For many renters, now’s a good time to pick up and start fresh in a new place. Flexible employment options are allowing more renters to live and work from wherever they choose, while others are moving to find new jobs altogether or create other new opportunities for themselves and their families. Regardless of the reason, a long distance move can be a pain to plan, and an even bigger pain to pay for. Afterall, the average cost of hiring full-service professional movers for an interstate move is $4,890.

Whether you’re planning ahead of time or making the move last-minute, there are ways to make your cross-country move more efficient and easier on your wallet. 

Seven tips for moving cross-country on a budget

Get rid of some things

A big move is a great opportunity to take stock of the things you need vs. the things you don’t. Whether it’s those clothes you don’t wear so much, furniture that’s sitting collecting dust, or toys that your kids have outgrown, many renters who move quickly realize they have more belongings than they need. 

Yard sales are always a great option for offloading some of your stuff. Online marketplaces and social media also make it relatively easy to sell a lot of items in a short amount of time. There are sites we all know like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, as well as other options that are more specific to the types of items you’re trying to sell. Check out this list of online resources for selling your belongings.

How this helps: Decreasing moving costs, getting a little extra cash in your pocket

Update important documents

No one likes the DMV, but we’re all required to update and renew our documentation every few years. As you plan your move, be sure to research which documentation you need to change, update, or renew. 

This includes 

Updating documentation and making these changes before your move is significantly easier than doing it during or after, as these processes can be time-consuming and complicated. When you take into account that every state has different regulations around what documentation residents should have and keep current, it’s much better to know what you’re getting into beforehand than figuring it out when you arrive.

How this helps: Being proactive about important changes that are often overlooked

Plan your route carefully

This is especially important if you’re driving your own belongings to your new home. Planning your route is an extremely personal part of your move. It’s tempting to try to pick the fastest route possible, but you’ll need to account for the type of vehicle you’re driving and also how much money you can afford to spend while on the road. For example, if it's your first time driving a truck or a trailer, maybe you’d like to plan a route that minimizes turns or inclines. If you’re trying to save money, maybe you plan a route depending on rest stop availability and prices for gas and hotels. 

If you’d like, you can also make your moving route a source of fun for yourself and your family. If you’ve got time to spare you can choose a scenic route, or plan to stop at destinations on the way you’ve always wanted to visit. You can turn this major life event into a move and a road trip all wrapped up in one. 

An image of a GPS app on a phone helping the driver navigate as they move across country

How this helps: Saving time during your actual move, avoiding surprises, making your move easier overall

Get multiple moving estimates

If you plan on using cross country movers, make sure to get multiple estimates for your move. 

This will help you compare the itemized costs side by side (including truck rental fees) and not overpay for your move because of lack of knowledge of how pricing should work. Because you’re moving cross-country, selecting flat-rate movers could protect you from additional costs that typically come with hiring hourly movers. 

A few more things you should do when vetting moving companies:

  • Read online reviews and make sure you’re dealing with reputable companies. 

  • When you receive an estimate, be sure to review the contract with as much detail as possible. Moving can be filled with hidden fees based on things that happen between your old home and your new destination. 

  • Make sure to get a clear understanding of what  happens in situations like if your property is damaged, if items are lost, or if any other aspects of the service are unsatisfactory. 

How this helps: Ensuring that you’re getting the best deal for your move

Pack and label every box

If you’ve moved before, you know that packing boxes can be an art form

Packing efficiently helps you cut down on the number of boxes you use, which should cut down on cost regardless of if you’re driving your own belongings or hiring movers. Make sure to buy all of the appropriate packing materials upfront. 

A image of someone labeling a moving box as they pack to move across country

If you do decide to hire movers, labelling correctly is important because you want to make sure your boxes with glassware are being handled differently than your boxes with pillows. Labelling will make it obvious. Packing the right way is also important for unpacking when you get to your new home. When you get to your destination, correct labelling is important so you don't have to unpack everything in common spaces, sort through it, then decide where it has to go. 

How this helps:  Minimizing damage on the way to your new home and creating efficiency when you get there

Decide between a U-Haul or a portable moving container

You also don’t have to use a moving company if you want to do it yourself, and many people find that the best option is driving their own belongings to their new home. You get to decide your own schedule, pack your things however you see fit, and you keep your peace of mind about the safety of your belongings in transit. If you choose this option however, you should prioritize safety and affordability. Remember that long-distance moving can require long hours of focused driving, and maneuvering a vehicle larger than you’re used to—although cost-effective—can come with risks. Here are some tips for how to stay safe.

If you elect to go the portable container route and then have a moving company transport it for you, here are some helpful moving container options. Choosing this route has its advantages as well, including added convenience, a built-in storage option when you arrive at your destination, and the ability to unpack at your own pace as you don’t have to worry about returning a vehicle within a certain time frame. 

How this helps: Saving costs by taking the DIY approach

Check your relocation package options

Last but not least, if you’re moving for work be sure to check with your employer about what’s included in your relocation package. Some employers offer full or partial reimbursement for moves and can even recommend services that their employees have used in the past. 

How this helps: Get reimbursed for your move or other perks

Moving costs are just some of the expenses that come with relocating across the country, and it’s important to save where you can. As you’re budgeting, remember to also consider how rent concessions at your new home can play into your overall financial situation. Renters who save on moving expenses and save at move-in with security deposit insurance can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars that can go towards starting your new life in your new home. Learn more about how Rhino can help you make your cross-country move affordable.

Larenz Brown

Larenz Brown is a copywriter at Rhino who wants to tell stories that empower people. He once engaged in a 365-day staredown with a security deposit and emerged victorious.