Top 9 Cheapest Ways to Move Cross Country

There is no doubt you are searching for the cheapest way to move cross country. This post will suggest ways to help you save some cash; manage your finances and maximize your budget while moving cross country.

Cross-country moves can be stressful and naturally expensive if not well planned. According to a claim by the American Moving and Storage Association, the average cost of hiring the service of a cross country movers for a cross-country move is about $4,300.

This cost is based on an average distance and weight of 1,225 miles and 7,400 pounds respectively. Apart from this, there may still some hidden costs to make your relocation a success.

However, there is some cheapest way to move cross country to save some bucks for yourself. This may range from personally packing your stuff, hiring only movers to rent a truck or shipping container that is less expensive compared to the actual quoted costs of a cross-country move. What are those cheapest ways to move cross country without breaking the bank? Let’s dive into it.

Top 9 Cheapest Ways to Move Cross Country

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The Following are the Cheapest Way to Move Cross Country

All potential people who are ready to move cross country are interested in getting a good deal to control their budget. The cost of moving cross country can be minimized by following these tips.

We have in this list a variety of cheapest way to move cross country, and they include:

1. Source for free moving boxes

Many people make mistakes of spending much on moving boxes not knowing they are readily available in some stores or even a place close to their neighborhood.

You can cut huge cash on your cross-country move by sourcing for free moving boxes and supplies. You would discover that you would gather more than required.

Instead of spending an average of $500 on moving boxes, seek out moving boxes and supplies from retail stores and places such as bookstores, local liquor stores, grocery stores, recycling drop-off centers, offices, friends and families, etc.

You can read our post on “where to find free moving boxes.”

2. Rent a portable moving container

One of the cheapest options to move cross country is to rent a portable moving container for your belongings. It has been studied to save more than $2,000 compared to hiring a professional mover.

Apart from this, the portable moving container can be kept on-site to also serve as a storage facility for an extended period before and after the mover.

You don’t need to rush to load or unload your items in the container; giving you time to move your belonging without stress.

What does it require to rent a portable moving container? You load all your belongings and boxes into the container and a transport company will do the remaining work.

A typical cost of renting a moving container for cross country is $2,000 to $4,000 per month compared to hiring a professional mover for $4,000 to $6,000.

Examples of moving container companies are U-Haul’s U-Boxes, Go Mini’s, PODS, United Mayflower’s container, ABF’s U-Pack ReloCubes0, 1-800-PACK-RAT, and much, more.

3. Rent a moving truck or vehicle

Renting a moving truck is an option open to everyone who wants to embark on a DIY move to save costs of moving across the country.

There are a number of professional truck rental companies to consider this service.

Read our post on “The Top Rental Truck for your Move.”

You can even do driving yourself if you don’t want them to drive. Sit down and estimate the costs of renting a truck for your cross-country move which may be based on a number of factors including size, mileage, service required from the company, etc.

The cost of diesel or gas and as well as buying an additional insurance package asides from that of the company must also be put into consideration.

You can read our post on “Renting a Moving Truck for your Move”. Whichever way, be guaranteed that renting a rental truck will be cheaper than hiring a professional mover.

4. Hire a freight trailer

This is another cheapest way to move your home cross country. You only need to hire a large freight moving trailer or the size that can accommodate your belonging.

The fright trailer company comes to drop off a freight trailer at your location for about 3 days or as agreed based on the size of your home, allow you to load it, and after loading, drive it to your new residence, cross country – as simple as that!

There are some freight trailer companies to consider.

They include U-Pack, Old Dominion Household Services, and Estes SureMove. A typical average cost of using a fright trailer cross country is around $3,000.

5. Engage moving labor or enlist friends and family

Hiring labor to assist you in loading and unloading your truck or freight trailer is much cheaper than engaging a full-service mover. It is a good alternative to cross-country moves without breaking the bank.

The services of moving labor are not limited to loading and unloading, packing, donation pickups, junk removal services, and other services to make your cross-country move as easy as possible.

Some of the labor-only moving services are College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving and HireAHelper.

On the other hand, you can as well enlist friends and family by asking them for help. It is one of the cheapest ways to pack and load your belongings. You only need to pay them back in kind when it is their turn.

6. Pick a better and safe moving date

Many studies have shown that your moving date affects your moving cost. Some seasons are busy for the moving industry, and if you decide to pick those periods, you may pay higher due to the high demand for relocation at that time.

Try as much as possible to avoid peak moving period to save you cash on renting moving equipment such as freight trailers, trucks, moving containers, and even movers if you chose to use the professional moving company.

Some of the days to avoid are months between Labor Day and Memorial Day, weekends, the first week of the month, and as well as last week of the month.

Preferable days for the cheap cross country moving are weekdays, mid-month especially between October to April.

7Consider Shipping your Items

If you are traveling light, shipping your belongings is another cheap way to move across the country.

It is important to ask around and check shipping prices to see if shipping your things will save you money because the prices can fluctuate all through the year.

Some of the most popular shipping options for your cross country move are listed below:

  • FedEx Freight
  • BusFreighter
  • uShip
  • UPS Shipping & Freight

8. Look for Moving Discounts

Do not forget to ask for available discounts as you are shopping around. Mostly, during slower seasons like winter, most moving companies offer reduced rates while discounts are also available to members of AAA.

Try to locate military discount moving companies if you are an active military member or a veteran.

A military moving company will understand what other services you need for a military move and will provide discounts for veterans, members of the military, and their families.

Reduced rates are provided by companies like Penske and Budget truck to honor military members.

9. Opt to Pack the Boxes Yourself

Packing is an essential part of moving. You will need to pack your items properly so as to have a good relocation.

Such a service requires paying a certain amount when you allow moving companies to do it for you.

If you would be willing to pack the boxes yourself, then you can find the cheapest way to move across the country.

As difficult as it may seem, there are some professional tips to do it easily:

  • Strategize your packing: The best approach to a successful and less stressful packing process is to strategize how the entire packing will look like before you start. Which room comes first?
  • Label the boxes – This step will help you greatly after relocation if done properly. You will find it difficult and certainly a waste of time to know what goes where if you move without labeling.
  • Protect fragile items by putting some socks or old clothes inside – You are cutting down on both cost and space by doing so. Your move may turn out to be a loss if some valuable items got damaged during haulage in the moving truck. Try to protect your valuable, fragile items by padding the items in the moving boxes.

Additional tips to move cross country at a cheaper rate

While the above tips can guarantee you the cheapest way to move cross country, you can as well explore the following options in addition:

  • Shipping your belongings cross-country – especially if you have a few household items to relocate with.
  • If your case is for employment or job transfer purposes from your employer, you ask them to pay for your move.
  • Research moving companies and request quote to choose the most affordable and reliable one to move your home.
  • Ask for a discount from all the contracted services such as freight trailers, moving containers, truck rental, etc.

How Much Does it Cost to Move Cross Country?

It can be difficult calculating the cheapest way to move cross country as moving costs vary widely. The most affordable option at first look is a DIY move where you rent a moving truck and drive it yourself.

You could get your possessions across the country in a small moving truck for around $1,000 if you are thrifty.

However, the move can cost nearly on the same level as full-service moves or containers when we consider insurance, hotels, fuel, taxes, and other hidden costs associated with the option.

Generally, the price of a move is determined by the following factors:

  • Type of relocation and the level of assistance needed
  • Total weight of items involved in the move
  • Season of the move (time of year)
  • Distance between pick-up and drop-off locations

The movers’ estimates help you to have an idea of how much to save in your account for moving day as getting the actual figure is almost impossible.

To get a more accurate figure, use an online estimation tool, or call the moving company.

There is no average cost to budget for, because the volume of your belongings involved in the move, as well as the moving company you use and where you are relocating to, are the factors that determine the rates.

You can, however, get a close idea of potential prices by looking at a sample move. Based on the options you choose, a great way to understand how prices vary is by seeing what different services charge. Let’s take a look at a moving scenario:

For example, moving about 2,000 miles or more can fall into a coast-to-coast category just like a real cross-country or long-distance move.

The amount it would cost a family of 3 to move from a 2-bedroom home in Boise, Idaho to Columbus is illustrated in the example below:

Note: This move is just an example. Prices are subject to change as it is based on moving date, house size, the date the quote was requested, and the location. Both additional services and equipment options are based on each moving company’s recommendations. Fuel costs were determined using fuel calculators online.

1. U-Haul


The cheapest moving option has always been thought to be renting a moving truck. However, basic insurance coverage, highway tolls, towing, taxes and fuel rates are not included in the quote given.

The example below shows how the costs break down when a family decides to use U-Haul:

  • Base quote: 20’ truck at $1,036
  • Environmental fee: $5
  • Safe move basic coverage: $126
  • Towing coverage: $70
  • Rental truck fuel: $789
  • Towing: $289
  • U-Haul sales tax: $91.56 (6% in Boise)

Total: $2,406.56

2. U-Pack


The company’s charges are based on the number of ReloCube containers needed or how much linear footage your belongings occupy in a moving trailer.

Transportation, fuel, tolls, standard liability coverage, and taxes are all accounted for in their quotes.

U-Pack’s 13 linear feet trailer is quoted at $2,126.

3. Bekins


Shipment’s weight determines the amount charged by full-service relocation companies and they remain the most expensive moving option, most especially for cross-country moves.

Depending on the packing services, insurance coverage options and the actual weight of the shipment, Bekins estimates a relocation from Boise to Columbus to cost around $4,406.41 to $5,766.44.

Other Expenses

You will want to budget for personal travel expenses apart from budgeting for the moving company. You will need money for fuel, food and overnight stays because driving from one state to another can easily take over 25 hours without a break. The average costs of other expenses are listed below:

  • Fuel: $2.84 per gallon is the current average rate for regular gas
  • Meals: Food costs depend on where you eat. You are expected to spend between $5 – $30 per person per meal.
  • Hotels: The average rate of a hotel room is $132.66 per night as of June 2018

Pro Tip

Budgeting a little extra for souvenirs, roadside emergencies, and road tolls is a very nice idea.

The Total Cost of Moving Cross Country

Now, let’s add the average cost of traveling expenses to each of the above moving company’s moving quotes using the example from above.

Assuming the family drives ten hours each day, it would take 3 days and 2 nights to complete a trip from Boise to Columbus. We will also assume their Nisan Rogue gets 33mpg and each person eats 3 meals per day at $10 each.

The family should budget for the expenses below using this information and the average costs of fuel, hotels, and meals:

Frequently Asked Questions

There are two types of quotes that moving companies provide their customers. A non-binding quote will change, while a binding quote should not differ from the final bill.

The first quote you receive when you inquire about an upcoming move is non-binding. It is a general estimate based on the size of your home and the distance between your current and destination zip codes.

When the moving company comes to your home or apartment, assesses your possessions and speaks with you about the specifics of the move, you receive a binding quote. The final price should be identical to that figure, aside from taxes.

Moving companies are required by law to provide some form of insurance to customers. However, the standard insurance policy does not provide very much monetary compensation for damage or loss of an item.

Basic protection usually provides compensation of a few dollars for each pound of items that suffer damage or are lost. For instance, shippers damaging a 30-pound couch would result in you receiving anywhere from $30 to $90 in compensation.

Such a figure would not help you replace the damaged or lost item. It is why full-value protection is worth the extra expense, as it covers the cost of repairing or replacing the item in question.

Aside from sourcing free moving boxes, there are other ways to save money on packing supplies. Buying supplies online will cost you a lot less, compared to visiting your local hardware or convenience store.

You can also skip some packing supplies and replace them with items that you already have around the house. For instance, clothes and towels work very well in place of bubble wrap when you are packing delicate and valuable items.

If you only find a few boxes for free, and do not want to buy more, you can still pack up your goods safely. Use the suitcases that you already own to store clothes and other possessions, while leaving the boxes for fragile items that need more secure packing.

Whether you tip your movers is a personal decision, and may be impacted by your moving experience. Most companies suggest that you tip anywhere from $5 to $8 per hour, per person.

The amount you tip should be a little higher if you live in a city or state with a higher cost of living. Tipping is also dependent on the performance of the movers, and you may want to reward a higher level of effort with a slightly higher tip.

Most long distance moving companies will NOT accept house plants as part of your household move. The issue with plants is they may suffer due to a lack of water and light while in transit.

Movers cannot take responsibility for the health of your plants, especially if it is a long distance move across several states. The change in temperature during the journey may also harm the plants.

Local moving companies may be more lenient towards placing house plants on their truck, as the journey should be no more than a few hours. However, it is best to inquire about their policies beforehand.

If your mover cannot take your house plants, you may have to take them with you by car or ship them.


Are you ready to move cross country? Save your costs of moving by exploring the above discussed cheapest way to move cross country. You tend to save some thousands of dollars by planning early enough because without planning it may be difficult to use any of the above. Do you have any questions? Drop your comment below!

Comments (11)
  1. Victor Lindstrom says:

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  2. Rebecca says:

    Yes. If your case is for employment or job transfer, your employer can handle the move. I almost made the mistake of doing it myself but a friend suggested I talk to the management and they were very happy to help.

  3. Kabirat says:

    Research moving companies would help greatly as you’ll save yourself from choosing one that one would not deliver the best or would be too expensive. There are a lot of good ones around you, just check for recommendations and compare quotes. I’ll always recommend North American moving company if they are in your area.

  4. Joyce says:

    I didn’t really know that one can ask for a discount from a truck rental. But my dad did and I was given a discount because I wasn’t moving too much stuff. It feels amazing to finally start a life and take responsibility.

  5. Barrick says:

    Picking a safe moving date would really help because some peak days like holidays, weekends and major celebrations may greatly affect your moving cost. I actually learned that the hard way. Weekdays works very fine.

  6. Jenifer says:

    I’ll always advise that your friends and family assist you in loading and unloading your truck. This is very cost effective as far as you are ready to return the favor when called upon lol.

  7. Aaron says:

    Hiring a freight trailer is very cheap especially when your belongings are much. It is not expensive and you are sure your properties will not be squeezed into a tiny space. If you are lucky, whoever comes with the trailer would also help with loading and unloading your stuff.

  8. Lauren James says:

    Renting a moving truck is an option you should really consider when you are planning a cross-country move. Just have a good plan and an extra hand and you’re well on your way to your new home in no time. I’ll also recommend you employ the service of budget trucks rental to make the whole thing easier for you.

  9. Zara Nor says:

    Ah. Moving cross country is really not easy. But when you have a good guide to put you through, you have little or nothing to worry about. This is by far the most trusted and affordable ways you can make the move a smooth one.

  10. John says:

    Renting a moving container is good if you are ready to handle other things yourself as most containers you’ll find will only come to drive you and your things to your destination without offering much help. But there are some who can be helpful like UHAUL teams.

  11. Dain says:

    Sourcing for free moving boxes really saved me a lot of money. I got some from grocery and toy stores and even had some left unused. I can’t imagine how much I would have spent if I had gone to buy from moving supplies companies.

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