired after looking at a few sites, so I try to be a smart and efficient researcher. That doesn't always result in the best decisions, especially when purchasing things, but it's good enough for me.) and determined that the most expensive route was to hire a moving company to pick up all my things, drive my stuff across the country, and then drop it off at my new place. The cheapest would be to do it all myself– pack up things into a truck, drive cross country, unload everything,.
I knew I didn't want to do the cheapest thing because I wanted to maintain my sanity. And I was willing to pay a little extra for convenience. So the middle option was to get a storage container (I used Door to Door, which was great!), load everything myself, and then hire someone to unload everything once I got out to the Bay.
- What worked: I researched a couple companies who do storage containers, and Door to Door had the best rates and best customer service. Again, I didn't do an exhaustive search, but I did a comparison between Door to Door and PODS, PackRat, UPack, and United Mayflower, and I liked Door to Door best.
- What wasn't so great: it was still kind of pricey– about $3200 for the whole deal which included the drop off of the container at my friend's house, the pick up a few days later, and shipping it across country to a storage facility in Hayward, CA. But so worth it!!
Third step: filling the storage container. I spent a few days retrieving all my things from people's homes during an April visit to Boston. This involved borrowing friend's cars, renting a U-Haul, and relying on the warm-heartedness of friends to get this all to happen in a timely fashion. THANK YOU, friends!!! You know who you are! I got two storage containers, filled them not quite to the brim, and they got picked up. No fuss, no muss.
Fourth step: getting my things into my new place. Mind you, a lot needs to happen for this step to really happen– finding a roommate, finding a place, and getting to the new location. I hired a moving company to pick up my things from the Door to Door storage facility in Hayward, and they brought it all and unloaded it in my new apartment in Berkeley; this was three days after I arrived in Berkeley. Once again, I didn't do a ton of research on moving companies, but looked at five companies that I found through Yelp! and Craigslist (Commander Moving, Rogue Moving and Storage, SF Bay Area Movers, Safe Movers, and Two Men and a Truck) and decided on Commander Moving because of good reviews, good customer service, a coupon on Yelp!, and a good price ($300 for three movers and three hours of work).
- What worked: That was the best $300 I've ever spent! The movers were efficient, speedy, and polite. I'm never doing my own loading and unloading of boxes ever again if I can help it!!
- What wasn't so great: nothing. It was PERFECT. What I needed at a decent cost.
Step five: unpacking and settling in. This is the part of any move that I don't mind so much. I like setting things up to be cozy and comfortable. I had a ton of stuff, and it all fit; I was glad I kept my big heavy furniture (a nice dining table, a nice bookcase, my flat screen TV), and other random things (my artificial Christmas tree, my digital piano, a desk organizer which became our TV stand).
- What worked: Once again, Craigslist was a great resource for a sofa, living room rug, and microwave. Cheap and in decent shape. Also, my friend was able to find an apartment where my bedroom has a walk-in closet which is a life-saver for all my stuff.
- What wasn't so great: I have a lot of stuff. Way more than my roommate. So I feel like my stuff has totally engulfed hers. She's a good and accepting friend and roommate. Thanks, C!
My move boiled down to five main steps. I think it worked out as well as I could have wished. And all was aided by the fact that I didn't have to do the apartment hunting, too. My friend did that because she lives in Berkeley, and I was in Boston and Arizona during that time. Big props to her!!