I shared the background of our decision to move to KY in my last post. Here, I am going to break down the details of our moving decisions, mostly focused on the financials. My next post will be how we made housing decisions.
I was spoiled. Every single move I did between college and this past year was orchestrated and paid for by the government. NY to PA; PA to DC; DC to Richmond, VA. I didn’t touch a thing. Movers came and packed up all my things for one day. Then they came the next day and loaded a truck. Then they delivered my goods and put the boxes and furniture in the right rooms.
On our way to Richmond, VA, we decided to build our house, so we needed temporary housing. That also meant that we needed storage. The movers packed up our things and brought them to storage until I called to schedule the delivery to our house. I asked for one step extra that time – unpack all the boxes and take away the boxes and packing material. I never thought it was necessary because I liked having things clean and organized in boxes that could be pushed to a corner. Well, having them lay everything out on a flat surface (they didn’t put things away in cabinets and such) made me have my entire house unpacked and put away in a weekend. Yup. S P O I L E D!
Fast forward back to our move to KY. I no longer work for the agency that paid for relocation; I wasn’t taking a new job that would have made me eligible anyway; and Mr. ODA’s agency doesn’t pay for relocation, nor was he taking a new position.
So where do I begin?
- We’re moving from one state to another, 500 miles.
- We need storage for an indefinite amount of time, but something like 7-8 weeks.
- How am I to pack up a house, while still needing things to live and managing an infant and toddler?
- What’s the financial threshold for this adventure? Am I looking at 10k or 30k? What’s the itemized cost of each step for me to determine if it’s worth the money? Can I parse out each step?
- How big of a storage unit do we need?
- How much do I need to pack for our ‘homeless’ time? Oh, and it’s covering summer (with beach time) and fall temperatures.
It cost us $5,500. We did a lot ourselves.
I started by trying to find a quote at all the “pod” type places. Several of them required me to make a phone call. You know what’s really not easy to do with an infant and toddler? That’s right, spending time on the phone. My absolute most favorite is when there’s an automated message that I need to verbally respond to, while kids are screaming (whether positively or negatively) in the background, and the robot just keeps saying “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Let’s try again.” Eh, digressing like usual…
I went with UHaul. Their website wasn’t able to create my order, so I had to call. It kept claiming my goods would be stored only for the 500 mile trek, and kept trying to pick a delivery date one week after pick up. But once I called them, they were able to get it all squared away.
UHaul’s boxes are smaller, about half the size of the big ‘pod’ type things you’re used to seeing in driveways. We liked that if we ordered 8 boxes, based on their recommendation for our house size, but didn’t use all of them, they wouldn’t charge us for the unused boxes. Unfortunately for that plan, we ended up needing a 9th box. They were super accommodating; since their truck carries 5 boxes at a time and our order required two trips anyway, they just loaded the extra box on the second truck without charging us for the drop.
I had called the ‘all inclusive’ type movers before making this decision. Their quotes were anywhere from 12k to 35k. Well, once we heard that we were looking at about $4k for UHaul, it wasn’t worth the luxury option. The $4k included the boxes being dropped off and pickup in VA, shipping to KY, and storage for 2 months in KY. It didn’t include delivery from storage to our house in KY, but more on that shortly.
Mr. ODA had faith that I could pack up the house while raising children. 🙂 I did it! Also, with the help of many neighbors, I didn’t pay for a single box. One neighbor works for CVS and was able to bring home their boxes from deliveries, and several others dropped their Amazon or old moving boxes off for me. We purchased packing paper, bubble wrap (I actually liked the packing paper better), and packaging tape from Walmart.
Closing was the 18th, so I hired movers for the 16th. There were several questionable reviews about movers not showing, and I wanted the buffer to pivot if that came to fruition for us. It was $415 for 2 movers for 4 hours. They ended up coming with a trainee, so they had more help, but didn’t get everything packed. Our house was 2,850 square feet across two floors, with 4 bedrooms. The part that wasn’t factored in well was all the storage that was kept in our walk-in attic and all the things in the garage. They were able to get the house emptied, but didn’t do most of the garage. We had a friend come help with the odds and ends, but it was worth it to pay for the movers. They could get things out of the house a lot faster than if we had done it ourselves. Our movers weren’t great about not hitting the walls and being nice to our furniture (I walked in to one guy trying to move part of our sectional down the stairs by himself, and just let it slide down the first set of stairs – beautiful). Perhaps if we paid a bit more, we could have gotten a better team, but nothing broke and the worst was just paint scuffs.
UHaul came and picked up 5 of the finished boxes on the 16th, so that was nice to have them off the street in under 24 hours.
The plan was to deep clean the house on the 17th and close on the 18th. I hung out with friends on a nice day and didn’t get nearly enough done. We had to figure out where to sleep for that last night without most of our things, so we kept the kids’ cribs and an air mattress available. So on the morning of the 18th, we threw the rest of our things in the last UHaul box right before the lady came to pick up the last of the boxes around 8 am. I was so worried about boxes being there on closing day, but it worked out well that the truck driver said she could come first thing that morning to clear the rest of the boxes.
Then it was time to gather the things we deemed necessary (or unpackable in storage) for our two months before our new home was ready. We packed up the van with all these things, which took significantly longer than I expected it to. We had to be out of the house for the final walk through by 11 am, and by some miracle, our 5 month old daughter slept until we had to wake her up to take down her crib at 10:50! We were literally throwing things in the van while the buyers waited for us to get out of their way. I was disappointed in myself.
UHaul would store our things near the pick up or drop off location. I chose the drop off location for storage because we didn’t have a definitive date for closing on the new house. I wanted to be able to give a few days notice for taking our things out of storage versus waiting two weeks from notice to get to us, and having the possibility of delays (which were quite common during the pandemic).
There was a hiccup on the back end of this transaction though. We paid about $200 for the ‘box drop and pick up’ at our packing location. We couldn’t figure out why we only had a $1300 option on the unpacking end. When we arrived in Kentucky, we went over to talk to someone about it and see if we had more options in person. It turns out that their reason for not having the $200 option is because they don’t have the flat bed truck! Crazy. They had trailers to rent, but most carried one box at a time. They had one trailer that could carry 2 at at time, but then we also needed to rent their truck that could tow that weight. We had a couple of weeks to figure out the logistics of moving day and how long it would take to have to make so many trips back and forth to UHaul, which was 25 minutes away.
We rented the truck and 2-box trailer, and we hired a guy who used to work for that UHaul location to be our box runner. We had him pick up two boxes and drive them to our house. We had a team of friends and family here to unload the boxes into the driveway (luckily it was a beautiful 60 degree November day). Then while the guy drove back for two more boxes, our friends here took things from the driveway/garage and brought them to the right rooms inside. The plan seemed perfect, but it turns out that the process of bringing things inside was about 1/10th of the time it took for that guy to go back and get two more boxes, so there was a lot of down time. But hey, none of our friends were upset about down time! We paid the box runner for 6 hours of his time and gave him a tip. We had some issues because he didn’t fill the gas tank when he brought it back, so we got charged for that (which we were pretty unhappy about after giving him a substantial tip), but UHaul took the charges off our card for that.
For dropping 9 boxes, moving the boxes 500+ miles, and storing them for 2 months, we paid $4,420. Then add in the $420 for the movers on the packing end and $500 for the driver on the unpacking end. That was significantly lower than our 10k expectation!