If you have ever moved (and chances are that you have!), you’ve known the struggles and complications that can be involved in getting your stuff from Point A to Point B. Moving in-town can be difficult in and of itself, but moving across the state, to a different state or across the country can be an even bigger undertaking.
While I’ve been in Hoboken for well over a year now, the year I spent before moving here was spent in three different locations. In one calendar year, I moved three times. And these weren’t local moves. They were big, honkin’ cross-country moves.
If you’ve ever moved cross-country, you know how expensive things can become. Coming right out of grad school (and grad school wages), I was highly motivated to find the cheapest option available to me and this meant coming up with some creative ways to get my things from here to there. For each of my moves, I decided that a moving truck wasn’t for me, so I set out on a question to find formidable alternatives to renting a moving truck. After a lot of brainstorming and Internet searching, I found the following to be decent, potentially lower cost options (depending on your situation).
Shipping via Amtrak
If you’re looking to ship your items and there is someone to pick them up at Point B, Amtrak Express Shipping may be an option for you. You can ship between over 100 cities and the rates are fairly reasonable. You can ship up to 50 lbs in each bag. There are some requirements around what you can and can’t ship, but it’s flexible for the most part. I found this option good for some kitchen utensils that I wasn’t using and other various items that I knew I wouldn’t be using immediately.
Check Bags When Flying
If you are picking up and moving via airplane, you may want to consider checking the items you bring with you. If you go this route, pick an airline that allows you to check one or more free bags. For example, Southwest lets you check two free bags, plus you can pay $75 to check additional bags. JetBlue’s first checked bag is free, with the second at $40 and the third and above at $75 each. Depending on your budget and the amount of things you want to bring with you, you can combine this option with other cheaper and slower shipping methods like Amtrak, UPS or FedEx.
Shipping via UPS, USPS or FedEx
If you have light, bulky things to move and want to maximize the space in your car, UPS, FedEx or USPS are good options. I knew that I wanted to keep some of my pillows, blankets and even a dressform, but knew that they took up a lot of precious space in my car. Hello, FedEx! If you have books, you can ship them at a reduced book rate with USPS. You can even ship some pieces of furniture through UPS and FedEx. When I moved, I only wanted to move one piece of furniture and, unfortunately, that one piece of furniture did not fit in my car no matter how much I tried. To solve this issue, I shipped it via UPS. You may need to take measurements and comparison shop when trying to ship furniture, but I found this to be the most cost-effective option for me.
Renting a UBox or POD
There may be various reasons that you are looking for alternatives to renting a moving truck: you’re going alone and need to bring your car, you don’t want to drive a moving truck, you don’t have enough to fill a truck and can’t tow anything. Whatever your reason, a UBox from UHaul or PODS are good options if you have more stuff than can fit in a car or be feasibly shipped. When I moved from North Carolina to Missouri, I went the UBox route. The great thing about this option is that the unit doubles as a storage space, so if you are moving and need to keep your stuff in storage for a month or two you don’t have to move it in and out of a separate storage space before you get to your new home.
Shipping via UShip
UShip.com is an online marketplace aimed at helping you find ways to ship your items from Point A to Point B. I didn’t end up using uShip when I moved, but highly considered it. If you want to ship an item, you post it on uShip and shippers will bid on your item. You can estimate the cost of the shipping and review feedback of the potential shippers and choose the best option for you.
Bonus: Getting Rid of Things
Technically, getting rid of things isn’t getting your things from Point A to the correct Point B. However, you may find that it’s a formidable option, depending on your circumstances. When I made my first big move, I decided to keep most of my things. There were some odds and ends that I left behind with my roommate or that I sold, but for the most part it all came with me. The second time around, I was determined to keep the move cheap and downsize in general. While I do wish I kept my blender, I really don’t miss most of the things that I eventually sold or donated. Now I have more room in my life for other things!