Are you planning a cross-country move? In 2019, just over a quarter-million Canadian residents migrated across the country to another province.
Some move to pursue better career opportunities, while others move for a change of scenery, to be closer to (or farther from) family.
No matter your situation, one thing is certain – moving can be expensive.
Today, I’m going to show you the cheapest ways to move across Canada, so you can weigh your options and figure out the best solution for your move.
What Is The Cheapest Way To Move Belongings Across the Country?
Unless your employer or the government is covering the cost, moving can be a costly affair.
This is especially true if you’re travelling long distances across the country to a new province. Some of the factors that contribute to the costs are:
- How much furniture and belongings do you have to move
- The cost of fuel
- The distance you’ll be travelling
- Any fragile or difficult-to-move items you may have
The cheapest way to move across the country is to rent your own moving truck, pack it yourself, and drive it to your new destination.
As you may have expected, doing things yourself tends to be the most cost-effective solution.
However, this may not always be the case in certain situations. For example, if you’re a small business owner and are unable to take care of responsibilities for a week, you could easily lose thousands of dollars by diverting your focus.
If that describes your situation, then paying extra for a moving service may be a better solution, as it would allow you to save the most money.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty details, let’s take a minute to look at your options, as well as the cost and expense level of each.
This will help you better decide the cheapest way to move across Canada.
1. Rent A Box Truck & Move Your Own Belongings
- Expense Level: Cheapest
- Ease Level: Most difficult
As the old saying goes, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” This holds true in regards to moving.
When you’re uprooting your entire home, belongings, and family, you’re likely going to find some things that require special attention to detail that only you can provide.
Many movers don’t like the idea of their most-valued family heirlooms being haphazardly tossed into the back of a truck by a group of strangers who they’ve never met before.
Cost-wise, renting a truck and packing it yourself is the cheapest way to move across Canada. The only expenses you’ll have to worry about are:
- The cost of renting the truck for x amount of days
- The cost to refuel the truck
- The cost per kilometre to drive the truck cross-country
These are all factors that are easy to control and account for with a little bit of math and a look at the moving truck’s fuel economy.
However, renting, packing, and driving a truck yourself can be an ordeal, to say the least.
It may be easier if you have a large family or friends to help you. Another thing to consider – many of the people who are going to help you pack may not be there to help you unpack across the country.
This could leave you handling all of the difficult work yourself.
All things considered, moving by yourself takes a lot of time. Many people simply can’t afford to take a week off from their life to pack and move all by themselves.
Now, if you’re young, only have a single-bedroom apartment, and no kids or pets, it’s a completely different story.
I recommend taking advantage of the fact that you have few belongings and handling the move by yourself. On the other hand, if you’re dealing with a multi-bedroom house, then you may need to hire some helping hands.
2. Hire A Professional Moving Company
- Expense Level: Most Expensive
- Ease Level: Easiest
If you’re the type of person who hates moving and would rather not stress out about anything, then hiring a professional moving company is the most stress-free option you’ll have.
That being said, it is the most costly. Since you’re completely outsourcing a difficult job, it’s going to come with a higher price tag.
Some things to account for when hiring a professional moving company include:
- The cost per hour of paying each mover
- The cost of the truck rental for a day
- The fuel costs for the truck
- The cost per kilometre of the move
Remember – you’re not just paying the employees to pack up your home; you’re also paying them to travel across the country and unpack your belongings into your new home.
Hiring a professional moving company can also be harder to account for. You may be given a general quote before the move.
However, this quote could easily be increased if the move ends up taking longer or unexpected difficulties to arise during the moving process.
Just recently, my friend was quoted $3,000 to move across the country. However, he didn’t account for the extra time that it would take the movers to load his grand piano on the truck.
As a result, he ended up paying nearly $800 more than the price he was quoted for.
Another downside of hiring a professional moving company is that the individuals responsible for your belongings may not always be as careful or trustworthy as you hope.
It’s not uncommon for homeowners to report “lost” items when unpacking from a move, and it’s often difficult to say for sure whether belongings were stolen or simply lost.
Even the most careful, professional movers can also make mistakes. A hand can slip, an ankle can twist, and there goes your grandmother’s holiday platter.
Simply put, nobody is going to take as good care of your belongings as you.
3. Pack A Shipping Container & Have It Shipped
- Expense Level: Less Expensive
- Ease Level: Moderately Difficult
One of the most flexible moving options is to rent a shipping container and have your belongings shipped across the country.
This method is typically a bit more expensive than renting a moving truck by yourself but is also cheaper than hiring a full-service moving company.
Here’s how it works:
- A large shipping container or metal box will be dropped off at your home
- You’ll be able to pack the container in your own time
- Once the container is packed, you’ll contact the shipping company
- The shipping company will come to pick up the container and drive it to your new home
Usually, the shipping container will be dropped off in your front or back yard. This could be problematic, depending on the type of property you have.
For example, neighbourhoods with a strict homeowners association may not allow you to keep a large container in your front yard. If you’re located in a busy city like Toronto, you may not have space on the street for it either.
If you do have the space for the container, though, this method of moving is one of the least stressful. I recommend getting the container dropped off at your home at least one month before your official move-out date.
This will give you a solid 30 days to pack all of your belongings up, so you don’t have to rush the process.
The shipping company will typically pick up your belongings on or right before your move-out date. By the time you arrive at your new home, all of your belongings will be waiting for you.
Another benefit of moving with a shipping container in Canada is security. Your belongings will be packed in a large, heavy container that’s pretty much impossible to steal. When combined with some good locks, your belongings are as safe as can be.
4. Hybrid Moving: Work Yourself + Hire Others
- Expense Level: More expensive
- Ease Level: Moderately Easy
Another approach to moving across the country is to handle some of the work yourself while outsourcing other parts of the moving process.
For example, you could rent a shipping container, hire movers to fill it with your heavy furniture, and then pack your more personal belongings by yourself.
This method gives you control over your most prized possessions but also takes the difficult work of lifting heavy furniture off of your shoulders.
When you arrive at your new home, you can hire a local moving company to help you do the same and unpack your heavy furniture.
The only disadvantage of this method of moving across the country is that it requires a bit more planning and logistics on your part.
If you don’t mind doing a bit of research to find movers, and plan out some dates, though, it’s not too difficult.
Moving across the country in Canada typically costs anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000, depending on factors such as:
- How much stuff you’re moving
- How far away you’re moving
- The time frame that you’re working with
Keep in mind that this is just an average. Cross-country moving can upwards of $5,000 or more if you have a large home, a family, and several rooms worth of belongings.
A box truck is generally the cheapest vehicle to move your belongings, while larger homes may require an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer to move.
How can You find the cheapest moving company in Canada?
Finding the cheapest moving company for a cross-country move in Canada involves a combination of research, comparison, and negotiation. Here are some steps you can take:
- Get Multiple Quotes: Reach out to different moving companies and request a detailed quote for their services. Be as specific as you can about your needs, including the volume of goods to be moved, special items (like pianos or delicate antiques), and the distance of the move.
- Compare Services: The cheapest option might not necessarily be the best. Be sure to compare what’s included in each quote. Some services may include packing materials, others may charge extra. Look at insurance coverage, too. You want to ensure you’re comparing like with like.
- Ask About Discounts: Some moving companies might offer discounts that aren’t initially apparent. For example, they might offer a discount for moving on a weekday, during off-peak season, or if you book their services well in advance.
- Consider Consolidated Moves: If you have some flexibility with your moving dates, a consolidated move could be a cheaper option. This is where the moving company consolidates several customers’ items into one truck for long-distance moves.
- Do Some Work Yourself: You can often lower the cost of your move by doing some of the work yourself, such as packing and unpacking your items.
- Check Reviews: Look at customer reviews and ratings for each company. A company might be cheaper, but if they have a history of damaging items or missing delivery windows, they may not be worth the savings.
- Negotiate: If you have quotes from multiple companies, you might be able to use these in your negotiations. Some companies might be willing to price match or beat a competitor’s quote.
Factors That Affect Moving Costs
Now, let’s go over a few of the more precise details that can affect the cost of moving across the country in Canada.
The size of the load you’re moving is, by far, the biggest determinant of how much it costs to move cross-country.
A bachelor’s 1,000 square-feet loft is going to be far cheaper than a two-storey home with four bedrooms. Larger loads require more manpower, more time, more fuel, and often a larger truck. All of this costs extra money.
If you’re moving from Alberto to British Columbia, it’s going to be a bit cheaper than a full cross-country move from British Columbia to New Brunswick.
If you’re using a shipping container or hiring a full-service moving company, you’ll usually be charged a set cost per kilometre.
The distance charge is separate from the other moving expenses and is designed to cover the cost of fuel, wear and tear on the vehicle, and other shipping/transport expenses.
Last-minute moving could cost you a little bit extra than if you were to plan everything out ahead of time. If you’re moving by yourself, then you probably don’t have to worry about paying extra.
However, if you’re hiring a full-service moving company on short notice, you may be asked to pay an additional fee.
When accounting for your total moving cost and time, it’s important to take note of any special requests or fragile items that may take additional time to move. The example I gave above about my friend’s grand piano is a good one.
Some other items that may require special packing or require extra time/effort to move could include:
- Art and collector’s items
- Fragile dishes and fine china
- Mirrors and glass furniture
Before asking for a quote from a moving company, it’s a good idea to mention any and all special requests that you may have. This will allow the moving company to provide you with a more accurate quote, which can help you account for expenses and time.
The cheapest way to move across Canada isn’t always the best way. Packing up a small box truck by yourself is easy enough, and may only require you to take a weekend off of work.
However, if you have a large family and are moving an entire home’s worth of belongings, then it’s a good idea to outsource at least some of the difficult work.
Here are a few key factors to consider before you make a final decision on how you’re going to move across the country.
If you have plenty of time on your hands, using a shipping container is a flexible option that allows you to slowly pack day by day until your entire home is ready to be shipped.
However, if you’re working with a short time window, it may be more feasible to hire professional movers or hire movers to help you pack your own truck (if you plan on driving yourself).
If the new house you’re moving to doesn’t offer anywhere to store your shipping containers, then it may be a better idea to hire movers to drive your own moving truck. This will ensure that all of your belongings can be unpacked in a day.
If you have highly-fragile or otherwise difficult-to-move items, then you may need to hire professionals to ensure that your belongings are properly cared for.
Trying to move extra-heavy items by yourself is a recipe for disaster and can easily result in an injury. Similarly, hiring the cheapest moving company may result in your belongings being damaged.
Even though many moving companies provide basic coverage, it may not be enough to replace your belongings if they’re damaged or lost during the move. Consider purchasing additional moving insurance to better protect your items.
The cheapest method to move across Canada is to pack up your own truck. However, this option may not be the best, depending on your unique situation.
I recommend that you make a list of the major items in your home, call some movers and shipping container companies for price quotes, and then use the data to make the most informed decision.
The more you plan for your move and compare quotes, the better of a deal you’ll get. Are you trying to escape the cold?
If so, keep on reading to see my list of the 20 warmest cities in Canada next!