Monday, September 12, 2011

About the Move: ABF

This move was both one of the easiest, the hardest, the quickest, and most drawn out of the many, many moves of our marriage (this was #7).  We normally go with the DIY method of renting a large truck with car trailer, but I this time I took a risk and we moved by "container".

After surfing the interwebs and price comparing, I decided that ABF was the way to go.  ABF offers a number of options, but we chose the container move.  This means that a 28' truck trailer is delivered to your home, and you pack it.  Then, THEY move it.  YES.  No driving a giant truck while hauling a car trailer behind you.  No $150 fill-ups so you can drive 100 miles and do it again.  And best of all, we had 5 days to pack it up!  

(picture from

The 5 days is where it started to turn into the "longest" move thus far.  5 days meant we didn't have to rush, but it also meant that it felt like FOREVER.  Add to that the transit time (2 days for us), and that the pick-up doesn't count, and well, it turned into an 11 day move.  Despite the drawn-out process, I was totally impressed with the customer service, the price, the timing, and the outcome.  Let me break it down.  

Customer Service:  I first submitted our info for an online quote.  Within 2 days, I had a call from customer service to go over the details.  I didn't make a reservation at that time (this was about 6 months before our actual move), but once we nailed down our timeline, I called and locked in the quote. About a month before the move, I was contacted by customer service again. He verified that I had received the documents I needed, and walked me through the process.  He also answered all my crazy questions, and directed me to some online videos for clarity.  Super helpful.  I scheduled the drop-off, and although I wasn't there when the trailer arrived, the driver was professional, helpful, and very fast.  Same for the pick-up, scheduling the delivery at our new house, and the actual delivery.  Top-notch. 

Price:  Price is determined by number of rooms you are packing, and is approximate.  Cost was comparable to the truck+trailer+pay-for-gas-drive-it-yourself method. They did extend us a $50 veteran discount (I asked).  And we saved another $60 by using 2 feet less than we reserved.  I was very pleased.

Timing: The trailer was delivered on a Wednesday (it was a little cheaper to have it dropped off on Tuesday or Wednesday), and we were given 3 days to pack it up.  BUT weekends don't count!  So we actually had 5 full days to pack it up.  The trailer was picked up on Monday, and there was a 2 day transit time to our new house.  The bonus is that they are flexible on delivery, so I was able to schedule delivery for that Friday.  We took the weekend to unload, and it was ready for pick up on Monday morning.  

Outcome: Our stuff was delivered safely, and any damage incurred was definitely our fault.  I would absolutely use them again, and would recommend them without reservation.  Unpacking was the most interesting part of the journey.  We were light on help when we packed up, and didn't expect much for our move-in (although I had asked for help, and was assured a few people would come).  We got started at about 7am on Saturday morning, and plowed through about half of the truck.  And then we had a dozen people come help!  I was blown away.  They knocked out the rest in less than 30 minutes, put our washer & dryer in place, and then stayed to mow the lawn.  Now that's a warm welcome!

Other tips & tricks:  
  • I had a terrible time finding boxes this time, but was so, so lucky to get boxes from an aquaintance whose family had recently moved.  It was a military move, so they had tons of boxes & paper to share.  I also bought 10 small boxes from Lowe's (super inexpensive & good quality).  
  • We didn't have a hand truck & ABF doesn't rent them, so we rented one from our local Home Depot for $6.  
  • ABF also doesn't rent moving blankets & I blanched at the cost of renting from the other usual suspects ($50 for 12 small blankets).  I got around this by visiting my local thrift store!  I spent $12 and got 6 very large blankets.  Add in our own stack of blankets, quilts, tablecloths & beach towels & we were all set.  
  • I picked up a set of Space Bags at Costco for $20.  This was a huge help in packing blankets, bedding, clothes, pillows, towels, etc.  After sucking out the air, I put the compressed bag into a heavy-duty garbage bag.  Easy!


Chrissy Jo said...

I remember doing this with our move to Iowa. We did the exact same thing, using ABF, stealing all my mom's moving boxes and paper (from her two week prior military move). I did end up purchasing some moving blankets and mattress bags that we have been storing for the last 4 years. I never even thought about just going to a thrift store and buying blankets. Genius! Next time I move (whenever that may be) I'm totally following you're lead.

Liz said...

We, too used ABF when we moved to Iowa. We had PLENTY of help qhen we packed up and much dmage was done on the road. Our TV looked like an accordion when we got to it.

Ashley said...

So glad your move went well - and with ABF! I've heard horror stories from so many friends and family lately with other companies. When we were moving from OH to TX for residency, ABF ended up being too expensive for us=which was a bummer because they sound fabulous!

And heaven knows if I ever need recommendations for anything, I come to your blog. I HEART your recommendations. For real. I'm still thinking about that mascara you recommended ages ago when my stash of the not-so-good stuff runs out. Hope remodeling is going swell :)

Becky said...

This is how we are planning on doing our move when we go back to WA in February. NO WAY are we driving a moving truck across the US in February. We are even going to ship our car and fly.

We used another company "We-haul" when we moved from Iowa to Washington in 2006 that does this same thing- with so so results. They did what they promised and our stuff ended back in WA in one piece and on time, but their costumer service was bad. I think we are going to go with the more well known ABF this time- so I was really glad to hear your review! I loved your other tips too- the blankets from the thrift store is a gem!!

So- are you feeling settled in now! We miss you over here in Michigan- it isn't the same without you.