Moving Across the Country Cheaply with Amtrak Express Shipping
What's the Cheapest Way to Move From State to State?
Moving interstate or across the country on a shoestring budget? If you need to get your stuff or across the state, to a neighboring state, or to the other side of the United States, you've probably realized how big of an expense moving can be.
In many cases, it costs more to ship your stuff than it would to just buy new stuff at your destination. The general advice most people who are moving get is to sell or otherwise get rid of as much as they can before moving the rest. This is good advice, but there's bound to be a decent amount of stuff you can't get rid of that you will need to figure out how to move as cheaply as possible.
Hiring a moving company or using LTL freight will likely cost you a couple of grand. Renting a moving truck and driving it yourself is also expensive. You could ship with UPS or USPS, but those options are insanely pricey as well.
I recently moved from the LA area to Chicago, and I spent $169 to move my stuff across the country. No—that's not a typo. The secret to moving long-distance cheaply is Amtrak Express shipping.
The Most Affordable Way to Move Across the Country in 3 Steps
- Get rid of as much stuff as you can, especially large items like furniture.
- Ship everything you can using Amtrak Express shipping.
- Find an alternative method for anything you can't ship on Amtrak (Amtrak's restrictions are outlined below). If you're flying, your best option is to pack as much as you can in your checked bags. If you're driving, your best option is to try to fit as much as you can in your car. If neither of those options work, your next best option is mailing items via USPS Parcel Post or Media Mail (if applicable). Traditional shipping isn't cheap, but Parcel Post and Media Mail are generally cheaper than other options.
An Overview of Amtrak Express Shipping
Amtrak Express is an inexpensive freight-shipping service. Amtrak offers this service only between major cities, however, so you'll need to drop your shipment off at the 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 required to get your stuff to and from the train stations will save you a ton of money.
You may ship up to 500 pounds per day using Amtrak Express. If you have more than 500 pounds worth of material, you'll need to break it up into multiple shipments over multiple days.
The first 100 pounds of your shipment cost a flat rate of $67. Additional weight costs $0.57 per pound. If you've got 300 pounds worth of items to ship, your shipment will cost around $181. If you've got 400, it will cost about $238 and so on.
Once your shipment arrives at its destination station, you will have 48 hours to claim it. If you fail to do so within that time frame, you will be charged additional storage fees.
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, and this can be problematic as well. No appliances (microwave, crockpots, TVs, blenders, etc.), computers, or printers (pretty much anything with a plug) can be shipped. Since nothing breakable is allowed, you can't send dishware, either. Luckily, dishware is cheap, so I would recommend acquiring it at your destination rather than moving it anyhow.
More Information About Moving With Amtrak Express
There's not a lot of published information about Amtrak Express Shipping. There is some information on 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 away on the backside of the building.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2012 Modern Lady