How to Move Across the Country the Frugal Way

SURPRISE! I’m no longer a Floridian. My husband and I made the decision to move all the way across the country to OREGON!  Crazy, right!?! You’re probably thinking, how on earth did we afford to do that when it’s such a big move!?!? It’s 3,078 miles to be exact and we were definitely concerned about the cost of doing this initially. We put in a lot of thought and research and were able to do it all without breaking the bank! Here’s what we did to make our move as seamless and budget friendly as possible:

Downsize and Sell Everything You Can

Moving over 3,000 miles means it’s going to be 3000 times more expensive to move things. Therefore, we had to play Marie Kondo and decide to get rid of anything that didn’t “spark joy”. We held countless garage sales to try and sell as much as possible. This way, we wouldn’t have to pay money to move it. Even better, by having a garage sale we had the opportunity to make money that we could put towards the move itself! (P.S. Check out our blog post How to Make Spring Cleaning Work for You for more information about how to have a successful garage sale). The garage sales went really well and we sold the majority of our larger furniture items. Unfortunately, we were still left with some items we hoped to sell.

That’s when we took the garage sale to Facebook Marketplace. I honestly didn’t think we would sell a lot of stuff this way, but I was SO WRONG. I was surprised at how many messages I got back from people interested in meeting up to buy our stuff. However, I did learn that you should post your items for a higher price than what you hope to sell it for. Even if you have something priced reasonably, people are always going to try and haggle. Even if it’s just to get an extra $5 – $10 off because it makes them feel like they are getting a good deal. However, don’t price it so high that people think you’re crazy and don’t reach out at all.

As a last resort, if you can’t sell everything and what’s left isn’t anything essential or sentimental, donate it to Goodwill. Trust me, it’s going to be cheaper to re-buy it, then to ship it 3000 miles.

Find Free Boxes and Supplies

When you are moving across the country you will definitely need boxes and packing tape. If you buy boxes at home depot, it’s going to cost you anywhere between $2-$5 per box (depending on the type and size of the box). You can see how quickly this can add up when you’re making a big move. I started off getting as many free boxes from family and friend that knew we were moving as possible. However, that was not enough. That’s when I decided to put a blast out on Nextdoor.

If you’re not familiar with what Nextdoor is, it’s a private social network for your neighborhood. It’s a great way to stay informed about what’s going on in your neighborhood and sharing safety tips. So basically, I sent a message out to a bunch of strangers that lived in my neighborhood, or within the general vicinity. It sounds strange, I know – but it was THE BEST thing I could have ever done. I started getting messages from all sorts of people who had just moved to the area and had a bunch of boxes they needed to get rid of. All I had to do was go around town picking them up! We got more than enough boxes this way and didn’t have to spend a dime (except for the packing tape of course).

After your move, remember to pay it forward and give away your boxes to other people in your area who might need them. 

Have Your Job Pay for Moving Expenses

Another great way to save money when moving across the country, is by negotiating for relocation expenses. Most of the time if you’re making a big move like this, it’s because you or your spouse found a great job in that area. Most companies realize that a move like that isn’t cheap, and are actually pretty willing to help with moving expenses. The kicker is – you have to ask for it!

Most companies are not just going to offer you free money for moving expenses right off the bat. You have to bring it up! We moved to Oregon because I was offered a great job opportunity, but it was a lot to think about. I didn’t accept the offer right away told them I would need to think about it. I had a lot to consider and wanted to make the best choice for myself and my family. In thinking about this, we realized how expensive moving was going to be. I called them back and explained that I was interested in the position, but that the move would be expensive. I then said I was wondering if they would offer any type of relocation assistance. They said they needed to check with their higher ups, and long story short – I was able to negotiate $2,500 in relocation expenses!

That’s only the beginning! I have a few friends who have also made moves like this and have been offered relocation assistance as high as $5,000! You need to plant the seed of relocation expenses and then water it! It’s really not an out of character demand for a situation like this. 

Use a uBox

After doing some research, my husband and I discovered the most economical moving storage option was the uBox from Uhaul. It’s pretty small storage container at only 257 cubic feet. However, this really shouldn’t be a problem if you have downsized and got rid of all of your large furniture like I suggested in the first section above. Also, the box is actually a lot bigger that what it seems. It might look small, but when you are packing your items in there from the floor to the ceiling of the box there is actually a lot more room to work with.

We sold all of our furniture and large items. Therefore, the only large items we had to pack in the uBox was a 65 inch TV, two bookshelves, a printer, a shredder, a computer monitor, an instant pot. In addition to that we had TONS of boxes filled with sentinel items, kitchen utensils /supplies, and clothes. We actually ended up having some room leftover in the box. BONUS: If you drive (like we suggest in the next paragraph) you will have a little more room in your car to work with.

Drive, Don’t Fly! 

There are so many people that ship their belongings and then hop on a plane and fly to their new destination. To some, this may seem like a cheaper option considering a one way flight is only around $200 (depending on where you’re going). However, if you’re like me and have a car and pets that you want to bring with you, it’s actually going to be a lot cheaper just to drive there.

If your pets are under 20 lbs you can usually get away with bringing them as a carry on (as long as they are in a kennel). Some airlines might charge you between $125 – $150 to bring them as a carry on though (depending on the airline). If your pet’s over 20 lbs, they have to be transported in the cargo area of the plane. This will cost you anywhere from $150 to $600 per pet. I have two cats (under 20 lbs each) and two dogs (about 50 lbs each. You can see how this can add up quickly. In addition, if I took a plane, I would have to pay a company to transport my car. Transporting a car over 3000 miles would cost about $1500. So let’s do the math – it was going to cost potentially $3,400 just to take a plane to Oregon for our move!

Instead, my husband and I decided to drive to Oregon in our Honda CR-V with all of our pets. It took us about 4 days to get there and we only had to pay for gas, food, and hotels. We stopped for gas twice a day and probably spent about $60 in gas each day. Each night, we stayed at a pet friendly hotel, which cost about $180 a night. We had to make a few stops here and there to walk the dogs, but it gave us an opportunity to take a break and stretch our legs as well.

Then, we had to pay for food for ourselves each day (only lunch and dinner though, you’ll find out why in the next section). We mainly stuck to fast food and were glad that we could choose where and what we wanted to eat. On a plane, you are pretty much stuck with the crappy airplane food.

All in all, it cost about $1,200 to do this (including all costs – gas, food, and hotels)! That means we saved $2200 just by driving! Plus, sitting in the car/driving was a lot more comfortable than being crammed into a tiny seat for 6 1/2 hours on a plane. Not to mention I would have been worried about my fur babies in the cargo area the entire time. Plus – it was a fun adventure for us to take a little road trip together.

Choose Budget Friendly Hotels that Offer Breakfast

When you’re driving all day, it’s important to find a hotel that’s comfortable and budget friendly. We had to do a lot of research prior to our trip and plan out our stops. We also had to make sure the hotels we chose were pet friendly. This is where things got a little complicated because different hotels have different pet restrictions and pet fees. Therefore, I would find a great hotel that said “pet friendly” but would notice they had restrictions. These restrictions included only allowing one pet, or only allowing pets under 25 lbs. There were even some hotels that were “pet friendly” but stated “not cats allowed”. Those were the most confusing ones for me because I just wanted to scream at them “THEN YOU’RE NOT PET FRIENDLY, YOU’RE “DOG” FRIENDLY!”

In addition to making sure the hotel was pet friendly, we also wanted to make sure the hotel was close to the highway. This way we wouldn’t have to travel too far out of our way to get there. Also, we wanted a hotel that offered a free breakfast. This helped save us some money because we didn’t have to stop for breakfast or pay for breakfast each day. Some hotels that we stayed at that met all of these requirements included: Best Western, La Quinta, and Sleep Inn. You can see we had to spend 4 different nights and we used 3 different hotel chains for this. There are plenty of options out there you just have to do your research and know what you’re looking for. 

Overall

Overall, I’m very happy with the way our move turned out. We were able to plan and prepare so that we could make this large of a move for as little as possible. Luckily, we could do this without having to sacrifice quality or make things harder on ourselves. We are settling into Oregon nicely and are really happy here so far! For more tips on how to save money traveling, check out our blog post 5 Ways to Save Money When Traveling. Also, make sure to subscribe to receive notification of new blog posts because we’ll have more content related to our move coming soon! 

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Wow, this is amazing! Thanks for sharing your research, personal experience, and helpful tips! This is going to be so helpful to me when my husband and I move cross country next year.

    1. Best of luck with your upcoming move! Feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions and I’m happy to help!

  2. Great post! I could only imagine how moving across the United States would start to add up quickly! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Yes, it can be very expensive. I’m glad we thought things through and came up with ways to keeps our costs as low as possible.

  3. Interesting and informative read! Asking for relocation expenses to be covered is something I would have never even considered before reading this,

    1. I know, right! Many people don’t think about this and it can be an uncomfortable conversation to have. You just have to be brave and know your worth!

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