A shipping truck zipping down the highway

How Much Does It Cost to Move Cross-Country? Guide to Long-Distance Moving Costs

Long-Distance Moves

by Liz Taylor Posted on April 20, 2023

If you’re thinking about moving cross-country or long distance, one of the first things you want to know is how much it’s going to cost. We get it. And we know that before you start spending precious time getting quotes and giving out your email address or phone number, you just want some basic idea of how much to budget for moving your stuff. Is that too much to ask? Not at all, and that’s exactly what this guide for the cost to move cross-country is all about.

Start your long-distance move on the right foot and minimize expenses with this handy moving checklist from PODS.

This guide will arm you with knowledge of what to expect with the three major modes of moving: traditional full-service movers, rental trucks, and moving and storage containers like PODS. We’ll do that by giving you estimated cost examples for making the 2,800-mile trek cross-country between coasts, relocating the 1,000 miles or so between the Northeast and Florida, or moving 100 to 500 miles to a nearby city or state. We’ll also cover the factors that affect long-distance and cross-country moving costs, plus pros and cons of the different options. 

Before we start, we’ve just got one major caveat: These ballpark moving estimates can’t substitute for getting your own direct quotes for your specific move. Sorry, you can’t skip that step. But this can save you time in the planning stage and give you valuable guidelines so you can avoid being taken for a ride. Now let’s get to it.

A map of the United States showing different routes from NYC to Los Angeles.
(Source: Google Maps)

Cross-Country Moving Cost Example: NYC to Los Angeles

The cost to move cross-country with a rental truck averages around $2,700, but that depends on the truck’s size and your location — and that doesn’t include any fuel costs. It also averages around $5,700 for a portable moving container. And for a full-service move? For a moderately furnished 2- to 3-bedroom household to relocate from NYC to L.A. (or the reverse), the average cost is about $7,000. (These costs represent the average between the low and high range for each option. The average cost of PODS moving across country also varies.) Here’s a table for easy reference for NYC to L.A. and other popular cross-country moves between the East and West Coasts. You’ll see the average moving costs to move across country are unique to each geographic area.

How Much Does it Cost to Move Cross-Country?

Moving Costs From East Coast to West Coast*:

Moving RouteMilesPODS
(includes transport and 1-month storage) 
Full-Service Movers
(includes transport and loading/unloading)
Rental Truck
(plus fuel costs)
NYC to L.A. 2,790$4,893-$6,524$4,677-$9,390$2,182-$3,155
NYC to San Francisco2,900$5,600-$7,910$5,145-$10,329$2,308-$3,337
Miami to L.A.2,730$3,369-$4,954$4,677-$9,390$2,182-$3,155
Miami to San Francisco 3,050$3,717-$5,248$5,145-$10,329$2,308-$3,337
*Based on estimates from PODS and MoveBuddha for a 2-3 bedroom household (800-1,200 sf), costs don’t include insurance or taxes. Prices will vary based on specific locations, dates, size of household to be moved, and available discounts. For a detailed quote, call PODS at 877-350-7637.
A map of the United States showing different routes from New York to Tampa, Florida.
(Source: Google Maps)

What About Moving Costs From NY to Florida — or Florida to NY?

Considering the difference in weather, it’s no surprise that a lot of people make the move from the Northeast to Florida. Yet many others move in the opposite direction, whether it’s for a job, to be close to family, or the allure of NYC itself. Since there are more people moving south, it typically costs a bit less to move from the south to the north — usually a few hundred dollars difference — because of the lower demand. Keep this in mind if you’re trying to negotiate your cross-country moving costs. 

Estimates for moving a moderately furnished 2- to 3-bedroom household 1,000 to 1,300-miles from NYC to Orlando, Florida, for example, average about $5,000 for full-service movers, $1,200 with a rental truck, and $3,700 with a PODS moving and storage container. Here’s a table for easy reference for moving from NYC to Florida’s three top metro areas: Orlando, Miami, and Tampa Bay. 

Moving Costs From NYC to Florida*:

Moving RouteMilesPODS
(includes transport and 1-month storage) 
Full-Service Movers 
(includes transport and loading/unloading)
Rental Truck
(plus fuel costs)
NYC to Orlando1,080$3,061-$4,400$3,020-$7,250$923-$1,424
NYC to Miami1,280$3,958-$5,690$3,545-$8,050$1,107-$1,706
NYC to Tampa1,130$3,356-$4,738$3,020-$7,250$1,107-$1,706
*Based on estimates from PODS and MoveBuddha for a 2-3 bedroom household (800-1,200 sf), costs don’t include insurance or taxes. Prices will vary based on specific locations, dates, size of household to be moved, and available discounts. For a detailed quote, call PODS at 877-350-7637.
A map of Texas showing different routes from Austin to Dallas.
(Source: Google Maps)

What About Moving Costs for 100 to 500 Miles?

What if you’re just moving 100 to 500 miles to another city in your state or a city in a nearby state? While a much shorter distance than cross-country, 100 to 500 miles is considered a long-distance move and still a lot harder to do yourself than a local move. Long-distance moving costs require some careful budgeting in terms of time and money. Factoring in the time — and energy — it takes to load, drive, and then unload your stuff, you’ll want to give yourself at least two days to make the move. Here are some popular moving route examples:*

Moving RouteMilesPODS
(includes transport and 1-month storage) 
Full-Service Movers 
(includes transport and loading/unloading)
Rental Truck
(plus fuel costs)
Richmond to D.C.110$794-$1,241$1,598-$3,474$142-$217
Austin to Dallas200$1,344-$1,932$1,598-$3,474$328-$505
L.A. to Phoenix370$2,073-$2,850$1,830-$5,300$328-$505
Tampa to Atlanta460$2,001-$2,824$2,450-$6,323$630-$972
*Based on estimates from PODS and MoveBuddha for a 2-3 bedroom household (800-1,200 sf), costs don’t include insurance or taxes. Prices will vary based on specific locations, dates, size of household to be moved, and available discounts. For a detailed quote, call PODS at 877-350-7637.
A living room that has just been filled with furniture, moving boxes, and more from a moving truck.

What Factors Affect Long-Distance and Cross-Country Moving Costs?

Moving distance and household size are the two major factors that impact your moving costs, but there are other variables when you’re budgeting for your move. You’ll want to consider all the factors — plus how they affect both your costs and plans — when choosing between traditional movers, rental trucks, or portable containers. 

Moving Distance
How many miles are you moving between your current home and your new address? Using PODS to move cross-country could be an option that balances budget and your schedule. PODS cross-country moving costs tend to be competitively priced for the value you receive.

Household Size
How much stuff are you moving? Traditional movers estimate your cost based on the weight of your belongings, which can vary from the estimate to the final bill. Portable containers and rental truck pricing is based on the container or truck size. Smaller households may be less expensive, so there is a lesser cost to move a one-bedroom apartment cross-country.

The longer the distance, the more stressful it is to drive a huge rental truck — and park it multiple times. You can skip the truck driving chore by hiring traditional movers or a portable container service. When you factor in fuel costs to fill up a big rental truck, a portable container can be very close in price, and even more affordable if you need storage or would have to pay to transport your own vehicle. 

Professional movers include loading and unloading all your furniture, boxes, and other stuff, but they’ll charge extra for packing and unpacking. With rental trucks and portable containers, you have the option to hire hourly moving help. This means you only pay for the services you really need. 

If you need to change moving dates, traditional movers may charge hefty rescheduling fees — as high as $500 or more. Truck rentals are easier to change, but they also charge late fees. This is where you might need a cross-country move checklist. If you need flexibility, ask about this upfront, or use a portable container service like PODS, which makes scheduling changes much easier, with no extra charge when you give notice up to three days before delivery or pick-up. The built-in storage of portable containers also provides an easy buffer for postponed closings and other unexpected delays.

Will you need storage as part of your move? Besides the need for scheduling flexibility, many people moving cross-country or long distance prefer to land in a temporary home while they take time getting to know a new area. That’s when portable containers come in handy, especially when the first month of storage is included, as with companies like PODS. If you’re using traditional movers and you think you may need storage, be sure to ask about the costs and conditions. If you’re renting a truck, you’ll have to pay for self-storage, and probably for another truck rental, not to mention deal with a lot of extra loading and unloading.

Season and Timing
Think about your timing of cross-country move quotes. Moving estimates are highest during the busy season, which is generally May through September. If you’re wondering, “What is the cheapest month to move cross-country?,” wonder no more: November and December tend to be the slowest months; therefore, they’re also the cheapest. Another way to save on long-distance moving costs is to move on a weekday. That way, you may get a slightly better rate from a traditional mover or rental truck company.

Moving Supplies
The cost of quality boxes, packing materials, moving blankets, and other supplies can add up, ranging from about $100 to $125 for a studio or 1 bedroom to $175 or more for a 2- to 3-bedroom home. Traditional movers will typically include moving blankets and shrink wrap to protect your furniture as part of their quote, but you’ll need to purchase boxes and other supplies if you do your own packing.

Fast, Free Shipping for Moving Supplies: Get all the boxes and packing supplies you need delivered right to your door with PODSboxes.com!

There are generally no added fuel charges with traditional movers or portable containers. However, this can be a major expense with a rental truck, especially if you’re driving 2,800 miles across the country. And don’t forget about the fuel surcharge penalty if you don’t turn it in with a full tank.

Moving Insurance
Check if your homeowner’s or renter’s policy includes protection for your belongings during a move. If not, getting protection against damage or accidents along the way is highly recommended for long-distance moves, and these costs should be factored in. See our guide to moving insurance for advice on what to cover.

Hotel and Food
Besides getting your stuff moved, you and your family will need to make the trip, too. Here are some tips to help save on moving costs, including your costs on the road.

How Have Recent Events Affected the Cost to Move Cross-Country? 

One more factor coming into play for people estimating the cost to move cross-country is how the coronavirus pandemic affected moving companies and related prices. Over the past few years, the cost of moving a household on short moves as well as longer ones has increased, something else homeowners and renters need to take into consideration when planning a move. Many of these changes came about because of business costs increasing due to pandemic pressures, which began in early 2020 and still continue in many U.S. regions. States that are hardest hit by these increases include New York, Washington, and California.

There are a variety of supply-and-demand issues causing cross-country moving costs to increase, including rising inflation, the cost of gasoline, and the shortage of truck drivers at some of the major moving companies. These labor shortages within the moving industry actually started before the pandemic began, and the shortages have lasted longer than many in the industry expected. Another industry issue is the new Electronic Logging Device rule for all truckers, established by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which restricts how many hours a truck driver can work.

Further cost crunches came from the rising cost of vehicles, both new and used. Car and truck prices dramatically increased from 2020 through 2022, largely because of supply issues and the scarcity of computer chips. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that its used car index (which tracks used car prices) rose 42% between December 2019 and October 2022. Forbes also reported in a September 2022 interview with analysts at Cox Automotive that the average new-vehicle transaction price was $48,301, up 11% from a year ago — that’s an increase of more than $10,000 from August 2019, the article stated.

“Everything from [the cost of] packing supplies to trucks increased. Therefore, moving costs increased,” Josh Morales, CEO of International Van Lines, told Forbes Advisor Home. “We’re currently seeing record numbers, and this is a national issue, not local.” 

Q: How Can I Save Money on Moving Costs?
Every little bit of savings helps during a cross-country move, right? So consider some of these money-saving tips:

1. Negotiate with the moving company for the best price and compare multiple quotes.
2. Move during the off-season, like late September through April. 
3. Declutter, donate, and discard. Don’t pack unwanted items.
4. Labor is expensive. Call on family and friends to help. 
5. Ask for discounts, like military, first responder, or senior citizen. 

So, How Much Should You Budget to Move Across Country?

Well, so far, you’ve seen how wide the costs to move cross-country range, but for general planning purposes, the average cost to move across the country sits between $2,000 and $8,000.

Now that we’ve covered the cost factors, here’s a look at how each moving method works, including pros and cons.

Two men are unloading a tall bookshelf from a moving truck. One is walking down the built-in ramp, and the other is about to step on the ramp.

Traditional Moving Companies

If money is no object and you have no worries about scheduling or storage needs, full-service movers are the most hands-free approach to moving — especially if you pay them to do all the packing and unpacking. Just don’t expect it to be hassle-free. Most require a personal or virtual walk through your home before giving you an estimate on your cost to move cross-country. 

On moving day, you need to be organized and well prepared when the movers arrive like a small army to collect your belongings. Be sure to work with a reputable mover and watch out for scams, where they bid extra low and then change the price once they have your stuff. Check their licensing, insurance, and references — as well as base rates and extra fees for stairs, extra-heavy furniture pieces, and other potential upcharges.

Pros and Cons of Full-Service Movers:

No heavy liftingExpensive
No driving a huge truckSchedules can be rigid, with extra fees for changes
Less hassle if you choose a good companyHigher risk of damage and loss
Extra services availablePotential for added fees
A PODS moving and storage container sits in the driveway of a white house with an American flag. The signature blue door is facing the street side.

PODS Moving and Storage Containers

You can usually save a good chunk of change by using portable containers instead of full-service movers. On cross-country moves, the cost is in the ballpark of rental trucks — except you don’t have to drive a truck! Container moves involve a little more work on your part than hiring movers, but they can offer a lot more flexibility and control, in addition to convenient storage. Most moderately furnished 2- to 3-bedroom households will fit in one 16-foot PODS container. Curious about the cost of moving with PODS cross-country? Getting a PODS estimate for a long-distance move is fast and easy to do. Use these online tools to decide the size and quantity of containers you need. 

Here’s how PODS works when you’re moving cross-country or long-distance: 

  • Your container is delivered to you.
  • You can take your time loading (you rent your containers by the month).
  • You have the option to hire hourly moving professionals to help with the heavy lifting and packing.
  • PODS picks it up and takes it to a secure storage center or your new place. 
  • When you’re done unloading, PODS picks up your container.

One thing to consider when you’re moving with PODS: You’ll want to have a driveway, parking lot, or street parking space for your container. If you’re moving to or from a tight urban setting, like New York City or Los Angeles, then you’ll want to double-check that there’s sufficient space. If your location doesn’t allow space for a container, PODS City Service, designed for urban areas, offers a solution in many areas of these cities. 

Pros and Cons of Portable Containers:

Less expensive than full-service moversUsually costs slightly more than rental trucks for long-distance moves
No driving a huge truckParking spot required
Flexibility to set your own paceTight deadlines can be a motivator
Option to hire hourly moving help with loading and unloadingYou take care of your own loading and unloading
Built-in storage options
An empty rental truck is sitting in a driveway with its ramp fully extended, ready to be loaded up for a move.

Rental Trucks

Renting a truck and doing all the packing, loading, unloading, and unpacking is the total DIY approach, which can be especially hard when you’re moving long-distance or cross-country. You must pick up the truck and deliver it to the drop-off center when you arrive. 

Plus, you'll be paying for any damage to the truck. This is especially pertinent when it comes to cross-country moves — we can promise you some of those old highways have seen better days. And if you've never driven a truck that large, you might be better off letting a professional take on the roads, and doubly so if you're moving to a place with tight, narrow streets.

Pros and Cons of Rental Trucks:

Can be the cheapest option for short moves Costs run much higher for longer-distance and cross-country moves
Easy online pricing and reservationsMost stressful option
You set the scheduleDriving and parking a huge truck 
Wide availabilityNo storage available
A man and woman give each other a high-five after packing up the last of their moving boxes.
(Source: )

Moving Forward

Whatever moving option you choose, we hope this guide has helped you find the services with the best value for your needs. Long-distance moves are a major undertaking. Here are three of our most popular moving resources from the PODS Blog to help you make yours a success:

Liz Taylor is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to the PODS Blog.

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