Moving Experience: Hope’s Move with U-Box & Clutter

Sick of living far from her family and eager for new work opportunities, Hope planned to move from Oakland, California, to her hometown of Waldorf, Maryland. She needed to move not just the contents of her two-bedroom Cali apartment but also her 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5.

Hope, a real life U-Box customer

Hope is by no means a moving newbie. This was her fourth cross-country move since 2016, so she knew exactly how to plan a budget move that didn’t compromise on quality.

She was between jobs, though, and needed to plan the cheapest move possible. After spending a month weighing her options in a DIY moving spreadsheet, she ultimately chose U-Haul U-Box for moving containers, Montway Auto Transport for car shipping, and Clutter for moving labor.

We like the way she thinks, since U-Box is one of our picks for best moving container companies and we recommend Montway as the best car shipper for cross-country relocations.

But how does she think her piecemeal approach worked out?

Hope signed up for the moveBuddha Better Moves Project in exchange for a $500 moving stipend to share the juicy details of her move, from booking a mover to delivery. Check out this guide to see how she planned everything and what she would do differently next time.

Move day takeaways for U-Box customers

  • Communication: Hope wouldn’t change a thing. U-Box was incredibly helpful and transparent, largely contacting her via text and updating her through the web portal.
  • Pricing accuracy and transparency: The surcharge for insurance increased Hope’s quote, but even then, she felt she had great value for the money.
  • Professionalism: U-Box’s team was incredibly professional and helpful.
  • Timeliness: She had to change delivery dates to avoid inclement weather, and U-Box was more than happy to oblige.
  • Loss and damage: Everything arrived safely with zero damage. Hope’s careful packing paid off, but she also credits U-Box’s new metal-framed containers.
  • Would Hope use U-Box again? Absolutely! A family member referred her to U-Box, and she would happily refer others to the moving container company, too.
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Hope needed help moving from Oakland, California, to Waldorf, Maryland

U-Box and Clutter moving trucks

Eager for a change of scenery, Hope relocated to be closer to family in the Washington, D.C., area. She was unemployed at the time of her move and could take her time planning everything, but the move needed to happen at the cheapest cost possible.

This wasn’t Hope’s first rodeo, either. A seasoned cross-country move pro, she’s learned a few tricks to keep things as affordable as possible.

Unfortunately, prices have gone up so much over the years that Hope had to calculate everything carefully in a spreadsheet. Ultimately, the goal was to get from California to Maryland as cheaply as possible without loss or damage.

Hope’s move at a glance

Move date February 24, 2024
Moved from Oakland, California
Moved to Waldorf, Maryland
Distance 2,840 miles
Move size Two-bedroom house (1,060 square feet)
Moving company U-Haul U-Box, Montway Auto Transport, Clutter
Moving quote U-Box: $3,400

Montway: $1,360

Clutter: $2,070

(Total: $6,830)

Actual cost U-Box: $3,500

Montway: $1,200

Clutter: $800

(Total: $5,500)

Hope got four moving container quotes

Hope spent two months meticulously planning her move back home, spending about a month searching for the perfect mover.

Previously, she found movers via Google and other review sites, but quickly fell in love with moveBuddha. It was great having an alternative to typical sources. She liked our impartial, balanced view of moving companies because it helped her make a decision more quickly.

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  • Small moves
  • Limited locations
  • Wooden containers
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Hope didn’t want to use full-service movers for her relocation, so she took a piecemeal approach. First, she booked Clutter for loading and moving labor. Her American Express credit card offered a $150 credit for booking with Clutter, making their initial $2,070 quote more affordable. She paid a 10% deposit to reserve her move date with the Clutter crew.

Next, Hope searched for a moving company. She went online and played with several moving container companies’ quoting tools, experimenting with different scenarios and move dates. After comparing the numbers, Hope ultimately chose U-Box for transportation.

Hope chose U-Box for their flexibility and competitive pricing

U-Box quoted Hope $3,400, which was less than she expected. A family member referred her to U-Box, and she was already leaning towards them anyway. She also liked how easy it was to get a quote and customize the move for different dates and container quantities.

Hope visited a local U-Haul to see a U-Box in person before reserving it to ensure this was the right option. Way to go, Hope!

She liked what she saw and decided to go with U-Box. After booking, they texted Hope a few times to confirm her details. The quote included delivery and one month of storage. Hope also paid extra for additional shipping and contents insurance coverage.

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At A Glance
  • Most locations nationwide
  • Store at your residence or a U-Haul location
  • Available for both local and long distance moves
  • One month of storage included
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In the meantime, U-Haul stayed in touch with Hope, telling her how to secure the containers and advising her on how many storage unit locks she needed (four locks for two U-Boxes, it turned out).

Hope also booked car shipping with Montway during this time, opting for open container transportation through the shipping broker.

To prepare for the move, Hope got busy decluttering for a move by selling some of her unwanted stuff on Facebook Marketplace. She packed herself to keep costs nice and low.

Moving day was fast

Person packing a U-Box container

U-Haul sent a few texts leading up to delivery. Communication was great, and Hope wouldn’t change a thing! She paid for her U-Boxes leading up to move day with a credit card, so payment was easy as pie.

Clutter’s team showed up at 9:45 a.m. on moving day, right on time. They handled her items well and were the picture of professionalism.

As a seasoned cross-country mover, Hope knew she had to actively participate in the moving process. She held elevators for the crew and unlocked doors for them with her key fob.

Hope hired Clutter’s team to load her furniture and boxes into a truck and transport them to a U-Haul shipping terminal. There, they loaded her things into two U-Boxes. It took an hour to load her belongings onto the truck and another hour to load the U-Boxes.

Hope did what she could to speed things along, which paid off big time. Clutter quoted her $2,070 for the job but only charged her $800, since loading went so quickly. Great job, Hope!

U-Haul’s Oakland staff realized Hope’s belongings were in the company’s older wooden containers, so they switched her belongings to the newer metal-framed boxes. Once they loaded the U-Box, U-Haul got to work transporting Hope’s belongings to the East Coast.

Delivery went efficiently

moving truck filled with belongings

It took 21 days for Hope’s U-Boxes to arrive in Waldorf. That might seem like a long time, but Hope had to adjust her delivery schedule. Most moving companies have a 30-day window for delivery anyway, but it’s good to know what is standard for your move route.

U-Haul gave Hope a delivery date with a 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. window. The U-Box driver left a voicemail 30 minutes before delivery and arrived right on time. The driver unloaded the boxes in Hope’s driveway. Afterward, U-Haul emailed Hope a final receipt with a link to a survey. Best of all, Hope’s items arrived in perfect condition!

All in all, Hope paid $3,500 for U-Box, $1,200 for Montway, and $800 for Clutter, bringing the cost of her big move to just $5,500.

Our take on the move

Clutter moving truck

It’s not often someone as experienced as Hope joins the Better Moves Project, and we have a lot to learn from her experience with frequent cross-country moves!

We love that she saw U-Box’s storage containers in person before hiring them. Not everyone is able to do something like that, but seeing the containers in person is a great way to alleviate anxiety.

Hope also did a great job shopping around for deals. She went above and beyond by looking for moving discounts through her credit card company. This is an underused hack that could shave a couple hundred bucks off your move — depending on the offer.

For their part, U-Box and Clutter gave Hope a perfect move. Hope took an active role in the moving process, which cut her quote from Clutter by quite a lot. Many moving companies charge by the hour, so the faster you move, the more you save!

We normally don’t recommend piecing out a move like Hope did, though. Generally speaking, using one full-service mover to handle everything is best, so you only speak to a single point of contact. However, in this case, pricing everything separately gave Hope a much lower cost for her cross-country move.

She minimized headaches by not being in a rush and always making herself available to help with the move.

The verdict

Looking back on the move, Hope wouldn’t change much. In fact, she rated Montway Auto Transport a 5 out of 5 overall. She also would recommend Clutter, U-Box, and Montway to others, but with the caveat that Montway is a broker, so the experience will vary.

Hope does wish she’d planned out her packing better. She flew from California to Maryland with several bags, one of which was overweight by nine pounds. Airlines love those extra baggage fees, which can add up. Hope recommends weighing everything carefully before your trip and packing efficiently to maximize your available space.

She did have an extra bag that she shipped to Maryland with Lugless. This service shipped her bag for way less than it would have cost to pay at the airport for an extra bag.

If you’re planning a cross-country move, Hope recommends planning early and being as flexible as possible. If you can, put in sweat equity to save money. She packed herself and helped her movers to save money and speed things up.

Hope also recommends using boxes of a similar size so you can stack and load them more efficiently. It also doesn’t hurt to check with your bank or credit card company to see if they have any special offers for moving!

Here’s how Hope rated U-Box’s performance on a scale of 1 to 5:

  • Communication: 5
  • Timeliness: 5
  • Quote accuracy: 4
  • Overall experience: 5

Do you have an upcoming move? Share your moving story with the Better Moves Project to earn a $500 stipend. Sign up now.

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