There's no denying that moving is a major hassle—especially if it's cross-country. Like, it costs way more than I pay in rent each month. (Depends on where you live, of course. This doesn't apply to you, Manhattan.)
But for those people considering hauling everything by post, car or by plane, consider the fact that Greyhound (yes, the bus company) offers a shipping service. Their prices are consistently lower than even FedEx for packages with the same weight and dimensions.
Caveat: It's a good idea to play with the pricing before packing. See if it makes more sense to ship a few large, heavy boxes or many small, light boxes.
To add even more fuel to the fire, Greyhound also offers discounts up to 25% off for students and veterans. Time to go talk to a niece, eh?
Comparing costs between services
In this scenario, I plan to move from NYC to LA. (I've decided I've had enough polar vortices for a lifetime.)
I need a quote for shipping five 40-pound boxes with the longest side-length at 24 inches1. Greyhound will ship these items from NYC to LA for $278.10. FedEx will ship them for $343.80 at the least. If I want to overnight the packages, the price is more like $1587.40.
Here's the breakdown:
Shipping...Greyhound PriceFedEx Price
|Five 40 lb. boxes, max side length 24 in||$278.10||$343.80+|
|Five 100 lb. boxes, max side length 40 in||$680.75||$1,062.65+|
|Eight 40 lb. boxes, max side length 24 in||$231.50 self-pickup; $351.50 door-to-door||550.08+|
Also perfect for hoarders...
Okay, now, I have a TON of stuff. Let's change the weight on those boxes to 100 pounds each with a 40-inch max side-length. FedEx will ship them for $1062.65 at the least; Greyhound will do it for $680.75.
Greyhound caps shipments at five packages. But if you have six or more boxes, they'll direct you to BusFreighter. It's still Greyhound's shipping but for bulk items. They take up to 50 packages, so it's ideal for major moves (and hoarders).
Let's redo the original example but this time with eight boxes. BusFreighter will ship them for $231.50 if I drop them off and pick them up myself. $351.50 for full door-to-door service. FedEx will do it for $550.08.
Looking for speed or cost?
To be fair, FedEx delivers packages more quickly. Greyhound would take seven days from NYC to LA; FedEx would take a maximum of four day. But if the bottom line is the price and not speed, shipping by bus is the best bet.
For good measure, I also compared Greyhound's shipping prices to a U-Haul rental. U-Haul recommends their 10' truck to haul a studio to one bedroom apartment. The cost for an NYC to LA haul–before I include gas, food and price of lodging on the road–comes out to $2,973. U-Haul is great for short- and mid-distance moves, but that mileage pricing adds up quickly.
Renting a trailer didn't compare well, either. Even if I had a vehicle approved for towing (which I don't), a trailer large enough to carry all my stuff would still run well over $1,000 before gas and other expenses.
Oh! And let's hope the move comes before the Virgin/Alaska merger changes everything. Because Virgin America is the best airline for moving. Because even if I ship all my furniture, décor and kitchenware, I still have a closet full of clothes to take with me.