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.
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.
Excellent and courteous service and reasonable pricing. Made our move smooth by allowing for storage (with out need to offload trailer) at our destination while we found a place to stay. Will definitely use again.
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
Simply amazing!!! I am so impressed by this service. The absolute best way for us to move long distance and save huge money. I honestly didn't think it was going to work. I got quotes with moving companies though, for a Boston, MA to Greenville, SC move and they were $9,500 and $10,000. Next, PODS gave me a quote of $6,500. Holy smokes!! I kept looking and found ABF UPack. Professional customer service, regular alerts along the way to mobile phone, pick up and delivery on time. Smooth!! I was so afraid my furnishings would be lost, stolen or broken too. This was not the case. What did break was one wine glass, a lamp shade, a computer monitor got dinged and my bedroom foot board took a gouge that can be repaired. For the $7,000 I saved, I can go on a cruise with my husband. So worth it. There are horror stories out there about not using freight trailers. Just be careful when you pack up and you'll be totally pleased. You have to do some work yourselves to pack and load/unload the trailer, but overall, it was a great experience. Check "Hire-A-Mover" or others and you'll find the help you need. Good luck!!
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.
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!
Estes was accommodating, courteous and helpful. I would definitely use them again. My only concern is that the load may have shifted or bumped and in doing so, the marble top from my antique table broke (about 6 inches off the corner)
Showed up ontime, easy to work with. Had my items with 2 months of storage on the delivery end, and only had one small leak in the truck. All the drivers and people I interacted with where great.
Getting moving permits and managing the space in Boston was difficult. Dealing with Old Dominion was easy. We thought our loading movers did a good job wrapping and packing our goods in the trailer, but several items of furniture received minor damage in transit. There must have been quite a lot of moving and shaking going on in that truck.
Great company with great service. From the girls at the main office to the local warehouse where I stored my belongings on a trailer for 2 months, to the drivers that I dealt with, overall it was an excellent experience. And for a out of state or cross country move I highly recommend using OD along with local loading and unloading companies through Hire A Helper as a less expensive alternative to hiring one moving company for the whole job. OD provided the trailer and drove it to it's destination. They also stored my items on the trailer at a local warehouse near my new home for 2 months for a very reasonable price. The local moving companies did the loading and unloading on either end. So you're paying 3 different companies for their services- but I believe in the end you're getting better service for less money.
Our things were taken care of while in storage and nothing was moved or touch. We have confidence in Old Dominion and although I hope to never have to move again, I would definetly use them again.
The drivers were timely and courteous when dropping off the trailer. I was very pleased with their ability to place the trailer in the most accessible location possible. Scheduling was easy and adjustable to our schedules. My only dislikes were that the loading ramp was heavy and difficult for the average person to connect and the trailer was very dirty inside.
Both of the truck drivers went over and above their job description--at pickup and delivery. Don't know the driver's name in Arkansas but hector was awesome in Illinois
U-Pack ® is the registered trademark of Moving Solutions, Inc. U-Pack ® is a registered trademark of ABF, Freight System, Inc.