Moving: the tally revealed

I’ve been planning to write more, but there is lot involved in settling into a new place. I don’t normally consider myself a clean freak, but when I move into a new apartment or house I like it to meet fairly exacting standards of cleanliness. So in addition to unpacking boxes and figuring out where to stash my stuff in this little house, I’ve also been fitting in bouts of extreme cleaning.

Digression — Let me tell you, while jetted tubs may sound fantastic, they bring a whole new level of grossness to light. The last video in this article shows what I was cleaning out of this tub myself while wearing my thickest rubber gloves! It was so gunky I had to remove the jets, soak them in bleach water, and scrub them with a small brush to get them completely clean. Luckily there was a very nice Home Depot worker who knew how to fabricate the tool I could use to remove the jets, too, or I would have been SOL! The next big cleaning job will be tackling the oven. — Digression over!

Everyone knows that moving is expensive. With a long distance move the costs really go up, too. Thanks to Mint it was fairly easy to tally up the expenses, at least. Now, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty details.

My total tally for direct moving costs was $4,318.27. By direct costs, I mean that the following items were included in the total: moving supplies (boxes, packing paper, wrap, etc.), shipping container, and movers.

I could have economized on each of these by locating used boxes — either from someone on Craigslist or retail establishments — not using movers, and going with the cheapest shipping container. I actually did get some boxes from my niece who works in retail clothing and I used a few boxes I had saved from shipments, but I purchased most of the boxes I used from UHaul. I also could have skipped the movers, but my energy had been stretched to the limit by packing, shifting my possessions around the house, illness, and stress. In my above tally, also included the amount of money I paid in tips to the movers.

Finally, the shipping container I chose was not the cheapest available. My reasons for going with the slightly more expensive company were scheduling availability and customer service. I used 1-800-PackRat, but I also checked out PODS and Door to Door. The friend whom I had helped move to south Bay area a few years ago highly recommended Door to Door, but they didn’t serve my move area. I also looked at UHaul because they offer moving/storage containers, too, but their product is designed for people who will be towing the container themselves; there was no way I’d even consider driving a trailer or truck over 2,000 miles myself even if I was assured I could do it with my little Prius!

PODs quoted me a cheaper price than 1-800-PackRat, but they couldn’t commit to a delivery window time until the night before. This didn’t work for me because I needed to schedule the movers for the same day the shipping container arrived. 1-800-PackRat did lower their initial cost estimate once I told them how much PODS had quoted me, but what really drove up the cost of the shipping container was that I was limited to only two shipping container sizes since I was making a long distance move. This was true for both PODS and 1-800-PackRat. I could only choose between an 8-foot container or a 16-foot container, as the 12-foot containers were only available for regional or local moving and storage.*

I tried very hard to downsize my possessions to fit into an 8-foot container, but I just couldn’t get rid of enough stuff that I could be assured it would definitely, positively fit. If I had some wiggle room in my container packing and pick up schedule, I may have given it a try, but I absolutely needed to get that shipping container delivered and packed on a Saturday and picked up the following Monday morning. Having only one day to get rid of anything that didn’t fit in the moving container was cutting it too close for me.

Of course there are other costs involved in moving across the country: hotels, fuel, and food. Again, there are ways to economize in each of these categories. If one has enough stamina and/or craziness, it’s possible to drive straight through without stopping at hotels, or only stopping at rest areas to sleep in the car. Maybe if I was 20 years younger I would have attempted such ridiculousness. Sister and I managed to spend only three nights in hotels during our drive out here, at a cost of $213.47. (It’s interesting to see my progression of “comfort level” adjustments in just those three nights, too. Night One was spent in a Motel 6, Night Two in a Red Roof Inn, and Night Three in a La Quinta Inn. Even though we were simply sleeping and bathing in the room, I decided after only one night that I needed a bit more “comfort” than Motel 6 provided, like slightly larger and thicker bath towels, and slightly thicker walls, too.)

To be perfectly fair, I need to add in the costs of the Airbnb lodgings I stayed in for a few nights while I was between places in Chicago. While my friend A had been extremely generous and kind by offering to let me stay at her house with my dog for the two weeks prior to Thanksgiving, I had to be out of my house by Sunday, November 9th and couldn’t move into her guest room until November 12th. So I boarded the dog with the dog-walker (I’m not including that cost in my tally) and booked myself into an Airbnb lodging not too far from my old home for four nights. That cost $314.00 and brings the total lodgings bill to $527.47.

Fuel totalled $179.74. I was very lucky that gasoline prices were dropping as I drove westward. Between the lowering fuel costs and my hybrid car’s fuel efficiency, those costs seem pretty small to me.

I’m not bothering to tally up food costs for the journey for a few reasons. We packed a cooler and ate our breakfasts and lunches from it. We did this not just to economize, but because sister and I both try to eat healthy food and that is very hard to find along the interstate expressways. We purchased bottled water, the occasional piece of fruit, and some groceries at one point. We also ate dinners out each of those three nights, but I’m not bothering to add any of that in here. Sister treated me to dinner most of those nights, and we didn’t truly spend any more money on food than we would have at home.

So, the grand total for all of the above (moving supplies, movers, shipping container, lodgings, and fuel) came to $5,025.48. (Note that I was only moving myself and my dog; moving more people may up the tally due to increased costs for packing supplies, lodgings, fuel, mover time, and possibly another shipping container. Families that move a lot — like military families — must surely get some sort of moving allowance or they must be perpetually saving for the next move!)

This was pretty much consistent with what I had budgeted in my head for moving costs. But there’s more to a relocation than just moving stuff from Point A to Point B. There are also costs associated with furnishing and setting up a new household. I think I’ll save that for another post, though.

*As it turned out, it was lucky to err on the cautious side and go for the 16-foot container. There were a few pieces of furniture that didn’t sell in the estate sale and so I chose to bring with me since I had the flexibility with a larger container. And it’s actually worked out pretty well for me to have those pieces of furniture at the new house, too. The couch and loveseat fit in the little living room, the small china hutch my grandmother gave me works for holding office and hobby supplies in the second bedroom/guest room, and the small chest of drawers fit in my bedroom closet and is storing my t-shirts, socks, and underthings. This has decreased the amount of money I need to spend on furnishings at the new house. Despite the additions of these furniture items, though, I could have comfortably fit all of my stuff in a 12-foot container if it had been available.