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.
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Great pricing, with competitive rates across the board.
Time frames for deliveries are often as large as the entire day, making planning very inconvenient.
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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, with a 75-year history, also has extensive experience as a freight trucking company. Apps for iPhones and Android phones are a differentiating factor. An estimator on its site helps you determine how much space in the 28-foot trailer you’ll need, so you’ll have an idea of the price. Your credit card is used to make your reservation, but it is charged only after confirmation of the linear feet you used. You can also pay with money orders or cashier’s checks at the time your shipment is delivered to your final destination. It offers additional liability protection, but it only covers damage that is a result of OD’s negligence. It “covers your items at a higher rate than the standard coverage of $.10 per pound per item,” according to the Web site. You’d have to call a customer service representative by phone to purchase additional coverage. For more information, visit the OD household services web site.
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.
Estes was an hour late at original location, but was early at the destination. Time of transport from St. Louis to Phoenix was appropriate. The truck could have been cleaner. The drivers were polite. Using a freight trailor worked great for what we transported. It was a small load with mainly boxes. Some advice for customers with larger loads and delicate items is to have it professionally loaded as items will shift during transport more so that a professional moving company. We booked thru Move America, with Lauren. Everything went well. Lauren was great to work with. Accommodating our every need.
They brought the trailer as they stated and the initial driver who picked up the trailer to deliver it to where we was going was awesome! The other driver who came to pick up the trailer after we had moved was not as friendly and helpful.
The people in the office and the drivers dropping off the trailer were very polite and helpful. It did take 14 days for my container to arrive instead of the quoted 8-10. I wasn't notified when the trailer arrived in the nearby city - I had to call. Maybe it was here sooner but I think it would have been good if they called to let me know when it arrived so I could schedule the drop off. I would highly recommend hiring professional moving help to pack your trailer. I had friends do it and they didn't pack the trailer as carefully or as compactly as professionals probably would have. As a result I probably paid for an extra 5-6 feet I didn't need. They meant well but just didn't do such a great job packing! I hired movers to unload at my destination point and it was definitely worth it. Using U-Pack wound up being several thousand dollars less expensive than hiring a regular moving company. I would recommend using them.
UPack was easy to use. They had great communication and drop off and pick up was seamless. They had detailed instructions on how to make your move as easy as possible.
They were great. There was concern when the trailer was to be dropped off, if it could get down the drive with some low wires, but the driver didn't give up and was able to get the trailer delivered. I hadn't realized it was a regular semi trailer, just only 28 feet long. I needed the trailer as I was transporting a 16 foot canoe that wouldn't fit in a container. without the canoe, I only needed 6-8 feet of the trailer. The trailer was in good condition and the driver explained how to put up the bulkhead. It was then picked up the next day, and was in the Nashville area 2 days after the pickup. ABF was very flexible with the delivery date, taking in to consideration the Eclipse traffic in Nashville. The driver that delivered at the destination was very helpful in determining a good place to park it for ease of unloading with minimal interference with the apt. complex traffic. They were also able to pick the trailer up later that same evening once it was unloaded. All people I had contact with at ABF were great, especially the drivers.. much respect for their ability to drive those trucks!! They had the best price and flexibility for the needed 13 feet of space. I would be comfortable using them again.
Good service, easy to get in touch with a real human person. Their rate is a little higher than U-Pack, but their storage fees are MUCH cheaper. Good if you have a gap between homes. The drivers were both polite and helpful.
Estes Sure move is awesome . We moved from Virginia to California . I couldn't have got it any more cheaper . They were on time and it is their own trucks , so u don't have to worry if the truck is going to show up or not . I would go with them for any long distance move.
U-Pack ® is the registered trademark of Moving Solutions, Inc. U-Pack ® is a registered trademark of ABF, Freight System, Inc.