When you’re moving your homestead, choosing a moving company can be stressful! Today, we will discuss the different options that are available.

Moving is hard. But moving a homestead is even harder!

In February, we moved our homestead 500+ miles from Southwest Idaho to the South Sound area of Washington State! It was… an interesting experience! I’m thrilled with the way that things turned out, but mistakes were made, folks! We thought that we were prepared. And, honestly, we really were! But moving is stressful no matter how prepared you are! Frankly, we just did our best based on the fact that we didn’t know what to expect!

Let’s face it: moving an entire homestead is very different from your run-of-the-mill move!

I googled things like “how to move a homestead” trying to look for advice and help. There’s a lot of info on moving to a homestead. But what if you already have an established homestead and are moving? Frankly, there just isn’t much info out there!

Because of that, I swore that once we survived our move, I would share as much info as I possible to help everyone else who might need it! So, here it is: How to Move a Homestead! There’s a lot of info, so I’ve broken it into a mini-series of posts. Feel free to jump from post to post depending on what info you need.

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How to Move a Homestead!
In this series 4-part series, we will cover:

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In my last post, I discussed the process of preparing our homestead and selling it. Once we had an accepted offer on our new property (and stopped panicking about possibly being homeless for a period of time!) we only had about 3 weeks to figure out the logistics of how to actually get our stuff to Washington. Needless to say, I started panicking again!

Choosing a moving company for a long-sh move is far more stressful than choosing one to move across town! We wanted to move all of our things in as few of trips as possible. It saved us money because we didn’t have to find storage in Idaho for our things. Having all of our items also helped us to really feel settled in Washington and to be able to start living a “normal” life again. And, honestly, we just aren’t people who like to drag things out! If we make up our minds, things generally happen quickly after that! 

However, getting out of Southwest Idaho during winter is no easy feat because you have to go through a mountain pass regardless of which way you go. Passes open and close all winter long depending on the conditions. Because of how dangerous and unpredictable conditions can be, we knew that we had a very small window of time to get all of our things moved. And we wanted to do it in one trip if possible to reduce the risks associated with driving back and forth on dangerous roads.

 

The tricky part: Moving everything in one trip meant that we had to coordinate how to get ourselves, our two vehicles, our belongings and our animals (3 dogs, 2 cats, 10 chickens, 2 goats, 1 turkey, and 1 rabbit) to our new location all within the same timeframe. 

Completely crazy? Possibly! But, somehow, we did it! 

So, before we get into exactly how we managed to pull off our giant move, let’s talk about some of the options that are available if you are moving and choosing a moving company:

Options Available When Choosing a Moving Company:

Primarily, there are three main options for moving your things. And let me tell you that none of them are ideal. But nothing about moving is. In our situation, we really considered our priorities and then chose the option that was the best fit. Really, there are three options: hire a moving company, use a moving container service, or rent a moving truck that you pack and drive yourself. So, let’s talk quickly about those options and discuss the pros and cons of each of them.

Choosing a Moving Company: Professional Moving Companies 

This option allows you to hire professional movers to relocate your things. They can also pack for you if you want.

Pros: 

  • Easier and less stressful than other options
  • You do not need to drive a moving truck, which allows you to drive your own vehicles and have a less stressful trip.
  • No physical labor involved in loading and unloading everything.

Cons: 

  • Most expensive option
  • If you are packing items, companies often have requirements on how the items are packed (for instance, everything needs to be in certain sized boxes). This can make packing odd-shaped items difficult.
  • Items may not be packed to your standards and items can arrive damaged.
  • It can take up to 2 weeks to receive your items depending on the time of year and the company that you use.

Choosing a Moving Company: Moving Container Services (U-Pack and PODS):

These services provide large metal containers or “pods”. The containers are shipped to your home a few days/weeks before your move for you to pack all of your items into them. They are then loaded on a truck and delivered to your new address where you have a prearranged timeframe to unpack them before the empty containers are picked up by company.

Pros:

  • You do not need to drive a moving truck, which allows you to drive your own vehicles and have a less stressful trip.
  • It’s easy can schedule when you want the containers delivered and picked up so you can give yourself more or less time depending  on your moving plans. 
  • Less expensive than a professional moving company.
  • You have control over how your items are packed into the pod since you will be the one packing it.
  • If there is a time gap between moving out of your old home and moving into your new one, many companies can hold and store the containers until you are ready for them.

Cons:

  • You will need to pack your items into the containers and unpack them once you arrive at your new location which requires physical labor and time.
  • More expensive than renting a truck and driving it yourself.
  • The containers may not arrive for up to 2 weeks after your move, depending on the company and time of year.
  • You will need to have a space for the containers to sit temporarily while you pack and unpack your items at your old property and your new property. 
  • Depending on the company, there can be surprise charges and contracts can be confusing. 
  • Containers are not temperature controlled. If you are moving during a hot/cold time of year, or if you are planning to have your items in the containers for longer than a few days, you will want to consider your temperature-sensitive items (like home canned foods, candles, etc.)

Choosing a Moving Company: Rental Moving Trucks

Renting a moving truck is probably the most commonly used and most familiar option to many of us.

Pros:

  • Most affordable option.
  • Full control over how your items are packed and moved.
  • Easy to schedule and your items will be with you at all times, so there is no delay in receiving your items.
  • Variable sizes of trucks depending on how large of a truck you need.

Cons:

  • A large amount of physical labor is involved to load and unload all your items. 
  • You have to drive the truck. Depending on the size of the truck, this is no small feat, especially if you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with driving large vehicles. Also, moving trucks have been known to be less than comfy for especially long trips! 
  • There is often a short pick-up and return period (usually a day or two before you leave your old home and arrive at your new location). This can increase stress and requires you to pack and unload the truck quickly. 
  • Since you are driving the moving truck, you won’t be able to drive your personal vehicles. You will need to figure out other arrangements to get them to your new location or come back for them at a later date. 

Why we chose to use a moving truck:

After a lot of phone calls to different moving companies, we decided to rent a moving truck for our move. We rented a 26 foot Penske truck, which is the largest truck available. In order to make sure it was available on the dates that we needed, we reserved the truck a couple weeks before our actual move. We picked the truck up on February 4. Moving day was on February 6 and then we had to return the truck on the 8th. 

Here are some of the reasons that we decided to rent a moving truck for our move to Washington:

We wanted to pack our own items

Being a homesteader, you might realize that the items you value are anything but typical! For instance, we have about a year’s worth of home-canned food and large chest freezer full of homegrown food and meat. We also have valuable homestead supplies like t-posts, metal roofing panels and endless amounts of hoses, troughs and buckets. 

I’ve yet to hear about someone who hired professional movers and didn’t have at least a few broken items upon arrival. Needless to say, I don’t trust anyone with my canned foods but myself. 

Yes, I understand that professional movers are professionals. But they didn’t spend 1000+ hours in a garden growing that food or an additional 100+ hours in a boiling hot kitchen canning it. So, did I trust that they would protect my canned goods like I would? Definitely not! And I’m happy to report that we had absolutely no losses from the moving process! (I’ll share more about how we packed everything in my next post!)

Also, some professional movers require your things to be packed in a certain way. Which is fine if you are a typical person. But we homesteaders are anything but typical and our homesteading supplies aren’t typical either! I can only imagine what they would charge if we asked them to load up 100 t-posts and 30+ sheets of metal roofing. 

We wanted our items to arrive within the same time period that we arrived

One of the main reasons that we ruled out using both professional movers and moving container services  is because they couldn’t guarantee when our items would actually arrive! For both moving containers and professional movers, the shortest time we were quoted was four days (which required that we pay an extra amount to expedite the process!) but they said that it could easily change based on weather. If there was poor weather (which there always is during winter) it could easily be two or more weeks before we saw our items!

It was affordable, but a lot of work! 

Overall, I was very impressed with how affordable this option was! But, what we saved in money, we made up in sweat equity! It was a lot of work to pack and unpack the truck! I’m incredibly grateful that our friend came up from California to help us! Honestly, I’m not sure we could have done it without her help to keep us sane! She also helped by driving one of our cars to Washington. That way, Lindy was able to drive the truck while my friend and I followed our vehicles. 

Lindy is familiar with driving large trucks and was comfortable driving the giant moving truck. The weather on moving day definitely made it more of a challenge though! Honestly, it was kind of terrifying at times!

I’m so glad we moved on the day that we did because the pass was closed the day before and it was closed again only about 6 hours after we went through the pass! I don’t think that we will ever attempt a move like that again during the winter. But, luckily, we all safely arrived along with our belongings!

Have you moved your homestead? How did you decide on a moving service? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!

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