How to Move Across the Country on a Budget

By Sarah Klein — Published June 20, 2018

How to Move Across the Country on a Budget

When planning a move, there are always a lot of details that need to be worked out. In addition to figuring out when you're going to move, where you'll live, and how you'll get your belongings from point A and point B, you also have to think about the cost of moving and come up with a budget. The American Moving and Storage Association claims that the average cost of hiring professional movers to take care of an interstate move is $4,300. Of course, this can vary with how many belongings you have and the distance you're traveling. Additionally, there are other costs involved in moving, such as down payments on a new house or a security deposit for a new rental, paying for new utilities to be set up, hiring a cleaner when you leave your old apartment, and more. Are you feeling sick just thinking about it? Don't worry, because we've got some tips for how to move across the country on a budget. Even if you're not going that far, these pieces of financial wisdom can still work to save you money during your move.

Find free moving supplies.

One way to save money during a move is to find free moving supplies. Sure, a moving company could sell you boxes, but you can likely get these for free. Check out local supermarkets and other retailers for free boxes. If you want to wrap fragile items in newspaper, try going to local stores that sell newspapers towards the end of the day just before they close. They won't be able to sell yesterday's news, so ask if they can give it to you for free then or if they can save old newspapers for you to pick up the next day. You can also check websites like Craigslist or Freecycle for free boxes, tape, bubble wrap, and more.

Don't move what you don't need.

This may seem like common sense, but a lot of people overlook it. In addition to simply weeding through your clothes and other belongings and giving away items you don't use anymore, you should also map out the space at your new home. Take measurements and think of where you'll put everything. You may not have room for all of your current furniture, or your new apartment may come with a built-in microwave so you won't need to bring a countertop version with you. By reducing weight and the number of boxes you'll need to transport, you'll save cash.

Save on movers.

Instead of hiring a moving company to pack, load, transport, and unload your items, do as much by yourself as you can. You should always pack your own belongings so you can weed out what you don't need or want, and also so that you'll know where everything is. Additionally, you can use a website like to compare rates and hire people for just a partial service, such as loading and unloading the truck of the heaviest items. Other options include advertising on TaskRabbit, at a local college, or at least asking your friends in the city that you're moving from to help load your truck in exchange for pizza.

Save on the moving truck.

If you sign up for AAA, you can get a discount on renting a Penske truck. You may also be eligible for other moving truck discounts with various credit card rewards or as member benefits to certain professional organizations. Make sure you don't get a truck bigger than you actually need. Most of these truck websites have a calculator to help determine what size is right for you. If you don't feel comfortable driving a moving truck, you can also hire someone just to drive the truck on Another option is to try Busfreighter, which uses Greyhound buses to ship boxes and can give you a bulk discount. Keep in mind Busfreighter won't work for furniture.

Move at the right time.

Moving rates vary, with weekend rates for movers and trucks typically costing more than for weekday moves. Additionally, moving prices are often higher at the beginning and end of the month, since these are when leases often end or when people are hired to start new jobs. Another thing to keep in mind: don't plan to move during rush hour traffic! The extra time spent sitting in traffic will result in you paying more for the longer use of the truck.

Save money while traveling.

If you're moving across the country or out of state and need to spend the night somewhere, first see if you have any friends or extended family who may be able to put you up for a night. If not, find out if you can take advantage of any discounts such as with credit card reward points for booking a hotel room. You can also look into AirBnB for a lower cost option.

Save your receipts.

If you're moving specifically for a job, you may be able to take advantage of using the cost as a tax write-off. Save your receipts for any movers you hire, the truck, gas for the truck, your hotel, and anything else! You may want to scan this information after you move and keep it in a folder on your desktop so that you'll know exactly where it is when tax season comes around.

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