Paying for our furniture twice

February 3, 2011 · 37 comments

In a little less than two months I’ll be saying goodbye to San Diego. To the last eight years of my life.  To my San Diego friends. To 70 degree year round temperature. Wait, why am I leaving again?

I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks crunching numbers and figuring out how much this 1,300 mile move will cost. After getting a bunch of quotes, it looks like we should be able to rent a 16′ truck and an additional trailer  (to tow my car behind) for about $900 (price includes one way drop off with unlimited miles and insurance). I’m guessing gas will add another $500. All in, we are looking at about $1,400-ish for the move.

If you know me at all, you know I like saving money. The thought of spending $1,500 to keep our current furniture seems pretty lame if you ask me. I mean, we already paid for the stuff once when we bought it. Why the heck should we pay for it again?!

Enter family heirloom….

Grandma Ninja passed away a little over a year ago. Shortly after, Dad Ninja and his siblings had to sort through her belongings and figure out what was to going to be kept in the family, what would be thrown away, what would be given away, and what would be included in the estate sale.

The only thing Girl Ninja and I really wanted was my grandma’s black baby grand piano. Girl Ninja grew up playing piano and I knew she would want out children to learn as well.

While I knew we would have no room in our 600sqft condo for the piano, there was no way I was going to let the piano be sold to some strangers. Plus, five to ten years from now, when Girl Ninja and I own a freakin’ mansion we will want Grandmas piano to be occupying one of our 27 rooms. And in case you didn’t know, baby grand pianos aren’t cheap (we’re talking thousands upon thousands of $$$). Thankfully a purchase we can now avoid.

(I forgot to mention, my Grandma lived in So. Cal. so the piano has been in a climate controlled storage facility since she passed).

While I would have no problem selling all of our furniture on Craigslist so we didn’t have to rent a truck, there is no freakin’ way I can fit a baby grand piano in the back of my two door coupe. Since we will definitely be moving the piano north, it seems that a rental truck is really our only option. Or at least the only option I’m aware of.

Anyone with experience moving have any tips/advice for me? Are there cheaper methods to move that I don’t know about? Anyone ever move their stuff via train, plane, or semi-truck? If you had to pack up and move 1,200 miles would you keep all your stuff and suck up the cost, or sell it all and travel lightly?

1 First Gen American

The only time I really moved any great distance, my company paid relocation expenses. That would be my tip. Negotiate it so that your company pays.

2 Blackberry Bette

I know you’re not going to like hearing this, but if you’re serious about keeping that piano in good shape (and it sounds like you are) you’re going to need to hire piano movers. Yes, there are specific companies out there that only move pianos…. why? Because as we all know, when pianos are bad, they’re bad, but when they’re good (as it sounds yours is) they’re invaluable. They’re very delicate and difficult to move without damaging which is why people specialize in it. It’s not fun, and probably expensive, but if you’re serious about the instrument you need to give it some serious condition. When my family moved to Germany for two years in the nineties, my mother (who is a professional musician) opted to get her baby grand moved by piano professionals – even overseas!
p.s. First Gen American has a good point – see if your company will cover any relocation costs!

3 Angela

I second this. When my great grandmother passed, we inherited her piano and we also hired professional piano movers. This is the only way to go if you really want to keep the piano in good working order.

4 Kim

I third this – my parents have a baby grand. They require…babying. Use a piano mover – you will damage it otherwise and it will never hold a tune again. I am crazy frugal, but will definitely dole out the cash when I have to deal with it.

5 Steph/seenonflickr

Agreed – pianos need piano movers.

6 Larry

Blackberry Bette is exactly right. I have played the piano for close to 50 years, and I assure you that you would be making a grave mistake by trying to move a piano of any value yourself. Absolutely hire a dedicated piano mover. There is no other option. My guess is that the mileage, however, is the least of it. Getting it safely into the truck and into its new home is probably the bulk of the expense. And make sure you have the instrument tuned twice a year. I will call my tuner for you and ask what you should do in more detail.

7 Mo D.

In my 43 years, I’ve moved 20+ times; all very local. The one thing I did learn when I was moving my own stuff is to hire professionals to do it. The “I’ll rent a truck and recruit my friends with pizza and beer” isn’t something I’d ever want to do again. If we ever moved some great distance, the destination would be the deciding factor on what we take with us vs. get rid of/sell/toss and buy new. Our king-size bed would definitely make the trip! LOL!

Gotta TOTALLY agree on hiring piano movers; my Maternal Grand Father was a professional concert pianist, so we take pianos in my family very seriously. Definitely worth the expense, especially with something as precious as your Grandma’s Baby Grand.

8 atishaya

I used to work for a symphony orchestra, and we kept two beautiful pianos for when we had guest pianists on the playbill because touring with a piano is not easy. Once in awhile though, people would insist on having their own piano with them (beacuse of the sound quality), and they always used special movers above and beyond their travel staff to move their pianos. If we did shows in other cities that required moving our pianos, we had to get special movers too (even when the shows were less than 50 miles away and all of the other instruments were being moved by truck – large standup basses, timpanies, harps, etc.).

9 midwest

I don’t know anything about pianos, but know moving expenses for a job over a certain distance are tax deductible if you itemize. Cha ching.

10 Larry

Almost true but slightly incorrect. Unreimbursed moving expenses are separate from itemized deductions; instead they are an above-the-line adjustment on page 1 of Form 1040. So you could deduct these expenses even if you had to take the standard deduction. You do have to meet certain tests for time and distance that should not be difficult for our Ninja to pass. More here:
http://www.webtaxcenter.com/f3903.jsp
http://www.irs.gov/publications/p521/index.html

As for the piano thing, I’d post the question on a dedicated piano forum, such as one of these (since you might get more specific recommendations as to prices and what to look for in a mover):
http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/forum_summary.html

11 Jenn

We moved 4500 km a couple of years ago (Canada) and decided to use one of the pod companies – you pack it, they drive it since we didn’t feel like driving a crappy moving truck through the Rockies in the winter. Best decision we ever made. That said, we did pare down our stuff a fair bit so we only needed one container.

12 sandrac

I’ve moved across the country many times (12 and counting). You can pack your own stuff EXCEPT THE PIANO…get professional piano movers to do it.

13 momninja

We moved my dad piano three times on our own and we came out fine….here is an option:
An alternative for do-it-yourselfers is to hire a piano moving service to wrap and load the piano into the moving truck. The owner drives it to the new location and hires a piano moving service at the other end to unload it into the new home for $275 -$400. I truly think the wrapping for moving is a great option….

14 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com

If you need a nice home for that piano, you can just have UPS send it to me. I’ll take care of it until you’re ready for it.

And yes, I do realize sending it to Texas is no less expensive than sending it to Seattle. Just go with it.

15 Ninja

I’ll have it overnighted.

16 Jeremy

I’m not an accountant, but I know you can usually deduct your moving expenses if it’s related to a job. I’d look into it.

17 This Guy

Piano movers? Woof!

18 Investing Newbie

Hey there! I honestly think you should only consider taking things of sentimental value with you. Honestly, if that couch is just a couch, you might be able to invest in a better one for your new place and stick with that one. There are probably some things you’ll definitely throw away within the next 2-3 years, so why not do it now. Sell it on Craiglist and make some money. Lastly, I don’t play the piano, but I just watched a movie on the Steinway manufacturing process (Note by Note!). Please listen to the sound advice about and hire a piano mover. I don’t know if you have a Steinway, but as you mentioned in your post, its a hefty amount of money. Leave it to the professionals.

19 Ninja

Whoa, long time now see Investing Newbie. Glad to see you around these parts again.

20 Zan

I moved across the country once and I decided to go the “get rid of all my possessions” route. I totally regretted it. I’m not even remotely sentimental about ANY material possession (even pictures and personal items..i’m odd), but it caused me so much STRESS to have to track down everything I needed again for reasonable prices.

21 Oldfangled

1. Hire piano movers.
2. You’ll basically be paying for furniture twice anyway. You either have to move it or buy it all over again after you move. Which is a bigger hassle: packing and moving it, or selling what you have and then looking for / pricing / buying all over again? If it were me, I would move the stuff.

22 Lysander

Are you actually going to use the piano soon after moving to Seattle? Why can’t you just leave the Piano in storage for now and pay piano movers to move it up after you actual have a home where you want to put it? Storage is Storage.

As for moving everything else,when I moved between Seattle and Minneapolis (both to and from each city), I simply performed a cost-benefit analysis on my stuff: Cost of replacement vs cost of moving minus the potential selling price of those things. When I moved to Seattle, everything I brought fit in my Saturn, when I left Seattle I used a moving pod. I chose a pod because I had no desire to drive an unknown truck through the Mountains, plus the cost having them move everything (and me flying to MN) was compatible to the cost of the rental+gas+hotel+food (close enough that the convenience/ease factor compensated).

The packing/unpacking isn’t the most fun in the world (glad that I didn’t have to do both on the same day) but for me not having to make the drive was well worth any cost.

I would investigate any of the pod/crate shippers or you pack/we drive movers available, because they can move multiple people’s stuff at the same time they may not be any more expensive than DIY.

23 krantcents

I only moved once without professional movers and that was local. There is a value in using professional movers that is unseen until you have damage. A piano, particularly a grand piano requires a professional mover. Good luck.

24 joe c skrizel

Ninja,

i recommend buying medium sized boxes and all the same size. this makes moving SOOO much easier as everything fits in the back of the truck well and there is little mis-matching

25 Larry
26 Sophie

After you have it moved (by the professionals), you will also need to have it re-tuned.

27 Larry

Correct. But give it a few weeks to settle at its new location before the tuning.

28 Sara

When we moved from Chicago to San Diego, we sent a lot of our stuff via Amtrak. It was cheaper than even Media Mail is (for books,etc), and they definitely took 100% better care of our stuff than UPS or the Post Office did (we mailed some stuff before we realized how cheap Amtrak is). I spent about $150 shipping my stuff via Amtrak, which was about 30 boxes of various weights. (They charge by weight.)

29 Mysti

Putting the piano aside for a minute….

You are going to sell your stuff to save the moving cost…but then won’t you have to buy new stuff when you get to Seattle….probably costing you more than the moving cost?????

30 GNMom

The piano girl ninja learned how to play on sits in our living room and came from girl ninja’s maternal grandparents who downsized from a house in the LA area to a condo in Palm Desert and we got the beautiful baby grand piano. Yes they are expensive and we did have professional movers move our piano. Even when we got new carpet we had professional movers come and move the piano in and out of the living room. Sounds silly but it is a valuable piece and needs to be treated respectfully. Check out your mom’s advice too. Can’t wait to get you guys back here in the Northwest.

31 Ninja

Thanks for all the help guys/gals! I just hopped off the phone with the piano storage facility the piano is at and it looks like it is going to cost about $345 to have the thing securely transported to Seattle. Time to get out the checkbook :)

32 Ron

Don’t forget that moving costs for employment purposes are tax deductible (I think). Save your receipts.

33 Cassy

When we moved from VA to FL we used a service that allowed us to rent space in a semi trailer. We had to rent a U-Haul to take our things to the truck depot and one to pick our things up once the truck got to Florida. If I recall correctly, it cost about $800 altogether which was a lot cheaper than renting and driving a truck and paying for mileage and gas. Good luck!

34 Andrea @ NickelByNickel.com

I’ve moved 5000Km’s twice and across the atlantic ocean thrice. Once I sold all my stuff and just took what could fit in my car, three times involved buying a container havng it delivered and packing it over the course of a week, having it shipped then selling the container (one of those big metal boxes) and the other time I moved I hired mover for the big stuff and moved the rest myself. I’m 100% for doing as much of it yourself as you can! My mover-related experience was so-so, they got my stuff moved alright but it was delayed a few weeks and I got a nice credit on the bill for that so it was pretty cheap in the end but it sucked having to wait for my stuff.

Move what you can by yourself in a rental truck whatever, but do some calling around re; that piano!

35 Kelsey

Great timing. We actually just had my parents’ piano shipped to us (700 miles distance). We used uship.com. You can post your piano to be shipped, and shippers will ‘bid’ on your piano. We were able to secure the shipper ranked #2 on their site for about $550. Yes, it’s not cheap, but for a professional company that is insured, it’s worth it. It took 8 days for it to be delivered (because the company travels all around and had a ton of pick-ups and deliveries to make).

Even moving a piano by yourself across a room can permanently damage the strings and sound; don’t risk it!

36 Barb Friedberg

I think you hit it the cheapest way possible. We’ve moved 8 times and most of the time with professional movers. And they cost A LOT. You are doing great!!!! I love love love your writing style. I’m smiling right now!

37 retirebyforty

Just leave it in storage for now. Do you have room for it at your new place? Wait until you get your 27 rooms mansion.
You can just get a moving company to move it. I can’t life a baby grand, that’s for sure.
$345 sounds a little low to me. I doubt you will get that price after all is said and done.

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