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DrBoost MegaDork
10/8/21 9:32 a.m.

I thought I'd document my journey here for all to see since long-distance moves have been discussed a few times.

We close on our Michigan house in 3 hours, so these decisions have been made already. But I thought some might be interested in the details.

Moving from 48430 (mid-Michigan) to 33954 (southwestern Florida). 1,294 miles from door to door. Gotta get my crap outta Michigan for the most reasonable price possible.

Possible solutions (and first impressions):

  • U-haul and lots of manual labor (ow my back!)
  • Moving company (ow my bank account!)
  • Pods or similar (sounds good)
  • Sell everything and move nothing (maybe somewhere short of selling everything)


  • U-haul - 20' moving truck - $2742 + $400 in fuel (10 mpg assumed) for truck, plus $200 for fuel for the minivan. We'll call that $3400 all in.
  • U-box containers were harder to figure out the final cost, but it's similar to above after you pay to have them delivered and picked up.
  • Moving company. Nope. We did that once. They stole stuff, rifled through my wifes underwear drawer, broke stuff, then held our stuff hostage on the truck until we paid 25% more than the agreed-upon price. Never going that route again. Never.
  • Pods - One 16' container was about $4600 plus fuel surcharges that were an unknown. Pods is well-knows for hidden fees that can add 30% to your total. 13-16 day transit time. $200 in fuel for the minivan.
  • Pack Rats - Same concept as pods but more affordable and not a crappy reputation. $4113.39 for a 16' container. 10-13 day transit time.
  • Upack - similar to the above two but they drop off a 27' trailer. you pack your stuff and pay for the linear feet you use. 16' of trailer space is $3452 BUT each linear foot of trailer is 1.5' wider and 1.5' taller than Pods or Pack Rats. So it's much more affordable. 8-10 day transit time. $200 in fuel for the minivan.


Decision time:

Dollar-wise U-haul and Upack are basically the same. If we went U_haul I'd be driving a 20' truck 700 miles a day. My wife wouldn't be able to share driving duties. That'd be tough. That left Upack, Pods, and Pack Rats. We went with Upack because it's about a grand cheaper, more volume per linear foot, and the flexibility to use as much or as little (5' minimum) trailer as you need. When you're all packed up you install a supplied bulkhead and lock it with your lock. They then fill the rest of the trailer with a commercial load that is dropped off en route to your destination. That stop is baked into your transit time. When you are pricing it out they tell you that there are NO hidden fees. That's their claim to fame. They do tell you that your price is based on the length you are inquiring about (16' in our case), and that each additional foot will be $XX. In our case, based on our distance (I assume) each foot above 16' will it $87. The max for the whole trailer is $4200. That's still less than Pods for one 16' trailer!!  

In order to cut down on the amount of stuff we are taking, thus making it cheaper, we sold, gave away, or threw away LOTS of stuff. By my napkin math we sold about $3500 worth of stuff. Basically paying for the trailer. 

There are potential downsides to the Upack though. The trailer is a tractor-trailer, so the load floor is reached by a ramp. That ramp is going to feel steep when I'm rolling a 60 gallon air compressor and tool boxes up. The Pod or Pack Rat is a container that sits in the driveway. That's nice. 
Another difference is with Pods and Pack Rats you are paying for 30 days with the trailer. Subtract the transit time and you have 6-8 days to load, and 6-8 days to unload. With Upack you have 3 business days to load, and three to unload. Now, our trailer is being dropped off today, Friday. We'll actually have 5 calendar days to load. The trailer will more than likely be dropped off at the new house on a Thursday, giving us 5 days to unload. Personally I think three days is enough, but it's a difference between the services for sure.  


I'll leave this here for now and update as things progress. This will be in real time so the updates won't be swift. The trailer won't leave Michigan until the 11th, and dropped off in FL on a Thursday, giving us 5 days.

matthewmcl HalfDork
10/8/21 9:53 a.m.

Out west U-haul has a pretty bad reliability reputation, as in do not expect 1300 miles without a breakdown or maybe two. Do you have Budget or Penske as options? Penske seems to have the best equipment.

Speed limits seem to be lower in the east, so it may not matter as much.

Duke MegaDork
10/8/21 9:57 a.m.

In reply to matthewmcl :

NEVER budget by relying on U-Haul.  Always use Penske's price.  You'll save time, money, and aggravation in the end.


twentyover Dork
10/8/21 11:16 a.m.

My own experience- DO NOT DO AS I HAVE DONE


Bought a house in Washington state (98826) in June 2020. Moving from Michigan (48348), a distance of 2300 miles. Michigan house closed August 31, 2021

So far, 16 trips cross country (18 if you count the time my wife drove her car and the time we each drove a car and trailer from WA to MI and back.) And I still have 10 x 20 storage unit to empty. Four of the trips were made by brothers 20' enclosed car haulers- I gave them $2000 each trip for fuel, tires, oil, etc. Approximately  $800 round trip for gas for mine, towing a 16' flatbed car hauler we built 30" walls on, so in direct expenses I'm at about $20 K. And I did unload before the move- six tons of steel and iron scrapped, one 30 yard and three 20 yard dumpsters filled

Moved to a bigger house, smaller barn.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
10/8/21 11:38 a.m.

In reply to DrBoost :

The wheels are in motion!  Congrats!


When you get down there, be on the lookout for the dude who may or may not be in the Nature Preserve.  devil

Honsch Reader
10/8/21 12:02 p.m.

I moved from central NJ to Vancouver, BC a long time ago.

I found the cheapest way was to ship everything UPS.  No joke.
Expect some breakage.

It looked like over $4K for truck rental or having a moving company do it.
UPS was around $1500.

I had pared everything down to 76 boxes.
Don't forget they pickup and deliver.

Ranger50 MegaDork
10/8/21 12:10 p.m.

I have 5 vehicles to move plus parts come spring... only 600-ish miles one way... oh did I mention all the tools, boxes, then the household crap?

I can easily fill 3 56' trailers without thinking and still not taking much in the way of furniture.

mtn MegaDork
10/8/21 12:46 p.m.

Multiple sales, sell everything you possibly can. Then, burn the house and collect insurance. 


Seriously though, what I would do: 

  1. Hire an estate sale company and have a huge sale. Get rid of everything. You don't need most of it. 
    1. Some of the high priced stuff - i.e. your Maggies - maybe you sell on your own. 
  2. Pack everything into boxes, tape them up. Mark them. 
  3. Pack the important things, that you'd be upset if they were broken or stolen (and not just upset that something was stolen, but upset because it is irreplaceable or not made anymore or a firearm or something) in your car. You're moving these 100% on your own. 
  4. The other things, in the taped up boxes, are going into the Ryder/Penske/Uhaul/Enterprise 26' Truck (I think that is the largest that any of them rent without a CDL). For this, I'm hiring movers on each end to move the boxes into the truck, and then remove them. That is all they're doing. It sounds crazy. It is worth the price. You can watch them the entire time. Post someone in the room, someone in the yard, and someone watching the truck. Do the same thing on the other end. It'll be 1 hour for them to get it into the house.


You want to move as little as possible. We, as Americans, have an uncanny ability to fill every available space chock full of E36 M3 that we don't need or want. Get rid of it now. 

Kendall_Jones Dork
10/8/21 12:49 p.m.

Like I said in other threads - U-pack is the shiznit.  I've used them twice for MI-> WA moves and back.  Rent some movers at either end - they will take care of the compressors / heavy stuff.  Get LOTS of e-track ratchet straps (harbor freight!)  Get crap tons of moving blankets (harbor freight).  Get shipping saran wrap (not harbor freight).  Make sure you or your movers understand tetris.  You are paying for the height so use it!  Our WA outbound movers took all the furniture and draped a moving blanket over it and then saran wrapped it.  We used all 27 feet both ways.

Also, if you using local labor / movers for loading - make sure they know you have a 27' pup / semi trailer.  All the movers heard 27' and thought they just had to load / unload a box truck.  whoops, make sure they know it will take most of a day.

californiamilleghia SuperDork
10/8/21 2:24 p.m.

May I suggest that you put an Airtag tracker in the box , or an old cell phone with a tracking app......

just because :)

DrBoost MegaDork
10/8/21 2:41 p.m.

I was going to look into Penske etc, but it still would mean I'd be driving 100% of the way, in a slow truck that takes concentration to drive and will be blown about by winds. That sounds like a very tiring two days. For the same money, I can drive the van and let a pro wrestle with the big truck.  

I would have NEVER thought of UPS. Amazing.  

we sold a LOT of stuff in prep for this move. Annoyingly I sold almost all of my metal-fab equipment and my lift because internet shopping showed we were only going to get a "1-car garage" which is really just an attached shed. Amazingly we ended up with a 2-car garage AND a new 20X30 workshop. But that's all water under the bridge now.  

Here's another wrinkle we had to contend with.  We have 2 cats and a dog going with us. We were going to attach two crates, door-to-door for the cats, making a condo of sorts. One crate would have a second door allowing us to give them food and change the litter. The dog would be a piece of cake since dogs are better pets devil
If we did that, the van would have been FULL. 4 humans, 2 cats, 1 dog, and the luggage, food, litter, etc. for said life forms for the week or so until the trailer shows up. That means we would need a trailer. Depending on the size, that would add $550 or $750 to the move. It also would mean the cats would be sedated for the better part of two days. We have an OLD cat. We were afraid of the side effects. I wondered about cheap flights. Turns out we can put both kids and two cats on a plane for $205! Factor in the money we would have spent on food for two kids, three meals a day, and a larger Air bnb for the stopover in Atlanta, we saved quite a bit by flying the kids down there. I NEVER would have expected that. 
So the kids will fly down, the in-laws will pick them up and they'll stay there while we drive down. Then the cats can stay there for a day or two as boxes are being moved and the house is in a general state of chaos. 
The trailer is HUGE!


DrBoost MegaDork
10/8/21 2:43 p.m.


hybridmomentspass Reader
10/9/21 8:50 a.m.

Dr Boost - I just posted a thread in OT about needing something from Michigan to NC area (which you should be passing by sort of close on your way).

Please, if you have a moment, look at the thread. I understand if you can not assist sir.



90BuickCentury Reader
10/9/21 9:47 a.m.

I was expecting to see something like " Costs $3,000 to rent a moving truck, so bought a $5,000 car hauler and loaded it up. Was gonna sell car hauler to recoup my $5,000, but since it saved me $3,000 rental, keeping it only costs me $2,000 for a $5,000 trailer. Now I have a nice enclosed trailer to haul home more project cars and haul cars to racetracks with."

If I ever make a long distance move, the above is probably how I will do it.

DrBoost MegaDork
10/10/21 8:15 a.m.

I seriously thought about buying a 30' container, using it, hiring a driver, then selling it once down there, but my wife said I have enough going on already. I had to agree with her. 

bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter)
bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
10/10/21 10:13 a.m.

In reply to Duke :

How about if you buy a 1 ton pickup and an enclosed trailer? Hire some local kids to help load and unload, and sell the truck and trailer at the other end. Or use the move to justify owning a one ton pickup and enclosed trailer.  

Antihero (Forum Supporter)
Antihero (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
10/10/21 10:33 a.m.

Penske for a 20 ft truck with similar miles was $1300 and you had something like 7 days for that. The truck was almost brand new too, pretty easy to drive too

Mike (Forum Supporter)
Mike (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
10/10/21 1:18 p.m.

We Louisiana to northern Illinois in two parts, as the wife and I moved on different dates to make job and home sale logistics work.

We used U-Haul U-Boxes for everything not alive or critical to closing/starting living in a house.

Since you mentioned U-Boxes:


Even a busy company store is going to be flummoxed by doing U-Box logistics, and they strategically understaff. You can spend hours on your primary moving day standing around a U-Haul store waiting for them to find the special trailer, getting the forklift up and running, trying to figure out how to record which boxes are going where, and swapping your full boxes off the trailer in favor of empties, plus you only get to see one or two boxes at a time while loading.

Have them do the logistics, at least on the packing up and leaving side of things. At the new place, undoing the tetris and moving things into a staging area is faster, and you're not on a schedule to get out anymore.

And yeah, consider attaching a Tile to your U-Boxes. You can put it back on your rolling luggage after the move. U-Haul misdirected one of our boxes. They sorted it before we needed the boxes out of storage, but the Tile would have added peace of mind.

DrBoost MegaDork
10/10/21 3:48 p.m.

In reply to Antihero (Forum Supporter) :

What about hidden fees?  There's always  surcharges and such added on at the end. 
the issue with doing uhaul/ryder/penske is that I'd be driving 100% of the drive, and my wife would be driving 100% of the way. After spending a day or two loading, driving 700 miles a day (at 60 mph) sounds horrific. Followed by 2 days of unpacking. 
i just put the bulkhead in the truck. Now I just have to clean the house, patch some walls where fasteners were, and rest before an easy drive down there, then unpack.  

Antihero (Forum Supporter)
Antihero (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
10/10/21 4:59 p.m.
DrBoost said:

In reply to Antihero (Forum Supporter) :

What about hidden fees?  There's always  surcharges and such added on at the end. 
the issue with doing uhaul/ryder/penske is that I'd be driving 100% of the drive, and my wife would be driving 100% of the way. After spending a day or two loading, driving 700 miles a day (at 60 mph) sounds horrific. Followed by 2 days of unpacking. 
i just put the bulkhead in the truck. Now I just have to clean the house, patch some walls where fasteners were, and rest before an easy drive down there, then unpack.  

There wasn't any hidden fees at all, Penske is great. Uhaul however sucks and has all sorts of hidden fees


Not driving is great though, agreed. I just don't like my stuff being in anyone's hands at all

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
10/10/21 6:19 p.m.
DrBoost said:

i just put the bulkhead in the truck. 

How many feet?  How well did the high stacking go?

OHSCrifle GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
10/10/21 10:24 p.m.

My mind is still blown by the UPS move. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
10/11/21 7:27 a.m.
OHSCrifle said:

My mind is still blown by the UPS move. 

I feel like there is a lot unanswered about the UPS move.   I understand they could be easy for a box of vinyl albums or music CDs, etc.  But, how did UPS do with moving your sofa, refridge, washer/dryer, mattresses or any item over 70 lbs?  

DrBoost MegaDork
10/11/21 1:05 p.m.

Re: UPS move.
I don't think that would work today as shipping costs are NUTS! We shipped a small box of 6 days of clothes for two kids and it was $30 or $35. 

Post-loading weekend update:

Packing went as expected. My everything hurts LOL.  I was able to source a LOT of boxes that are all double-wall corrugated boxes, good for strength, and they are almost all the same size, great for stacking. we were able to utilize the height quite well, but my vision of a wall of perfectly stacked boxed didn't come to fruition haha. The front of the trailer is mostly boxes, and stacked to within a few inches of the ceiling. Toward the end is when things like radial arm saws, welders, floor jacks, bicycles, etc went in. 
Kendall-Jones (and everyone else who is interested), there were two issues with the trailer that really irritated me. The floor was FILTHY. I don't mean dust and dirt, but grease and grime. I didn't realize this (dark floor, can't really see it) until I started seeing that my 3-week old carpet is dirty! The other issue was damage to the top of the trailer that resulted in standing water inside the trailer. 

Uh, common man! The trailer needs to be weather-tight. So I borrowed a ladder and got some butyl tape to seal it myself. Waiting for a new trailer would have put the packing of the trailer from the weekend, when friends and family are available, to Monday when friends and family are working. I know that they load the trailers with commercial loads to keep costs down, but since residential is also in their business plan, I think trailers should be kept clean (to a reasonable degree).

I did contact Upack and they offered me a $150 discount to reimburse me for my time and cleaning/floor protection supplies. The reply was very swift, like 30 minutes! That says they are service-oriented, and that's a big deal to me. Every company has hiccups, but it's how they handle them that tells the story.  

Now we sit and wait. They have 8-10 business day transit time. Now we take it easy, clean the house and patch walls where fasteners were used, then drive down to FL and have a few more days until we unpack. Then the real work begins LOL. The sorting of the crap, and probably throwing more stuff away LOL.  

Honsch Reader
10/11/21 9:34 p.m.
John Welsh said:

I feel like there is a lot unanswered about the UPS move.   I understand they could be easy for a box of vinyl albums or music CDs, etc.  But, how did UPS do with moving your sofa, refridge, washer/dryer, mattresses or any item over 70 lbs?  

We moved from a single bedroom apartment.  We gave all the (cheap Ikea) furniture to my sister for her basement, and the appliances stayed with the apartment.

As for heavy things, we didn't use huge boxes.  We had some breakage, notable my good Polk speakers were destroyed (but insured so it worked out fine) and the Pyrex pots turned into glass dust so that entire box was thrown out.  Being young without a lot of stuff made the move easy.

I think I could fill a 26' box truck with just one of the garages now.  The WWII 6K lb lathe in the garage is decidedly non-UPS shippable.

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