The cheapest way to move cross country is to use moving pods. Our research shows it’s about 10% less expensive to use a moving pod than a moving truck for a distance of 2,000 miles or more because you save on travel costs like food, lodging, gas, and rental truck mileage fees.
The 10% gap may not seem like a lot, but if you’re looking to save money, every dollar counts. For a cross-country move of approximately 2,000 miles, a 10% savings amounts to nearly $400—even though your initial quote may suggest the opposite.
It adds up. For a long-distance move, your most affordable option is moving containers.
Moving pods are affordable because you do some of the work yourself. In certain cases (like long-distance moves), they are often your cheapest option because you don’t have as many travel-related costs.
For example, a flight gets you cross country in less than a day, but a rental truck can take upwards of a week. It doesn’t take long for the cost of gas, hotels, and meals to dwarf what you would spend up front on plane tickets.
It’s almost counterintuitive to think that moving containers are more affordable than rental trucks. As we illustrated earlier, that isn’t always the case.
Moving trucks are by far your cheapest option for a short-distance move.
But when you’re moving across the country, the DIY savings of loading and unloading your moving pods is compounded by significantly diminished traveling costs (e.g., no rental truck mileage fees, no overnight hotel stays, etc.).
Moving pods are usually your most affordable option for cross-country moves.
Just like with a rental truck, you save a boatload of money (compared to a full-service move) loading and unloading the moving containers yourself.
If you want to pay for a little help, some moving container companies (like U-Haul) offer hourly labor services specifically for loading your moving pods.
In fact, U-Haul Moving Help® has some of the lowest prices we’ve seen for loading and unloading services.
But it still costs a lot.
At $43.73 per hour per person, it’ll set you back nearly $900 to hire five people for half a day. The savings of DIY add up even more if you factor in what it would cost to pay someone else to pack your belongings.
The other reason moving pods are so affordable going cross country is that you don’t pay as much for expenses like gas, hotels, and food.
With a coast-to-coast move, it’s faster for you to travel by plane while your stuff is in transit, and the costs of flying are typically lower than what you’d expect to see driving a rental truck thousands of miles.
Of course, the savings may not hold up if you drive instead of flying. The reason moving pods can be your least expensive long-distance option is because you don’t dish out money for food, gas, and hotels.
Quotes for cross-country moves from moving pod and rental truck companies typically suggest that moving trucks are your cheapest option.
But when you factor in travel-related costs, moving pods end up being the least expensive choice for long distances.
Bottom line: rental trucks are the cheapest option for moves of hundreds of miles. Moving pods are your most affordable choice for moves of thousands of miles.