5 Tips To Save You Tons of Money On Your Cross Country Move

April 7, 2018 (Last Updated: May 24, 2018)
Moving across the country for work, school, or just for fun? Not sure where to start or how to pack properly? These 5 simple tips covers how to prepare, how many boxes to buy, and how you can save tons of money even after your move.

So, as you’ve noticed, I’ve been a liiiiittle MIA from the blog, but if you’ve been keeping up with me on Twitter and Instagram, you know that I’ve been in the process of moving from Erie, PA to Denver, CO!

After anticipating it for such a long time, I’m finally here and I’m finally back to writing. I’ve spent some time reflecting on this move and what I would have done differently. While this was fresh on my mind, I wanted to share what I learned. I made some mistakes, but I fortunately made a lot of good decisions that ended up potentially saving me thousands.

Plan Sooner Rather Than Later

Your teachers were right all along. The sooner you tackle your homework and projects, the better it will be for you in the long run. The same applies to moving. Planning your move ahead of time will always be cheaper and easier in the long run. The instant that you know you want to move is ideally when you should start planning.

You might have been able to procrastinate in class, but not in this case.

Often, people will make the mistake of only preparing once they’ve found a new place to live. This can be a nightmare if you’re only allowing yourself a few weeks to move from start to finish.

One of the best things that you can do before you pack anything, is to comb through your belongings and determine what you don’t need anymore.

I’m not a packrat, so I can’t relate to those that are, but if I have not seen/worn/used something in over a year, it’s going to be donated. This is an excellent opportunity to assess your spending habits and ensure that you don’t repeat the cycle of holding onto things you don’t need.

You also need to factor in whether you’re downsizing or upsizing. Use this time to measure your furniture and ensure that everything will fit and figure out how to arrange your stuff in a new environment. Several rooms in my new place are a different size and offer vastly different storage options, so this part of the planning was actually pretty fun.

Research the best rates for renting a truck or get quotes for companies to handle your move in your entirety. Keep in mind that most companies could take several weeks for your belongings to be delivered, so if you go this route, arrange a place to stay in the meantime.

Also, keep in mind when you plan on moving. Factor in things like holidays to your overall time and cost. I moved over Easter weekend and it ended up being a nightmare because it delayed my delivery and you can’t do much to be productive while you wait for your stuff.

Packing a little bit everyday over the span of your upcoming move will save you time and stress in the long run as well.

Pack Like A Pro (Or Hire One)

How you pack will determine how much money you’ll spend before, during, and after your move.

Chances are, it’s been a while since you’ve last moved, and unless you’ve recently helped a friend pack, you’ve forgotten how much actually goes packing.

Don’t let this be you!

Envision each room and take a guess at how many boxes you think you’ll need. Now at least triple that. Unless you live minimally, you’re going to have way more stuff than you think you have. Consider how much stuff you store in places that are not out in the open, such as kitchens and bathrooms. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” is very true.

Despite me following my first tip and donating about 10 trash bags worth of old stuff, I highly underestimated how much stuff I still had. This will become even more apparent once you unpack if you’re downsizing!

The main problem with cross country moves is that your items WILL shift. Every bump, hill, and pothole is an invitation for your loose items to wreak havoc on your stuff.

In addition to going overboard with boxes, you need to go overboard with padding. You’ll need padding for more than just dishes. All artwork, screens, and glass will require it. Fortunately, you can supplement purchased padding with your own blankets and towels.

Remember that even your larger items need to be properly stored as well. This may mean that you need to take some furniture apart. Furniture that have hinges or joints, like tables or bookshelves, should have its parts unscrewed. Store screws, wheels, and other small parts into a plastic bag and tape it to its corresponding larger parts so you’ll always have everything you need.

I learned the hard way about not removing things such as lamp shades and couch cushions. It may be a little more work up front, but you’ll significantly decrease the chance that your belongings completely break or get scratched.

If you’re not confident about packing, consider researching high quality laborers or packers to professionally pack your belongings. Not only will they know how to expertly store your stuff, but they’ll take down your larger furniture as well.

With that said…

If Using A Company, Read the Fine Print

If you’re relying on a company to transport your belongings to your next destination, make sure to understand all risks involved. Only rent the space that you know you will take up. For example, if you don’t have enough stuff to fill up a trailer, don’t get a trailer. Renting trailers usually voids responsibility for damaging items, as there is much more room for your belongings to potentially shift.

If you’re using a company to pack your belongings, make sure to take inventory of your larger, valuable items, such as sofas and bed frames. Take plenty of pictures of your stuff at all angles and note the condition of your belongings before it gets loaded. Every labor company has an opportunity to upload an inventory. This will help you IMMENSELY when something gets damaged during the move. Moving companies have their own insurance for this kind of stuff, and it’s much easier to get reimbursed if you can provide proof of damage.

Prepare to keep all of your receipts when purchasing padding and bubble wrap as you’ll need this if you want to make the most of your claim.

Lastly, the best way to ensure that your stuff gets loaded and transported correctly is by utilizing effective communication. Don’t assume anything. Always clarify and double check the progress of your services. People are quick to take your money and it’s often up to you to confirm that things run smoothly.

Point out what all you want them to load and what you want to keep with you. Providing instruction for what will make you happy will make everyone’s lives easier. Just be cognizant and remember that movers do this for a living, so don’t undermine their experience.

Map Out Your Drive Beforehand

One of the easiest ways to save money is by planning out your drive beforehand. Factor in how many states you need to drive through and what times you’d like to be on the road.

Obviously, there are less people driving at night, but visibility is low, especially when you’re driving through the middle of nowhere.

Google Maps does a great job with directing you through new territory. Even if your car has its own GPS system, I’d recommend using Google Maps as it updates live. After mindlessly driving down a road, Google Maps had me veer onto a sudden exit. A new accident had formed that took up both lanes that would have had me sit in standstill traffic for at least an hour.

Not only will avoiding traffic save you money, but it obviously saves you time and gives you peace of mind.

A must have.

If you believe that you can make the drive in one day, drive during the hours that you feel the most comfortable in. If it will take 2 days or more, consider booking your hotels ahead of time. Booking in advance for anything is almost always cheaper than booking the day of.

Lastly, use Gas Buddy to find the cheapest gas on your route, but try to stick to stations that are just off the road.

Take Advantage of “Change of Address” Coupons

The best part about moving is the home and furniture store coupons you receive when you change your address.

I definitely utilized these coupons to replace some of my damaged belongings. Also, if you’re looking to redecorate or start fresh in some areas, this is a great way to save some money on what you would be purchasing anyway.

Depending on the time of the year you’re moving, you can take advantage of these coupons with major sales, giving you steep discounts.

And that’s it! Simple, right? Being prepared alone will save you literally tons of money later on. I hope that you learn from my mistakes and utilize these tips for your future move, whether it’s to a new home or for school! Let me know in the comments where you plan on moving next.


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Aaron Smith
    May 4, 2018 at 10:20 AM

    Great way to save money on cross country moving. Thanks

  • Reply
    Amanda Noble
    May 2, 2018 at 8:56 AM

    Thanks Leslie! These tips are very helpful to me. I am planning to move to a new city next month.

  • Reply
    Ajay Chander R.
    April 20, 2018 at 10:50 PM

    You have made a wonderful explanation about how to save money while moving and its very useful to anyone . It is very mandatory for us to save some money to do such stuffs rather than doing later and realizing our mistakes. You made it excellent like an economist planing his budget in fiscal year . Awesome post with good info ! and well written | regards from https://questso.blogspot.com

  • Reply
    April 20, 2018 at 4:49 PM

    Good tips. I especially like the part about packing. I moved a few years ago and it was so much work packing and moving everything. I didn’t realize I had so much stuff! In fact, I’m still unpacking things almost 3 years later.

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      April 22, 2018 at 4:11 PM

      Thank you, Tawnya! I’m afraid to go into my bedroom closet because I threw everything that could be defined as “needs to be unpacked eventually, but it’s not necessary to do today” in there.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2018 at 1:45 PM

    From a person who moves a lot, sometimes internationally (ARGHH!!) These were all amazing tips!! I’m definitely a pro-mover girl and learned from past mistakes of not reading the fine print…. Lol! Thanks for sharing! Great read!

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      April 20, 2018 at 1:46 PM

      Thank you, Andrea! Moving is always such a hassle. These moving companies are so quick to get you on board, but sometimes you have to pull teeth to get information afterwards! I can’t imagine fully moving internationally, but it makes my head hurt just thinking about it!

  • Reply
    April 20, 2018 at 12:10 PM

    A big relo, especially cross-country, can be SO stressful. This list is great. And I can’t stress enough the importance of reading the fine print on the movers’ contracts, etc. Thanks for compiling this!

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      April 20, 2018 at 12:15 PM

      Thank you, Beth! I’ve moved so many times, you would think that I would master this stuff by now. Fortunately, I don’t think that I’ll be moving for a looooong time, but when I do, I’ll need to take my own advice!

  • Reply
    April 9, 2018 at 10:25 AM

    My biggest problem with trying to make a big move is… how the heck do I get my pets there safely?! I have two cats, both hate long car trips, and there’s no way I would fly with them after that psycho flight attendant stuffed that dog into an overhead bin and killed it, so my options are limited. Add in the extra fees for staying in a “pet friendly” hotel, and it’s getting pricey AND complicated. Any tips for making furry friends happier during a long journey?
    Laura recently posted Online Dating from A to Z: HELP!My Profile

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      April 9, 2018 at 4:11 PM

      Hahaha I’m actually very glad you asked this because I made this trip with 2 cats as well. One of my cats HATES traveling in a carrier and will meow the entire drive or flight. I just let them loose in my car honestly. It took her about an hour to adjust on the first day and she was just fine after that. The other was an absolute angel and slept in her carrier the entire drive. The only thing about this method is that you’ll need someone in the car with you. Whoever is in the passenger seat needs to be on cat duty so they don’t get under the gas pedal or the front window.

      As for the non-pet friendly hotels, I honestly just snuck them upstairs in their carriers. I scoped out where the stairs were in relation to my room and used that to bring them up and down. No one uses the stairs so my loud cat was never heard. I brought up the small litter box I kept in the car and a ziplock bag of their food. Put up the “Do Not Disturb” sign and if you leave, turn the TV on so people walking by won’t hear them.

      I had never traveled with them like that before and it worked out perfectly. I hope this helps!

    Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge