One of the main points of contention between movers is the lack of pricing transparency within the moving industry. Even when using a moving cost calculator, the estimate that you receive for your state-to-state move can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars off from the estimates you receive from actual moving companies.
We’ve created a comprehensive guide to help you learn more about the average cost to move between states and how you can save more on your upcoming move. We’ll also keep you informed on the factors that will influence your move and provide you with a guide you can use to set your moving budget—and stick to it.
How Much Should I Budget for an Interstate Move?
According to data from the American Association of Movers, the average family moving to a new home will spend around $4,890 for a long-distance move of 1,000 miles and a home size of 2 to 3 bedrooms. While a local move costs around $1,250, you’ll pay significantly more for an interstate move due to varying laws and regulations, travel fees the movers must incur, and any additional services you add to your move to make the journey a little easier.
If this sounds like a lot, know that there is no single standard price that you’ll pay for every move. Moving companies you connect with will customize your quote based on the distance you’re traveling and the size of your home.
Sample Costs For Interstate Moves
The 2 primary factors that moving companies will use to calculate the cost of your move are the size of your home and the distance you’re traveling. If you’re moving a larger property, you’ll pay significantly more for moving services. Let’s compare estimates for a few interstate moves using a 4-bedroom house and a 2-bedroom house as samples.
|Origin city||Destination||Total distance||Size of space||Estimated cost|
|Miami, FL||Atlanta, GA||604 miles||4 bedrooms||$7,345 – $10,839|
|Houston, TX||Oklahoma City, OK||414 miles||4 bedrooms||$6,800 – $10,031|
|New York City, NY||Chicago, IL||712 miles||4 bedrooms||$8,163 – $12,099|
|Seattle, WA||Portland, OR||140 miles||4 bedrooms||$5,923 – $8,733|
|Philadelphia, PA||New York City, NY||80 miles||4 bedrooms||$5,783 – $8,542|
|Miami, FL||Atlanta, GA||604 miles||2 bedrooms||$3,613 – $4,585|
|Houston, TX||Oklahoma City, OK||414 miles||2 bedrooms||$3,354 – $4,249|
|New York City, NY||Chicago, IL||712 miles||2 bedrooms||$3,975 – $5,064|
|Seattle, WA||Portland, OR||140 miles||2 bedrooms||$2,878 – $3,631|
|Philadelphia, PA||New York City, NY||80 miles||2 bedrooms||$2,862 – $3,614|
The distance that you’re traveling is another major factor that influences the cost of your move. Let’s take a look at what you might expect to pay for a variety of moves of varying lengths with a 2-bedroom home.
|Origin city||Destination||Total distance||Size of space||Estimated cost|
|New York City, NY||Atlantic City, NJ||95 miles||2 bedrooms||$2,872 – $3,627|
|New York City, NY||Richmond, VA||286 miles||2 bedrooms||$3,277 – $4,154|
|New York City, NY||Lansing, MI||581 miles||2 bedrooms||$3,745 – $4,764|
|New York City, NY||Saint Paul, MN||1,004 miles||2 bedrooms||$4,428 – $5,654|
|New York City, NY||Los Angeles, CA||2,446 miles||2 bedrooms||$6,100 – $7,832|
The bottom line? The further away your destination and the larger your current property, the more you can expect to pay for your moving services.
Additional Factors that Influence the Price of a Move
Though the size of your home and the distance you’re traveling are the 2 primary factors that influence the cost of your move, moving companies will also take the following factors into account when assigning your estimate.
- The type of moving company you work with: Different types of moving companies charge different rates depending on the services you request from them. For example, full-service moving companies can offer services like packing and crating for fragile items but charge more per hour than other types of movers. Renting a moving truck is affordable—but you’ll have to do all of your heavy lifting.
- Storage services you request: If your move-out and move-in date don’t exactly line up, your moving company can usually arrange storage services on your behalf to keep your shipment safe until you arrive. The longer you need to rent a storage unit, the more you’ll pay.
- Any specialty items that you’re moving: If you’re moving something large that requires specialized services, your moving company will be able to provide them to you for an additional fee. For example, if you’re moving a large leather couch, you might want to ask your movers to wrap it to prevent scuffing and damage while in your moving truck.
- How many flights of stairs are in your building: If you live in an apartment building or a 2-story home, your moving company may charge you a higher rate for labor because more movers will likely be required to safely transport your things down the stairs.
- Insurance and valuation coverage: If you’re working with a professional moving company, it’s a very good idea to purchase some type of valuation coverage for your belongings. You might also want to purchase third-party insurance to further protect your things.
- The nature of your move: Though this might sound ambiguous, your movers will likely take the nature of your move into account when deciding how many movers you’ll need to complete your shipment. If you’re only moving cardboard boxes and plastic storage containers, you’ll require fewer movers and you’ll pay less for your move. If you’re moving a number of large items (like a piano or an antique set of drawers) you’ll pay more for your move because your moving company will need to assign more movers to your job.
- Your moving date: Some seasons are busier for moving companies than others. If you move during the summer months (usually between May and August) you’ll pay more for your move because there is more competition for each moving company.
Making a Plan to Move to a New State on a Budget
As you can see, moving costs can add up quickly—which can put a major strain on your family’s household budget during an already stressful time. The key to enjoying an affordable long-distance move is to create a comprehensive plan beforehand. Just a few days of planning can help make your moving services significantly more affordable.
Step 1: Set a budget and begin saving
Many movers underestimate just how much it can cost to travel to a new state for a cross-country move. Expenses like fuel costs, lodging costs, food and more can start to quickly add-up. Sit down with your family and decide how much you can spend on moving services, additional add-ons you need from your movers (like crating or unpacking services) and how much you’ll be able to spend on the road.
You can use an online fuel calculator to determine how much you’re likely to spend on gasoline. Depending on your state, you may also be able to check how much you’ll accrue in toll charges before you head out. For example, Florida offers its SunPass calculator online, while Texas uses the TxTag calculator. You may need to use multiple calculators when traveling across state lines.
If you’ll be renting your new space, be sure that you have enough cash on-hand to cover your first and last month of rent if you haven’t already submitted it to your new landlord. You should also budget enough cash to cover at least your first month of utilities as well as your security deposit. It can sometimes take weeks for a landlord to return your security deposit—so don’t count on your previous deposit to cover the cost of your new space.
Step 2: Decide which type of moving company you want to work with
After you’ve created a budget for your move and decided how much you can afford to spend on moving services, you can determine which type of moving company that you might want to work with. Your moving budget will likely be the guiding factor in determining which moving companies have labor costs that work for you, but each type of moving company is worth at least considering.
The following are a few types of moving companies you’re likely to encounter and who they’re best for.
Full-service moving company
If you’re looking for the easiest possible interstate move (and you’re willing to spend a bit more for convenience) you may want to consider a full-service moving company. Full-service movers provide an increased range of services and tools that you can use to make your move as easy as possible. Some of the things that a full-service company may provide include:
- Packing services
- Unpacking at your new home
- Furniture disassembly
- Heavy lifting, loading and unloading services
- Discounts on packing materials
- Coordination with a storage facility at your new destination
Full-service moving companies will charge a higher hourly rate than any other type of moving company. However, this extra expense might be worth the cost if you’re moving with small children or an older family member, you’re getting ready for a corporate move and you need to be in your new home as quickly as possible, or if you have a larger budget and don’t want the hassle that comes with the entire moving process.
DIY moving companies
On the opposite end of the moving company spectrum, DIY moves provide you with the most affordable way to complete an interstate move. As the name suggests, DIY moving companies don’t provide you with a moving team, nor will they help you with loading, unloading, or packing services. Most often, DIY moving companies provide you with a moving truck that you can use to pack on your own schedule.
When you arrive at your new home, you’ll be responsible for returning your truck rental. U-Haul is an example of a DIY moving company. DIY moving companies require the most sweat equity for homeowners, but are the cheapest way to move to a new state.
Moving container service
Renting a moving truck isn’t an option for everyone. Truck rental companies have similar requirements to automobile rental services. For example, if you don’t have a driver’s license, you cannot rent a moving truck. In these instances, moving container companies can help decrease the cost of your move while also ensuring you arrive at your new home safely.
Moving container services work in a relatively straightforward manner. After scheduling your moving date, your container company will deliver a portable storage container to your property. You can then use the container to load all of your things that you’ll be taking with you on your move. From here, your professional moving company will deliver your container to your new property. PODS is an example of a moving container service.
Step 3: Create a list of viable options in your area
After you’ve laid out your budget and decided which type of moving company you want to work with, create a list of reputable moving companies operating throughout your area. Use these tips to compare professional movers you may want to work with.
- Ask friends and family for recommendations: Though the internet can be a fantastic resource to help your move, you cannot always trust the reviews that you see online. Before you begin exploring the internet for moving companies, consider asking your family members and friends if they have any long-distance movers they can recommend. Even if you only know people who have had terrible experiences with moving teams, this will at least tell you which companies you should avoid.
- Consider third-party sites: If you cannot find enough local recommendations, you may need to search online. However, this doesn’t mean that you should choose the first company that pops up on your Google search. Instead, you should start with a third-party review site to read unfiltered reviews of the local movers operating in your area.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a fantastic place to begin searching for a moving company. Simply enter your location information, choose which type of company you want to work with and view a list of options in your area.
You can limit your search to only include BBB accredited businesses, which can help you rest with the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing your company has been reviewed by a third-party team. You can also sort movers by BBB grade, which can make your search easier as well.
- Ask for licensing information: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a government entity that regulates companies who offer moving services on a cross-country basis. If your moving company offers intrastate moves, they should be registered with the FMCSA.
You can tell that a company is registered with the FMCSA by asking for a USDOT number. The FMCSA assigns a unique USDOT number to every moving company registered with the FMCSA. Ask for each company’s USDOT number and verify it using the FMCSA Company Snapshot tool. If a company claims that it is authorized to provide long-distance moving services between states without a USDOT number, continue your search with other providers.
We recommend that you create a list of at least 3 competing moving companies in your area that meet your standards and offer the add-ons that you’d like to enjoy during the moving process.
Step 4: Start collecting quotes
After you’ve created a list of long-distance moving teams with solid reputations in your area, it’s time to start collecting quotes. Most movers will be happy to provide you with a free quote, and many movers may offer you a binding estimate after visiting your property and assessing your shipment.
Be sure to get any quotes that you receive in writing so the movers cannot add additional costs without you noticing later down the line. When you’ve explored your moving options thoroughly, you can hire movers and book your move date.
Step 5: Choose what you’re moving—and what can stay behind
After you’ve set your moving date, it’s time to begin the downsizing process. Walk through your home room-by-room and sort all of your belongings into 3 categories.
- Keep: Items that you want to keep and you need to bring to your new home.
- Donate: Items that are in good condition, but you don’t need or want any longer. These items can still be used, so consider donating them to your local charity drive or thrift store. Examples may include clean clothing free of rips and tears and books in good or acceptable condition.
- Trash: Items that are broken or in unusable condition. Some examples of items that you might want to trash may include stained clothing, electronics that no longer turn on or that are unrepairable and books with pages torn out of them.
You may also want to consider contacting family members and friends to invite them to take any salvageable household goods before you begin packing.
Step 6: Begin the packing process
After you know exactly what you need to bring to your new home, you can begin the packing process if you aren’t paying for full-service movers to handle this on your behalf. Be sure to leave yourself with plenty of time to pack—the last thing you want is to be struggling with packing paper or tape when your movers get to your home.
Tips to Save Money on Your Long-Distance Move
As you can see, moving costs can quickly get out of control. Thankfully, there are a few steps that you can take to limit the amount that you’ll pay for your move. Consider using the following tips to save money on your upcoming move.
- Talk to your employer: If you’re moving for a new job, consider speaking with your employer and asking if your company offers any relocating bonuses or assistance. Select employers may help you pay for things like lodging expenses and a portion of your moving costs when you’re moving to work at a new job.
- Locate free moving supplies: While your moving company can provide you with packing supplies for an additional fee, it’s usually more affordable to collect these items yourself. This is especially true when you consider the fact that you likely already have many supplies in your home already. Though the cost of a few rolls of masking tape, permanent markers and bubble wrap might not seem like much, these expenses can quickly add up if you need to buy everything new.
You can also easily locate quality cardboard boxes as well. Visit your local liquor store and ask the manager if the store has any used boxes that you can have for moving. Liquor stores receive large shipments of bottles every day—and most of the time, these cardboard boxes end up in the trash. If you don’t have a liquor store near you, grocery stores and bookstores are also excellent sources of high-quality, sturdy boxes.
- Declutter and downsize your home: The easiest way to lower the cost that you’ll pay for moving services is to get rid of everything that you absolutely don’t need when you organize your home and begin packing. Downsizing doesn’t only help you save money on your move by lowering the total weight of your moving truck—it can also help make the unpacking process faster and easier.
If you’re looking for a little extra cash for your move, consider sorting through your things and hosting a garage sale. You can sell old collectables and books on auction websites like eBay. You can also earn more money from your clothing sales by selling on a website like ThreadUp or Depop.
- Choose a different moving date: Though not everyone has the luxury of remaining flexible with their moving date, you can often find a more advantageous price by changing your move by just a few days. Movers tend to be less busy during the months of September through April. If you can afford to wait for a winter or early spring move, you can often save hundreds of dollars on your moving expenses.
Can’t wait months to move? You can also save money by choosing to move on a weekday rather than a weekend. Like moving during the winter, moving companies tend to receive fewer requests during the week, which gives you more leverage in negotiating prices.
Watch Out for Moving Scams Disguised as Bargains
No one wants to overpay for their moving services. Unfortunately, scammers have taken advantage of high average moving costs to trick consumers into fraudulent moving scams. These scammers may overcharge you, add on extra fees you didn’t agree to when you signed your contract and even hold your things hostage until you agree to pay an exorbitant fee.
Keeping your eyes out for some of the most common signs of a moving scam can help you avoid fraudulent companies and excess fees.
- Cash-only payments: Moving scammers know that when you pay for a service with a credit card, you have recourse if the company fails to deliver on its promises. Moving scammers often demand payments in cash only so they don’t leave a paper trail after making off with your things.
- Large deposits: Your moving company should never attempt to charge you more than 110% of your quoted moving estimate—even if you’ve added more things to your move since you originally received your estimate. If your mover needs to add excess weight fees after that, they must first deliver your shipment and then bill you for them. Any company that demands a large down payment (especially in cash) may be trying to scam you.
- Lack of credentials: Moving scammers need to change their location often, which means they typically won’t take the time to get proper licensure or adhere to your local laws. If a company claims that it can make interstate moves without a USDOT number or seems confused when you ask for other verification, you should continue on with your search.
- Pricing that’s significantly cheaper than competitors: Moving scammers frequently lure victims in by claiming that they can complete a move for thousands of dollars less than other (legitimate) companies in the area. You should be especially suspicious if the moving company that you’re speaking to claims that they can provide you with an estimate without visiting your home. If a moving quote sounds good to be true, it probably is.
- Blank contracts: Legitimate moving companies will provide you with a fully customized contract before your move. This contract should include things like the moving company’s address and phone number, information on your estimate and a defined price for services rendered. A legitimate and honest moving team will never ask you to sign a blank contract or a contract that isn’t completely filled out in ink.
It is always against the law for a moving company to “hold your things hostage” by demanding an additional fee before delivering your things. If a moving company attempts to extort you, contact the FMCSA and report the movers for fraud. The FMCSA can also help you get in touch with local law enforcement officers who can help you get your things back.
Managing Costs on an Interstate Move
Moving can be expensive—but with a plan and a budget, you can move to a new state without going bankrupt. The most important thing to remember when you compare moving companies for your interstate move is that you have leverage and flexibility with your move.
Don’t be afraid to ask your movers for a special discount based on your unique situation. Many moving teams will be more than happy to apply a discounted rate to your move if they know that you’re a student, you’re a member of AAA or you’ve served in the military. The worst that your movers can say is “no” when it comes to discounts.
Moving Between States FAQ
What is the cheapest way to move out of state?
The cheapest way to move out of state is to work with a DIY moving company. DIY moving companies will provide you with a moving truck that you’ll be responsible for loading, unloading, and returning when your move is complete. If renting a moving truck isn’t an option for you, consider working with a moving container service.
How much money should you save to move to a different state?
Most experts recommend that you save at least 3 months’ worth of living expenses before you move to a new state. Research the average cost of living in the state that you’re moving to and track your spending for a few months before your move. This will give you a good idea of how much you should save before moving.
How much is a long distance move?
The average cost of a long-distance move is $4,890. However, the actual cost of your move will vary depending on the type of company you work with, how far away from your current home you’re moving, any additional services you request from your moving company and a range of additional factors.
Is $5,000 enough to move out?
Ideally, you’ll want to save as much money as possible before moving out. If possible, try to save at least 3 months’ worth of living expenses, especially if you don’t already have employment lined up. Moving out for the first time usually costs between $3,200 and $5,000.