Scaling Down, Moving Day

Japanese movers are a phenomenon. We have had several experiences with Japanese movers. When Tomoko and I married, Japanese movers packed, wrapped, and shipped everything from her seemingly microscopic apartment to the United States. The tiny apartment yielded forty meticulously wrapped and packed boxes of stuff.

When we went on assignment to Japan (twice) we got to enjoy the services of Japanese movers again in both directions.

Japanese movers are wonderful. They are also really expensive,.

American Moving - Two Guys and a Truck
American Moving – Two Guys and a Truck

About two weeks ago, we were finally ready to move out of our house and into an apartment. For this move, we got to enjoy state-of-the-art American moving services, otherwise known as “Two Guys and a Truck”

We did all the packing ourselves. In fact, we were up until about 2AM the night before packing stuff. The two guys and their truck arrived at 9AM. They moved everything out of both levels of our house and moved stuff to three different places and were done by around 3PM.

Thirty years ago, American moving services were a lot like Japanese moving services. Big companies. Big trucks. Large crews. Special padding and wrapping everywhere. What has happened since then is straight out of the economics textbook.

  1. Technology Innovation – First, someone figured out how to use a heavy-duty pickup truck rather than a tractor trailer rig. That dropped the price of the equipment drastically.
  2. Service Industry Standard Problem – What the guys who moved us told us was almost a direct quote from our lectures on the problems of services business at the University of Texas MBA program:  After a little while, the workers in a service industry figure out what the end customer price is and begin wondering why they need their boss in the picture as a middleman.
  3. Darwinian Economics – With the internet making it almost free to advertise this sort of service and no barriers to entry, the price drops like a rock. Eventually, the scenario evolves to the most economically efficient configuration and that is exactly two very strong, very athletic guys who move very, very quickly and one truck.

Our move, including the service and all materials cost less than $1000. If we had spent more time negotiating bids, (we were in a hurry) we probably could have got the entire thing done for around $700.

The Floorspace Compression Challenge
The Floorspace Compression Challenge

The move was further complicated by the scale-down/compression challenge.

The Austin apartment market is quite tight at the moment. We found a really nice apartment in a really nice complex, but that particular unit will not be available until mid-July. As a result, we were forced to move into a much smaller unit as an interim step. One saving grace is that this complex has garage units that you can rent for $100 per month. We were able to get the garage unit underneath our intended final apartment. That extra garage unit is a life-saver. We were able to use it to temporarily store some of the furniture for the final apartment, furniture that we will eventually move to our office, and most of the almost 100 boxes of stuff that came out of our house. Using this garage as a base, over the next year or so, we will be able to gradually work our way through the excess stuff, sorting, condensing, and discarding stuff to get down to our final target.

Three of Four Color Tags
Three of Four Color Tags

Even with the garage, however, we still had to get rid of a lot of furniture. I made several hundred tags in four colors:

  • Yellow – Moving to our apartment.
  • Green – Staying in the house (after coordination with the buyers)
  • Orange – Moving to our garage unit
  • Pink – Discard or recycle

It was a ton of work, but with the help of the two guys and their truck we got everything to its proper destination in one day.

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