How to Move Across the Country? Here’s What You Need to Know

Embarking on a cross-country move can feel like navigating a thrilling labyrinth. Even with a full-service moving company at your side, there's a universe of tasks that need your attention before D-Day. You're not just wrangling furniture into packing boxes; you're also prepping your new nest for the arrival of your movers.

To top it off, a long-distance move often comes with a frugal challenge: trying to pinch pennies where you can. It's common for families to be tight on funds during this transition, especially when a new home purchase has just put a dent in the savings.

So, buckle up and dive into this guide! We'll journey through the ins and outs of long-distance moving in the US, exploring the most favored transportation methods along the way. Ready to get started? Let's hit the road!

The cheapest way to move cross-country

During long-distance transport, providers charge families and companies based on millage and cargo weight. An average mover-assisted relocation in the US costs between $4,500 and $5,000. This presumes a 1,000 move carrying approximately 7,500 pounds.

As you can presume, driving a truck is the best way to do things. Rental costs between $1,000 and $2,000 depending on several factors. Full-service movers are the most expensive option, and some people even consider them a luxury. Here's how much you'd have to pay depending on the option you chose:

  • Hiring movers: $4,000-$9,000
  • Transport container: $2,000-$4,000
  • Freight trailer: $2,200-$3,000
  • Renting a truck: $1,000-$2,000

Although driving a truck yourself is the cheapest option, it also means you'll need a helping hand during packing and unpacking. On top of that, you or your friends might incur injuries when hauling the heavy load around.

4 Methods for moving cross country

We've already mentioned you can use a container, movers, freight trailer, or rent truck. But let's explain all of these methods in a bit more detail.

Keep in mind that the optimal approach can vary from situation to situation. Renting a truck is awesome if you have helpers, but it is otherwise a major nuisance. Renting freight trailers is great if you're carrying less furniture, and it becomes expensive with bigger loads. Moving containers can also be nice if you have enough space on your property.

We advise contacting all the nearby companies, getting a quote for each service, and deciding where to go from there. Of course, the price shouldn't be the only factor as you should, first and foremost, focus on transporting your belongings safely.

Hiring movers

Hiring movers is the easiest and the most expensive method of relocation. Basically, it's a plug-and-play model where you just sign a contract and let the company do all the heavy lifting.

Due to high pricing, you should contact several movers and get quotes from each of them. Make sure there aren't any hidden fees and that the company honors its side of the agreement. If you wish to save money, you can pack and load furniture yourself.


  • Saves time
  • Reduces stress
  • Much more efficient
  • Prevents injuries
  • Movers have insurance


  • Most expensive method
  • Less control over the relocation
  • Some companies are inflexible
  • Potential scams

Transport container

Although not as simple as hiring movers, transport containers are one of the easier solutions. A company will deliver a pod to your home address, so you can slowly pack all your belongings into it. Once you're ready, you can call the provider so they can transport the pod with your belongings.

Transport containers are a fantastic solution if you're not certain when you're moving. They also give you ample time to pack your belongings. On the other hand, you'll need to do most of the physical work. Of course, you can hire help, but this will increase the price.


  • More freedom when planning a relocation
  • The least stressful method
  • Pack at your own pace
  • Cheaper than movers, on pair with freight trailer


  • No climate control
  • Limited space
  • You need to store the pod somewhere
  • If you miscalculate, you might overpay for renting

Freight trailer

You should also consider freight trailers. Depending on the provider, this can be the most affordable service on the list. In fact, although DIY move is cheaper, there are situations where a freight trailer beats its price.

Trailer has some similarities to pods. The company will deliver a large container to your home so you can slowly pack your belongings. After a specified number of days, movers will come back for the trailer and drive it to the destination. You pay based on the space used, not necessarily distance.


  • It's a good choice for shorter distances
  • Like with pods, you have more time to play the move
  • Less stressful


  • No climate control
  • Potential space limitations
  • Usually slower than trucks

Renting a truck

If you're looking to save as much money as possible, you should rent a truck. It's the cheapest way of transporting your belongings over a long distance, but it does require certain efficiency. Furthermore, driving a truck yourself is the most physically arduous method.

The good thing about rentals is that providers calculate them as one-way trips. Large companies have headquarters in all major cities, which allows you to save even more money. Unfortunately, driving a large truck after all that physical work can be an arduous job.


  • The cheapest way to transport stuff
  • It can be a unique life experience
  • Gives you more leeway for planning


  • Extremely physically demanding
  • You need to rely on friends and family for assistance
  • Usually much slower than hiring movers

6 Best ways to move cross country

Based on everything we've said so far, renting a truck is the cheapest way to move cross country. If you want to make things even cheaper and easier, you should check out the following tips!

1. Declutter your home before moving

Relocating to a new home is a fantastic opportunity to sift through your old clothes and other trinkets. In fact, you should throw away as much stuff as possible before the big day. That way, packing, and unpacking will be much easier.

Having less stuff means you can save money when renting pod and freight truck space. It's especially great when loading stuff yourself or when renting a truck. Decluttering also gives you an excuse to buy new furniture. A garage sale is a perfect way to go about things allowing you to recuperate some losses.

2. Avoid summertime and weekends

Moving during summertime and weekends is the worst thing you can do. As other families and businesses are relocating during the off days, the price of service is significantly higher. As if that wasn't enough, you usually have to wait a long time to make an appointment.

Experts claim that the period from September to November is the best time to relocate. The weather is still warm, and you don't have to worry about snow and rain. The beginning of September might be a bit troublesome, though, as students tend to move around during this period.

You should also consider snowy winter months, as everyone tends to stay home during this period. However, if you decide to relocate in January, February, or March, it might take a bit more time due to weather conditions. It seems that moving during the middle of the month is generally the best solution.

3. Check out the discounts

Like other companies, movers offer discounts from time to time. But as moving companies use quotes, it’s hard to determine if they actually reduced their pricing.

Our suggestion is to contact several providers that offer discounts, compare them with each other, and then compare them to other non-discount companies. If movers are true to their word, not only will you find a lower price, but you can be certain that the company is reliable.

The discount might also depend on your current state/affiliation. For example, a handful of companies offer lower prices to military veterans. You might also save some money if you're an AAA member.

4. Consider moving supplies

Aside from saving money on relocation, you can also save on supplies and tools. Although most providers offer tools such as hand trucks, they might lack dollies and ropes. If you start planning your move on time, you can find someone to borrow these tools from.

Similarly, you can save money on supplies. The stingiest method is visiting local stores and asking them for spare boxes. Although some people feel embarrassed doing this, you need to remember that you're changing neighborhoods anyway.

Alternatively, you can visit large chains. Some movers have low prices, so ask them as well how much they charge before making a purchase.

5. Ask for assistance

One of the best ways to save money is to ask friends and family for assistance. Organize some of your burlier male friends to help you out with the move. There's really no reason to waste money on loading if you can ask neighbors for assistance.

Keep in mind you'll probably need help when you arrive at your new house. If you're moving within the same city, this isn't a big problem. However, things become tricky during long-distance relocation.

Find a friend who has free vacation days and host them at your new place for a week or so. This can be a fantastic opportunity for you two to chill together and for your friend to check out a new city. The offer is especially enticing if you're moving into a big urban area with lots of museums and other venues.

6. Think about shipping

Besides renting a truck, you might also consider shipping. This option is excellent for families that want to leave their old furniture behind. Given that most of your belongings can fit in boxes, you won't need that much space.

Companies such as UPS, FedEx, and US Postal Service can help you with this task. They can take the boxes and deliver them to your location. Meanwhile, you can take a plane and enjoy all the comfort while relocating on a budget. While this might cost a bit more than renting a truck, it still beats cross-country movers’ prices.

9 Extra moving across country tips

Here are a few extra tips that will help save even more money!

  • Check out all long-distance moving services

Most people stop their search after calling two or three numbers. However, large cities have dozens of movers that can help you out. Most are stuck at the bottom of the local search pages, and these companies are usually the cheapest.

You should start by checking out our online directory. We list all movers in all US and Canadian cities. That way, you might find movers that don't appear in Google. Most movers are booked six to eight weeks in advance. So, if you wish to find the cheapest option, we suggest you start planning a few months ahead.

  • Buy insurance

Sometimes, getting insurance is the best way to save money. Although we don’t want to think about potential damage to our belongings, mishaps do occur from time to time. So, if you're transporting art pieces or other valuables, it's much better to get insurance.

  • Think about deductibles

Most people don't even consider deductibles. However, this is an excellent way to save money in case of damages. Ask the professional moving company about their deductible policies. Some companies are allowed a deductible before a claim.

  • Buy different types of boxes

When purchasing boxes, most families don't think about diversifying. They just buy the cheapest product in the store and use it for all household items. Spending money on different box types might be a bit more expensive, but it will reduce the chance of damage and wrinkling.

For example, you can buy plastic baskets, bankers, specialized clothes boxes, kitchen boxes, and so on. You can find these specialized items at most retail and online stores such as Home Depot, Amazon, Box Center, U-Haul, U-Line, and Lowes.

  • Think about gas prices

Although this isn't a bit one, it's still worth mentioning. Different states and gas companies have different gas prices. Large trucks have much higher consumption than cars, so that's something you should account for. Map your journey beforehand while taking into account all the gas stations along the way.

  • Pack boxes in your car

When moving to a new city, someone must drive a family car. People often make the mistake of putting all the boxes in a moving truck or pod while their vehicles are half-empty.

Whether talking about a long-distance move or shipping brands, these companies usually charge based on space and weight. In other words, your final bill increases with the number of boxes and furniture. That being said, it pays off to carry as much stuff as possible with you. This is especially true if you have two large cars.

  • Be meticulous with packing

As mentioned, pods and freight trucks calculate the cost based on the space used. So, if you're a sloppy packer, you'll pay much more than you have to. You'd be surprised how much space you can save, especially on clothes. Vacuuming your dresses and outfits can also significantly reduce the amount of space needed.

Not only will you save money by using less space, but you might also save a few bucks on boxes. However, you still shouldn't go overboard, as some items require padding and wrapping for extra protection.

  • Send your belongings later

Let's preface this tip by saying that not everyone can send their belongings at a later date. You'd need to have a reliable friend or family member in the original city to pull this one off.

Given there are major discrepancies in seasonal moving prices, it might be worth it to postpone transporting some of your stuff. You can keep some of the belongings in the warehouse or at a friend's place. When winter comes around, you can ship them to the new address.

  • Increase efficiency with a checklist

It isn't uncommon for items to get lost during the move. Sometimes, people forget to pack one or two boxes and have to transport them at a later date.

If movers are charging by the hour (common for local moves), messy planning can prolong relocation leading to additional moving costs. So, before starting the packing process, we suggest that you create a checklist.

How to move cross country cheap: Last thoughts

As you can see, there are so many ways to save money when moving to another city or state. The savings are noticeable if you implement all these tips and tricks together.

While truck rentals often emerge as a cost-effective option, they demand both time and adequate assistance. Without these, your expenses might exceed your estimates. For those seeking convenience and expertise, a reputable cross-country moving company is worth consulting for competitive rates.

Using a checklist and smart box management can also help out. Lastly, try to save on packing supplies, hiring, renting, and gas.

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