Freight trucking companies - the ones that haul commercial shipments all over the United States - have gotten in on the D.I.Y. move (and of course, you can use them for a Hybrid™ move too). Now, some of them allow you to rent space by the foot in their freight trailers. Then they drive your stuff to your new destination. You only pay for the amount of space you need. The freight moving companies then rent the remaining space to other customers whose goods (or freight) will keep yours company, so they won't get lonely. Don't worry, your stuff is kept safe behind dividers so it won't get cooties.
You get a quote online or over the phone, book your reservation, and then the freight trailer is dropped off at your place. You have three days to load the trailer before a driver comes and picks it up to move it to your new address. Once it’s delivered, you have another three days to unload. If you take more than three days on either end, you’ll be charged an additional fee. You’ll pay for the number of linear feet your stuff occupies within the 28-foot trailer.
Prices are similar to those of the rental trucks, but you don’t have to drive, which is pretty much the whole point. To move a 3-bedroom house long distance from Fort Lee, N.J. (just outside Manhattan) to Kissimmee, Fl. (just outside Orlando), you would pay about $2,649 (U-Pack ®), $1,979 (OD ®), or $2,970 (Estes ®), depending on which company you choose. These are approximate prices because it all depends on how many linear feet you actually use. U-Pack and OD estimated that you would need 17 linear feet, while Estes estimated 20 linear feet, which is why its price is the highest. If you used less space than in the estimate, you would pay less. If you used more, you would pay more. Below, you can see average prices for each type of move, as well as get a quick intro to these companies, learn the best tips for making a freight trailer move successful, and figure out how much space you might need using our freight space guide.
HireAHelper is a nationwide marketplace where you can compare & book local movers to help you pack, load, and unload your moving truck or container.
Great pricing, with competitive rates across the board.
Time frames for deliveries are often as large as the entire day, making planning very inconvenient.
Pay only for the space you use. Easy to make online appointments. Everything is delivered for you.
Local moves are not a good value. Extra fees add up quickly.
Straightforward pricing with a great Full-Service value. Pay only for the space you use on the truck.
Impractical for local moves, takes at least a week upon reservation to hear back from a representative.
The first fiddle in this arena is ABF U-Pack Moving, and it is so far ahead of its competitors that it’s hard to say there is even a competition. Playing second fiddle are Old Dominion (OD) Household Services and Estes SureMove. These companies specialize in long-distance or cross-country moves, although OD executes local moves, too. Still, you’re probably not going to call on a freight moving company to move your stuff to the house down the block or even one or two towns over. In fact, the value of these companies is their experience in driving stuff - sometimes delicate stuff - very long distances. These are not moving companies, but they are knowledgeable at hauling goods across state borders.
Still, since moving is not their thing, you might have to tolerate some inconveniences. For instance, there is no way to purchase moving supplies from one of these companies, nor can you rent a hand truck or furniture pads. They do, however, provide you with a ramp to load and unload. Making changes to your itinerary requires at least one week’s notice if you don’t want to pay any additional fees. You have three days to load and unload your stuff at each end of its journey. And you’re pretty much at the will of the company for delivery times. You can pay extra for a guaranteed delivery date and time, but it didn’t sound as definite as it should be when you’re doling out more cash (or at least that is how it seemed to me when reading the Web sites). I haven’t gone through with a move with one of these companies, so I can’t say for sure. Storage is sometimes possible, but that’s not a specialty of theirs either.
ABF U-Pack ® is the distinct leader in this category. Anyone who needs to ship an apartment or home’s worth of stuff a far distance in the United States and does not want to drive a ginormous truck should consider this option. For smaller places, U-Pack offers ReloCubes ®, a big, portable, steel container to boot. Discounts are often available, which is nice. But you have to be careful about accidentally going over budget. Read the fine print of your receipt very carefully to see ways in which you might garner additional fees, and avoid them like the plague. Still, the extensive Web site, replete with interactive tools to make your move easier and after-the-move necessities such as free housewarming party e-vites, is impressive. With ABF ® and its 85 years of experience behind U-Pack, it definitely has the chops to move your little ol’ house across the United States. For more information on U-Pack, read its profile page.
Old Dominion has a reputation as a legacy line of freight trailers, so some may still be getting used to the fact that for several years now, anyone can just rent a space inside their trucks for a personal move. If you’re going to drive across the country anyway, why not make a service out of it?
In a nutshell, that is the core of their business model. Pay for only the exact amount of space you actually use on their truck, then a professional driver hauls it away for you.
However, if you choose Old Dominion for your move, keep in mind the risks; Freight trailers are traditionally less secure than moving trucks, so damages are much more likely. Furthermore, Old Dominion offers no additional insurance to your own. And the cost of a freight trailer and the potential for lots of fees also makes them a non-choice for local moves. But if you’re the target demographic and you’re willing to shoulder the risks, their online tool makes booking a spot on their trailers a cinch.
For more information, visit our Old Dominion profile page.
SureMove comes from the parent company Estes Express Lines®, the veteran freight trailer company of over 80 years. They now allow their 22 foot trucks for personal moves, which can be rented out in partitions. Pay only for the space you use inside their truck, and they’ll wall it off from the rest. You get three days to load it, then someone from Estes comes and drives it to your destination for you to unload yourself. As per usual, freight trailer moving comes with its own set of pros and cons, including lots of space and great long distance value, but too high of a cost for local moves and a higher than average risk to your items, albeit with some customizable insurance options that you can purchase for an additional cost.
Reservations can take awhile, so prepare in advance. Estes operates in 49 states (sorry, Hawaii) and are best contacted at their website. You can also check out their profile page.
While there are pros and cons to each company, there are also universal truths that unite them all. Here they are:
If you can sell stuff at a garage sale or bring smaller items with you in your car, then you’ll take up less space in the trailer, which will save you money because you only pay for what you use.
Measure the amount of space for which you are budgeted and mark it off with masking tape at the start of your packing adventure. This way, you’ll know if you’re going under or, worse, over the estimate. You can make decisions about what to put on the truck accordingly.
This means that you must find out if it’s legal to park the trailer near your home or in your driveway. You should check with the local city hall for details on parking trailers in your town (both where you’re living now and where you’re moving to). As a kind gesture, you should also inform your neighbors that this big boy is going to be visiting for three days. Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay any parking violations incurred by the trailer while in your possession for loading and unloading.
Cities, such as New York City, require a live load/unload, which means that the location does not permit overnight parking of the trailer. So, you have to allow the driver to wait for you while you load or unload the truck. Each company has its own rules of live load/unloads. For example, OD Household Services® gives clients one hour for a live load or unload. You are charged $96 for each additional hour, which is billed at 15-minute increments ($24).
All the companies offer this option for an additional fee. But the language about the rules and regulations of the policies is wishy washy, so really probe about how firm the date will be and what relevant charges you should expect.
These freight companies do not allow customers to pack up stuff that could be dangerous. Some of the items on the list are obvious. Ammunition, dynamite, and instruments of war are no brainers. But I didn’t realize that I could be breaking the rules if I packed up my nail polish, cleaning fluids, or charcoal briquettes. But I would be. The good news is that by not putting these prohibited items on the trailer, you’ll save money on space.
The freight companies have educated me on the gypsy moth, an insect whose eggs are often attached to outdoor equipment and furniture. California is so keen on keeping out the gypsy moth that it requires you to get your stuff inspected for the moth’s eggs and to fill out all the necessary paperwork to prove you did so. Your stuff won’t be let into the state otherwise, so listen to the freight companies and free yourself of the gypsies.
Trailer was delivered on time; trailer was picked up on time. Both drivers were extremely friendly and helped with the unloading of the heavy ramp and bulkhead. Communication from UPack was fantastic and very helpful. Would definitely recommend UPack for anyone making a move.
Old dominion was communicative and delivered the truck on time. Finding a parking space was hard but if you have them come out on a street cleaning day its much easier.
Trailer leaked in the rain. ABF had to send a mechanic out. Caused delay in move, but company compensated us for loss with rescheduled moving help. Stuff got to new home in one piece. Would use again.
Containers were they most economical method of transporting my items. Looked into trailers and PODS. They containers are a bit small and I required two, but my items were fine. They were banged up on the outside, but I inspected them thoroughly on the inside and didn't see any holes. Any damage that was done was due to the loaders not properly packing the containers and my items being tossed about the container and bumping into each other (as was evident by the disheveled condition of the container when the doors were opened). I would definitely ship using this method again for the distance. I also did a guaranteed delivery date since I needed my items by a certain date. This was also much cheaper than their competitors, but I really probably could have done without it since they were slated to arrive before I needed them. I just wanted to cover any events happening that would possibly delay delivery without a guaranteed date.
I would definitely recommend as an alternative to the other moving resources like U-Haul, pods or companies like Bekins. In addition to the $3,800 for the cost of a container I paid $495 a month for 3 months in storage fees.
All went as expected with this company with the exception of not including a hand truck or dolly as promised. They were extremely punctual every time!
Truck was dirty and it took 3 phone calls to get the trailer picked up. On the good side they delivered the trailer on time both for load and unload. Fair price
Packers made sure everything was well secured. OD drove the trailer cross country and it arrived early. I had to make changes the day the trailer was delivered and they were more than accommodating. Only issue I had was on the pick-up end. It was a rainy day and I had to insist that the trailer be sectioned while I was present. There were no markings on the floor showing feet used as advertised. I was told pictures would be taken before the trailer left to show amount of space used but the manager did not want to do it while I was present. I was billed but had not received pictures. I called the central office and they promised to get me the pictures before I released payment. I received the pictures about five days later after the truck reached its destination. By contract I had to pay within 48 hours of the freight leaving for destination, but the central office differed this portion of the contract until I received the pictures. I found them easy to work with - both the central office and the destination center. Very impressed.
The people who delivered and picked up the trailer were very professional . I don't know who did the driving but everything made it. Our only problem we had was about information regarding the ramp for the trailer. When the trailer arrived at destination we didn't have a ramp. They did hurry one out after we called to let them know. Yes we would do this again. It worked very well and the cost was affordable.
I was very impressed with the Old Dominion trailer capacity. They have an upper loading deck system that lowers down to create a second floor. It's like having a second truck! The driver arrived promptly and provided some good loading advice. Best, John S. (Norman, OK)
U-Pack ® is the registered trademark of Moving Solutions, Inc. U-Pack ® is a registered trademark of ABF, Freight System, Inc.