Move Across Country in 2021

Moving is tough. Moving across the country is a different level of tough. However, there is no need to make a challenging experience even more burdensome, especially when the only difference is a few dollars. There is no doubt that moving is expensive, and not everyone has the means to pay to make it cheaper, but when making a cross-country trek, you will need to go into it understanding, that the budget you set for this venture will not be cheap no matter how you slice it. The trick is to not make it any more expensive than it needs to be.

Cost Of Moves

When considering the cheapest ways to move across the country, it’s important to remember the factors that go into your move. Before addressing how to lighten a load of moving, some good methods to leverage and, how to best execute the entire endeavor, it helps to understand the nature of moving costs.

If you have a lot of stuff, it will cost more to move. If you have a big home or apartment with many rooms, each of those rooms adds things on the list that you will need to be move, and chances are it adds bigger items to the moving list. What you are moving is a big factor in the cost. Where you move also matters. Moving expenses flow with the supply/demand laws of the market, much like most other things. This means that the more popular the area you are moving to, the higher you can expect the costs to be.

Since most people move from late spring to early fall, May through September is the busy season for moving companies. That means that the costs will be 30 to 40% higher during this time of the year, whereas the less busy season can get some financial relief on that front. This is also true for the time of the month and week that the move happens. Most people choose to move on weekends, which, therefore, costs more. The beginning and end of the month are also popular move times and therefore those to bear a typically higher price point.

The more challenging the place you are moving from or to is, the more costs you will incur. In that sense, where you are moving matters as well. If you are relocating to a rural or out-of-the-way area, which is further from mainstream highways and is, therefore, tougher to get to, expect the costs to be higher. Access points are also a big factor when it comes to moving companies. If their truck cannot pull up close to your house, that is more of a burden on them to carry your things, meaning more work on their end and more expenses on yours.

Finally, the method of moving will also influence the cost. You can choose to use a moving company, but you may want to also go at it alone. Choosing a rental truck, freight trailer, or moving container will have different costs as well. Assuming you time your move wisely and don’t have a vast amount of stuff, you are likely to spend between $1,200 and $3,000 on a rental truck, $2,500 – $3,000 on a freight trailer, $2,000 to $4,000 on a moving container, and if you choose to work with a moving company, while your personal energy depletion and stress levels will be down, the service will run you between $4,000 and $9,000.

How To Lower Your Moving Costs (Or The Challenges)

Now that we have established the factors in lowering moving costs, let’s talk about the best ways to move cross country that saves you the most amount of money. In discussing some tips on how to reduce these expenses, keep in mind the factors that add costs to your move as noted earlier in this post.

Bring Less Stuff

It’s not until we engage in packing that we often realize just exactly how much stuff we have to move. Sometimes it exceeds our wildest expectations. However, chances are you don’t actually need to bring everything you own during your move. The relocation is commonly a new start, so this is a great time to shed some of the less necessary belongings. Before it’s time to pack up, sort through your belongings to see what you are willing to part with. You can then sell these things (yard sale, online retailer, etc.) or simply give them to a friend or family member, as well as potentially donate them to charity. When you are done, you have far less stuff to move, resulting in lower moving expenses.

Acquire Free Moving Supplies

One cost that people overlook far too often is the cost of supplies needed for the move. When you head out to purchase moving boxes to fit everything in your home, save the large furniture pieces, the cost adds up quickly. Moving boxes, packaging tape, packing paper, labeling supplies, and several other components pile up rather quickly, especially if you find during the move that you need more of them.

Luckily, there are ways to get around paying for some of these. Any places that utilize boxes for delivery usually have some usable ones on hand, such as grocers, bookstores, offices, etc, and as these are usually just sitting around taking up space they are more than happy to part with them for free. You can alternatively seek out free supplies through online forums like local Facebook groups, Craigslist,, and other sites of this type.

Time Your Move Wisely

While this can’t always be controlled, remember that when you schedule the time of the move is important. Scheduling outside of the busy season throughout the year (not between May and September) can help reduce costs by as much as a third (or more) while moving during the week in the middle of the month are two other strategic tactics, since those are the cheapest times respectively. These apply to both self-moves and hiring moving companies as rental costs for freights or trucks will also vary seasonally.

Rent A Moving Truck, Freight Trailer, Or Moving Container

Speaking of moving on your own, while moving companies have some great perks (mostly that they do 95% of the backbreaking work), moving on your own turns out to typically be far cheaper. In fact, if you utilize a DIY moving method, you can save thousands by renting a moving truck or freight to carry your things. With moving trucks, it is important to consider fuel costs. If your move is 2000 miles, and most 30-gallon tank moving trucks get about 10mpg, that is quite a few stops to refill for gas.

When using a freight trailer, the process is as simple as contacting a moving company who would drop the trailer off at your residence, then allows you 3 loading days. After 3 days, the moving company, which will charge far less for this than performing a full-service move, will show up and pick up the freight, driving it cross country to your new destination. Companies like U-Pack and Old Dominion Household Services have successfully operated this exact business model for years.

Similar to freight, renting a moving container is another option. $2,000 to $3,000 would cover the moving costs in a container, which is far less than employing the services of a moving company. All it takes renting the container (the cost of which varies depending on the amount of stuff you have and how long the rental is for), then packing it. The providing company will take things from there, transporting your things to your new place.

Don’t Use Moving Company

Using a moving company adds a lot of conveniences, but saving on moving costs is not among them. While you need to do very little in terms of transporting your things, moving companies charge high prices, especially if you are moving across the country and have a lot of stuff. The trade-off for the savings is that you are on your own for the packing, travel, gas, destination, and of course, settling in.

Because there is little chance of you carrying a couch out to a rental truck by yourself, you will need some help. This is when it really pays to ask family and friends to help out. Pay them with lunch, a much more price-friendly investment. Just make sure that when you arrive at your cross-country destination, you have some energetic, helping hands waiting to help you move.

Ship Your Things

One of the most convenient ways to move without using a moving company is to ship your things to your destination, and then just bring the minimal load with you. This, as you can imagine, is not cheap. There would also need to be someone on the receiving end to make sure all of your stuff arrives safely and perhaps gets relocated to storage while you have a chance to arrive. Timing it so that you can arrive at a similar time can be done but it would be a very demanding task to beat freight shipping.


While it will never be a breeze, moving across the country can be very expensive or only moderately so. The key is to figure out how and when the move should occur. You may not always be able to flex these factors, but any adjustments can result in a significant reduction of cost (or hassle), depending on which one is more important to you.