7 Tips to Help You Move Long Distance on a

Let’s face it: moving, especially long distance, is expensive. From the cost of boxes to renting a U-Haul, there are a lot of expenses to account for. Here are some of the best budget-friendly ways to pack, prepare for, and move long-distance.

1. Find the right moving company

There are plenty of moving companies, but which is the best long-distance moving company for you? The most important thing to do when looking for a budget-friendly moving company is to consider your needs, check reviews, and look at pricing. Consider the following:

  • What’s your budget? Starting off with a set budget is key. Remember that you aren’t just paying for a truck to move your things—you’re also potentially paying for movers, packing supplies, gas, transportation fees, and more. So, you need to make sure you aren’t just budgeting for one aspect of your move. 
  • Don’t just pick the first company you find. It can be easy to pick a company based on recommendations or a quick search. But it’s important you take the time to get quotes from at least three different companies. Compare what they have to offer, the price, and what you need. 

2. …or rent a truck

The cost of moving long distance varies based on company, distance, and time of year. While paying the extra amount to have a team of experts pack and move your items can be helpful, sometimes the best option will be renting and driving a truck yourself. Depending on a variety of factors—including things like room size and toll fees—paying for a full-service long distance move can cost a lot. As an example, let’s say you have a two- to three-bedroom home. To move 250 miles can cost around $1,300 – moving 2,500 miles or more can cost you upwards of $10,000. 

Let’s compare those costs with renting a 26-foot U-Haul truck for a DIY move. The main thing that impacts the cost of a U-Haul is distance. For example, it costs around $1,265 to rent a U-Haul truck for a move from Austin, TX, to Charlotte, NC, a nearly 2,000-mile distance, regardless of the time of year. That’s significantly cheaper for a significantly longer distance.

3. Save on boxes when you can

If moving requires one thing, it’s boxes. While many moving companies and truck rental facilities offer boxes, a medium size box runs between $2.35 to $2.79 a piece. That might not seem like a lot at first, but for a whole apartment or home’s worth of boxes, those costs quickly add up. Instead of spending a fortune on boxes, try sourcing them from different places.

  • Reuse old boxes. If you know you have a move coming up, start saving any boxes you receive from things like online deliveries or bulk purchases. Simply break them down, flatten them out, and store them somewhere safe until you need them.
  • Ask around. Do you know someone who has recently moved? Don’t hesitate to reach out to them and see if they’d be willing to part with their boxes. Or, simply put out the call for boxes to your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Chances are most people have a box or two laying around the house that they’d be happy to part with.
  • Search the internet. Thanks to places like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and even Nextdoor, there are more ways than ever to trade or simply ask around for things you might need. Spend a few hours scouring online to see if there are any groups or posts for free boxes or packing materials.
  • Use what you have. Not every moving box has to be, well, a box. You can be creative and reuse things that you already own to help you safely store household items. Pack hard-sided clothes hampers with lightweight items like linens or towels. Use an old IKEA bag to store clothes or curtains. Store things in hard-sided suitcases. Just make sure everything is safely packed and securely closed.

4. Get creative with packing materials

Just like you don’t have to put everything in a box, you don’t have to wrap every item with store-bought moving paper or bubble wrap. Instead, use household items to help wrap, pad, and protect your valuables. Old blankets can help protect large electronics or even be taped around pieces of furniture. Towels can be wrapped around or stacked between plates or dishes. When it comes to taping boxes closed, you don’t always need to go out and buy box tape—thick, sturdy tape like duct tape can work in its place. To get you started, here is a list of some useful packing materials you already have:

  • Duct tape
  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Towels
  • Pool noodles
  • Old clothes or fabric

5. Pack things on your own (if you can)

Depending on where you live, a professional mover costs between $38-$75 per hour. Let’s say you live in a two-bedroom apartment. Minimum, you’ll need to hire two movers. If it takes two movers one to two hours to pack each room (two bedrooms, kitchen, living, and bathroom) and an additional hour to load everything—that’s roughly 6-11 hours to pack and load everything into the truck. Assuming each mover gets paid $57 per hour, that means it will cost you between $684-$1,287 to have your home packed and loaded onto a truck. That’s a lot of money. 

With that in mind, if you have the time and are able, packing yourself can be a cost-effective solution. If you have a busy schedule but your move isn’t anytime soon, start packing early. Go through your space and take stock of all the things that aren’t essential to your daily life: books, DVDs, art, and general knick-knacks. Anything that you don’t need—put in a box. Or, if you have less time, try to take some time off from work or simply spend a weekend getting everything packed and ready to go. Remember, you don’t have to do it all alone. Shamelessly bribing your friends and family with food to help you pack is a tried-and-true tradition.

6. Declutter your house 

Another thing to consider when it comes to cutting the cost of moving is this: the less you own, the less you pack, the less you pay to move. As you prepare to pack, go from room to room and consider what you have. Are there old bookshelves that you’ve been wanting to replace? A sofa that won’t fit in your new space? Old clothes or linens that no longer serve a purpose? Consider what you have carefully: is it past its prime? Something that can or needs to be replaced? 

Gather up anything you don’t need anymore and put it into three piles: trash, donate, or sell. 

7. Try and move at the right time

Everything from the overall time of year, time of the month, and day of the week can impact your moving expenses. With that in mind, it’s important to consider the following when trying to find the best time to move:

  • There’s a seasonality to moving. We aren’t always afforded the luxury of picking when we move. If you can, you want to aim for some time between September and April. While there’s never really an “off” season for moving, real estate sales and moves in general tend to slow towards the end of the year, with summer being the busiest months. Lower demand for things like movers and truck rentals tends to mean lower prices.
  • Weekdays over weekends. Weekends are when most people are free from commitments like work. It’s also when people are most likely to try and schedule a move. If you work a service job or have PTO, scheduling your move during the week can mean having access to better prices.
  • Pick the middle of the month. Like fall and winter or weekdays, the middle of the month tends to be the best time to schedule a move. Most people schedule services at the beginning or end of the month. 

Really it all boils down to one major thing: planning

The best way to make sure you’re moving on a budget is to give yourself time to plan. Moving can be stressful, and while it might be tempting to simply put off thinking about the associated to-do list, the sooner you get things mapped out the better. That way, you can consider some of the above to map out the most cost-effective time to move, the method of moving, and more. Waiting till the last minute to plan things out means getting stuck with whatever is available at the time as opposed to your best possible option.


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