Reducing the cost of moving

Save on a Long Distance Move

by Sherry Ballou Hansen

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A long distance move can be very expensive. Considering that you're moving from one state to another that's not surprising, but you don't have to spend a fortune to move. Try some of these ideas to reduce the cost of a long distance move.

Start Early

  • Go room-to-room and make a list of what moves. Have an early sale of items you are not taking. As moving day gets closer, hold another sale; there will be a lot more.

  • Go through closets and drawers, the garage, and basement meticulously; most of the cost of having someone move you is the weight. If you move yourself, space is the issue.

  • Try listing large items like furniture, appliances, and power tools on Craigslist or eBay, and do it early in order to get a good price.

  • Begin packing immediately. Contact friends who have access to packing boxes and materials from their work place, so you don't have to buy them. I also found that blankets, pillows, old towels, heavy jackets, and quilts were great for packing pictures, small appliances, lamps, and other large breakable items myself. This also helped with books. There is a limit on how heavy you want the box, but you also need to move the pillows and blankets. You save money doing your packing, but remember that you, not the mover, are liable if the top of a box caves in.

Choosing a Moving Method

Long distance carriers such as Atlas and Mayflower give you an estimate based on the walk-through they do in your home. Weight is the primary method for determining cost. Typically the movers then come two days ahead of your leaving to pack whatever is left and then come back the next day and load the truck. Because we had a small load and did most of our own packing, they packed remaining delicate items the same day they loaded. Our move from Maine to Oregon, with no appliances and minimal furnishings (two beds, two recliners, one china cabinet, three tables, four chairs, one cedar chest), ended up costing just over $9,000 and included storage fees for close to two weeks due to a health emergency.

U-Haul trucks for distance moving come in various sizes and start at $2,120, which holds the contents of a studio apartment. There are ten, fourteen, seventeen, twenty and twenty-six foot vehicles. The latter will hold a four-bedroom household and cost you $2,891. You drive and pay gas and tolls. You also secure your own packing materials, pack the truck, unpack, and return the vehicle to the nearest U-Haul dealer.

PODs or pack-on-destination crates come in seven-foot (7'x7'x8'), typically holding the contents of one room, and sixteen-foot (16'x8'x8') to hold three to four rooms. They deliver for about $195 and you have the box for a month without further charge. You pack, and they pick it up and charge a transit fee based on distance. They deliver to your new location, and then pick up the empty crates. Whatever price they give you is all inclusive with taxes. Containers are made in the USA and built of recycled steel and aluminum.

U-Box pods are an option from U-Haul. They come in one size comparable to the smaller POD containers, starting at $1,678 per box. Four will cost $3,812 and five will be $4,355. These prices include furniture pads. Like PODS, they deliver, and you pack. Then they pick up and move them to your destination. You unpack, and they pick up.

Check the websites for free estimates. Thinking about moving a vehicle? It will cost between $1,400 and $1,500 to deliver it from Maine to Oregon.

Sherry Hanson is a writer, author, and teacher who has lived in MA, CT, IL, ME and now OR. Visit her website at

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