The cheapest way to get home from Ikea

The author boards the bus. Photos by Eric Reichbaum.

The author boards the bus. Photos by Eric Reichbaum.

Ikea is practically its own sovereign Swedish colony on the banks of the Gowanus Bay. So it only makes sense that the store has its own intricate system of transit involving everything save for aircraft (so far, at least). But which mode of transport is the best for you? And by that, of course, we mean: which one is the cheapest? Herein then we lay out the specific costs of all the different ways to transport your Ektorp or Aspelund back to your apartment so you can choose smartly, and not fall into the fjord of poor decisions.

To standardize the results, we picked a set address, that of the now-fabled “stash spot” from Jay-Z’s banger “Empire State of Mind,” 560 State St. And we picked a standard item to test across all platforms: the Kullen, a three-door beast of a wardrobe that comes in two boxes and clocks in at $149 dollars and 228 pounds, which we choose as a fair representative of a difficult-to-transport item (and maybe hoping for some accidental search traffic for New Moon fans).

ONLINE DELIVERY

Total Cost: $149

Not to come off as biased or anything, but if you choose to have your item delivered directly from Ikea’s Web site, you are D-U-M dumb. Getting our Kullen delivered from Ikea.com comes out to a whopping $149—a 100 percent shipping fee, meaning you could get two Kullens (Kulli?) for the same price!!

Plus the earliest delivery we could get was in eight to 11 days, and only during weekday business hours, when we’re never home.

If you still wish to choose this option, please instead send $148 to Tim Donnelly, c/o Brokelyn.com, and he will personally pick up your item from the store and bring it to your doorstep on the very same day along with a complimentary package of Swedish meatballs.

GYPSY CABS

Total cost: $25-35 for a van

Typically, a crowd of guys with vans and cars station themselves across the street from the store (and sometimes hand out cards at the Borough Hall shuttle stop), offering to take your junk home. You have to approach them with all the subtlety of a drug deal, and they speak in whispered tones.

Downside: Dealing with unlicensed delivery folks has its risks. Plus, prices may vary depending on who’s out there. And we bet getting them to climb the flights of stairs will involve extra dough.

The shuttle: comfy seats, free ride, lets you off nowhere you need to go.

The shuttle: comfy seats, free ride, lets you off nowhere you need to go.

IKEA SHUTTLE

Total cost: Free

The complimentary shuttle runs to Smith and 9th, 4th and 9th and Borough Hall subway stations from 3pm to 9pm daily Monday through Friday and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. While it’s free, odds are it doesn’t take you anywhere near your door.

Downside: One time, this summer, my roommate and I were on the shuttle carrying a futon chair and a bag full of goodies when the thing broke down, stranding us in some godforsaken part of Red Hook for 40 minutes. We ended up having to call a cab anyway because the replacement shuttle was nowhere in sight.

CRAIGSLIST

Total cost: Prices are all over the board, with some listed as $50 per hour with a two-hour minimum to $30 per hour, to some that invite you to just make an offer.

Craigslist is loaded with ads for man-with-a-van guys willing to take you home from Ikea under the services labor/move section. Prices here vary wildly, as do spelling and punctuation. Some say they will bring blankets, dollies and other things to help the move and others offer assembly services.

Downside: It’s Craigslist, so you’re walking the fine line between cheapness and downright sketchiness. For all you know, this could be the person who comes to pick you up.

U-HAUL

Total cost: About $30 for up to two hours (including your gas expense); $19.95 an hour and 99 cents a mile after that (plus gas).

The store has a U-Haul desk stationed by the exit for your convenience. Both vans and trucks are available and the flat rate is $9.95 an hour for up to two hours.

Downside: A whole U-Haul truck or van may be larger than you need. Those trucks guzzle gas like Jay-Z sips Mai Tais.

STORE DELIVERY

Total cost: $119 (including additional walk-up charges to the fifth floor)

Ikea’s in-store delivery service (operated by Urban Express) has a flat rate of $89 for bringing your stuff around Brooklyn. Anything over 1,000 pounds cost an extra 10 cents per pound. You can choose from next-day or same-day delivery, and they give you a four-hour window to chose from.

Downside: Four hours can be a long time to sit around waiting for your furniture, and there’s a $30 fee if you have to cancel or reschedule the delivery. And the fee only includes delivering up three floors of a walk-up building. After that, it’s $15 per floor. But if you’ve got a half ton of furniture…

CAR SERVICE

Total cost (Arecibo in Park Slope): $10 for a town car plus tip; more for a larger car

Arecibo said our trip would cost just $10 for a regular town car, but the price varies for larger cars such as minivans and Suburbans. The guy couldn’t give an estimate (“it depends on what you have”) but we’re pretty confident we could cram our Kullen boxes into the car, even if it means riding shotty.

Downside: I’m not sure if there is a downside here.

RENTAL CAR

Total cost (Enterprise Rental Car in Park Slope): Intermediate SUV: $76.71 per day; economy car: $46.74 per day. Both do not include gas costs, which will run you between $10 and $20 bucks to and from Ikea with current gas prices.

Renting a car gives you the flexibility to move on your own schedule. Plus, you’ve got the car for the whole day! Do your big grocery shopping! Go apple-picking upstate! Turn up the radio’s bass and cruise down the street blasting “Run This Town!”

Downside: Ugh gas prices. Ugh street parking.

The city bus. Luckily this one is empty.

The city bus. Luckily this one is empty.

BUS

Total cost: $4.50 roundtrip bus fare

Same deal as the subway in terms of cost, but the bus will get you closer to the store itself. The B77 (which originates at 10th Street and 5th Avenue in Park Slope) and B61 (which goes to Greenpoint and Queens) take you right to Ikea. Bus drivers will let you haul one of the big boxes onto the bus.

Downside: While it is feasible to fit the large boxes into through the door and onto an open seat, a packed bus will leave you no place to stash the Kullen. Getting a big heavy box through the door and down the aisle isn’t a simple task either.

ZIP CAR

Total cost: If not a member, about $107 (including $50 to join, $25 application fee and about $32 for a three-hour trip in a truck); With membership: About $32 for three hours in a truck. Rates start at $8 an hour but vary depending on type of car.

This one breaks down to whether you already have a Zip Car membership, or can at least con the card out of one of your friends with one. The plus sides here are that you can drive your own car on your own schedule, don’t have to pay for gas, and you can get a variety of sizes of vehicle from sedan to truck. Plus, Zip Car has cars in several locations around Brooklyn ready for pick up and even a few cars stationed at Ikea to use while there. Plus, if your trip is taking longer than you thought, there’s an iPhone app that lets you easily add more time on to your reservation.

Downside: The application fee is a bit steep, so if this is the only use you’ll have for a Zip Car, you should look elsewhere.

And then, you have your basic public transit:

SUBWAY

Total cost: $4.50 roundtrip subway fare

The subway will take you as close as the 4th Ave./9th Street station on the F, D, M or R trains and there you can get on the free shuttle. Or take the 2, 3, 4, 5, M or R to Borough Hall and take the shuttle.

Downside: Unless you’ve got an army of at least four schleppers to help you lug the 228-pounds of Swedish ingenuity, or some sort of monstrous MegaUltraHyper Granny Cart with which to carry it, this option doesn’t do much for you. Plus, you ever try getting on the train with a bike? Try a hulking mass of furniture. Not recommended.

31 Comment

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  • I was once turned away from the bus (almost empty, I might add) while carrying a 5-foot Christmas tree. It was smaller than the box pictured and wrapped in that netting stuff. Some bus drivers will not let you on with large items.

  • Get that shit on the bus, Donnelly! I talked to Crites last night! We had a great and long conversation!

    • Cribbster no offense but some of your commenting material belongs in a phone conversation. But we’re all super glad you had a great conversation with Crites last night. When’s he gonna comment on this post?

  • Good use of “fjord” by the way…

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  • Solution: Don’t live in Brooklyn.

    Blam-O!

    Also, who is this “Cribbster” and why does this man need to comment on every Tim Donnelly story? It’s not cool, bro.

  • =v= A bike trailer is better (and cheaper) than all of these. Ikea to State Street is a piece of cake. (Heck, I’ve hauled from the Port Authority to State Street back when that was the only option.)

  • A few weeks ago, I needed a new dresser and the online delivery was just way too expensive for a $70 dresser. I turned to craigslist but instead of looking for moving vans, I searched for “Ikea dresser + delivery” under Furniture for sale. Turns out there are a TON of people who are desperate to get rid of their furniture right NOW and will even offer to drive it to your house for a few extra bucks.

    I found a slightly-used dresser at cost (which sucked) but the dude was willing to bring it from the UWS to Williamsburg for $30. I didn’t get a discount on the used furniture but that was greatly offset by the delivery cost and the convenience of not having to leave my house. Plus, much of the assembly was already done, so it took me less than 30 minutes to put it together.

    In the future (and I’m going to need a new bed frame soon), I think I’ll go the used route on CL but narrow down my search to delivery.

    Great site, by the way. Where was this when I was much poorer than I am?

  • I’m sorry, but I can’t ever shop for anything from Craigslist without visions of bed bugs running rampant in my head. I’m probably over reacting, but the horror-movie-like descriptions of the infestation from friends who’ve had them makes me think that maybe I’m not.

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  • While I was able to get my furniture ( a large bookshelf) onto the B61, after running to catch the bus outside Ikea (not easy to do with a bookshelf, even with 3 people), the bus hit a dog and we had to wait for the next one. The dog was not killed and seemed to be ok, except that it will probably suffer from some other form of neglect from owners who let it jump out of a car without a leash as a bus is coming… Getting on an empty bus with furniture? Fine. Getting on a packed bus because everyone from the first bus has to get on the second, smaller bus? Kind of crappy. Sorry, fellow bus riders. Still, a good way to get stuff away from Ikea to Greenpoint if you have the time.

  • Pedro,
    I don’t really see how not living in Brooklyn is the solution.

  • Don’t mind Pedro. He lives in Virginia. His bitterness has caused him to lose all his hair. Also, his real name is Peter and he writes about boats.

  • Good call, Jym, on the bike trailer. I wouldn’t have thought about it.

    CL is bursting at the seams with free black or brown ubiquitous metal bedframes.

    • Okay, I’m really glad everyone likes this story and has lots to say about it. But did anyone notice that Martha Stewart ate a tomato fertilized with human hair? Like, isn’t that totally groaders? Am I the only one who thinks so???

  • Every time we have gone to Ikea, including the middle of the day on a weekday, we have NEVER been able to get a UHaul Van. So, reserve in advance if you can.

    The 30 dollars for the gypsy cabs also depends on where you are going. Ikea to Park Slope was 30, Ikea to Bushwick was 45.

  • What I do:
    - take the free IKEA bus and shop
    - take the free IKEA bus back to borough hall (if they say it’s too big it’s bull — there is storage under the bus!)
    - get 3 friends to help shlep it on the subway/bus to your place and pay them in a yummy dinner.

  • For whatever reason, that thing about the dog getting hit by the bus is the saddest thing I’ve heard all day.

  • I once saw a city bus with the destination IKEA Terminal or something of that sort; a scary bit of private invades public if you ask me.

    But your pictures, stellar!

  • Also, if you already have a Zipcar membership, they have new deals on weekday nights for like $32 you can has the car from 8pm-8am.

  • what about friend with a car. If you pay for gas and ikea food I think they would be happy.

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  • Another great Ikea delivery service is Solierun! We also provide assembly services as well.

  • If you used New York Cargo Taxi your total price including same day pick up and delivery will be $149 (for the item) + $15 ( for shopping service) + $79 for delivery = $243 using our service you may stay home and we will deliver you Ikea merchandise anytime after 12pm (after work? No problem)
    Go to http://www.cargotaxiny.com

  • i live in bk and got my store delivery for only $59 and they even carried the 100+ lbs worth of bed up my 4th floor walkup no extra charges. 

  • Thank you so much for this. Seriously

  • just came across this site looking for how to get ikea furniture home (not in nyc) and just have to say its fantastic! love the work you put in, the comical voice and all the info. thanks for doing what you do! :)

  • Don’t use the official cab firm they will try to rip you off as much as they can get away with and try to laugh it off like they don’t know what you’re talking about. Absolute scam.