While relocating to a new state can be fun and exciting, it also requires logistics, planning and budgeting. To make sure that your cross-country move doesn’t turn into an expensive hassle, check out our helpful tips on the cheapest ways to mobilize.


Start With a Plan

To move on a budget, you need a plan. Take a walk through your living space to determine what you want to bring — and look at the calendar to ensure you have time to execute your move. Doing so will get you the most cost-effective options and accurate quotes.

1. Calculate moving costs

Use a moving cost calculator to give you a ballpark estimate on the cheapest ways to move out of state. You can select full-service packers or DIY options to get a good idea of your choices. Always do your homework and shop around — getting quotes from multiple moving companies will give you an idea of average costs. If you know the going rate, you’ll be better equipped to negotiate and ensure that you’re getting the very best value.

2. Check out budget truck rentals

Check the cost of renting a moving truck from U-Haul or Penske and driving it yourself to your new home. Budget truck rentals are typically cheaper than professional movers, and they give you a little more flexibility to do things as you please. Truck rental rates are almost always higher on the weekend, so if you’re willing to move in the middle of the week, your move might cost a fraction of the price.

3. Tow your own trailer

If you have a pickup truck, van or even high-capacity SUV, consider towing a U-Haul trailer. As an added benefit, you’ll have your primary vehicle with you when you arrive at your new home. Just make sure your destination has a close drop-off location, since you’ll be charged each day the pull-behind trailer is in your possession.

4. Price out PODS

If you’re not in a hurry, renting PODS is a great way to move cheaply. PODS is a storage container company that offers maximum DIY moving flexibility when it comes to getting your belongings where you want them. You can reserve a pod for a specific date, have it dropped off at your existing residence and pack it at your leisure. Once your pod is picked up, it can even be stored for a selected period of time before it’s delivered to your destination.

PODS can also connect you with loading and unloading assistance, often at a fraction of the cost of a full-service moving company.

5. Determine what your time is worth

The cheapest moving options all rely on your own manpower — by doing all the heavy lifting yourself, you can save thousands of dollars. But be mindful of what your time is worth and any physical limitations you have before moving your sectional couch and big-screen TV yourself. Research moving companies to determine whether it’s worth the price. Your time may be more valuable than the cost to hire cross-country movers.


Track down packing supplies

Once you start packing up your belongings, you’ll realize that moving supplies can get expensive. Between large packing boxes, bubble wrap and packing tape, supplies can add up and eat into your moving costs. But putting in a bit of legwork can keep you on track with your budget.

6. Look for free moving supplies 

You don’t need to run to your nearest Lowe’s or Home Depot to buy dozens of pricey boxes and bubble wrap. Friends, family, and coworkers who have moved recently are great resources, and many will be happy to get that pile of folded boxes out of their garage. If no one in your immediate circle has moved recently, check out Craigslist under the “free” heading or consider making a post in the “wanted” section.

7. Ask community businesses for extra boxes

Stores like Aldi, Target, Sam’s Club, Costco, and even your local grocery or liquor store may have boxes up for grabs. Call or ask to speak with a manager and see if you can pick up any empty boxes during shelf restocking days. Mornings and nights are when most of the shuffling occurs, and you might hit the jackpot.

8. Think outside the box 

A little creativity can go a long way. Bubble wrap is often included in package deliveries from companies like Amazon. An unused stack of clean dust rags, extra kitchen towels or faded beach towels can be used as packing material. And wrapping paper, newspaper and tissue paper also make excellent box stuffers. Take a look in your storage closet to see what you already have.


Packing on a Budget

Packing is one of the most important parts of any move. What starts as organized chaos can quickly descend into an unsortable mess if you’re not careful. Take time to think through your packing options and consider shipping big-ticket items ahead of time. They’ll take up less space in your moving truck or pod — and cost less, too.

9. Utilize direct shipping options

If you need to move large household furniture, a car or a motorcycle, check out companies like uShip. UShip is an inexpensive option that connects you directly to trucks that have extra space, eliminating the middle-man and the high costs. Add in the zip codes of your pickup and delivery locations to get a free estimate.

Companies like FedEx also offer residential and business freight delivery, which is a great option for moving furniture and other big items, while Amtrak express shipping can help, too. The well-known train company offers moving services between more than 100 cities and is a convenient and affordable option for hard-to-pack items like bicycles.

10. Hire professional movers

Hiring professional moving companies can be a good option. Just make sure you review contracts carefully and have a binding estimate. If your contract doesn’t say “binding estimate” on it, you could have a budget-buster on your hands: the company can increase your cost at any time, even on moving day.

Ensure the company also has basic liability coverage and determine your deductible prior to your move. Accidents happen, and protection from dents, scratches and cracks are key to getting any reimbursement.

11. You pack, they drive

If you’re nervous about driving a moving truck across the country and full-service movers are out of the budget, check out companies like U-Pack. Unlike other moving companies, U-Pack only charges you for the space you use in the truck. The company will drop off the moving truck and give you up to three days to fill it. Then they’ll drive it to your new location and give you three days to unpack once it arrives. U-Pack can be especially helpful for military moves, job relocations or senior cross-country moves.


The Bottom Line

Your move doesn’t have to be a stressful, time-consuming event. Take some time to make a budget and plan. It’s exciting to start a fresh chapter at a new destination, and your wallet and stress level will thank you.

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