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.
Everyone we interacted with at Old Dominion were nothing but a joy to work with. The drivers at every step (drop off and pick up in Portland and then again in Billings) were friendly, timely, and went above and beyond to get the trailer in the best possible position for us. The dispatchers were on top of everything and a pleasure to deal with. A stressful move was made much less so thanks to Old Dominion. Thank you everyone for a great experience.
We had a complicated move where we had some things in storage, some things at our house. We were downsizing and had to figure where stuff was going even after many sales and give-aways. So, flexibility in timing and scheduling days was very important. We had the ABF trailer moved around twice, each at both ends of our move. We changed dates and times all of which were accommodated easily. This eliminated a lot of stress.
The trailer was dropped off within the window given and the driver was very helpful explaining about the bulkheads and the ramp. Delivery went smooth as did the pickup. I needed the entire 27' I went with U-Pack to save money and avoid the issues of renting and driving a U-Haul
They were on time and helpful with the placement of the trailer for loading and unloading. However, trailers are harder to load and bounce a lot more than other methods of shipping so pack everything extra safe and strap everything down. We did have some breakage.
Amazing in the end, this company has fantastic customer service. Thanks to the driver and all the help they offered to make sure everything arrived safe and sound and on time.
Deliveries and pickups went just as promised and planned. Easy to reach staff who kept us informed of delivery and pickup status. Payment was electronic and efficient. Easy to schedule.
I'm only reviewing the drop off part at this time because I haven't moved yet. The gentleman did a great job getting the "pups" up my very steep driveway. The only issue was that the trucks were a bit dirty. We blew them out ourselves. Its really not that big of an issue.
Estes was great to work with, on time delivery and pick up and storage, no complaints about this company and reasonably priced. A family business who cares about service.
The trailer floor was filthy, if you rented a u-haul you have to sweep it out for the next person, it should be done for this too. They parked the two trailers across the street from my house instead of in front of my house. Called them back and they did move one of them to the same side of the street, but wouldn't do the other as there was a fire hydrant there?? It was going to be there for 6 hrs tops and I'd have paid for the ticket if they got one. Our neighbor next door used this company and that is why I chose them, and they parked in front of the hydrant during his move. They were on time, came back on-time to pick up trailer when they said they would. They were flexible with us when we had to change the drop off date at the last minute.
ODFL Home services was perfect for us. They delivered a container on short notice, picked-up quickly, delivered to my new address in another state, and picked-up the trailer the same day it was unloaded.
Dave at the drop off point in Rockville MD and Ambrosio at the receiving end in Austin TX were prompt, experienced, courteous and very helpful. I would recommend both CDL drivers again without reservation. The only downside was the inability of the company to provide a crew to unload the trailer. We had to cancel that portion of the contract and hire our own from a local firm. Mark Beames
I actually used pack rat who utilized an old dominion trailer for the move as they did not have containers that serviced the area. It was a great experience and saved me a lot of money by paying by the linear foot and utilizing their recommended movers on both ends. I actually utilized less room than expected and the move ended up costing about 1/3 of what moving companies were trying to charge. It was a little more hassle on my part in trying to coordinate the independent movers with the truck, etc. but well worth the extra time to save a good chunk of money. I would absolutely recommend utilizing their services for long distance moves!
U-Pack ® is the registered trademark of Moving Solutions, Inc. U-Pack ® is a registered trademark of ABF, Freight System, Inc.