On average, moves that cross state lines cost at least $5,000, which is no small fee. Understandably, most of us want to avoid racking up moving costs like that, especially with the many other things that will impact a moving budget, such as taking time off from work, buying new furniture, and closing costs on our homes.

To help, we’re sharing six cheap ways to move out of state so you can shave some of these costs down and spend where it truly matters.

Wanna move but not sure where? Read about state incentives to get you to move there to help make your decision.

Rent a Moving Container

Moving container companies can save you a lot of money and the trouble of driving your belongings in an extensive U-Haul cross-country.

A moving container company will bring a large container or pod to your home, which can vary dramatically in size based on what you opt for. From there, you can load it up and have the container shipped by the company to your new house. Alternatively, you can place your belongings in the storage container and keep them in a storage unit if you’re between places or running out of time to go through everything.

Like any service, prices will vary between companies, so start early and gather at least four different quotes from storage container companies. We recommend looking into companies that have close locations to where you live now and where you’re moving to for the best rate, especially if you’re making a long-distance move.

Rent a Tow-Behind Trailer

If you’re making a small move one state over, consider renting a tow-behind trailer. Tow-behind trailers can be hitched to your car, pickup truck, or any vehicle with towing capabilities.

Many companies, like U-Haul, rent tow-behind trailers, making this an easy moving option to get your hands on. However, you must be cautious driving with a trailer, especially if you have no prior experience with them. Don’t learn to drive with a trailer on a long-distance move. Trailers can lead to accidents, and the increased risk to yourself and others on the road is not worth it if you don’t have the right vehicle or experience to operate a vehicle with a trailer attached.

Move by Train

Many people don’t realize that you can move by train, which is unfortunate because it’s among the cheapest options for moving to a new state. Many people choose to ride the train to their new location too, which is much more fun than driving.

If you’re thinking about moving by train, keep the following in mind:

  • Most train moving services charge a flat rate for the first 100 or so pounds, then a price per pound after that.
  • You won’t be able to ship large furniture or oversized items. Keep your shipment to moving boxes and small furniture pieces.
  • Certain things, like fragile items, valuable art, or electronics, will need to be shipped separately as trains don’t usually allow these to be shipped onboard.
  • You’ll need to pick your items up within 48 hours of arrival. Otherwise, you’ll be charged a storage fee.
  • If you have a lot of belongings, you may need to ship them on several freights.

The biggest thing to keep in mind for this moving option is that you’ll need to live somewhere currently near a railroad and be moving somewhere near a train. If you don’t live near a railroad, you need to be willing to rent a U-Haul or moving truck to transport your items to and from the station. However, this may cost more than it’s worth, so one of the other options on this list may be a better choice for you.

Rent a Moving Truck

Renting a moving truck is one of the most obvious DIY move options. Typically, you rent the truck for a set number of days. Most moving companies will also have a mileage limit. Remember to compare prices between providers, some companies are better than others when it comes to moving long distances.

However, renting a moving truck does not factor in additional costs, such as meals on the go, hotels, gas, and insurance for the rental truck, which is unlikely to be covered under your typical auto insurance policy.

Here are our top moving tips for renting a moving truck on a budget:

  • Estimate gas costs and weigh whether this option will still be less expensive than other moving options. Typically, diesel trucks will have better gas mileage.
  • Pack your own food to reduce meal costs.
  • Many moving truck companies, like Penske, U-Haul, and Budget Trucks, will price match, so collect free moving quotes from all companies in your area to get the best deal.
  • Confirm your reservation the day before by making a quick call to the office.

Rent a Cargo Van for a Small Move

If you don’t have a large family, you may be able to get away with renting a cargo van to move your belongings. Cargo vans can save you money because they typically get better gas mileage than a large moving truck. If you’re driving a long distance, this can make a massive difference in gas costs.

However, you’ll be responsible for loading, driving, and unloading the vehicle, so make sure you are prepared for this responsibility. If this is alright with you, all that’s left to do is figure out exactly how much space you need for your belongings. You don’t want to underestimate how much stuff you’re moving and find out on moving day that the vehicle is too small.

Ship Your Belongings

Most of us don’t think about shipping our belongings when we think about moving. However, there are several ways you can go about shipping your things, from using a traditional parcel carrier to an LTL freight carrier to shipping marketplaces.

If you want to lessen your load, consider shipping smaller items, like media items, through parcel carriers, such as USPS, FedEx, UPS, and DHL. We don’t recommend shipping large items, like a TV, through parcel carriers as this can quickly become expensive.

If you have huge items, like furniture, consider using uShip, a shipping marketplace for moving. On uShip, you post about what you’re looking to ship and others will offer you deals for moving. This is usually much cheaper than using professional movers, saving you extra money in moving expenses. However, it can be riskier, so take your time and vet any strange offers or profiles.

Lastly, consider shipping your belongings through an LTL freight carrier which consolidates your belongings on a truck with other moves to save room and money. This method can take longer, so start early and give yourself as much flexibility as possible if you opt for this choice. Declutter as many of your belongings as possible and sell items at a garage sale to make some extra cash. You can also look at donating unwanted items to Goodwill or family members.

Take care when packing your things. Use packing materials and packing supplies, like bubble wrap and packing paper, to pad your belongings, especially if they are fragile.

Final Thoughts

Moving is usually placed in two categories: hiring a professional moving company or hauling the items yourself. However, there are many other ways to cheaply move your stuff, such as shipping, trailers, cargo vans, and moving by train. We hope this piece gave you some ideas about your best bets when it comes to the cheapest ways to save money during your move.

Read out list of Best Overall Moving Companies.

Editorial Contributors
Sam Wasson

Sam Wasson

Staff Writer

Sam Wasson graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Film and Media Arts with an Emphasis in Entertainment Arts and Engineering. Sam brings over four years of content writing and media production experience to the Today’s Homeowner content team. He specializes in the pest control, landscaping, and moving categories. Sam aims to answer homeowners’ difficult questions by providing well-researched, accurate, transparent, and entertaining content to Today’s Homeowner readers.

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Lora Novak

Senior Editor

Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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