11+ Ways How To Move Cross Country For Cheap



Figuring out how to move cross country for cheap can be challenging. There are a lot of steps and pieces involved when it comes to moving itself.

Luckily, my friend just completed this daunting task of moving cross country from Michigan to Arizona. She revealed a lot of what’s necessary to save money on a cross-country move.

Additionally, she also revealed many moving hacks to save money she used on her move.

How to move cross country for cheap involves using portable moving containers, a long-distance moving company, or doing it yourself and moving with a rental truck. In addition, using a timeline to manage your moving process and getting rid of possessions that won’t be needed is also key to moving cross country for cheap.

This extensive moving guide will cover how to move cross country for cheap and what is necessary to save money on a cross country move.

How Much Does it Cost to Move Cross Country?

When trying to save money moving cross country, it is important to figure out how much it will cost to move cross country.

The cost of moving across the country can vary greatly, depending on what services are needed. The average price is between $1,500 and $6,000K, with coast-to-coast moves being more expensive at around $8,000 or more.

The cost to move cross country varies based on how you decide to move. Whether or not you move with a truck rental, hire a moving company, or move with PODs, the cost to move cross-country will vary significantly. Determining the cost for each will help decide which is the best method for you to move cross country.

Cheap Ways To Move Cross Country

Now that you have an idea of the costs associated with a cross country move, you can figure out how to save money moving cross country.

cheap ways to move across the country

There are many ways to save money on a cross-country move and bring the total out-of-pocket cost of your move down.
We will cover some of those best ways to save money moving cross country below.

Use a Timeline For Your Cross Country Move

If you are task-oriented and like to stay on track for large projects, consider using a timeline for your cross-country move. You can use a timeline to help plot and plan out your move. Start with your tentative move date and work backwards from there.

Be sure to factor in time for packing everything that will be coming with you for your cross-country move. Research can you put your electric bill in someone else’s name, so you legally know how to do it.

You should also allow yourself time to deal with the items that won’t be moving cross country with you. Anything that you will spend time on (such as garage sales) should be included in your timeline.

You may have to also close your current bank and open a new account when you get to your new location.

If that is the case, be sure to get starter checks in case you need to purchase items in the interim.

Using a timeline is key to saving money moving cross country.

Inventory Your Possessions

Let’s face it, not all of your worldly treasures will make the cut to your new destination. Conducting a proper accounting and inventory of your possessions can help save money moving cross country.

A way to help decipher what items will stay and which ones will come with you can be done by creating an itemized list of your possessions.

Determine which items are easily replaceable and which items are hard to replace. If they are easily replaceable items, put those items in a pile to stay behind. If the items are hard to replace, be sure to mark those items as cross-country move-worthy. Plan on packing those items for your move.

Letting go of easy-to-replace items is another great way how to save money on a cross-country move.

Downsizing clutter is a good way to save money moving cross country.

If you are downsizing and moving into a housing cooperative, for example, you won’t need as many items in your home.

Sell Unwanted Possessions

One of the best ways to save money moving cross country is to sell your unwanted possessions. People love garage sales because of what it implies. 

So they want to check out your goods for sale. If you plan to have a garage sale, you should use the term moving sale in marketing because of the psychological effect behind the words. You can even sell broken TVs for cash if you have any.

Be sure to sell all of the big and bulky items that you can’t move with you, such as lawnmowers, tools, garage storage units, or whatever homestead items you may have.

Moving sales are sales of all different items such as clothing, dishes, cookware, entertainment systems, and the like.

People are always on the hunt and looking for items to buy, especially lawn equipment, home goods, and household tools.

Many of the items that you are not planning to move cross country can be sold for money at your moving sale. If you have the best things to sell on eBay for profit, you can also cash in.

That money can be put towards the costs of your move, thus offering another way to save money moving cross country.

Additionally, you can also use the money earned to purchase new items at buy now pay later no credit check instant approval no money down stores for your new home.

Be sure to add enough time to your moving timeline, so you have enough time to have an estate sale a few weekends before you have to move.

You can also advertise your estate sale on Facebook.

Get Moving Quotes From Moving Companies

If you are not planning to move yourself cross country, obtaining moving quotes from different moving services is a good way to save money moving cross country.

By obtaining moving quotes from the top moving companies, you can be sure that you will receive the best price for your cross-country move.

When you get quotes from moving companies, you make them compete against each other. Some moving companies may physically come to your home or business and walk through your house to give a quote.

Ultimately, you are going to walk away as the winner by getting the lowest price paid for moving cross country.

DIY Move With a Rental Truck

When it comes to moving across the country, pricing out rental trucks and rental truck companies is essential to save money moving cross country.

You know what items you are taking with you and moving cross country at this stage of your moving process.

how to move across the country by yourself
Using a rental truck is one of the cheapest ways to move across the country by yourself.

You can determine what size truck you will need since you have inventoried your possessions. Truck rental rates can vary, and the extra fees can affect the actual cost of your truck.

  • Insurance: One thing that will affect your moving truck rental is insurance. If you are moving cross country, there is bound to be some items that may break in transit. Consider getting the insurance for your possessions should unfortunate breaks happen during the move cross country. Additionally, make sure you have insurance for the moving truck if you don’t purchase it through the moving truck rental company. Whether or not you purchase the insurance from the moving truck rental company will affect the price you pay for your rental truck.
  • Mileage fees: Some truck rental companies charge per mile. Make sure you read the fine print. Often, there is no mileage fee if you are making a local move. However, there may be additional charges for moving blankets and the extras you may need.
  • Moving date: Your moving date can affect your cost. Compare prices with multiple truck rental companies. Some popular ones are budget truck rental, IXT truck rental, and Penske.
  • Pets: You can take your critter pets with you on the road trip if you are moving cross country. However, there may be additional fees associated with that. Some companies charge per animal. Check this out before finalizing the price of your truck rental quote.

Ship Stuff

If you have decided not to use a professional moving company for your long-distance move, you can also ship stuff to your new location.

This depends on how much stuff you have. However, if you have sold most of your possessions at a yard sale, then your shipping costs might be an affordable option.

For shipping your items, your moving costs may be limited to moving supplies such as bubble wrap, packing materials, and packing tape. This is why shipping stuff for cross country moving may be the cheapest way to move if you don’t have a lot of items.

Use Portable Moving Containers

Another great way to move across the county for cheap is to use moving containers. Portable moving containers are a good option if you don’t want to drive a moving rental truck cross country or use a moving company.

There are a few advantages when using portable moving containers for a cross-country move. One advantage is that it’s much easier for a moving company to move a portable moving container than packing and unpacking a moving truck.

All you have to do is pack your items in the portable storage container. Once you are done packing the portable moving container, call the company, and the container company will come to pick up the container and transport it to your new location on a flatbed truck.

Using a moving container is a lot cheaper than using a traditional moving company with movers that will pack and unpack their trucks with your possessions.

There are also a lot of places to find free address labels for packing, which makes labeling a cinch.

By using portable moving containers, the moving company doesn’t have the extra costs of labor, which translates to savings for your bottom line.

Several container companies offer portable moving containers, such as Pack-Rat, which has 8, 12, and 16-foot containers.  

Even U-Haul offers portable moving containers now.

Using portable moving containers is a great way how to save money on cross-country moves if you are willing to do a little bit of labor yourself.

Sell Your Personal Vehicle

There are a lot of options when it comes to your personal vehicle and moving cross country. Some of those options for your vehicle include driving it, shipping it, or selling it.

There are a lot of variables that go into whether or not you should sell your vehicle. Shipping your vehicle will be expensive for a cross-country move. There are places that get paid to drive cars cross country for people moving, but it may not be keeping your car.

If your vehicle is more than four years old and you are moving from a cold climate to a warm climate, it may not make sense to ship it or drive it to your new location.

If your vehicle has already been exposed to the harsh winter elements, including salt, you could spend a lot of money to ship it cross country, but the vehicle might not last since corrosion has started.

Additionally, if you are going from a place such as Detroit to Phoenix, your car might not have the proper elements on the vehicle, such as the type of UV window tinting that might be needed at your new location.

Make sure to get a pre-approval for a car loan if you have bad credit before you sell your vehicle.

This recently happened to a friend of mine who sold her vehicle before she moved from Metro Detroit to Phoenix.

She decided to sell her car due to mold allergens present and rust that had formed.

Her best option for a quick sale of her car was Carvana. She called Carvana before she left, who gave her a better offer than local dealerships in the area.

The day before her move, Carvana arrived to pick up her vehicle on a flatbed.

When she got to her new location, she ended up paying for a car in cash that had extra UV window tint protection, which most new car sales in that state have.

cross country move ship your car or sell it

Additionally, when you sell your vehicle, you can also eliminate your car insurance as well.

Selling your vehicle is a great way to save money moving cross country.

Limit Bulky Items

Another great tip on how to save money on a cross-country move involves limiting bulky items. You should really think twice about moving bulky items if you want to save money moving.

First bulky items will take up a lot of room in any moving truck, whether that is a moving truck company, a portable moving container, or a moving truck rental. You will be charged more from a full-service moving company for bulk items. If they don’t work, check out free appliance pickup near me and dispose of them before you move.

Moving bulky items will limit the available space for other things that might be more important to take with you to your new location.

Items such as appliances are not only bulky but heavy. If you are hiring a moving company for your cross-country move, they will also weigh your items.

Since appliances are heavy items, you can better sell your appliances and buy new ones at your new location.

You probably think who buys used appliances near me, but all kinds of places buy them for top dollar.

Additionally, if you don’t have money to buy new appliances after your move, there are other options as well to purchase appliances.

By not moving your bulky items such as appliances, you will be able to save money, allowing you to upgrade to better appliances after your move.

Be sure to check out How to Save Money on High-End Appliances as well for some great ways to save big bucks on your appliance purchases for your new place.

One thing is for sure; you will save money moving cross country by limiting your bulky items.

Pack Efficiently

Packing efficiently is another great way to save money moving cross country.

It’s true that how you pack your items can make or break your space available in your moving truck or portable moving container.

That’s why packing efficiently is so important. Make sure that all of the space in your moving boxes or portable moving containers is filled.

Try not to leave any wasted space where a moving box could be placed.

Additionally, there are so many places where to get free newspapers for packing that you should not have any problem packing efficiently.

Be sure to use the newspaper as much as possible so your items will not break and pack tight. Packing efficiently involves not leaving any empty spaces inside your moving boxes.

You want to make sure that all areas of the boxes are filled with your items as best you can. If you run out of free paper, no problem. You can also find places where to buy newspapers if you go through the free stuff.

Not only does this satisfy the goal of efficient packing, but it also helps from your possessions getting damaged in the move.

Use Freight Trailer Shipping

Consider using a large trailer over a full-service move for one of the cheapest options if you don’t want to do the move yourself. Freight trailer shipping is a good option for long-distance moves because you can pack the trailer yourself, and the freight company will come to pick up the container with a large truck when you are done.

You can potentially save with a freight trailer over full-service movers by not having to pay for the labor costs of movers loading the trailer.

What Are The Top Tips For Moving Across The Country?

There are a lot of things to think about when moving across the country – from finding the right moving company to packing your belongings. But by following these top tips, you can make the process a lot smoother and cheaper:

1. Plan ahead and start preparing as early as possible. The more time you have, the more organized you can be and the less expensive your move will be.

2. Compare prices from different moving companies and choose the one that best suits your needs and budget.

3. Pack everything yourself to save money on movers, but be sure to pack carefully, so nothing gets damaged in transit.

4. Make a list of what you need to do before and after your move, including setting up new utilities.

Will a Moving Company Factor In Tips?

Tips are accepted and appreciated by movers, but they are not required. In general, a moving company will charge by the hour, so the more time it takes to move your belongings, the more expensive your move will be. However, you can often save money by packing and unpacking yourself.

Should I Feed Professional Movers for a Cross Country Move?

If you have hired professional movers, you should not feel obligated to feed them. Most professional movers bring their own food with them and want to stick to a schedule. They will want to load your stuff as fast as possible so they can stick to their schedule. More than likely, they will eat the food they brought with them in their moving truck while they are on the way to the next pickup before heading out cross country.

How Much Should I Tip Cross Country Movers?

You should tip cross-country movers between 10% to 20% of the total move for out-of-state moves. If your move is $4,000 and there is a crew of 4 movers, $100 per worker (cash) is adequate. That amount is equal to 10% cost of a $4,000 move.

Should I Get Moving Truck Insurance?

While the cheapest way to move is with rental trucks, they can be hard to drive. If you’re planning to rent a truck, your best option is to get moving truck insurance.

That way, even if the renter’s insurance doesn’t cover all damages to the rental truck, you can turn to your own coverage for help.

What Does a Full Service Moving Company Do?

A full-service mover has workers that will pack and load your belongings, transport them to the new location and unload everything. However, if you had a household loaded with fragile antiques that is five stories high and located on the upper west-side of Manhattan, this won’t be the cheapest way to move for cross country moving.

Wrap Up

There is no question that you can save money moving cross country by following some of the best tips above. It’s true that your costs will vary quite a bit depending on the method you choose to move cross country.

However, it is possible to move cross country cheaply by following some of the recommendations and best practices above. Using timelines, inventorying your possessions, and having estate sales all will help you save money moving across the county.

You can save money on a cross-country move by getting multiple quotes from moving companies if you decide to let the professionals handle your move.

moving cross country for cheap

There are also affordable housing options for cheap living as well to help offset the cost of your move.

If you are moving to a cheaper option, other ways could financially benefit you. One benefit is that you might be able to pay off your mortgage early by moving to a cheaper area.

Moving cross country can be a daunting task with a lot of different costs, however by following some of the best practices above. It doesn’t have to be.

There are a lot of ways that you can save money moving across the county. Once you arrive at your new home, you can relax and know that you were able to save money moving cross country by following these guidelines.

BG Vance

For over 20 years, BG Vance has been a leader in public and personal financial management. He's developed and managed public budgets in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars. He is passionate about the FIRE movement and was featured in the Detroit News in 2001 about saving for retirement. Through the years, he's assisted families and individuals with getting their finances on track. He holds an MPA, is a licensed Realtor, and is currently working on a book about personal finance.

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