What Is the Cheapest Way to Move?

The cheapest way to move is with a moving truck rental. If you rent a truck, pack and load your stuff yourself, and drive the truck to your new home, you’ll pay much less than you would for other types of movers.

But truck rental isn’t the only option. You can also go with a moving container company or even hire a relatively affordable full-service mover for your stuff. It just depends on your budget and how much of the work you’re willing to do yourself.

Money icon
Moving cost summary
Cheapest way to move: Truck rental

Next cheapest way to move: Moving container company

Most expensive way to move: Full-service mover

How much does a truck rental cost?

A truck rental will cost you somewhere around $30–$50 per day for a 16-foot truck, and that’s not counting costs per mile, gas charges, taxes, and surcharges.

Light Bulb icon
Pro tip
If you’re moving across state lines, you may not have to worry so much about an additional cost per mile. Many truck rental companies include unlimited miles—or at least enough miles to cover your trip—in their long distance price estimates.

We covered this in detail for you in our How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Moving Truck article, as well as our article on the requirements to rent a U-Haul truck. Check them out for more info.

How much does a moving container company cost?

We took a look at how much the moving container company PODS costs to move your stuff both locally and long distance. Check out our article on how much PODS cost to get a detailed breakdown of example costs.

But PODS isn’t the only moving container company around, and it’s not always the cheapest. Personally, we’re big fans of U-Pack because it doesn’t charge you money for storage unless you need it. (PODS tacks on storage automatically.)

If you know you’re not going to need to store your stuff for a while during your move, then U-Pack can save you some serious money. Even so, plan on spending a few hundred dollars for a local move and over $1,000 for a long distance move with a moving container company.

Megaphone icon
A moving container company works by dropping the containers off at your house, letting you load them yourself, and then picking them up again to move to your destination.

How much does a full-service mover cost?

A full service mover is definitely the most expensive way to move, especially if you need cross-country movers.

Even for a local, in-town move, you’re looking at several hundred dollars to have someone load your stuff into a truck, move it, and unload it at your new house.

Long distance moves with full-service movers get even more expensive, and you can expect to spend a few thousand dollars. But if getting the extra help is worth that to you, then go for it. It’s just not the cheapest.

How can I save money on my move?

There are a bunch of ways you can shave a few dollars off your moving costs.

1. Skip the truck entirely

This one’s not for everyone, since it only works if you don’t have much stuff to move. But if you’re not trying to ship furniture across town (or across the country), then you might be able to skip the truck entirely and either just rent a car or pickup truck, or—even better—borrow one from a generous friend.

2. Buy discounted packing materials (or find free ones)

A lot of moving companies offer discounted packing materials. Check with your truck rental or moving container company and see what kind of deals they have. If you’re going with a full-service mover, they might even give you used packing materials for free.

Info Box icon
Want to save on packing materials?
To save even more money, you can hunt down free packing materials around town. Check with restaurants and grocery stores that often have things delivered in large, sturdy boxes. Ask if you can come pick some up on their next unloading day. The worst they can do is say no.

3. Pack your stuff yourself

If you rent a moving truck or hire a moving container company, then it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll be packing your stuff yourself.

But if you hire a full-service mover, they often have an option to pack for you. (If you want to save some serious cash, don’t take it—it’s super expensive.)

Heads Up icon
Still want some help packing?
If you have just a few things you’d really like to have packed properly, then look for a mover who offers “partial packing.” You can still pack most of your own stuff but save the super fragile items for the professionals.

4. Have all your stuff organized and ready to go

Movers often charge by the hour. This goes for in-town moves and full-service movers alike.

So the less time you spend loading and unloading your stuff (or having a mover do it for you), the more money you save. Be sure to have all your boxes and every piece of furniture pre-organized and ready to go on the truck. That way, you take as little of the movers’ time as possible.

5. Compare prices for movers

No matter what type of mover you decide to go with, get a few different price quotes before you settle on one company.

If you’re renting a moving truck, then it’s pretty easy to get prices online and compare them to find the best one. (Most truck rental companies have online price calculators.)

If you’re going with a moving container company or a full-service mover, then be prepared to make some phone calls. Some moving container companies have online price calculators, but only a few full-service movers give you that luxury.

When is the cheapest time of year to move?

Movers are busiest in the spring and summer. If you want to save some serious money on your move, try to time it for the fall or winter. It costs way more to move your stuff in July than it does in January.

If you rent a moving truck to move in the winter, though, watch out for bad weather on your journey. You won’t be saving any money if your truck slips off the road on an icy drive and you opted out of the full-coverage insurance option.

Now that you know, here are your next steps.

Find the most affordable mover for you.


Get more info on moving truck rental with U-Haul.