Welcome to Wealth Informatics! If this is your first time visiting the site, please start here.

Long distance moving on the cheap: Part III, Moving with U-Pack containers/PODS, U-Haul, Movers

This is part 3 of a 3 part series – Long distance moving on the cheap. Part 1 dealt with  Long distance moving on the cheap: Part I, Moving with USPS, UPS and FedEx, Part 2 dealt with Long distance moving on the cheap: Part II, Moving with Amtrak and Greyhound

As you can imagine comparing every possible moving solution to figure out the cheapest possible way made this post a VERY long post with close to 5000 words. So I split them into four parts. For people who are not thinking of moving any time soon this will be a very boring series. Sorry about that! If you do know anyone moving soon, please forward it to them as it will save them hours of calling around. 
Long distance moving on the cheap

Moving with PODS® or one of those U-Pack containers

I have seen those closet sized containers before on the street, though I never used them or knew anyone who did. I read the reviews and they seemed good. So I decided to check them out as well.

Shipping cost: I got quotes from both PODS® and U-Pack ReloCube. Both of them didn’t ask for weight, just the size of my apartment. The difference in price was very large. PODS quoted me $4000+ for just using the container and the shipping. U-pack was a LOT more reasonable. They quoted me: Transportation-$1,451; Optional services: Loading (2 helpers, 3 hours)-$390, Unloading (2 helpers, 3 hours)-$446, Monthly Storage-$125.

Parking cost: Our apartment didn’t allow containers to be parked inside the gated parking lot. I would have had to park on the street. In many cities, to park anything other than a car/truck, esp. if it is a non-moving structure, you have to get a special permit and pay a fee. City of Los Angeles is one of them. I called the city parking enforcement; I was quoted $36 for 24 hrs. I estimated we would need at least 2 days to pack if we are doing it ourselves, 1 day if we use U-Pack’s loading help.

Insurance: I couldn’t get an insurance quote from PODS® for moving. I was quoted $76/month +$50 one time fee for $20,000 declared value in case of storage but I couldn’t get a quote for moving insurance. U-Pack ReloCube’s price quote includes limited liability coverage of $.10 per pound per piece due to collision, overturn, or fire and coverage of $3.00 per pound. Additional cargo coverage for carrier negligence is available at an additional charge. I called to check full coverage cost and they quoted me $300-$500.

Packing material cost: $62.77. Same with any shipping means.

Replacement cost: $0 as we can move everything.

Total cost to move a 1 bedroom apartment worth of stuff 1000 miles with U-Pack ReloCube: $1985.77 just for the move (including parking and a $400 insurance), $2821.77 if we included the optional loading and unloading help.

Advantages of moving using moving containers

  • You can move at your own pace and it is convenient.
  • You know how the container is packed, so you have move control on making sure the fragile items are out of harm’s way.
  • You can pack anything as long as it fits.

Disadvantages of moving using moving containers

  • Check with your apartment/city for parking fees. That could get expensive if you keep the container for a long time.

Moving with U-Haul (or any moving truck)

I have moved with Penske before as U-Haul charges a per mile rate for in-town moves whereas Penske offered unlimited mileage. It was a smooth experience. This time I decided to price both.

Packing material cost: $62.77. Same with any shipping means.

Replacement cost: $0 as we can move everything.

Insurance for content: NA.

Total Shipping cost:

Services U-Haul Penske
Truck $1,534.00 (10’ truck) $1525.00 (12’ truck)
Tow Dolly for our car $146.00 $175.00
Packing $62.77 $62.77
Insurance (Truck+dolly) $183.00 $168.75
Loading 2 hours 2 helpers $100 $100
Unloading 2 hours 2 helpers $116 $116
Mileage 12 MPG according to U-Haul but I decided to use the same MPG as Penske because we will be towing a car. Even if we didn’t, I don’t think we drive as efficiently as the U-haul official study. 12 MPG according to Penske BUT I called the local Penske person to check what the mileage will be with car towing. He said 5 MPG with towing, 8 MPG without.
Gas (1000 miles) 200 Gallons at $3.75/gal =$750 200 Gallons at $3.75/gal =$750
Total (just moving) $2492.77 $2512.77
Total (Moving + insurance) $2675.77 $2681.52
Total (full service) $2891.77 $2897.52


Advantages of moving with U-Haul

  • You have maximum control on how you pack and how you drive.
  • You can pack anything and everything you want.
  • If you don’t have comprehensive coverage for your car, your insurance might cover the truck (they probably won’t cover the dolly). But please check before you assume it is covered.

Disadvantages of moving with U-Haul

  • The mileage of the trucks is really low.
  • You have to do the driving. Driving a big truck can be uncomfortable for some people.

Moving with movers

I always assumed movers are expensive, so I have never priced this option before. This time due to various reasons we were really interested in hiring help for loading and unloading and to make my list comprehensive, I was curious to know how much it cost.

Initially I wanted to avoid nationwide movers because the reviews were mixed. I found a few great local moving companies via referrals and reviews. Unfortunately, for all the local ones my 1 bedroom apartment was too small to move, so I was stuck with the big moving companies. I contacted 4 – 1 never called me back, 1 seemed too busy to give me any information.  United van lines and Allied Van lines is where I got my quotes from.

(Tip: Movers do a free home estimate. That is how I knew my stuff was about 2300 lbs. including furniture. So if you are comparing the prices, get a movers quote first to have that bit of information.)

Packing material cost: $62.77. Same with any shipping means. Our dining table has a glass top, so that had to be crated and the mattress had to be boxed, which cost more (see below). Other than those, we decided to pack everything ourselves to save on packing costs. I also wanted to control what goes in what boxes and de-clutter before packing. So packing everything ourselves worked out well.

Replacement cost: $0 as we can move everything.

Insurance: Included below.

Storage cost: They said the transit would take 2-3 days. For us to move, clean the apartment and drive, we estimated we needed at least 5 days which meant 2-3 days of storage.

Total shipping cost

Services Allied Van lines United Van lines
Moving (including loading, unloading, set up of dining table and bed) 2300 lbs. $2651.86 $2469.21
Crating for dining table $110 $104.65
Box for mattress and box springs Included Included
Insurance ($20,000 value, $0 deductible) $200 $198
Storage $80/day 2 weeks free storage
Total (just move) $2961.86 $2771.86
Total (including 3 days storage) $3201.86 $2771.86


Advantages of moving with full service movers

  • It turned out to be economical if we included the loading and unloading help.
  • Other than packing, we didn’t do any work.

Disadvantages of moving with full service movers

  • United and Allied have local sub-contractor moving companies that do the actual work. So the good/bad reviews you read online about United or Allied doesn’t really mean anything. Find out who your local mover will be and read their reviews.
  • It can get really expensive if you take their packing services as well. They packed a couple of our boxes, they pack 2 things in one box, the rest is padding. It is ok if the items are really fragile, if not, it is just going to increase the box count which is what their packing rates are based on.
  • They don’t really care what goes with what. If you want the TV remote to be packed along with the TV make sure you do that yourself. If you accidentally keep the remote on the kitchen counter, it is going to get packed with kitchen utensils.

How did we choose to move?

Each way of shipping has its own advantages and disadvantages. This time for our needs (loading and unloading help) surprisingly, moving with full service movers turned out to be the best deal. So that is what we did. We moved with United Van lines.

One thing I’ve learned from all my moves is – it is better to not assume. Don’t just assume that full service movers will be expensive or USPS will always be the cheapest. Depending on your situation price all the means of moving, you might be surprised.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: