10 best & cheapest ways to move cross country

author avatar Written by Aaron Steed

Are you looking for the best ways to move across the country that won’t break the bank? You’ve come to the right place.

When thinking about moving across the country, in terms of the financial aspect, that usually doesn’t stir up feelings of joy or happiness.

You’re already spending a lot of money on other things and are about to completely change your life and living situation, so it’s completely understandable that you may be stressed out when thinking about how much more it’s going to cost to move.

Total costs for hiring movers for a long-distance journey can set you back thousands of dollars, taking into account the daily cost of the truck, distance, gas, and much more.

But don’t fret just yet! Thankfully, there are ways to move out of the state without racking up a huge bill.

While everyone’s moving needs are unique to their own situation, we’re here to present some of our best tips on how to prepare for the move across the country in no particular order, and even score you some extra cash in the process!

How to move across the country & save money

1. Sell what you don’t need or use

This step, by far, is one of the easiest ways to move across the country, get rid of the old belongings that you don’t use or want anymore, and generate some cash at the same time.

If you’re wondering if the item you want to get rid of is even worth selling, remember that in many cases, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. The item you will be selling is hardly trash, more just a figure of speech here. There’s usually someone out there who can find some kind of use for what you have, so don’t be afraid to give it a new home.

With the availability of apps that allow you to sell things including Craigslist, eBay, OfferUp, and Facebook Marketplace, with very user-friendly experiences within each platform, there’s no excuse that selling something should be hard to do.

To sell things you don’t need via the offline route, you can:

  1. Host a garage or yard sale
  2. Sell clothes and other accessories at resale retailer shops including Buffalo Exchange and Plato’s Closet
  3. Drop off your items to a third party vendor including a consignment store and wait for a buyer (if you have the extra time to do so)

When deciding on whether or not you want to sell something, think about if the item in question has some sort of value or sentimental value to you. If you feel you may get upset for selling something that perhaps was brought down from your family, or was an important heirloom from someone special, we say don’t sell it.

The goal here is to declutter and get rid of things that you don’t need, that someone else can have a use for.

By taking part in this, you not only can collect some significant cash to put toward the move but also reduce how much you need to pack in the truck. The less you need to pack, the cheaper the rate will be due to less volume and weight.

2. Ship your items instead of moving them

An easy and possibly even cheaper way to move across the country is to ship your items via a delivery service instead of moving them.

This case is typically for those that don’t have a lot of personal possessions to move in the first place.

Instead of having to rent a truck to pack in a few things, shipping them through USPS, FedEx, or other delivery services may be your best bet. These companies also offer to ship larger items if need be.

Depending on how much you have in your possession, make sure to calculate rates and if this option is worth it on your cross country endeavor.

3. Rent a portable moving container

A portable moving container is a large, rectangular storage container, almost like a storage unit, that you can fill up and attach to a truck for long-distance shipping.

Using a portable storage container is one of the more popular options when it comes to a cheap way to move across the country. They come in various sizes for your individual needs. Depending on how much you have to move, this option may be your best bet.

One great reason why a moving container may be your best bet is that the unit doubles as a storage unit that you can keep your belongings in, as well as a medium for being able to move things.

For some peace of mind, you are not the one who has to figure out a way to move the container. The company that rents it out to you has trucks that can easily stow it away to your new destination.

Moving companies, such as Meathead Movers, can assist you from start to finish when it comes to the loading and unloading of moving containers. Additionally, our rates are much lower when deciding on this method, instead of using a full-service move.

When renting one of these containers, the cost usually comes down to the length of time you rent it for. The longer you rent it, the more you will pay. So to get the most bang from your buck when using this method, don’t keep it in your possession for longer than necessary.

Some of the companies that offer this service include UHaul, Smart Box, 1-800 Pack-Rat, PODS, and UPack to name a few.

4. Drive everything yourself

If you own a car, van, or truck, and you are able to pack all of your belongings safely and securely, then this may be your best bet when deciding on a cheaper way to travel across the country.

For example, let’s say you’re moving from New York to Los Angeles. That distance is around 2,800 miles or so. If the automobile used is a Toyota Sienna that holds around 20 gallons of gas per tank, gets around 26 miles per gallon, and each gallon of gas costs $3.50 (with an average fill price of $70) the price just for the gas would be around the neighborhood of $400.

$400 is a rough estimate but could fluctuate due to the weight of the car and other factors.

Including gas, there are other expenses including food, lodging, supplies, spur of the moment sightseeing quests, etc.

If you have large, heavy objects or don’t want to subject your vehicle to that kind of driving strain, then having the help of long-distance movers such as Meathead Movers is your best bet.

5. Get started early

An easy way to help you save money on your move across the country is to plan ahead. Planning ahead helps you stay focused on the goal of moving without having to rush.

When you’re in a rush, you may make decisions that could cost you money including settling for things that you need at a higher price than you want.

When you are in control and have adequate time, you have time to make better decisions and conduct more research on things in order to help save money.

Waiting until the last minute to move is a bad idea anyway. If you try to rent a truck with only a few day’s notice, especially if you’re moving during a busy season, you may be out of luck. Many moving companies need several weeks’ notice in order to reserve a truck.

If for some reason you are in a rush and need to snag a truck for your long-distance moving, contact the professionals at Meathead Movers as soon as possible and we’ll do our very best to work with you and try to get you what you need.

6. Look for free moving supplies & boxes

When looking for cheap ways and tips on how to move long-distance and across the country, saving expenses is the name of the game. Just like how we mentioned Craiglist may be a good option when looking to sell your items for cash, you can use this website to search for potential free stuff around your area, including boxes and moving supplies.

There is a laundry list of other places that may be able to help you score some free moving boxes and perhaps some supplies. These can include:

  • The social networking neighborhood app Nextdoor.com
  • Liquor stores
  • Local classifieds
  • Office Depot
  • Costco
  • Other large department stores that may have a lot of boxes and bubble wrap laying around

If finding free moving supplies is not a possible scenario, look to Meathead Movers for your moving supply needs at great prices and quick delivery times.

7. Seek out help from friends & family

Paying for labor costs can add up quickly, depending on who you hire, how long you hire them for, and how much stuff you need to pack and ship.

When looking for a cheaper alternative than paid labor when moving across the country, enlist help from friends and family, especially the stronger people that you know.

In most cases, free lunch and a few beers (on you) will usually do the trick.

8. Consider a seasonal move

When looking for a cheaper way to move across the nation, consider the time of the year! Summer months between May and September are usually the most expensive time of the year to move.

The reasons why these months are the most expensive are because:

  • The demand is higher for most moving services, thus companies can charge higher rates
  • It’s typically easier for families to move in the summer because their children aren’t in school (same goes with college students)
  • Weather is usually better in the summer months, which makes the moving process for many much easier
  • Many people don’t want to move during the holiday season, which could be an added stressor
  • It’s more practical in general to move during the summer months
  • Alongside many other life events to take into consideration

Instead, opt for the off-season, which is the time between January and March, when rates are the lowest.

There is generally less demand during these months because it’s not the most favorable for some people.

So if a winter move is something that’s in your wheelhouse, go for it and save some money in the process!

Another thing to keep in mind is that moving on weekends is also going to cost you more, no matter what time of the year you plan to move. So if you really want to spare expenses, consider a move during the weekday between Monday and Thursday.

Moving follows a predictable and cyclical pattern each year, so you won’t find much variation when knowing that the summer months are the busiest time of the year to move.

9. Using on-site moving & labor services

Using an on-site labor service, such as the one that Meathead Movers offers, is a great tip to help when moving across the country for cheap.

An on-site labor service is different from full service because you’re removing the need for a moving truck.

Professional movers assist customers with loading and unloading belongings into a rental truck, their van, or any automobile that is used during the cross country trek.

Some of the factors that are taken into consideration when using on-site labor are the use of supplies including dollies, tie-downs, tools, padding, and more. Most companies charge for this, while Meathead Movers does not.

Meathead Movers is also able to help unload your belongings and furniture, and rearrange your new home to how you see fit.

10. Consider your lodging

When looking for ways and tips to save money when moving across the country, one element to keep in mind is your lodging.

Unless you’re a superhuman who can drive for days without needing sleep (which no one is, and this is not something we condone) you’re going to need to stop and catch some zzz’s.

Here are some great ways to save money on your lodging expenses:

  1. While staying in a hotel may be a good option depending on your needs, a motel is typically the cheaper route to go with.
    Contact a friend if they’re within your driving route to stay with them.
  2. Use a service such as Airbnb. Having your route planned out in advance can help you know where you’ll end up, and having a sleeping arrangement already in order can reduce stress.
  3. Staying in a hostel, which is a low-cost lodging arrangement where you stay with other people in a house. While hostels are not for everyone, it may be a good option for some.
  4. Using a service such as CouchSurfing. This service provides you with lodging options that people offer so you can stay as a guest at someone’s home along the way.


Moving across the country doesn’t always have to be expensive. Sometimes, the cheapest ways are the best ways.

While each person’s situation is different, be mindful of your needs and be sure to prepare in advance so you can get the best and least expensive options possible.

Looking to move across the country without breaking the bank? Meathead Movers is an athlete moving company with locations all across the great state of California. With award-winning services including local moving, long-distance moving, commercial moving, and senior moving, our team of dedicated professionals can do it all. Need moving supplies? We have you covered there too. Contact us over the phone or online for a free quote and see how we can help you make your move quick, easy, and efficient!

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