V&R Stories: The Insanity of Self-Relocation

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The pratfalls of self-relocation in the snow. – Photo by Michael Larson

Moving day.

We have all been there. Most of us will most likely use a rental vehicle to achieve either a cross-town or cross-country move. Some of us will rely on friends and their vehicles to help. Others will hire a moving service to do the job for us.

With the exception of a utilizing a moving service, I’ve done my share of self-moves to some insane heights. Aside from the conventional methods, I’ve done moves via the postal service, as checked baggage on a flight or a train ride and on local public transport. I also did some moves in rented SUVs, including the epic cross-country trek from Northern Virginia to Madison, Wisconsin in a GMC Jimmy.

Aside from these methods, I always try to do the best possible move I can make. I try to plan accordingly, get the right vehicle, budget enough for vehicle rental fees, fuel, and food for anyone who helped.

Even the best-laid plans are always thwarted. Time impacts, weather, friends who say they help that never show, the behaviors of soon-to-be-former roommates, neighbors, property managers, rental vehicle agency staff, fellow motorists, soon-to-be-new property managers, roommates and neighbors, petrol station staff and patrons…all of the challenges that add to the stress of moving.

How can we make the self-relocation easier and less stressful? I have no clue.

Ten years ago, Mother Nature decided to thwart my best-laid plans. After hoping, praying and offering sacrifices of many types, it snowed. Four inches accumulated on Saturday. It began as soon as I picked up my van.

U-Haul provided a 2007 Ford E-250 Super Duty cargo van for the task of moving from the Cooper Neighborhood in Minneapolis to Robbinsdale. For the uninitiated, Robbinsdale sits right on the western frontier of the city of Minneapolis, opposite the infamous North Side. Well, at least the good side of the North Side. Nonetheless, this was going to a major paradigm change in terms of lifestyle, commuting and the realm of activity.

With the help of my friends Scott and Michael, we managed to partially laden the back of the van with a bed and my worldly goods across town. Luckily, I was not burdened with a huge amount of furniture, which helped the ease of the relocation. Yet, considering the van has rear-wheel drive, extra furniture would’ve help matters to manage its handling. Good news, the van has anti-lock brakes.

Inexperienced drivers would’ve panicked as soon as the van began to fishtail. Not I. As white-knuckled as I was, I did my best to maintain wheel and throttle control on a varying array of road conditions from plowed to the unplowed. Good thing the Ford van was responsive. Otherwise, disaster was indeed a certainty.

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Photo by Randy Stern

Upon offloading at my new home in Robbinsdale, my friends made quick work of the van’s superior utility. The dual rear doors swing out to a full 180 degrees to compliment to split opening curb-side door. U-Hauls are not equipped with side doors on each side of the van. Debatable as to the extra utility of having both side openings available, but for most residential moves, the “street-side” may not be necessary.

In fact, it helps to secure the load with only one side opening. Think of times when precious items shift inside the cargo hold. Then, consider the possibility of that item falling when the door opens. The risk is doubled when two side cargo doors open. Certainly, there will be a time when U-Haul and other van rental agencies will specify dual side door openings. Until then, smart packing and load organization helps make moves less stressful.

Michael remarked how surprised he was on how U-Haul can rent out relatively new vans. The Phoenix, Arizona-based leader in truck rentals and self-storage took steps in ensuring that their “in-town” moving fleet is up to date. They switched from GM to Ford for their in-town fleet, hence my prior experience with the F-150 pickup. U-Haul customers should not be surprised if they pick up their Ford E-250 Super Duty with under 10,000 miles on the clock. A major kudos to U-Haul International, Inc. for undertaking this initiative for its customers.

One thing I must challenge from U-Haul. Maybe it was the conditions, but the advertised fuel economy average of 15MPG was not met. Try 10-11 MPG. I expected nothing less from a heavier duty cargo van equipped with Ford’s 5.4-liter Triton V8. Luckily, I planned accordingly at the fuel pump towards the end of my time playing in the snow with this van.

The adventure, as it is, is just a mere memory. I am all settled into my new home and the van has been rented out to another person crazy enough to tackle an in-town move with a cargo van. Just remember to be careful out there this and every winter ahead, especially if you’re behind the wheel of a Ford E-250 Super Duty cargo van.

Even better – find a home that you would want to stay for quite some time! In this case, we’re talking ten years in the making. I have been in this lovely home for ten years now.

Will I move anytime soon? I doubt it at this time…it has been my center of operation and the most comfortable place to fulfill my dreams in the past 53 years of my life.

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