Moving Cross Country Cheaply with Amtrak Express Shipping
Moving Long Distance Cheaply
Moving across the country on a shoestring budget?
If you need to get your stuff to the other side of the United States, or across the state, you've probably realized how big of an expense moving will be. In many cases it can cost more to ship you stuff than it would be to buy everything new. The general advice is to sell or otherwise get rid of as much as you can before you move. However, there's a lot of stuff you can't get rid of and you need to figure out how to move it cheaply. Hiring a moving company or using LTL freight will cost you a couple grand. Renting a moving truck and driving it yourself is also expensive. There's also shipping with UPS or the postal service, and those are insanely pricey to move your stuff as well.
I recently moved from the LA area to Chicago. I spent $169 to move my stuff cross country. No, that's not a typo. The secret to moving long-distance cheaply: Amtrak Express Shipping.
How to Move Across the Country Cheaply
- Get rid of as much stuff as you can, especially anything big like furniture.
- Ship everything you can with Amtrak Express Shipping.
- Anything you can't ship on Amtrak is tricky (see Amtrak's restrictions below). If you're flying, you're best option is putting it in your checked bag. If you're driving, stick it in your car. If neither of those options work, your next best option is mailing it parcel post or media mail. This is not cheap. However it is better than other shipping options.
Amtrak Express Shipping
Amtrak Express is an inexpensive freight shipping service.
Amtrak offers this service only between major cities, however. You'll need to drop off your shipment at your nearest major train station and then pick it up once it reaches the destination city. This is not a door-to-door service, but the extra effort to get to the train station will save you a ton of money.
Amtrak Express Shipping Costs
You may ship up to 500 pounds per day. If you have more than 500 pounds you may break it up into multiple shipments over multiple days.
The first 100 pounds is a flat rate of $67.
Additional weight is $0.57 per pound.
Once your shipment arrives at the station, you will have 48 hours to claim it. If you fail to do so in that time, you will be charged additional storage fees.
Amtrak Express Restrictions
Anything that's this good of a deal has a catch. Amtrak Express' catch is its restrictions--and there are a lot of them.
The maximum box size is 3'x3'x3'. The maximum box weight is 50 pounds. This means no furniture or oversized items.
Amtrak does not allow anything breakable, valuable, or electronic to be shipped with them. This is problematic. No appliances (microwave, crockpots, TVs, blenders, etc.). No computers or printers. Pretty much anything with a plug cannot be shipped. Since nothing breakable is allowed with Amtrak Express, you can't send dishware.
Finding More Information about Moving with Amtrak Express
There's not a lot of published information about Amtrak Express Shipping. There is some information at their website and you can get more information by calling 1-800-377-6914.
Before you start packing, call Amtrak. They will be able to tell you what stations provide the service, give you up-to-date pricing information, and verify that what you would like to ship is allowed. They will also know where exactly you need to drop off your stuff. Usually it's a loading dock that may be tucked on the back side of the building.