Reader question: Emptying storage unit from across the country

Reader Lenore recently sent us the following question:

We had to leave our home in Nebraska to go to New York to deal with a family medical situation. After a few months in New York, I went back to Nebraska to pack and store our furniture, belongings, clothes, etc. It has now been nearly three years and I’m still paying for storage in Nebraska, and renting furniture in New York. I wasn’t sure we were going to stay in New York once the medical situation was sorted out, but I have a job here and the kids are in school and doing well. I don’t want to uproot the family again. I need to know the most economical way to sell the majority of our furniture and transport our sentimental things, some clothes, etc. to New York. I do not have the finances to let this insanity go on for much longer.

Since I am only able to take four days away from work so I would have to do it all in one trip, I can’t imagine how I would unload the locker, show and sell the furniture, and drive it back here myself. I hope you can provide me with some information and/or companies that you believe could guide me.

First of all, let me say that I’m glad your family was able to pull through the medical situation and is happily settled in New York. I can imagine it was a stressful situation for you.

Unfortunately, Unclutterer is unable to recommend specific companies but we can provide you with some advice that we hope will help.

We recommend that you contact a NAPO member in Nebraska. Select a professional organizer with experience in relocations. Some who are experienced in Seniors’ move management may be willing to take you on as a client even if you are not a senior so please consider contacting those organizers as well.

Most professional organizers would be able to communicate with you via email during the process so, if you were not able to return to Nebraska, you wouldn’t necessarily have to. They are also trained in separating sentimental and high value items from those that you wish to sell. Many professional organizers have networks that include local auctioneers that can help you liquidate the items you do not want to transport to New York. They are quite capable of organizing an estate/garage sale if they feel that would work better in your situation and they have connections with charities who could accept items that are not sold.

If you decide to return to Nebraska to clear the storage area yourself, you could contact moving companies to see if they would be willing to take a partial load from Nebraska to New York. (Our family did this twice, shipping only an heirloom piano across the country and back.) Moving companies would much rather put two or three clients on one truck and transport a full load. The only downside is that you may have to move your items when the moving company is available rather than when you want to. Once you have shipped out the items that you want to keep, you could simply walk hire an auctioneer to liquidate the rest of the contents of your storage locker.

You may wish to combine these two options, hiring a professional organizer to start clearing the storage area before you arrive and work with you when you are there so it goes faster. Then you could drive the load yourself from Nebraska to New York. Alternatively, the professional organizer may be able to meet a moving company at your storage unit so you do not have to wait around in Nebraska.

We suggest that you call several businesses and discuss your situation and get quotes. Prices (and personalities) can vary widely and it is important that you work with someone who you get along with and who understands your situation — both emotionally and financially.

All the best of luck to you and we thank you so much Lenore for sharing your situation with us. We hope that this post gives you the information you’re looking for.

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5 Comments for “Reader question: Emptying storage unit from across the country”

  1. posted by SkiptheBS on

    TY for moving company info. I had to store because of a job relocation and will unpack my storage when I retire. Costs are more than the stuff’s worth but it’s an unusual collection and an antiques dealer’s thief daughter has made attempts in the past so I keep it unconveniently far from her.

  2. posted by Jeannine Bryant on

    You can also search for a Senior Move Manager in Nebraska to help with this situation. is the National Association of Senior Move Managers. I won a company like this in Lincoln, NE and we help folks empty their storage units all the time!

  3. posted by Dawna Hall on

    I did this exact thing for a client in another COUNTRY years ago. She had a temporary assignment in Spain and put her items in storage. She decided to stay in Spain and contacted me to see how I could help her get the items she wanted to her. She was able to allow me access to her storage space, and I would empty the boxes, take photos of the contents with numbered sticky notes, email them to her, and she would email me back with the items she wanted to keep. There was a TON of stuff and it took about 30 hours. I delivered all the items she didn’t need to various donation centers around town and contacted a moving company to ship the remainder of the boxes she wanted in Spain. Still hoping to meet her someday!

  4. posted by cjh on

    Another resource might be a UPack. This is the way my daughter and family moved from Illinois to Texas, and then from Texas to Colorado. The trucking company drops a trailer or pod, you load, then a ballast is installed to separate your stuff, then the trucking company either fills the truck with cargo or sends it as is to your destination. The trucking company won’t touch your stuff so if you need help loading, you will have to hire labor. But you can schedule times within a range for both ends of delivery.

  5. posted by Nan on

    Thank you for the great information. My elderly sister has been paying for a storage locker in Hawaii (she had planned to return there many years ago) and lives in Wisconsin. Now I have an idea of how to help her unload and move the items she wants to keep.

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