Carrying a 42”, 60 lbs TV cost me $13.94. I believe that was a pretty good deal. Read along.
My family and I recently moved to the US. We’ve decided lately to go the “frugal route” on our path to financial independence, and that involves trying to minimize costs in all ways possible.
We chose a place that is walking distance from the necessary stuff: a doctor, grocery store, and my work. As a result, we don’t need a car, which has helped our budget a lot. (one day I’ll try and calculate how much we’re saving by not owning a car, but I know it’s huge).
Not having a car, if you live downtown, is in general a good thing. I don’t have to hunt for parking space every time I do something, no stress of being in an accident, and nobody asks me for credit history when I take the bus or when I walk.
But once in a while, everyone needs a way to ship bulky stuff.
I recently purchased a used TV from a colleague, and part of the deal was that I had to find a way to carry the TV from her apartment. I could have gotten a good, new TV from Amazon for $297 (including shipping. For those who wonder, it’s the 39” Aquos by Sharp), but instead I chose to get an older, bulkier (but with a slightly bigger and better screen) TV for $200 (a 42” Panasonic Plasma TV. These cannot be found anymore). I made the huge mistake of not including the shipping costs in my calculation. But I couldn’t bail out on the deal, so it became a goal for me to find the cheapest way to carry the TV from one apartment to the other, otherwise it wouldn’t feel like a good deal anymore. That was roughly a 2 miles ride.
What are the options to move a 42”, 60 pounds TV on a 2 miles distance, when you don’t have a car?
I had several options. The ultimate cheapest ones included: carrying the TV myself by foot, taking it on the bus, or asking a friend/colleague. I’ll explain below why I didn’t go with these super frugal routes:
Carrying the TV by foot was attempted. It was too heavy given the hardware at my disposal (a baby stroller), it would have taken hours and was not worth the effort. That and the risk of breaking it along the way.
Riding on the bus with a 42” TV felt really awkward to me. I could probably have done it, but it really felt kind of embarrassing.
On the same level, it felt strange to ask a colleague. I just landed in the country and don’t have any close friends yet, so I didn’t know whom to ask. I’m sure it’s the easiest option once you know people, but it would feel weird, especially after I talked so often at lunch about how I don’t need a car in the city 🙂
So, the super cheap/free options were out of the equation for me. They might work for you. But *I* needed a vehicle.
So what are the options to get a vehicle to transport a 42” TV? The first thing that came to my mind was to rent a car from your typical rental office: AVIS, etc… The best price I could find (on kayak), after tax, insurance, gas, etc… was around $35 for a day. More convenient options (the AVIS Budget the closest to my place) were closer to $50 for a day. “Less than a day” rental did not seem to be cheaper in my research.
U-Haul rent moving trucks for exactly that kind of situation. Their lowest price was $19.99 + 0.79 per mile, + taxes. The total would have been roughly $25 for my case. This added the inconvenience of fetching the truck at their location, plus finding a parking spot for a pickup truck in fairly crowded areas of the city. If you haven’t figured by now I don’t really like to drive, mostly because I hate the idea of having to find a parking spot. A large pickup truck just makes that issue even bigger.
Another option I toyed with was to just call a taxi, and figure out if they would carry my TV with me. I think this would have been a viable option, but I didn’t try to call a company. Based on various Yelp feedback, I saw that it is tough to guarantee that the taxi company will actually send a big enough car, and this was back in the “awkward” world. I felt the same about Uber, with their fancy cars… I estimate this would have cost me somewhere between $15 and $20. “Recommended” fare for the distance by taxi, including tip, is closer to $13, but I think I would have tipped a bit larger assuming the taxi driver was being helpful and understanding with the TV situation. Again, I felt a bit awkward about this use of a taxi, and I didn’t call.
A few select cities in the US have access to an app named “Dolly“. It’s a crowdsource moving system. You basically enter your starting point and destination, a day and approximate time, the amount of items you want to carry, and another member of the community will show up to your place, help carry your stuff from point A to point B. I found that for the minimal distance of 2 miles I had to travel, this would have cost me about $45 ($35 + a nice tip).
Despite the fairly high price, the Dolly option would probably have been my first choice if I had had more than my TV to move. This is basically a “light” moving company contract, with a friendly neighbor who’s actually here to help for this exact kind of situation. I wish this service keeps growing, as I think it’s a terrific idea.
Last but not least, car2go was the option that had the best balance of convenience and price in my opinion. It is worth mentioning that I am already a car2go member, otherwise the membership fee (a one $35 payment for lifetime membership) would have put the price a bit above the other, more convenient, options. The convenience is obvious: take the car as close as possible to the first apartment, load the TV, drive to apartment B, unload the TV, done. No need to deal with insurance, returning the car to the initial point, etc… this car2go trip ended up happening, and cost me $13.94, but I feel I could have gone as low as $10.
I give a summary below of the various options I considered:
Price, pros and cons of various options to carry a 42” TV (or any other bulky item) on a 2 miles distance in the city
|Carry it by foot
||It’s heavy, potentially dangerous for the TV on such a long distance.
You do everything on your own
|Ask a friend/colleague
||FREE (or a beer)
You get to bond with a colleague, and you get help
|It’s awkward if you don’t know the person really well, especially after you’ve been bragging that you don’t need a car
|Take it on the bus
||Nobody to help, and it’s definitely awkward. Can you get off the bus in time? What if the bus is crowded? What if the driver just refuses?
||$10 ~ $15
It’s a car, you drive it from point A to point B and forget about it. No additional insurance fees, convenience of having one very close to you
|The size of the car2go trunk is ridiculously small. You will need to measure your stuff first to see if it actually fits!
You do everything on your own
||Reasonable price, convenience of a car
||Awkward feeling to ask to the taxi company/driver if they can help carry a bulky item
||It’s designed to carry bulky items
||You do everything on your own.
Have to fetch the truck, possibly far from your place, and give it back.
Nobody to help.
Need to find a parking spot for a pickup truck, in both the origin and destination points. This can be tricky if you don’t drive huge cars regularly.
We’re getting on the expensive side now
|Traditional Car Rental (AVIS, etc…)
||$35 ~ $50
||It’s a car, you get it for a full day to do other stuff if needed
||Expensive, with hidden fees (gas, insurance,…).
Nobody to help.
Have to return the car to the rental office
||Service was made for this! There’s a guy who comes and actually wants to help you carry your bulky stuff. This is technically a moving company for a reasonable price.
Can carry up to 6 items for the same base price.
The guy drives for you, so you don’t have to worry about driving a pickup truck
|One of the most expensive solutions.
As I explained above, car2go was by far my first choice, and I gave it a try. My only concern was the size of the TV. Would it fit in the trunk?
How to put a 42” TV in a car2go trunk
Will a 42” TV fit in the trunk of a smart fortwo? The answer is yes and no.
My huge and heavy TV would not completely fit in the car2go’s trunk. At first I thought “I’m screwed”. But it turned up that slightly pushing the front seat allowed me to put the TV in a diagonal position, and that helped a bit.
A bit too high, a bit too wide. It would probably fit if I removed the base stand, but I didn’t have a screwdriver with me
One corner dramatically sticks out… am I screwed?
It would still stick out of the trunk, but because the smart fortwo’s trunk door is a “two piece” set, I was able to secure the TV inside the vehicle with the lower portion of the trunk’s door, with a corner of the TV sticking out outside the upper part of the trunk door, which I didn’t close fully.
I’m good! I only had to gently put the upper part of the trunk door down (not seen on the pictures) and it worked. Beware though, you completely lose visibility with the rear view mirror
I could have done things differently: the TV was attached to its stand. If I had taken the time to separate the stand from the TV, I would probably have been able to fit the screen entirely in the car2go’s trunk.
One big issue of my setup above is that it completely blocked the view for the rear mirror in the car. I think that’s a legal no-go here, but technically it is doable and I did it. I would just not recommend it for a long distance drive, or in a crowded area (I did it very early in the morning to avoid traffic).
I’d also be wary of trying with any TV size above 42”. The 42” TV was a very close fit here, and I think anything above that, even 45”, will probably be either too wide or too tall. Would love to be proven otherwise though.
If my car2go attempt had been a failure, I would probably have gone through either U-haul, or the crowdsourced Dolly solution. But my car2go experiment actually worked, so I didn’t have to even try these alternatives.
The car2go trip cost me $13.94, but I think I could have gotten that down to $10: this was my first trip with car2go and I easily lost 10 minutes at the beginning and the end of my trip, trying to familiarize myself with the system and making sure I was parking in an authorized area.
Total cost of my TV: $200 + $13.94 = $213.94. The next best price I found would have been roughly $300 for a more recent but smaller (and lower screen quality) TV. Arguably, I didn’t get a good deal here, because of all the time it took me to compare the different options here. I might as well have spent the additional $85 to have things handled for me. But I like that this has been a great learning experience, it provided some healthy exercise (I did have to carry the TV on small distances), and being able to fit the large TV in the small car felt like such a huge victory, it made my entire day!
If you’re wondering what more you can fit in a car2go’s trunk, other sites have published photos and videos of what can be put in there.
But it’s always difficult to get a good idea of the dimensions, so I’m just adding my own contribution here: a 42” TV does fit in the car2go. Enjoy your car sharing service 🙂