So, I wish I had thought about this 11 days ago, when this all began. I found out on Tuesday, May 19th, that I would need to relocate from Philadelphia to Camarillo, CA... by June 1st.
On limited funds, and without knowing a soul out there, this has become quite the challenge. I wanted to share some helpful links and companies I've been using to facilitate a somewhat easy move. In this economy, when an opportunity like this arises, you really can't say no. Who knows when the next opportunity for advancement is going to come up? Who knows if you're going to get laid off if you say no? Ever since I went to Santa Cruz in 2007, I've dreamed of moving to California. Honestly, I never thought for a moment that this would happen... and I really never imagined how much a move across the country would cost.
By noon on May 19th, I was already researching moving companies, rental trucks, rental cars, pet relocation companies, apartment buildings, etc.
First of all, U-Haul is an absolute rip off. Their box trucks get about 12 miles to the gallon. So, 2800 miles, 12 miles to the gallon... That's about 233 gallons. Average cost of diesel? Let's say $2.75. That's about $642 in fuel cost alone. Not to mention the time that it will take you to get from point A to point B, the food, the hotels, the traffic. In addition to this, U-Haul charges you per mile. U-Haul will charge you $1500 and allow you to have 10 days and use up to 3200 miles. So if you get lost, you're going to be paying about a $1 a mile after that. This does not even include taxes, fees or insurance. So, without insurance or any of the other frills, you're looking at over $2000 to rent a U-Haul truck... and if you have to do all the moving on your own! No thanks...
Budget trucks was a little bit more reasonable, $1200, unlimited miles... However, when speaking to a representative I asked how many miles to the gallon the trucks get, the gentleman responded, "Uhh.. six?". SIX? Seriously? Click.
The reason I had been considering driving across the country in a truck was because I have two cats, who I am absolutely terrified of flying with. I figured the best way to start all of this, would be to find a way to get them across the country separately from me. This would relieve the stress on me of having to travel with them, and also give me the time to get everything set up at the new apartment before they arrived. So in comes We Move Pets.
We Move Pets is a USDA approved company who relocates pets all across the country by ground. As I write this, my pets are still en route, so I will update and give my full approval once they have arrived safely in Camarillo in a few days. Basically this company will pick your pet up in this winnebago type vehicle specially designed with cages to house up to four dogs and four cats. The drivers are constantly on call, and you can contact them at any time to find out how your animal is doing. The owners of the company are from Texas, and have to be the sweetest people I've ever spoken to. Just please understand, this service is not inexpensive.
My original quote was $1200. On a limited budget, this was completely out of my budget. I spent hours debating whether I would have to give the cats away. I talked to them about my concerns, and they dropped the price down to $885. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I appreciate this, provided my cats get there safe on Tuesday.
So my lovely mom put the pet relocation fee on her credit card (for which I must pay her back immediately, eek!). With that out of the way, it was back to moving my belongings.
There are thousands of moving companies and companies that broker moves through these companies. I got quotes from probably 30 places, all of which were upwards of $2500. The good thing about this, however, is that it includes the assembly and disassembly of large furniture, and you don't have to lift a finger. The bad thing? It can take 7-21 business days for delivers to the West Coast. Additionally, they base your estimate on an inventory list that you provide to them. This is incredibly difficult to come up with before you pack. I submitted my inventory list to Everest Moving Systems, and the quote I received as $1185. This included fuel surcharge, assembly/disassembly, etc. This company is actually a broker that coordinates the moves through outside contractors. Everest Moving Systems, is a member of the Better Business Bureau and has no complaints, however, that is not to say that the companies that they utilize will not. The estimate they give you is binding, provided you do not have any extra inventory on the day of the move.
Remember how I said it's hard to estimate the inventory before you pack? Well, my move ended up costing $2055. I didn't find this out until after all of my stuff was loaded into the truck. They charged me for tape, mattress covers, boxes and 100 cubic feet of additional inventory, at a rate higher than what was originally quoted. Everest Moving Systems was great about contacting the company (The Moving Group of Pembroke Park, FL) and getting the information on why the quote was so much higher. I'll admit, I did have some more things than I originally said, but I never imagined that would run me another $1000. They were only able to knock $100 off of that price, but truthfully, that's all they could do. Had I known I would be paying $72 for a mattress cover, I would've just wrapped that shit up in plastic wrap and called it a today. Bam, $4 mattress cover.
The Movers Group told me that the best thing to do to avoid a situation like this is to have a Visual Estimator come out prior to the move. They will make an estimate based on your stuff, and that estimate is 100% binding and cannot be increased on the day of the move. The only additional charges they can add would be for boxes (if something is improperly wrapped) or for tape. They tell you they provide free blankets to wrap up your furniture, but what they don't mention is that they charge $6 for a roll of tape to secure said blankets. Ten rolls of tape later, I'm out $60.
So here we are, pets and furniture moved across the country and it comes to $2840. I was able to coordinate all of this within the course of about 7 days. The cats were picked up Tuesday and are to arrive next Tuesday. The furniture was picked up Thursday and will hopefully arrive next week, but they have up to 21 business days.
The cost of moving my stuff was not so much the AMOUNT of stuff, I actually threw out basically everything I own, it's the distance that they are taking it. Honestly, I think your best bet would be to sell all the furniture you own on Craigs List and hit up Ikea when you get out there. If I had about 2 extra weeks to execute this move, I would've done that instead, and saved myself a few dollars.
So now it's time to say goodbye to Philadelphia. It's my last day in the city and I plan on going to Isgro's for some cannolis, Wawa for some touch screen sandwich ordering and last but not least, For Pete's Sake for one last burger with brie and caramelized onions.
I fly out at 7:40AM tomorrow morning, and I'm hoping all of my belongings and kittens arrive in one piece at some point this week.
I will miss you Philadelphia.