4 Tips for Moving Across the Country (Without a U-Haul)

After graduation, I had to move out of my Syracuse housing and across the country. Initially I moved back to Minnesota before I fly to Santa Fe, New Mexico in a few weeks. And with four years of accumulated stuff in my room, I knew I wouldn’t be able to ship everything. Renting a U-Haul, which costs hundreds, seemed out of the question. But, with patience, and many hours of organizing and packing, I taped up my last box, zipped up my last suitcase, and headed home. Here are a few things I learned that made the process (significantly) easier.

1. Downsize–If you don’t wear it, you don’t need it.

Go through your closet and figure out what gear you really need and use. Quality, not quantity, is key. Toss extra bedspreads, storage bins, beat-up shoes, and clothes you don’t wear into garbage bags, and haul down to your Salvation Army or local clothing drop box. If you can’t use it, someone else might be able to.

2. Start early–Boxes won’t pack themselves, and packing takes time.

If you know you’ll be moving soon, start packing now. Packing always takes longer, and more energy, than you think. I started a month in advance and packed all the way up until moving day. Especially with a busy schedule, it’s good to plan ahead and block off a few-hour time slot per week or weekend to get yourself organized. When moving day comes, you won’t be running around in a frenzy. Ship your boxes ahead of time if you can. Nothing makes moving worse than arriving at your destination and having your stuff stuck in the mail 5-10 business days behind you.

3. If you have stuff to sell, Tweet and Facebook about it.

Don’t underestimate the usefulness of Craigslist and social media when it comes to selling your stuff. I had two great printers that were just too heavy to move. I sold one on Craigslist for only $5 less than its retail value, and one to a friend who saw my Facebook status advertising that I had an extra printer lying around. If you’re hanging on to higher value items, tweeting, Facebook, and placing ads on Craigslist is a great way to make a quick buck and get rid of your stuff.

4. Shop Around for Shipping–USPS is generally cheaper than UPS

As far as shipping rates go, the United States Postal Service is generally cheaper than UPS if you ship several boxes longer distances. It’s also cheaper to ship several smaller boxes than one larger, heavier box, so divide and conquer when you’re packing. If you do go the UPS route, double-check that your drop off location is certified to receive and ship large packages. Technically UPS stores can accept up to 150 lbs. boxes, but many drop off locations (such as copy centers) only accept boxes up to 70 lbs.



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