Movin' On Out

I wrote about moving cross country back in 2015, but there's always more to say on the subject, particularly as it applies to home theater fans with expensive gear to transport safely. No, I'm not moving again, but what with Covid and other incentives, more folks are moving today than ever — particularly out of a few big and management-challenged states such as New York and California.

Moving from the wilds of Glendale California to the (different) wilds of western Florida in 2015 presented me with a number of challenges. But that was nearly seven years ago. Those challenges are somewhat different now, but the basics haven't changed. Moving remains one of life's more disorienting experiences.

I lived in the Los Angeles area for 15 years this time around (there were earlier, shorter stays) and never regretted it. Yes, the ground shook a bit now and then, threatening the inevitable that never occurred during my stay. The weather year round was unbeatable, and there was immediate access to almost anything. If, for example, I needed a special cable or connector immediately, it was only a short drive to tech stores in nearby Burbank, a town that served the entertainment sector (and I don't mean the now defunct Radio Shack with their famous slogan, "You've got questions, we've got answers").

Burbank is not only home to Disney and Warner Brothers studios but also has a huge technical infrastructure, servicing the entertainment industry throughout the Southland (as the LA area is often called). The best movie theaters in the country were within a tolerable drive from Glendale (except during rush hour!). And the AMC complex in Burbank itself, offering both IMAX and Dolby Cinema, was only 10 minutes from my house. Ditto for IKEA, Home Depot, Costco, Best Buy/Magnolia, Target, Circuit City (before they closed), Fry's (ditto), book and computer stores, restaurants of all descriptions, and other major retailers.

But the financial cost of these benefits was high and threatening to go higher. And since home prices had recovered from their crash in 2009, 2015 seemed like a smart time to take advantage of the increase. Real estate prices in LA are notoriously erratic, and today they're even higher by at least another 10% or more.

But who knew? What I did learn is that my new house in Florida, at the time of the move, was less than half the selling price of my LA digs, slightly larger, 50 years newer, and sported property taxes roughly $2,000/year lower (with the added bonus of no state income tax). The time was right. The LA house did need some significant repairs and refurbishing that took five months to complete (and roughly $20,000, though the repairs likely increased the selling price by at least that much).

Using Pods for Your Move
That's where the Pod People came in handy. You've most certainly heard about pod moving and storage. The most well-known such company is of the same name, but there are others as well. In a traditional move, a huge truck pulls up at your house and an army of moonlighting longshoremen (ogling at your A/V boxes) fill it with your stuff. And who knows how many truck transfers might occur in route across the country, with a risk of something going missing every time.

But a pod company drops a large, sealed container onto your driveway. You load it up yourself in your own time and in any order you like, lock it up, and keep the key. The podsters then come back, pick it up, and either ship it directly to your new house or put it in storage until you're ready for it.

I needed two pods, a 10-footer first and later a second, larger one. I filled each of them up in turn. As it turned out, I also needed a normal moving truck for a small shipment of larger furniture.

All of this had the advantage of letting me transfer everything I didn't need, until my final destination, into the two pods. The pods then went into storage where their contents didn't interfere with showing the house to potential buyers eyeballing my A/V goodies. This also let me "stage" the house, without clutter, to make the best impression. There are companies that stage houses for a fee, but by clearing out all the extraneous stuff I was able to do it myself — not to mention my getting a near full-price offer in 11 days!

With the pod arrangement I was able to secure all of my A/V gear from the time it left my old house until I unpacked it in my new place. All of this wasn't cheap, what with two pods plus the added moving truck, pickup at the source, storage at the delivery point, a delivery to the new house once I was ready for it. I was lucky that the equity gained from my house in CA vs. the lower cost of the house in FL made it all possible. Uncle Sam was happy as well, as he managed to skim a bit of the sales profit into my taxes that year!

Pod Packing Tips
I'll offer a few hints here on packing pods for such a move. Disassembling some types of furniture can save space. Instead of simply stacking my five IKEA bookcases intact, a major space killer, I disassembled them and laid their pieces flat on the floor of the pod before loading anything else. Pack all of your gear into the original shipping boxes if you have them. If not, find suitable and sturdy replacements together with plenty of padding. Put the heaviest boxes on the floor of the pod, with progressively lighter gear on top.

Most important, secure everything as much as possible to avoid shifting during shipment. One of the reasons my stuff arrived in such good shape is that I used a generous collection of ropes and ratchet straps to secure the load. I even screwed several large eye hooks into the wood frames on the inner side walls of the pods to which I secured the straps. I also used these hooks and straps to secure my two TVs upright to the side of the Pod. Never, ever, lay a TV flat in shipment even in its boxes which, of course, you've kept.

I also screwed 1x1 wood cleats to the floor of the pods, directly next to the boxes closest to the pod's upward-opening front door. The cleats (hopefully) would keep the boxes from sliding forward and possibly jamming the door from the inside during shipment, making it difficult (or impossible!) to open it. But just to insure that this hadn't happen, I asked the delivery Pod-Person to stand by to help, if needed, as I opened the door. There was no problem. He even noted that this was one of the best packing jobs he'd ever seen. I had accidentally left a roll of tape on top of one of the boxes inside one of the pods, and as far as I could tell it was in the same place when I opened it up two thousand miles and several months later! According to the Pod-Man, most full pods he'd seen on delivery were a scattered shamble of unsecured boxes; most customers simply tossed everything into the pod as fast as they could and closed the door. Out of sight, out of mind, apparently relying on the Pod-Gods to prevent shifting during shipment. But most pod users aren't shipping thousands of dollars in A/V gear.

If you're moving from a major metropolitan area to a semi-rural town that's not near a large city, carefully inventory your gear, particularly anything you might want to sell and replace soon after the move. Consider the potential market for it where you currently live compared to where you're moving. I had (and still have) the (mis?) fortune of owning two now unused plasma TVs (a Kuro monitor plus the last and best plasma that Panasonic ever made). With all of the stuff above to deal with I didn't even try to sell them prior to leaving LA. There might have been ready buyers there, but there appear to be none in this semi-rural county of 200,000, barely twice the population of Glendale CA alone (much less LA county's millions). Now, nearly seven years later it takes a special kind of buyer to even know what a 2K plasma set might offer — and not offer. And if shipping gear to a buyer is pricey, shipping plasmas is out of the question; they're not only heavy but far more fragile than today's flat screen TVs. But even the latter deserve more careful handling than most A/V gear.

jeff-henning's picture

Having moved more times than I'd have preferred to, I have only one piece of advice: keep all of your audio system's original boxes. Not all the packaging that it was shipped in, but the OEM boxes.

Having them makes that part of the move a lot easier. If you have a tiny apartment with no storage, you then are screwed, but, if you have the space...

David Vaughn's picture

I couldn't agree more. When I lowered my ceiling for Atmos I used the space above the room as an decision I ever made. It's a great place to store all my A/V boxes!

prerich45's picture

There are very few of us that are interested. I thought I drummed up a few good bites, but no dice. The only one that I know moving that type of gear is a guy named Steve in Pensacola. He sells a lot of stuff. Over the past few years he's sold a pair of Totem Winds, Tekton DI's, and he has a set of Dunlavy IV's for sell (and some Golden Ears as well). I bought my McIntosh MC8207 from him!!! It's a small community over here --- as I said AV purgatory.

prerich45's picture

Sale not sell.