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.
Great experience. They didn't need money up front which helped us out a lot. No hassle, timelines were met without delays or excuses. Trucks dropped off on time and picked up on time. Great experience for low cost-You load and you unload yourself. Just be willing to work. If you cannot do the labor, hire moving help.
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.
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.
Excellent service. Delivered and picked up the trailer as scheduled. The move plan they prepared gave me step by step directions and let me know what to expect. I worked with Carolyn and she was superb. She answered all of my questions throughout the entire process.
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.
Second time using Old Dominion Trailers for a move. They are convenient for long distance moves. The OD staff keeps in good contact with you regarding when your trailer is to be delivered and is available at the destination.
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.
Trailer was quite dirty - but not the company's fault - made quite a mess of many things. People delivering and picking up trailers were very friendly and efficient.
OD was great. We did a live load in Brooklyn and our stuff made it to Seattle faster than we could have expected. We were still driving through the Midwest when it made it to the west coast. They were very accommodating and dropped off our trailer when we arrived almost a week later. I would recommend them for a cross country move. And they were affordable.
Have used ESTES. They do exactly as they say. They are prompt, courteous, and professional and not just on time but ahead of schedule. I have used them before and would HIGHLY RECOMMEND THEM.
Old Dominion was excellent to work with. I requested 2 trailers to be delivered to my house in the country for a cross-country move. The driver was prompt on Wednesday and placed the trailers where I needed them. On Monday, the driver returned and picked up the trailers. It turned out we only needed one and I called to see if we could get the trailer from Iowa to NC by the end of the week. They were able to deliver the trailer on Friday so that I could unload it before starting work on Monday. The only downside was the trailer had to sit in my apartment's lot for over 6 hours after I called to request pickup which did not make my landlord too happy
U-Pack ® is the registered trademark of Moving Solutions, Inc. U-Pack ® is a registered trademark of ABF, Freight System, Inc.