In August, Laura and I packed up our apartment in Albany, CA and shipped most of our stuff to our new house in Pittsburgh, PA while moving a few of our items to a little studio apartment we're keeping in Albany. It was a rather big project that left us quite exhausted; two months later, we're still dealing with the aftermath of our move.
During our move we may do so quite a few services, which were on the whole quite helpful. Here I want to share some of my experiences with those companies, both the upside and downsides.
DAS Auto Shippers
We had our car shipped across the country by Dependable Auto Shippers, one of the largest auto shippers in the country. I was a bit concerned about its reputation after reading some online reviews,with their typical horror stories. However I decide to go with DAS after someone I know reported having had good experiences (and timely delivery) with DAS. I found the first agent I talked with on the phone to be extremely friendly and reassuring. The guy who picked up our car was pleasant and knowledgeable.
The problems came down the road when after 10 days our car still hadn't left the Bay Area. DAS had given us its standard estimate of 14 days to ship a car. Laura and I needed to have our car on August 25 for a road trip. I thought that I would be playing it safe by planning to have the car delivered by August 22. Allowing for 14 days and another two days for padding meant having my car shipped on August 6. Our car wasn't delivered until August 25 -- 19 days after it was picked up! Even that late delivery required several phone calls and a bit of pleading on my part to get any action at all. (BTW, the agent who convinced me to go with DAS was nowhere to be found after DAS had gotten my money.)
The bottom line: our car got here okay, but if I were ever to ship a car again, I'd like to find a more reliable service.
Once our car was shipped off on Aug 6, we still needed to have the use of the vehicle during most of the last two weeks of our move. We thought about renting a car for that whole time, but decided instead to try City CarShare, which allows you to rent cars on hourly or daily basis. We picked City CarShare over its rival ZipCar because City CarShare has a pod at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station, an easy walking distance from our apartment.
We were really pleased with City CarShare. Driving a Prius, the model available at the local pod, was fun. For a couple days we rented a Toyota truck, which turned out to be indispensable for our move. The last night, we got to the airport by driving the Prius back to the pod and hopping on BART to go to SFO.
The only complaint I had was being locked out of my car once in Berkeley because the car was (for some unexplained reason)out of radio contact with City CarShare headquarters. It's a bit disconcerting to think that you can be stranded one-day while far away from any other means of transportation. But I don't expect it to be a regular occurrence
One Big Man And One Big Truck
One of the challenges that we face as we were running out of time the last week of our move was moving furniture out of our apartment and to our studio. We turned to One Big Man And One Big Truck, a local company that I had used in 2005. One thing I find attractive about One Big Man is that you pay by a 15 minute increments. The movers were friendly and reasonably efficient. They were real troopers in its extracting and moving a large IKEA cabinet out of our apartment, which unfortunately, we couldn't give away.
We surprised ourselves by underestimating how much junk we would be left with even after packing everything up that we want to save. We had envisioned that we would make a lot of trips to GoodWill and places like Urban Ore (which thankfully did take a recliner and a large file cabinet from us).
EcoHaul came to our rescue. Without EcoHaul there was no way that we could have emptied out our apartment in time, let alone dispose of the giant IKEA cabinet. I'm hoping that EcoHaul did manage to find a home for the cabinet, rather than having to dump it into a landfill.