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How to Move Across the Country on a Budget

Moving Supplies

When life presents an opportunity, and it's time to make a move across the country, traveling a long distance with all your belongings can seem daunting. Moving across the country is expensive. While some will bite the bullet and hire a professional moving service, there are much cheaper ways to facilitate your move. If you have the time and ability to do it yourself, you can save thousands of dollars on moving expenses. Here are some tips on how to move across the country on a budget.

Sell the items you don't need

Forbes recommends lowering moving expenses by selling the items you don't need. Why take items you are not likely to need on a cross-country move? Instead, hold a garage sale to clear out the clutter of unwanted items. You could make some extra cash to help finance the move. You will also need a smaller moving truck or moving container, saving the cost. Resist the urge to pack up and keep the items that don't sell. If you put them in the yard sale, box the remaining items up after the sale is finished and donate them to a second-hand store.

Rummage for packing supplies

You can purchase bubble wrap and boxes for the move, but these are items you may be able to find for free. When you learn that you're going to be making a long-distance move, start saving boxes and bubble wrap. You can also speak with local retailers about taking boxes and packing supplies from their dumpsters. Most businesses will welcome the extra space and you can often find these items in good supply that are clean and in good condition. You can save a lot on the expense of packing supplies by gleaning from local businesses and dumpsters. Grocery stores are also likely to throw away sturdy containers you can use for packing. The only item you will need to buy is packing tape to secure the boxes. The savings might not seem like a lot, but when you cut corners in various places the savings can be huge, even into the hundreds or thousands.

Pack your belongings yourself

Forego the expense of having a moving company pack up your household. If you're physically able to pack, do it yourself. You can ask friends and family to help. If you need help and there isn't anyone available you can pay for help from a temp agency to get your belongings packed in boxes and bubble wrap and ready to go.

Pass on the moving service and rent a moving truck or van

Depending on the number of belongings, furniture, and other items you will move, you can pass on the moving service and save money by renting a truck or van to haul your items across the country. Start by comparing the costs of moving trucks in your area. explains the difference in the costs of moving services compared to renting a truck. The average cost of a professional moving service ranges from $4,000-to $9,000. Truck rentals cost between $1,200-$2,000, depending on the vendor, the size of the truck, and the distance to travel. If you're able to drive the truck or have friends or family to help, you can save thousands by doing it yourself. Most rental trucks offer hand trucks to help unload heavy items. You can also purchase moving boxes and packing supplies at a discount if you strike out finding these items for free.

Compare the prices of rental companies

Instead of settling for the closest rental truck company, compare the rates. It's also wise to check the ratings for each company to ensure that they offer equipment that is in good working condition. Also, pay attention to the daily rates and other requirements. Read the fine print before you sign any agreements, to understand what you're getting into. Some companies also charge rates for mileage. Factor in all of these considerations when making your rate comparisons.


An alternative for moving cross-country is to rent a portable moving container. It's less expensive than hiring a professional moving company. You can use the container to move your belongings and store them for as long as necessary. Although the cost of $2,000 to $3,000 per month is higher than a rental truck, it's cheaper than a moving service. You can use the container to store your goods before, during, and after the cross-country trip. Some of the more popular moving container companies are U-Haul U-Boxes, Go Mini's ABF's U-Pack ReloCubes, and PODS. The benefit of using this service is that all you are required to do is to load your belongings into the container and the company does the rest, transporting them to the location of your choice. You may save money on the price of fuel and overnight lodging and meal costs when moving across the country by securing the help of a moving container company. It's the middle road between DIY moving trucks and moving services.

Plan your route carefully

When moving across the country, if your trip will take several days to complete, check out the available lodging places along the way. Plot out your trip and allow for time to get from one city to another, taking breaks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Don't push the limits on rest. Stop to sleep. It's best to reserve rooms along the way. When you do it in advance, you can look for the best rates at motels. Some motels offer free continental breakfasts in the morning, giving you additional savings on food for your journey.

Final thoughts

There are many ways to save on moving trips across the country. It's wise to prepare for the move as far in advance as possible. Saving money on small items such as packing supplies, or offers of free packing and loading help can go a long way in reducing your moving bill by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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