What is the cheapest way to move across the country?
Ashburn, VA

What is the cheapest way to move across the country?

Ashburn, VA

What is the cheapest way to move across the country?

$2,000 – $3,000average cost to rent a moving truck
$3,000 – $6,000average cost for a moving container
$3,000 – $9,500average cost for professional movers

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$2,000 – $3,000 average cost to rent a moving truck

$3,000 – $6,000 average cost for a moving container

$3,000 – $9,500 average cost for professional movers

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Kristen Cramer
Written by
Kristen Cramer
Edited by
Tamatha Hazen
Fact-checked by
Tara Farmer

Cheapest way to move across country

The cheapest way to move across the country is to use your own vehicle or rent a moving truck and handle the move yourself. Moving truck rental costs $2,000 to $3,000+ for a cross-country move. A moving container costs $3,000 to $6,000+ and is another affordable option if you prefer not to drive the truck yourself.

Average cost to move across the country (for a 2- to 3-bedroom household) - chart
Average cost to move across the country (for a 2- to 3-bedroom household) - chart
Cost to move across the country
Method Average cost*
DIY / moving truck rental $2,000 – $3,000
Moving container / pod $3,000 – $6,000
Professional movers $3,000 – $9,500

*For a 2- to 3-bedroom household

Moving across the country can be a daunting and expensive task. However, with careful planning, you can reduce the cost. In this guide, we'll explore the cheapest ways to move across the country and offer practical tips to help you save money.

1. Do it yourself

The most inexpensive way to move across the country is to pack all your belongings into a vehicle and drive it yourself. If you have a van or SUV large enough to hold all your items, this method costs significantly less than other options. However, you'll still face costs for fuel, packing supplies, and travel expenses.

2. Rent a moving truck

Renting a moving truck costs $2,000 to $3,000 on average for long-distance moves and is the second cheapest way to move. Many companies offer a flat rate for 7-day rentals, with prices depending on the truck size. This fee doesn't include the cost of fuel, insurance, or packing supplies, but can still save you thousands of dollars.

3. Choose a hybrid move

A hybrid move combines the convenience of professional movers with the cost savings of a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach. You can hire local movers for the heavy lifting while you handle the packing, transporting, and unpacking yourself. This can significantly reduce your overall moving costs.

4. Rent a moving container or pod

Portable storage containers, such as those offered by PODS or U-Haul U-Box, offer a flexible and cost-effective solution. You load your belongings into the container and the company transports it to your destination. This allows you to load and unload the container at your own pace. A moving pod costs $3,000 to $6,000 for a cross-country move.

5. Select a cheaper moving date

The peak moving season runs from May through September, and prices for movers, truck rentals, and moving containers can all be 20% to 30% higher during this time of year. Schedule your move for another time of year for the lowest prices. Mid-week moves are also cheaper than weekend moves.

6. Look for free moving boxes & packing supplies

Gather free moving and packing supplies to further reduce your costs. Use items you already have—like blankets, towels, and clothing—as padding. Ask friends, family, and local businesses for boxes, bubble wrap, and packing paper. Liquor stores and big-box stores like Costco and Sam's Club often have spare boxes.

7. Ship your belongings

If you have only a small amount of stuff to move, shipping your belongings can be a convenient and affordable way to move across the country. The U.S. Postal Service's Ground Advantage option allows you to ship boxes up to 70 pounds each.

8. Declutter and downsize

Moving is an excellent opportunity to declutter. The fewer belongings you have to move, the less your move will cost, and the fewer packing supplies you'll need. When planning your move, sell or donate items that are no longer necessary. List big-ticket items for sale on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and other sites.

A family unloading a rented moving truck
A family unloading a rented moving truck
Get free estimates from long distance movers near you.

More ways to save money on a cross-country move

After deciding which moving method works best for you, follow these bonus tips to make moving across the country more affordable:

  • Compare quotes: Get multiple quotes from moving companies. Ask each company if they're willing to price-match the quotes from other companies.

  • Look for discounts: Search for promo codes online when renting a moving truck or booking a moving container. Check moving companies' websites and social media accounts for coupons. Ask about discounts for AAA members, military personnel, or senior citizens.

  • Limit your moving insurance: Cover only your valuable items or choose a moving insurance option with a higher deductible.

  • Pack like a pro: Packing efficiently not only protects your belongings but also saves money on packing supplies. Watch YouTube videos to learn the best ways to pack dishes, clothes, and other items.

  • Have a moving sale: Hold a yard sale before moving, which allows you to declutter and downsize while also raising money to put toward your move.

  • Ship books & media: If you have a large number of books, CDs, or other media items, ship them via the U.S. Postal Service's Media Mail option.

  • Optimize your route: If you're driving a moving truck to your new destination, plan your route carefully to minimize fuel costs. Use online tools to find the most fuel-efficient route and consider staying with friends or family along the way to save on travel expenses.

Factors that affect the cost of moving across the country

Several factors impact the cost to move across the country:

  • Distance: One of the biggest cost factors is the distance. For example, the cost to move out of state is lower when moving only a few states away compared to moving across the country. Longer moves involve higher fuel costs and longer transportation time.

  • Home size: The more items you're moving, the higher your moving costs will be. Moving the contents of a large home requires a larger truck or container and more labor time to load and unload it.

  • Method: Moving your belongings in your own vehicle is the cheapest way to move. Renting a moving truck or moving container are other affordable methods, while hiring a professional long-distance moving company is the most expensive option.

  • DIY vs. professional movers: Moving companies charge $50 to $100+ per hour per mover. Loading a rental truck yourself or with the help of family and friends can save you money. However, professional movers have the expertise to load your truck quickly and in the most space-saving way.

  • Time of year: Moving costs more in the summer or around major holidays and less in the late fall, winter, or early spring.

A moving truck loaded with boxes and furniture
A moving truck loaded with boxes and furniture

Cross-country moving FAQs

How much does it cost to move across the country?

The cost to move across the country ranges from $1,500 to $20,000, depending on the distance, your home size, and whether you handle the move yourself or hire professional movers. The table below shows the average cost of a cross-country move if you rent a truck versus hiring professional movers.

Cost to move across the country
Home size Professional movers Moving truck rental / DIY
1 bedroom $1,500 – $7,000 $1,500 – $2,500
2 ­– 3 bedrooms $3,000 – $9,500 $2,000 – $3,000
4 – 5 bedrooms $5,000 – $20,000 $2,500 – $3,500+

Is it better to rent a moving truck or a moving container?

Get free estimates from long distance movers near you.

Renting a moving truck is cheaper than a moving container. However, the best option depends on your needs, budget, and abilities. Both methods require you to load and unload your belongings yourself. If you rent a moving truck instead of a container, you'll also need to drive the truck yourself.

Finding a cross-country moving company

Follow these tips when hiring a long-distance moving company:

  • Read reviews for cross-country movers on HomeGuide and Google.

  • Compare quotes from at least 3 companies.

  • Choose a company that has been in business for 5+ years.

  • Confirm the company is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

  • Request references from past customers.

  • Ask if your items will be the only ones on the truck or if they'll be part of a shared load instead.

  • Get a detailed written estimate and contract.

  • Ask about moving insurance, coverage, and deductibles.

Question to ask cross-country movers

Ask these important questions to ensure you hire the best cross-country moving company for the job:

  • Are you registered with the FMCSA and DOT? What is your DOT Number?

  • How long have you been in business?

  • Can you provide references from recent customers?

  • How do you calculate your prices?

  • Is this estimate binding or could the price increase on moving day?

  • Which services does the estimate include and which services cost extra?

  • What moving insurance coverage do you offer for my belongings, and what is the deductible?

  • How do you handle loss or damage claims?

  • How long will the move take? Do you guarantee the delivery date?

  • Do you offer tracking for my items?

  • Who will be loading and unloading my belongings?

  • Do you background-check all your employees?

  • Do you have liability coverage?

  • What is your cancellation policy?