The decision to move halfway across the country is a big one. Moving halfway back? Just as big. The good news is my girlfriend and I have done this before, but this time, I think we’ll do it better. On July 24, we’re moving our lives 2,000 miles, from Portland Ore. to Minneapolins, Minn. A Moving Experience will be a semi-regular series highlighting the tips and tricks that go into such a move. Expect these to be more frequent as moving day draws closer.
U-Haul or Not U-Haul?
I’m going to need you to put your fingers in your ears to avoid any brain matter flying out. Do you know how much it costs to rent a 10-foot U-Haul truck for up to seven days and 2,027 miles? $998. And you can about imagine the gas mileage once you’ve crammed every last belonging in the back. Then, throw in the steep climbs through Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
Yeah, we’ll pass on a U-Haul. Again.
Last summer, we packed every important belonging into my 2008 Ford Fusion. That included: two mountain bikes, a microwave, a 32-inch LCD TV, a coffee maker, mine and my girlfriend’s clothes and just about every kitchen item no one likes buying in the first place.
The stars happened to align that a neighbor and friend of ours back in Mankato had a U-Haul and he volunteered to bring a few items to Portland if we wanted. So, that’s how our bed made it here. But unfortunately, it won’t be going back. Same for our dresser, our couch, our dinner table and stools and entertainment center. We’ll be putting those items on Craigslist sometime in early July.
Moving forces you to think twice about which items you really need. For my girlfriend, it was dozens of wooden hangers she’d kept from her days working at Hollister Co. For me, it was the coffee maker.
By now, you’re probably thinking, The money they’ll spend replacing furniture will exceed the cost of renting and fueling a U-Haul. Have you driven a U-Haul before? Look around. Find the heaviest person you see. Tell them to hop on your back. Now walk around like that for two 12-hour shifts on back-to-back days. Not only is driving a U-Haul expensive, it’s uncomfortable. Plus, the open road is dangerous. I think we’d rather start fresh with new furniture.
Let’s create a threshold, though, where a U-Haul is still reasonable. I’d put it around 1,000 miles. The fact is the cost of a U-Haul doesn’t increase much beyond the first 1,000 miles, but you also don’t want to be cooped up in one for more than a day’s drive. For crosstown moves, absolutely get a U-Haul truck. For cross-country moves? Not so much.
Here’s an interesting fact if you’re a nerd like me: Although we didn’t bring anything that was weighty on its own, our freight really cut into our gas mileage. My car generally runs 28 miles per gallon on the highway. From Sioux Falls, S.D. to Portland, Ore, we clocked somewhere around 21 mpg at best.
Compare that to a U-Haul, which gets 15 mpg on the highway if you’ve spent every Sunday of your life in church. Weigh that baby down with beds and couches, you’d be smarter to push the thing.
Verdict: No U-Haul. Neither of us have jobs waiting for us (yet), so even if it means sleeping on an air mattress, we’ll still have our humble savings.