Cheapest Way to Move Across Canada

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So, you got that job at the fancy office with great pay and benefits. The only downside is that they won’t pay your moving expenses. And moving across Canada is not cheap.

These days, this can be a major downside, but if the job is worth it, then where do you start with uprooting your family and moving across the country?

You might think the easiest option is to just pack it all in a truck yourself and get there on your own.  If you haven’t looked at a map recently, Canada is big.  If you’re having to transfer in the middle of winter, it somehow gets even bigger.

There are actually several options available to you for moving across the country.  It’s not going to be cheap either way, but maybe this article will help you figure out which one is the best option for your situation.

What Options Do I Have? – Cheapest Way to Move Across Canada

You have several options you can pick from.  Remember that, while there is certainly a “cheapest” option, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be the best. 

We’ll try to be objective as we provide you with the list of options and let you in on some advantages and disadvantages each one has compared with the others.

1.       Moving Yourself

This may be to many the cheapest way to move across the country, but not so fast.  If you manage to start early, pack rooms that you don’t use as much first, and maybe get rid of anything that you haven’t seen in over a decade, you might be able to manage quite well. 

If you tend to stress about huge projects or just have too much stuff, it may end up being overly stressful and potentially more expensive than other options. If you have the option of hitching a trailer, moving yourself can be more accommodating. 

We’ll get more in detail about other considerations for moving yourself shortly, but these extras may prove to make moving yourself more expensive than you might think. 

One advantage that moving yourself carries is that you can make it quite a fascinating vacation by stopping along the way at places you may have never seen before.

2.       Portable Moving Container

There are several companies that offer their services in Canada: U-Pack, U-Box, PODS, and BigSteelBox are just a few.  This option will certainly be a far cheaper one than hiring a full-service moving company but will be a bit more expensive upfront than moving yourself. 

When you hire a portable moving container, you will typically have the moving boxes delivered to your driveway or near your home, and you will pack the box yourself. 

Most of these companies will help you pick a size that should work based on the number of rooms and sizes of your furniture. 

The benefit of these is that you can pack it and have someone else worry about actually getting it to the other side of the country.  Then, you’re left with the option of flying there and waiting or, like moving yourself, you can make a trip of it. 

Take your time to cross the country and see the sites without worrying about your whole life in the moving truck parked wherever you’re going.

3.       Rent a Truck

This option can get expensive if you have a great big house with lots of stuff.  If you only have a room or two, then renting a truck and having a partner or spouse drive your car may be a good option. 

Moving yourself and renting a truck isn’t a whole lot different.  Renting a truck still comes with several additional costs that many may not think about, but it can offer the opportunity to make a nice trip across the country. 

Renting a truck long distance can be pricey depending on the size of truck you need, but the best companies will have several sizes to choose from.

4.       Hire Movers

Easily the most expensive option, this is also the option that comes with the least stress.  Depending on the services your chosen moving company offers, you may have to pack your stuff in boxes before they get there on moving day. 

Alternatively, Mr. Moneybags, if you have the full-service treatment, then you can pop a bottle of champagne while the movers painstakingly wrap each and everything you own with care and lovingly place it on the truck.

How Much Will It Cost to Move Across Canada?

Let’s take the same list above and go with several options you can look at.

1.       Moving Yourself – Hypothetically, this may only entail the cost of boxes and tape, maybe some packing paper.  After that, it’s just the sweat and stress of packing up your stuff. 

If you do have a truck that can carry your stuff, the biggest option from U-Haul is a 6 ft by 12 ft trailer, and it will cost you over $600.  However, that cost pales in comparison to some of the others.  Also, we have a whole section on additional costs when you travel yourself over a huge distance.

2.       Portable Moving Container long-distance PODS, as an example, might run about $3,100 for a 2-room home, but that typically will be up to about 2000 miles or so. 

If you’re just moving, it may give you the best rate, but if you need to store your belongings for some time, it may cost around $120 per month.

3.       Rent a Truck – For a 1- to 2-bedroom apartment, it can cost $3,600 just for the truck to move more than 4,000 miles (estimate was done Toronto to Vancouver on the U-Haul website). 

You’ll also want to get insurance for this, which adds costs.

4.       Hire Movers – If you have a 2-bedroom house or apartment, it can cost over $5,000 to move only 700 miles.  Moving four times that distance will be significantly more expensive.

What Else Should I Think About?

There’s been reference to a few additional costs that come up when moving yourself.  Here are a few considerations you may want to take into account before landing on moving yourself.

–          Time – without stopping and driving through the northern US states, it could take 45 hours to drive to Vancouver.  That’s without stopping.  If you can even handle 8 hours of driving per day, that would be at least 6 days.

–          Convenience – sometimes, paying a bit extra can be a big help when moving across the country, and even a few thousand dollars can give you a bit of an easier time of moving.

–          Mistakes (missed furniture shipping) – moving yourself can result in items forgotten or left behind.  Anything forgotten back home will cost quite a bit in shipping, and hopefully, you have friends or family who can help.

–          Food – don’t forget 6 days’ worth of food!  Add at least $5-10 per person per meal to your planning.

–          Gas – easily the most expensive part of moving yourself.  With a Ford F-150, just the gas for the trip will cost over $300.

–          Hotels – you have to sleep somewhere.  Sure, you could sleep in the car and save a few bucks, but 6 days of that will take its toll.  This will easily run at least $100 per night depending on where you stay.

Summary

There you have it!  It’s not an easy question to answer, is it? 

So, what is the cheapest way to move across Canada?  The objective answer might be moving yourself.  It will still cost well over $1,000 to move yourself across the country after supplies, gas, hotels, food, and other additional items. 

While that’s the cheapest option, the headache and stress of moving yourself might make it worth considering spending a bit more on a portable container. 

It’s quite a bit more expensive, but you get just a bit more convenience out of the deal and can either take a leisurely trip or even fly straight to your destination.  Either way, there are many options regardless of how far you’re traveling.

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Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.

Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.