How to Move Across the Country on a Budget

Moving across the city can be a time-consuming and expensive proposition, let alone moving across the country. You have to take into account transportation costs for you, your family and your stuff, you need places to stay en route and at your destination and, of course, you need a new home or apartment to move into. Your employer and Uncle Sam may help defray costs if you're relocating because of your job, but even so, it helps to have a few tips in your pocket to reduce the financial impact of the move.

Packing Your Stuff

According to comedian George Carlin: "A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff." If that sounds familiar, use the move to make a clean break. You'll have plenty of chances to get new stuff once you settle in to your new house, so pack only the essentials -- if it's collecting dust in the attic or garage, it probably isn't essential. Have a yard sale to raise money for the move.

Get Free Boxes

Once you've collected the things you can't do without, you'll need boxes to transport them, and the best place to get them is at your local supermarket. Inquire at the checkout counter -- most stores flatten boxes for disposal at the end of the day and are only to happy to give them to you instead.

Pack and Send Everything

In the chaos of a major move, it's tempting to put stuff in storage until you have the bandwidth to deal with it. Resist the temptation -- storage fees add up quickly, and you'll just have to make another trip at some time in the future.

Transport Your Stuff in a Trailer

If you're driving to your new home, you can take advantage of the least expensive way of all to move your stuff -- pack it into a tow-behind rental trailer. A trailer costs a fraction of the cost of a rental truck, which in turn costs a fraction of hiring a moving company. If your car can't handle a trailer, consider renting a moving pod, which is a storage container that a moving company drops on the lawn of your old house. After you pack it, the company will load it onto a truck and drop it at your new place.

Planning Ahead

In most areas of life, you save time, money and headaches by making arrangements beforehand. If you just wing it, you may have to pay premium rates for transportation, accommodations, food and moving services.

Move at an Off-Peak Time

If you have control of the timing of your move, schedule it to avoid the crowds. Most people move on a weekend, at the end of the month or during the summer, and if you do it also, you'll be competing for accommodations and moving services. You can save as much as 10 percent on moving costs by choosing an off-peak time, such as midweek in the spring or fall.

Create an Itinerary

If you're driving to your new destination, think of it as a vacation and call ahead for hotel reservations along the way. If you've got the whole family in the car, a detour to someplace exciting is like a twofer that combines quality family time with the task at hand. You might be able to skip the regular family outing this year and save money that way.

Know Where You're Going

If you haven't arranged a place to live before you get to your destination, you'll end up spending money on temporary accommodations. If you're planning to buy a house, consider securing a one- or two-month rental before you leave, using an online apartment search tool -- that is, unless you have a long-lost friend or relative who can offer you a place.

Getting a Tax Break

Moving across the country for work qualifies you to claim tax deductions on expenses occurred, provided those expenses occurred close to the time you start work at the new location. The Internal Revenue Service defines "close" as within a year of the time you start work. To satisfy the IRS requirements for this deduction, you must work at least 39 weeks in the first 12 months after you arrive at the new location.