If you’re thinking about moving cross-country or long distance, one of the first things you want to know is: How much is this going to cost? We get it. 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 to moving costs is all about.

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.

NYC to LA cross country moving map

Cross-country moving cost example: NYC to Los Angeles

Cross-country moving costs average $2,665 for rental trucks, $3,650 for PODS portable containers, or $5,200 for full-service movers for a moderately furnished 2- to 3-bedroom household to relocate from NYC to L.A. (or the reverse), according to the MoveBuddha Cost Calculator and PODS. (These costs represent the average between the low and high range for each option.) Here’s a table for easy reference, for NYC to L.A. and other popular cross-country moves between the East and West Coasts.

How much does it cost to move cross-country? 

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. 
2,800$3,000-$4,300$3,500-$6,895$2,182-$3,155
NYC to
San Francisco
2,900$3,300-$4,600$3,893-$7,230$2,308-$3,337
Miami to
L.A.
2,730$3,250-$4,090$3,500-$6,895$2,182-$3,155
Miami to
San Francisco 
3,110$2,950-$4,920$3,893-$7,230$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.
NY to FL cross country moving map

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 a better deal.  

Estimates for moving a moderately furnished 2- to 3-bedroom household 1,000 to 1,300-miles from NYC to Florida (or the reverse) average about $3,145 for full-service movers, $1,330 with a rental truck, and $2,575 with a PODS moving and storage container, according to the MoveBuddha Cost Calculator and PODS. 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$1,700-$3,260$1,920-$4,100$923-$1,424
NYC to Miami1,280$2,000-$3,250$2,200-$4,632$1,107-$1,706
NYC to Tampa1,130$1,800-$3,450$1,920-$4,100$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.
Austin to Dallas moving map

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. Factoring in the time — and energy — it takes to load, drive, and then unload your stuff, you’ll need 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 DC110$799-$999$1,620-$3,432$142-$217
Austin to Dallas200$1,000-$1,649$1,620-$3,432$328-$505
L.A. to Phoenix380$1,000-$2,299$1,620-$3,432$328-$505
Tampa to Atlanta460$1,400-$2,650$1,745-$3,800$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.
moving boxes and wrapped paintings and furniture

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 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?
  • 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. 
  • Driving: 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.  
  • Labor: 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.  
  • Scheduling: 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. 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 24 hours before delivery or pick-up. The built-in storage of portable containers also provides an easy buffer for postponed closings and other unexpected delays.
  • Storage: 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: Moving rates for all options are the highest during busy season, which is generally May through September. If you’re willing to move on a weekday, 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 to $150 for a 2- to 3-bedroom home, and more for larger homes. 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.
Free, fast shipping for moving supplies: Get all the boxes and packing supplies you need delivered right to your door.
  • Fuel: 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 homeowners or renters 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
  • Hotel and food costs: 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.

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

professional movers loading a moving truck

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 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

ProsCons
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
PODS portable storage container in driveway

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 close to 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. 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

ProsCons
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
empty moving truck with ramp

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 have to pick up the truck and deliver it to the drop-off center when you arrive. 

Pros and cons of rental trucks

ProsCons
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

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 to help you make yours a success:


Liz Taylor is a freelance writer who keeps up with moving and storage trends while editing the PODS Containing the Chaos blog.