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Cheapest Way to Move Across the Country

7 professional tips for the cheapest way to move across the country

Moving across the country is an expensive endeavor. It requires a fair deal of planning, organization and budgeting to make the move a success.

Here are seven professional tips on how to save money for your cross-country move:

  1. See if your company will subsidize costs: If you’re moving across the country for a new job with the same company, you should negotiate with the firm and see if they will cover the costs of the relocation. If they’re not willing to pay for all of the moving costs, you should at least try to get the firm to subsidize some of the expenses. According to global relocation association Worldwide ERC, association members spent $9.3 billion annually in the U.S. on corporate relocations. While 63 percent of these moves were current employees, 37 percent were for new employees. If you’re moving for a new job, you should negotiate during the initial contract stages and see if the company will help foot the moving bills.
  2. Get multiple free quotes: It’s always good to get multiple opinions on something. That’s especially the case if you’re moving long distance. It’s best practice to describe your situation to a few different movers and ask them for a quote; don’t just rely on the price you get from these companies. That’s not to say movers are shady characters, but you’re doing yourself and your wallet a favor by playing the market. Under the guise of free-market American capitalism, you can request quotes from multiple companies and find the right price for you. Third-party marketplaces like uShip host freight and shipping listings for drivers and movers to bid on. The goal is to create a bidding war and drive the end price down, hence saving you money in the long run.
  3. Learn to consolidate: Moving is a time to say goodbye to friends, family and personal belongings that you leave behind. While letting go is never easy, it’s a must if you’re moving across the country. A long-distance relocation requires movers to throw out some personal items because movers typically charge by weight and miles. The lighter you travel, the easier – and cheaper – the move will ultimately be. Things like an old stamp collection and more sentimental items should obviously make the trip, but the roller disco craze was more than 30 years ago. It’s time to let go of those two-tone leather dreamboat skates of yours and move on. Unless your new city has an active roller disco rink. Then by all means, cue the Bee-Gees and get on with your bad self, Travolta.
  4. Finding places to crash: If you know about your move well ahead of time, you can plan effectively and save money on possible lodging costs you may incur. If you’re driving through parts of the country where you know people, it may pay to crash on their couch for the evening instead of paying for a hotel. However, if that’s not an option, planning a route well in advance will help determine a more accurate budget in terms of fuel and lodging costs.
  5. See if Uncle Sam can help: If you’re making a cross-country move, it will definitely pay to check and see if your expenses are deductible. Under the current U.S. Tax Code, you can deduct your reasonable moving expenditures if you relocated for a job or began a business in a new location. While food isn’t deductible, you can write off moving-related expenses if your new office is more than 50 miles farther from your old home and you work at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months of employment at your new job. There are a bunch of really fun and interesting forms you can fill out to write off these expenses.
  6. Figure out the best time to move: Depending on the nature of your move, this piece of advice may not strictly apply. For instance, most corporate relocation gives employees two weeks to make the move and start their new job. If time is of the essence, you should consider planning your move in the middle of the week. It costs far less since most people plan to move on the weekends so they don’t have to take time off of work, but if you’re moving across the country, there’s a good chance you’re leaving your old job anyway. Monday through Wednesday are typically the best days to move, while Friday through Sunday will cost more. Also, the first day of the month is the worst day of the month to move. Everyone else will likely have the same idea since most leases for rental properties begin at that time.
  7. Determine a means of transport: Unfortunately there’s no best answer in this situation, as the cost of hiring movers, shipping all of your things or renting a massive U-Haul are all variable based on the amount of freight, the weight and the distance. However, you can certainly plan ahead and see which option will be most cost effective for your situation. Here are a few simple things to consider about each option:
  • Rental truck or trailer: This could end up being the cheapest option for you, but in terms of sweat equity, it may be the most expensive. If you decide to rent a trailer, you and the three friends you bribed with pizza and beer will be loading everything yourselves. You’re also running the risk of damaging things in transit since you don’t have professional equipment. But it will also save you a fair share of cash. Just make sure to insure your stuff if it’s a long trip!
  • Shipping your things:  If you’re traveling light, it could pay to just ship clothes and other important household items to your new place and drive in a separate vehicle. FedEx, UPS and DHL offer these types of services for long-distance moves. It may be more cost-effective to buy new furniture when you get to your new home, so selling the old stuff and traveling light could make things easier and cheaper.
  • Planes, trains and automobiles: According to industry website Cheap Moving Tips, this is the cheapest way to move out of state if you don’t have any large electronics to move. If you can manage to stay under the 150 lb. threshold, this option can save you a lot of cash. However, this is highly dependent on how much stuff you’re bringing to your new home and if buses or trains even operate in your new city. If you’re moving to a major metropolitan area and are traveling light, this option may work out well for you.