Cheap Ways To Move Across the Country

Looking for the cheapest way to move cross country? We don’t blame you. Given the average cost of hiring professional movers for an interstate move is $4,890 (based on an average weight of 7,500 pounds and an average distance of 1,000 miles), it’s understandable that you might be a tad concerned about the costs involved. Even the cheapest cross country movers will likely cost thousands of dollars.

Fortunately, there are less expensive cross-country moving options. From hiring labor-only movers to renting a moving container, it’s possible have an affordable moving experience. The best way to move across the country will depend on your individual needs and budget. Keep in mind, though, that the cheapest way to move may not always be the best way for you to move.

Below are the four most popular types of cross-country moves with each type’s estimated cost. The actual cost of your move will depend on how much stuff you’re moving during the moving process, how far you’re moving, any add-on services needed, and the time of year you’re moving.

Move Type Average Cost
Full-service moving company $4,000-$9,000
Moving container $2,000-$4,000
Freight trailer $2,500-$3,000
DIY truck rental $1,200-$2,000
  1. DIY Move

    The cheapest way to move is to just pack up all of your stuff in a vehicle and move yourself. This might mean doing a lot of decluttering, donating and selling most of your belongings. If the cost of a move is a big factor for you, this might be the best way to go. But, be warned, besides gas expenses, there are some other costs associated with a DIY move. And, if you need some advice for navigating a DIY move, check out our 10 Tips for an Easy DIY Move.

  2. Rent a moving truck

    If you’re prepared to drive across the country, consider renting a moving truck from a reputable truck rental company. By choosing a DIY move, you’ll likely save thousands of dollars. A truck rental expense typically includes a set rate, fuel costs, and any additional insurance costs. Of course, keep in mind that truck rentals don’t get great gas mileage. A typical rental truck only gets around 10 mpg. If you’re moving cross country 2,000 miles away, that means it’ll take around 200 gallons of gas to get you to your destination. If the truck rental’s fuel capacity is around 30 gallons, you’ll need to stop at least seven times for gas throughout the entire road trip. Truck rental rates often vary by date and location, so be sure to seek a moving quote from each company in your area to find the best deal.

  3. Choose a hybrid move

    A hybrid move is part DIY move and part hiring professional moving help. So if you want to save money during your moving process, you don’t have a lot of stuff, or don’t have to go far, you can choose this method instead of hiring a full-service moving company. So, you could do all the packing yourself and hiring moving labor pros to help you move items into a rented truck or van. And, once you get to your new place, hire another team of moving help in that location to help you unload. You can also opt to do all the packing and loading yourself and hire a company to transport your items. Essentially, you can outsource any part of your move that you don’t want to do or are not able to do. Sound appealing? Be sure to check out our reviews of the best moving labor companies.

  4. Rent a moving container

    One of the most popular cross country moving options is a moving container. Renting a portable moving container is a good alternative to using full-service movers for several reasons. First, renting a portable moving container is cheaper than hiring a professional moving company. Second, portable moving containers can also double as storage containers before and after moving.

    Costs will depend on the length of time you decide to rent the container and the size. In general, renting a moving container for a long-distance move costs anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 per month. Compare that to the $4,000 to up to $9,000 that a professional cross-country moving company will likely charge, and you’ll see the difference. To move using a moving container, all you have to do is load your boxes and belongings, and the container company will do the rest.

    Cheap Ways To Move Across the Country

  5. Use a freight trailer

    One of the best ways to haul your belongings across the country is to use a large freight moving trailer instead of a moving company. How it works: a freight moving trailer company will drop off a large trailer (28 ft.) and give you three days to load it. After three days, the company will pick it up and drive it to your new home. The cost of renting a freight trailer is usually several thousand dollars cheaper than hiring a full-service moving company. For reference, the average cost of a long-distance move with a moving trailer is $3,190.

  6. Choose a cheaper moving date

    Believe it or not, when you decide to move can make a big impact on the cost of your relocation. Avoiding peak moving days and times could save you money on truck rentals, moving companies and more. A few peak moving dates to avoid (if possible) include weekends, the months between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and the first and last weeks of the month. Aim for a mid-day, mid-month move between October and April.

  7. Ship your stuff

    While this isn’t the most popular moving option, shipping your belongings is a great way to move cross country when moving only a small amount of stuff. It also might be one of the most convenient moving options you haven’t considered. In addition to shipping items, you can also ship larger objects through various service providers online.

  8. Find free moving boxes and supplies

    One of the best ways to cut costs on long-distance moving is by gathering and using as many free moving supplies as possible. Seek out used boxes, packing paper and packing tape from nearby retailers, online marketplaces and community groups. Several places to look for free moving supplies include local liquor stores, bookstores, friends and neighbors, offices, recycling drop-off points, grocery stores, local schools and big-box retailers. We also recommend asking friends and family for any boxes.

  9. Have your employer pay for the move

    Land a new job? Congrats! If you’re moving for work, we highly recommend inquiring about the company’s relocation policies. Many companies will pay for all or part of the move, so it’s certainly worth asking the HR department. They may even have their own preferred company of cross-country movers. If your company does pay for the relocation, be sure to save all moving receipts (even your receipts for moving supplies). This way, you’ll be able to document your expenses and get properly reimbursed for the move.

  10. Hire moving labor

    Looking for someone to help you load and unload your truck rental? Fortunately, there are many moving labor alternatives to hiring a full-service moving company. These services may include junk removal services, donation pickups, and packing help. In addition, you can check online marketplaces that will help you search and locate local moving services in your area. By hiring labor-only instead of a full-service moving company, you’ll likely save thousands of dollars.

    Hire moving labor

  11. Ask friends and family for help

    Of course, besides hiring moving labor, you can always ask friends and family to help. If you’re looking for the cheapest way to move cross country, this is probably it. However, you may have to work around other people’s schedules, and you may want to pay your friends back in some other way (think: pizza, wine or a gift card).

  12. Look for discounts

    Before moving, do your research on moving companies, moving containers, truck rentals and moving supply retailers that offer deals and discounts. These discounts can often be so generous that they make a previously expensive moving company the most cost-effective and cheapest option.

    For those who serve or have served in the military, you can find various military discounts offered at several companies. Member of AAA? You can save on moving services at Atlas Van Lines, and on storage services at Extra Space Storage, and Penske. Those looking for moving supplies (like bubble wrap and other packing materials) can also find deals and discounts through our box center.

  13. Declutter, Sell, Donate

    If you’re like most people, you’ve accumulated a lot of stuff over the years – much of which you no longer need. By decluttering, selling and donating items before the move, you’ll save a ton of money. The less you have to move, the easier and cheaper the move. You’ll reduce the number of things you need to pack, making unpacking easier.

    If you have the time and patience, throw a yard sale or rent a spot at a local flea market. You can also sell belongings online. Thanks to online marketplaces selling items online is easier than ever. Consider specialty stores too. For example, if you have old clothes in good condition, you can sell them to sites like Buffalo Exchange or even local consignment stores in your area. There are specialty stores for almost everything, including camera equipment, clothing, electronics, books, and CDs.

    No time to sell? Donate items you don’t need in the new home. Large items, such as heavy furniture and sports equipment, take up lots of space in a moving truck and may require a larger, more expensive truck to move. Many long-distance movers charge by weight, so it’s worth getting rid of these things before moving, if you can. It could cost more to move these items than to simply repurchase them after the move. So, donate, donate, donate. Here are some ways to donate household items when you move. If you’re in a hurry, many non-profits offer free furniture donation pick up.

    Declutter, Sell, Donate

Bonus Tips to Cut Costs on a Cross Country Move

  • Get insurance if you’re shipping expensive items. While the upfront cost of moving insurance isn’t cheap, it could end up saving you money in the long run. This is especially true if you plan to move a lot of expensive and valuable items.
  • Ask about deductibles. When discussing insurance with your moving company, be sure to ask about deductibles. (The amount that the customer pays out of pocket before the moving company is obligated to pay any insurance money.) Some movers have a deductible before they pay an insurance claim. So, for example, if the deductible is $500, and the movers break something worth less than $500, you might be out of pocket to fix it.
  • Obtain multiple moving quotes. Get moving quotes and give yourself enough time to score the best one. Moving companies are usually booked six to eight weeks out, so try to interview movers several months before moving. You’ll get the best offers the further out you plan.
  • Research the best way to ship household goods that works for you. You can ship by train, bus, freight, moving company. The best way depends on how many boxes you want to ship. If you just want to ship a few boxes, those are all good options.
  • Get the best boxes for every room. Corrugated boxes work best for the kitchen, wardrobe boxes for the kitchen, plastic bin for the bedroom, and bankers for the office. Sure, free boxes are great, and you can use a variety of sizes for the living room and your books and knick-knacks, but if you have the opportunity to get specific kinds, these are the best boxes for every room.
  • Make a checklist for moving or several. Here are some examples: our tips for planning a move, the ultimate moving day checklist, moving to another state checklist, moving with kids checklist, moving with seniors checklist, moving with pets checklist and our moving road trip list of essentials.
  • Not sure how much money you should save before moving cross country? Even if finances are tight, it’s not impossible to pull a move. It does take a lot of research and a plan. Assess your finances, sell what you can (but hold on to the essentials), and be realistic. Moving to another state with little money will be hard but doable.
  • Pack like a pro. Even if you’re using professional movers for your move, doing the packing yourself will save time and money. You’ll need to have everything packed before the movers arrive, so please take some time to learn some best practices for getting the supplies ready, how to wrap and label, how to pack clothes, and how to pack a kitchen like a pro.
  • Don’t forget to change your address. In addition to the obvious moving basics like acquiring boxes and packing supplies and renting a truck or hiring professional movers, you’ll also want to make sure you’re notifying the right people and places about your move. It’s better to do this earlier rather than later to avoid potential hassles like missed bills, service lapses and late charges.

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Cheap ways to move across the country FAQs

Keep reading to find answers to the most commonly asked questions about how to make your move more affordable.

  • What is the cheapest way to move cross country?
    The cheapest way is to DIY your move. You’ll likely save thousands of dollars. A full-service company can cost anywhere between $4,000 and $9,000 for an interstate move. A truck rental is considerably more affordable, however, at $1,200-$2,000. If you pack yourself (before paring down your stuff ruthlessly), you can save a lot of money on your move.
  • How much does it cost to move cross country?
    It depends on how you move. If you hire a professional moving company, the average cost of a long-distance move is $4,300, based on an average weight of 7,400 pounds and an average distance of 1,225 miles. The more cost-efficient solution is using a moving container. Renting a moving container will cost on average $2,535 for a long-distance move. If renting a truck, the rates will depend on the day, distance, and even time of day. A quick query got us a quote of $2,760 to drive a 10-foot truck from Miami to Los Angeles. For a 26-foot truck, the quote was $3,633.
  • How do you start a cross-country move?
    Start with creating (or using an existing) moving checklist to get the scope of everything you need to do and to establish a timeline. Then, work on purging and decluttering to lighten your load. Ask for help if you think you need it, and get at least three quotes from professional moving companies to set the budget. Here are more cross-country moving tips that will save your sanity.
  • Where can I find a free moving cost calculator?
    There are many you can find online. We recommend using’s free moving cost calculator for moving estimates. Let us know where you’re moving from and the destination of your new home. Use the drop-down function to select the size of your move (in bedrooms), the packing services that you’ll need, and your move date. We’ll take all of these factors into consideration to give you an accurate cost estimate from top movers.
  • What’s a better way to move: a moving container or a truck rental?
    While using a moving container for your move certainly has its advantages, DIY moves are a surefire way to save money when moving. The cheapest way to move is with a truck rental. Unlike a moving container company, which handles the transportation for you, you’ll need to drive the truck yourself. The best way to move, however, will depend on your needs and your budget. It also depends on how much you’re able and willing to do. For instance, are you able to load and unload the container on your own? If not, then hire a full-service long-distance moving company to handle your move. Carefully consider the pros and cons of each as well as your moving budget.

When to Hire a Professional Long Distance Moving Company

Few things beat the ease and convenience of full-service movers when it comes to long distance moves. Fortunately, our network of reputable and reliable movers makes it easy to find and book the cheapest cross-country movers for your upcoming move. Get a quote for a long-distance mover here. All moving companies in our network are licensed and insured, so you can rest assured that your move will be in good hands. Best of luck and happy moving!

Cheap Ways To Move Across the Country
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