Moving Cross Country: Tips for an Affordable, Hassle-Free Move

If you’re planning a cross-country move, figuring out the most affordable option to transport your items can be overwhelming. Fortunately, moving cross country doesn’t have to break the bank! Whether you want to coordinate your own long-distance move or hire a professional moving company, there are several ways to cut costs. We’ve compiled a few cross-country moving options to help you decide!

Moving Cross Country with a Personal Vehicle

A DIY move across the country with a personal vehicle is the cheapest and most flexible option because it allows you to move on your own schedule. The main cost factor is fuel, the price of which averages around $2.86 per gallon. However, you may find your car, van, or truck doesn’t have enough space for furniture and larger household items, in which case you may need to rent a trailer. Rental prices for trailers range from $400-$900 for a cross-country move. Also, keep in mind that towing a trailer will affect gas mileage!

Pros

  • You can determine the move around your schedule.
  • Driving your vehicle means you don’t have to tow or ship it (or make another trip to pick it up).
  • Instead of renting an entire moving truck, you can rent a much more affordable cargo trailer.
  • Driving your vehicle saves you the hassle of having to return a rental truck in your new city.

Cons

  • You’re liable for your own belongings.
  • You may need to have a car, van, or truck that has the towing capacity for a trailer.
  • You’ll be responsible for moving your own items without help.
  • You may not be able to fit all of your belongings in one trip.
  • Driving cross country can add considerable mileage to your vehicle.

Moving Tips

  • If you don’t want to worry about cramming all of your belongings into one personal vehicle or tow trailer, ship larger household goods with a company like uShip.
  • Declutter your home and get rid of any belongings you don’t need to bring with you before you move. Consider hosting a garage sale or selling items on eBayLet GoCraigslist, or Facebook Marketplace to lighten your load and make a little extra cash. You can also donate household goods and furniture to The Salvation ArmyHabitat for HumanityGoodwill, or local thrift stores.

Moving Cross Country with a Rental Truck

If you don’t have a personal vehicle or you have too many items to transport, another cheap long-distance moving option is to rent a moving truck. By renting a truck for a cross-country move and doing all of the heavy lifting yourself, you can save thousands of dollars in moving costs. When you make your reservation, you can choose to either rent a truck for a one-way trip or a round-trip. Moving truck rental prices in the U.S. range from about $20-$95 for base rates with per-mile rates between $0.49-$0.99.

Pros

  • You have more flexibility in your moving schedule.
  • In most cases, the price for the truck rental, insurance, and estimated mileage is built into the cost.
  • For an additional cost, you can include a trailer or towing dolly with your truck rental.
  • Moving trucks come in a variety of sizes, making it easy to find a size that fits your needs.
  • You can rent straps, floor covers, and other moving supplies with the truck.

Cons

  • You have to load and unload the truck yourself.
  • Most rental trucks get between 10-11 miles per gallon, so gas can be expensive.
  • Driving a moving truck is more challenging than driving a personal vehicle.
  • Truck availability and rates can vary depending on the length of your move and the time of year.
  • If you go over your predetermined mileage, there could be extra fees.

Moving Tips

  • Get moving estimates from different companies, ask about moving promotions and senior/military discounts, and investigate what taxes and extra costs will be included in the rental price.
  • Always opt for the insurance offered by the company. If there are damages to the moving truck or any included equipment, it’ll be much cheaper than having to pay out of pocket.
  • Remember to refill the gas tank before you return the truck!

Moving Cross Country with Portable Containers

A portable shipping container is one of the most convenient options for a long-distance move. On average, mobile storage containers cost around $2,000-$3,000. After you book your rental, the provider will drop it off for you to pack. When you’re finished, the provider will load the container onto a truck and drive it to your new home. Many portable moving companies provide a flexible schedule to allow you to load and unload items at your leisure; some can even temporarily store your container while you’re between homes.

Pros

  • The company will deliver the container, pick it up, move it across the country, and drop it off.
  • Since you won’t be moving your items, you can fly, drive, or take a train to your destination.
  • Portable containers come in a variety of sizes, making it easy to find a size that fits your needs.
  • Some companies may offer warehouses where your container can be stored temporarily.

Cons

  • This option is typically more expensive than moving with a personal vehicle or a moving truck.
  • Most container companies do not offer moving boxes, dollies, or other packing items.
  • You have to load and unload the container yourself.
  • Neighborhoods with strict HOA rules don’t allow portable containers to sit for more than a few days.

Moving Tips

  • Costs can vary based on the size of the container and how far you’re traveling. Make sure you compare prices from different companies to get the best deal.
  • Always get the insurance offered through the company to cover any damages or lost items.

Moving Cross Country with Professional Movers

While it’s more expensive compared to other cross-country moving solutions, hiring a professional moving company is the most convenient option for a long-distance move. Moving companies like TWO MEN AND A TRUCK provide full-service moving, meaning they handle everything from loading and unloading your items to driving the truck. Professional movers also offer additional services like packing and expedited travel. The cost to work with a professional moving company for a cross-country move is around $2,000-$5,000 per truckload. Keep in mind the cost is usually dependent on weight and mileage rather than the hour.

Pros

  • You don’t have to load, unload, or drive your items.
  • Movers are trained to pack and load efficiently, minimizing damage to your belongings.
  • Items like dollies, moving straps, and floor mats are supplied by the company.
  • Moving companies run thorough background checks on their movers.

Cons

  • This is one of the more expensive options for moving long distance.
  • Since the company loads and drives everything, you don’t travel with your belongings.
  • Hiring movers means you may not have as much control over how boxes are loaded into the truck.
  • Arrival times may vary depending on the company’s schedule, especially during peak moving season.

Moving Tips:

  • Make sure to do your research early and schedule your moving service two to four weeks in advance of your move, as moving companies can book up quickly.
  • Try to move during the off-season. Peak moving times are weekends, the beginning and end of each month, and the summer. Aim for a mid-week, mid-month move in the fall or winter.

Other Cross-Country Moving Expenses to Consider

Hotels & Lodging

The time it takes for a cross-country move depends on the distance to your destination and how you’re moving your items. Be sure to set aside funds for any temporary lodging you may need. Budget-friendly motels, Airbnb, and other short-term housing options like Extended Stay America are all great ideas!

Food

Whether you’re driving or flying to your new home, you’ll need to budget for meals. Estimate about $50-$60 per day per person. Making your own meals is a great cross-country moving tip to help save you money, and it’s a good way to use up some items from your refrigerator or pantry. Pack some sandwiches, cereal, fruit and veggies, and load up a cooler with water for the road.

Flights

If you plan to fly while your items are being moved in a portable container or by professional movers, there are a few ways you can make the trip more affordable. Buy your tickets about two months before your move to lock in a good price, especially if your move is during the summer or holidays. If you have a credit card with airline miles or travel points, consider using those to cut down on travel expenses.

Moving Equipment

Moving boxes, floor pads, closet and wardrobe boxes, and moving dollies can all be rented or purchased from moving companies. Keep in mind that packing supplies can run as high as $500. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can save money on moving equipment:

  • Grab free moving boxes from local grocery or department stores.
  • Search Craigslist for used boxes and cheap packing supplies.
  • Check stores like Dollar GeneralDollar Tree, or Family Dollar for tape, labels, and other items.
  • Save newspapers and grocery store ads to wrap delicate items. You can also use scarves, pillows and pillowcases, socks, or seasonal clothes to protect items.

Self Storage

You may need a storage unit before, during, or after your move. Self storage is available in a range of sizes from as small as 25 square feet to as large as 300+ square feet with monthly rates between $30-$260.

Short-Term Movers

If you’re driving a personal vehicle or a moving truck across the country but need help loading and unloading your belongings, you can hire short-term movers for around $25-$50 per hour. You can find movers through truck rental companies or websites like Moving Help.

Even though moving long distance can be stressful, these moving tips can help save you money and make your journey a little easier! Looking for more information on making a major move across the country? Check out these guides on surviving time between homes and adjusting to life in a new city!

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Moving soon? Extra Space Storage has storage facilities throughout the U.S. that can make your transition smoother. Find a storage unit near you!

Moving Cross Country: Tips for an Affordable Move