The Fascinating Reason We’re Traveling Over 500 Miles To Buy All Our Furniture

The Fascinating Reason We’re Traveling Over 500 Miles To Buy All Our Furniture

Yes, you read that right – we’re going to be traveling over 500 miles just to bring furniture back to our place… an apartment we don’t even have yet.

After two years and eight months of living in Boquete, Panama, it was time to move back. We took a bus to Costa Rica, traveled to Ajijic Mexico where we spent 8 nights, and then enjoyed 3 nights at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun that surpassed our expectations.

As of last week though, we’re back in northeastern Ohio where we’re currently living in my inlaws’ basement for the next month… you gotta appreciate the generosity of family!

Next month, we’ll take a massive road trip that will likely take about a month before we get back. Once we return in July, the plan is to move into an apartment. The biggest problem (other than stupidly high rent prices) is that we won’t have any furniture. In fact, we don’t have much of anything. We sold almost everything we owned before we moved to Panama.

And I truly like that we don’t have a lot of “stuff” anymore – it’s so liberating!

However, you gotta have some things when you’re living in the U.S. In Panama and many other countries, you’re dealing with mostly furnished places. Here, not so much. So we want to strike a balance between buying enough without getting burdened down again.

Lisa and I have been talking on and off about this subject for a while now and some options on how we were going to furnish our place. Well, things took a major twist about a month ago, and now we’re going in a completely different direction.

I found this whole thing to be so interesting and Lisa and I have spent many hours debating whether this whole idea made sense or not.

So now I’ll tell you the story and you can tell us if we’re crazy for doing this!

Our initial plan to get furniture

A common theme in the personal finance community is that you shouldn’t buy a new car. Specifically, the problem is that cars lose their resale value so quickly that it doesn’t make sense most of the time from a financial perspective. You’re much better off buying a car that’s a couple of years older for significantly less money and driving it into the ground.

And that’s a fair point. I don’t care if you buy a new car or not if your road to a solid financial future is already paved… whatever floats your boat! Personally, I’ll be sticking with used cars because they don’t give me that same high that others get from them but that’s just me.

One thing you rarely hear mentioned in the community, however, is how furniture follows that same decline in resale value. Buying new furniture can be crazy expensive – sometimes to the point of just being ridiculous.

But try to sell the same furniture a few years later and you’ll quickly find out that you’re not going to get anywhere near what you paid for it.

The reason is simple… market demand. The majority of people want to buy new for one reason or another.

So Lisa and I have been talking about this for the past year. Why do we care if the furniture is new or not? We lived in three different places while in Panama and each had furniture in it that wasn’t new.

Did that matter? Not really. In those cases, you don’t have a choice on what you get but the used part wasn’t a big deal. When you stay in a hotel or an Airbnb, you have used furniture as well.

Anyway, we had decided that when we got our place in Ohio this summer, we were going to look at free/cheap furniture first. The plan was to look at some sites/apps like:

We’d also check out garage sales, Goodwill, consignment shops, and all those fun places.

Anything we couldn’t find or didn’t like, we’d buy new. We’d save a ton of money that way and everything would be new for us.

Easy enough right?

Then this happened…

A few months ago, we were with a friend of ours in beautiful Boquete, Panama. She’s from Raleigh, North Carolina where she still owns a place. However, she’s been happily living in Boquete for a handful of years. She’s kept her house in NC because it gives her a place to stay when she goes back periodically to visit family and take care of anything else she wants to do.

Well, as you know, the housing market’s been on a tear for the past couple of years. And she recently found out that she could make a pretty penny by selling.

Now that she’s been in Panama long enough to know she loves it there, the idea of selling became more appealing. The general thought was, “Why not sell it while this most likely once-in-lifetime opportunity presents itself and just stay in an Airbnb when visiting the U.S.?”

Makes complete sense to me and I hope she crushes it on the sale!

But this is when things became even more intriguing. She said she doesn’t want to deal with trying to sell her stuff piecemeal and deal with all the time and headaches involved.

I get that. Been there, done that and it’s a real pain in the butt.

She then said that she knows we’ll be starting from scratch when we move back and offered to sell us essentially everything in the house for $2,500.

$2,500! That’s for all her furniture, beds small appliances, towels and linens, patio furniture, grill, dishes, utensils, and more. In other words, just about everything.

Wow – that’s crazy generous of her! This isn’t some old rundown stuff either – this is some really nice furniture and other goodies. Here’s some of what we’ll be picking up…

Plus, there’s a lot not in the photos – a grill, a really good internet router, towels, dishes, etc.

It’s a good chunk of money for us to spend, but considering everything we’d be getting, it’s a steal! However, there’s one small issue.

Uh, one little furniture dilemma…

This would have been a done deal right off the rip except for one small detail… we’d have to travel over 500 miles from Ohio to North Carolina to get all this stuff. Then we’d have to load it up in a moving truck (or something similar), drive it back to Ohio, and unload it into a storage unit or our apartment that we don’t have yet.

And that was the debate Lisa and I had for a while – and we both argued both sides of this.

First of all, that’s a lot of stuff and I’m not sure we need all of it. Then there’s the moving part. We could rent a U-Haul, one of those PODS, or something else.

But I’m no spring chicken anymore and moving isn’t something high on my list of fun things to do. My back doesn’t like that idea either. So that means we’d probably need to hire a crew to do the loading. It also means that when we’d get back, we’d have to consider hiring another crew to unload it.

Of course, we’d have to figure out if we’d fly out there and drive back or drive out there and then drive both the moving truck and car back.

Regardless, of the options we’d choose, it’s not cheap. Coincidentally, my friend Mr. Tako from Mr. Tako Escapes is in a similar position He and his family are in the process of moving and he’s seeing how expensive it can be…

I kept a close eye on this thread just to see some of the options, but no matter what you do, it ain’t cheap!

So Lisa and I bounced back and forth on this for weeks. Finally, though, we told her it was a deal. Now, we just needed a plan to make it happen.

The master plan(s)

We’ve decided to travel over 500 miles to buy furniture (and a ton of other stuff). It sounds crazy, but I think the numbers will still make sense. Right now, we have two ideas on how to make it happen:

Furniture Pickup Plan A

1) Very soon, we should have the Southwest Companion Pass. I wrote about this in my post, The #1 Easy Way We’re Getting the Southwest Companion Pass. This wonderful benefit will allow us to do buy-one-get-one-free on Southwest flights for the next year and a half.

In this case, we’d buy one one-way ticket from Cleveland to Raleigh for Lisa and I’ll tag along for free. And when I say I “buy” I mean we’ll use frequent flier miles to cover the cost of the one we need to “pay” for.

Because we have a road trip planned for the month of June and another even the first week in July, the plan would be to fly out in mid-July.

2) We spend ungodly amounts of time packing everything up… this is why I hate “stuff.” She’s nice enough to let us stay there too since no one’s living there so we can take our time in this.

3) Time to pick up a moving truck and get it over to our friend’s house.

A 22′ truck from Penske was showing $721.80 with unlimited mileage after applying a promo code. It would be $733.80 plus taxes.

The Fascinating Reason We’re Traveling Over 500 Miles To Buy All Our Furniture - Penske

A 26′ U-Haul truck shows a rate of $585 for use up to 4 days and includes 650 miles. With their damage coverage, it would be $646 plus taxes.

I went a little bigger on the truck size than we would probably need on this just to shoot high.

4) The crew shows up to load up the truck… maybe we use something like Bellhop for this? I’m not sure how much time we’d need for this, but I imagine it would take a couple of hours. Here’s what Bellhop shows for 2 movers for 3 hours…

The Fascinating Reason We’re Traveling Over 500 Miles To Buy All Our Furniture - Bellhop in Raleigh, North Carolina

5) Time for the 8-10 hour drive back to northeast Ohio… boring.

6) We take the moving truck to our apartment that we’ll have in place and unload the furniture and other goodies to furnish it. If we use Bellhop for the unloading, here’s what we’re looking at for another 3 hours…

The Fascinating Reason We’re Traveling Over 500 Miles To Buy All Our Furniture - Bellhop in Ohio

Anything we don’t plan to use, we’ll take to the small storage unit that we currently have. We’ll use the moving truck to get the rest of our belongings from the storage unit to take to our apartment, too.

7) Any of the things we get in the deal that we decide not to use, we’ll push to quickly sell from the storage unit and then cancel the unit completely. Selling some of this stuff will help us get back to that balance I want of not owning too much.

Furniture Pickup Plan B

Option two is to make Raleigh, NC the tail end of our road trip. Although we weren’t planning on going to the east coast, this could make sense. Our friend has already told us that we’re welcome to stay there so why not make this a stop for a handful of days and enjoy NC a little, too?

So that would mean we’d head there near the end of June, work a little, and have some fun as well. Everything else would follow steps 2-7 in Plan A except that the drive back would be me driving the moving truck and Lisa driving our Honda Pilot.

One downside is that this plan cuts into our road trip time out west. We have something scheduled for the last weekend in May so we can’t leave before then. And we have a multi-day event scheduled in early July so we need to be back then. Either way, we can’t extend our trip before or after.


Fascinating, right? I could never have imagined that we would consider traveling over 500 miles just to get furniture (and all the other good stuff).

I was shooting high, but overall, I would bet that this is going to run us about $1,800-$2,000. Add that to the $2,500 cost of everything and we’re looking at a total of up to $4,500.

That might seem high but I don’t think we’re going to hit even close to that. For one, if we bring in Bellhop or another service, we’ll likely just have them do the heavy furniture and we’d handle the rest. That can easily drop the cost of that down by several hundred dollars. I also don’t think we need a truck that large so that’ll bring down that expense and hopefully the gas price as well.

I would bet that we’ll be seeing a cost at the end of about $3,500…. not cheap, but look at everything we’re getting for it! Besides that, I think it’ll make even more sense financially if we sell a lot of the stuff we don’t plan to keep.

What do you think? Should we have taken a pass on this or do you think this was the smart way to go?

Please chime in if you have any thoughts on the cheapest moving truck company, alternative ideas, or anything else you might think would be helpful. And feel free to build me up or beat me down for our decision to make this a reality! 🙂

Plan well, take action, and live your best life!

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

24 thoughts on “The Fascinating Reason We’re Traveling Over 500 Miles To Buy All Our Furniture”

  1. That looks like some really nice stuff you’re getting there😍. Coffee pot and all the extras can really add up quickly! Would it be possible to have a little sale at her house of the things you can’t use BEFORE you transport? Surely there will be quite a bit from a house to a two bedroom apartment that you probably won’t need. Smaller truck, less man hours, less gas needed. Rather than transporting and then selling.
    Good luck with your move 😎. So exciting

    1. That’s an interesting idea, Kathy! Not sure if we’d be able to pull that off or not, but no harm in trying to put up a few things on OfferUp if we get there with a little time to spare. Thanks for that!! 🙂

  2. Whatever you do, make sure you get a truck with cruise control. I learned that the hard way with U-Haul. Chicago to Denver without cruise. Talk about torture! And don’t forget fuel cost for the beast.

  3. Looks like a good idea, this is helpful we’re planning our move from Seattle to Florida in August so I’m doing much the same planning. Look forward to hearing how this works out for you. You’ll have pretty much all you need – but I don’t see an Instant Pot listed, better pick one up, I use mine daily – it saves time and money.

  4. As nice an offer as it is, I would have passed. The hassle wouldn’t be worth the stress of it. You can look for stuff on Nextdoor also. Enjoy the drive up 77 through the mountains of West Virginia!

  5. Tough call. Seems like a good deal, but then you have to factor in the intangible “cost” of your time and the hassle vs. just buying exactly what you need “piece by piece” on Facebook Yardsale sites in Ohio, etc. One plus – you’ll have everything you need (and more), and you may even make a bit of your cost back via selling the surplus after you get settled into Ohio. Too bad you don’t live closer, we just bought a 16′ cargo trailer we’d have let you use for free (of course, that’d mean a round trip back to Georgia to bring it back to us!). Have fun…just another part of your adventure!

  6. Hey Jim, thanks for the mention! We ended-up deciding on Uhaul’s U-boxes for our move (I have a post coming that goes into why we chose them). I hired some moving help too, and hopefully those guys will do most of the back breaking moving/packing.

    Good luck on your long distance furniture purchase. Looks like nice stuff!

  7. I would just buy used things piecemeal. Moving is so much hassle already. Why make it so much more difficult? There are so many used things for sale nearby. Facebook marketplace is really good.
    Anyway, good luck. Sorry, I don’t have any tips. Also, I haven’t purchased furniture in a very long time. The price might have gone up so much to make it worth it.

    1. We’ve now committed to getting the furniture from NC. We also decided that we’re going to make it part of our road trip and stay at her place there for a little bit before loading everything up into a moving truck. We’ll also try to sell some things first from there before loading it up to make life a little easier. Should be interesting for sure! 🙂

  8. I love this idea! It’s an adventure! I’m glad you’re making her place part of your road trip so you can explore near there, too. You will definitely save a lot of money with this plan. Plus, everything already goes together! If you were to wait & get things piecemeal, it takes awhile to find all the pieces that look good together. If you can’t find something when sourcing piecemeal, you run the risk of having to buy it new. I like your plan & think you’ve made a good choice!

    1. Great point on knowing everything already goes together, Kathy… going piecemeal could end up giving us some funky-looking rooms! 🙂 I’ll guess we’ll see how we end up cost-wise when all is said and done. There’s a good chance it won’t be less expensive but at least we have a good idea of how much it’ll cost up-front and then we’ll be pretty much done after this!

  9. If you have any play time while in Raleigh, here are some free activities my 12 year old recommends: Pullen Park (playground, few rides, get a Locopop), Chavis Park (playground & splash pad), NC Museum of Natural Sciences, the Pott’s Branch Trail at Umstead State Park (short, shady, by a cute creek that you can play in), Yates Mill County Park (short hike around pond with waterfall and lots of turtles), & Laurel Hills Park playground.

  10. I’d take her offer even though it adds extra layers of complications. It doesn’t look like you’ll be lacking anything but if you need more items OR want to give away some of the things you’ll be getting, I highly recommend Buy Nothing. There are hyper-local groups all around the world and it’s all about gifting, no money changing hands or quid pro quo. I’ve given away hundreds of items to my neighbors so far. You can find the one where you’ll new apartment is/will be or ask to join the local one in NC just to give away items before you move them all back. I highly recommend using the group in an ongoing basis to ask for items you need and to give away things as you go so you don’t accumulate too much. Many of the groups are on FB, here’s the list: https://bnponfb.org/find-a-group/

  11. Nebraska Walker

    Read your post via Physician on Fire. The concept of buying everything in someone’s house sounds very practical for the seller and a good deal for the buyer, with some legwork the buyer’s end.
    I will keep this concept in mind. We aren’t moving but most of our furniture is worn out, having delayed due to wanting to meet some other goals first. We can afford new furniture but hate to pay so much. My biggest concern with used furniture is bedbugs: How do you know you aren’t inviting them into your home? Do you inspect the furniture yourself or take it on faith the seller would not sell infested furniture?
    Once I feel confident I can spot bedbugs, I will look for opportunities to buy people’s furniture that are moving, they might want to sell all their stuff like your contact did.

    1. That’s something I didn’t even think about, Nebraska. Unfortunately, that can be something you can get anywhere, too. Just because you’re at a nice place makes no difference. We had an experience years ago with bed bugs at a nice resort. Our daughter was just a baby at the time. We immediately left (getting us home at 5am!) and took so many precautions to ensure they didn’t get into our home, sanitizing our clothes (we got naked in the garage and bagged everything!), and using heat guns to help get the car hot enough next day to kill any that might have been in it. It was a huge project and actually ended with a settlement with the resort… ugh.

      So, I definitely get your concern. Luckily, we did our homework since then and now we do a bed bug check as soon as we check into any hotel or other place we’re staying. The good news is that they’re not too hard to spot if you know what to look for. And now that you’ve brought this up, we’ll be sure to do a check on all the furniture we get as well just to be safe… fun times! 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  12. There are some furniture pieces I’d be ok to buy used, but mattresses for me, I’d like my own. I also discovered mis-matched hand me down table and chairs were functional, but not ergonomic. Spending on a new but height tested set was worth the $. I was able to right size the table for my needs.
    Good luck with the adventures! I’m glad it’s a solution for you & the friend from NC. It keeps useful pieces from going to a landfill.

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