How to Move Across the Country on a Budget

Getting ready to move across the country or relocate? This can be an exciting and stressful time given all the things you need to do before moving. You may need to sell your home, book a truck, or research schools for your kids. Not to mention, finding work could be a challenge as well.

One important factor that most people need to consider when preparing for a big move is money. Moving, in general, is expensive. But if you’re wondering how to move across the country on a budget, you’re not alone. There are some strategic things you can do to save money on your move so you can adjust more smoothly to your new location.

Start Planning Early

If you can, start planning your move as early as possible. Having several months or even nearly a year to prepare allows you to space out your expenses and even start setting aside money. If you’re looking to buy a home, make sure you are saving enough for a down payment, closing costs, and additional expenses. If you’ll be renting, you’ll want to come up with a security deposit and save for miscellaneous moving costs.

Planning early also gives you enough time to shop around for better prices on your moving expenses. Prepare for your move by planning out what you’ll focus on each week or month and making a checklist. Also, decide how much you’ll save each paycheck for the move.

Sell Things You No Longer Move

Depending on where you’re headed, you may not be able to bring all your stuff due to space restraints. A moving truck is only so big, and you’ll need to prioritize essentials like your bedroom furniture, kitchen supplies, clothes, etc. This is also the perfect time to declutter your home and get rid of any items you no longer need.

Instead of just selling or donating your old stuff, consider selling it for extra cash. Start listing things on the Facebook Marketplace or Offer Up. Or, you can host a huge garage sale to get rid of all your things. Consider adding the money you make back to your moving budget to supplement some expenses.

Get Free Boxes

Don’t pay for boxes if you’re trying to move across the country on a budget. Instead, go to grocery stores and warehouses and ask them for their old boxes to use. A lot of stores end up getting rid of their boxes overnight when crews are restocking and cleaning up. So call and ask a manager if you can come by at a certain time to pick up the boxes. Also, if you tend to have a few Amazon orders during the month, start saving those boxes for packing.

Compare pricing for packing supplies you may need. Shop around with moving companies, office stores, big-box stores like Walmart or Target, as well as your local post office to see who has the best price.

Shop Around For Moving Trucks

A moving truck can be as much as $1,000 to $2,000 for out-of-state moves. You’ll need to save up to start preparing for this. You can also shop around for different rates. You can use a comparison site like Move.org to gather quotes from top moving companies. Ask about their rate for one-way trips since you likely won’t want to drive the truck all the way back to your previous location. Also, make sure the truck has a generous amount of miles included or unlimited mileage.

Ask Friends to Help You Move

Lean on your community and ask friends and family to help you move. Hiring professional movers is convenient but can be very expensive depending on how much help you need. Instead, ask friends, family, or people from your church or community activity that you’re close with. They may be excited to help you get settled in your new area. Regardless, it never hurts to ask.

Apply For Jobs and Request a Moving Stipend

If you need a new job, it’s important to start applying weeks before you move. If you receive an offer letter, you can negotiate a moving stipend. A moving stipend is when an employer offers to cover a portion of your moving costs to help you settle in before you start working there.

You may not always get a moving stipend, but it’s worth asking. This money can surely help you move across the country on a budget and even cover your moving truck or security deposit at your new home.

Use Credit Card/Cash Back Rewards For Gas

Don’t forget about practical last-minute moving costs like gas to get you to your location. You’ll need to fill up the moving truck and your vehicle(s). This is the perfect time to use some of those cashback rewards from your credit cards or rewards programs. I have a cashback card that pays rewards for each dollar spent and I can earn unlimited cashback. If you regularly spend on the card anyway for budgeted expenses, start saving up that cashback in the months leading up to your move.

Another alternative is to use rewards programs like Swagbucks, Rakuten, or Ibotta. These programs don’t require a credit card but allow you to earn cashback from your purchases as well as complete short tasks.

Bring Snacks and Some Food on the Road

When trying to move across the country on a budget, realize that some of the smaller expenses like food and snacks can add up. Avoid overspending as you make stops along the way and pack some good in advance. Pack sandwiches, finger foods, and plenty of snacks to eat on your long journey. This can also help make the trip go by faster if you don’t have to stop at restaurants. You can also treat yourself and your movers to a restaurant meal or some take-out when you arrive at your new home.

Summary: Move Across the Country Without Going Broke

In order to move across the country, it’s going to cost you some money. However, it doesn’t have to completely drain your wallet. You’ll be busy enough as you settle into your new home. Don’t add financial stress by not budgeting properly for your move. Start budgeting and planning in advance. Shop around for deals and don’t be afraid to ask for help or discounts.