What to Do When You Realize U-Haul Prices Are Way Higher Than Expected

Truck rentals like U-Haul are the go-to for budget-first movers. However, what do you do when their prices are exorbitant?

Though rental moving truck prices can vary widely from state to state, they’re particularly high for residents leaving California.

In the case of The Golden State, it’s not a new trend, but a number of factors are currently contributing to high outbound rates.

They include:

  • Demand
  • High taxes
  • High cost of living
  • The Covid-19 pandemic
  • Deteriorating living standards and social unrest
  • Recent forest fires contributing to already poor air quality

In fact, the cost of renting a truck to leave the state is often many times higher than it is to enter, which means using full-service interstate movers may be an economical option.

State-by-State Comparison

According to United Van Lines’ National Movers Study, in 2019 the following states had some of the highest outbound move rates:

    New Jersey
  • New York
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Ohio

On the other hand, these states were tops for inbound moves:

  • Idaho
  • Oregon
  • Arizona
  • South Carolina
  • Washington

Now let’s look at how the aforementioned factors are affecting rental truck prices across the country.

Rental Truck Price Comparison by Route

U-Haul Budget Truck Rental
Phoenix to LA / LA to Phoenix $324 / $1,978 SOLD OUT / SOLD OUT
New York to Chicago / Chicago to New York $1,235 / $1,170 $1,406 / $2,540
San Francisco to Dallas / Dallas to San Francisco $4,703 / $1,655 SOLD OUT / $1,554
Trenton, NJ to Portland, OR / Portland, OR to Trenton, NJ $3,309 / $3,158 $3,081 / $3,582
San Diego to St. Louis / St. Louis to San Diego $3,688 / $2,141 SOLD OUT / SOLD OUT
Miami to Las Vegas / Las Vegas to Miami $3,014 / $3,151 $2,790 / $3,780

The above prices are for a 26-foot truck on October 26, 2020, and are from the respective company’s websites.

You’ll notice that the cost to rent a truck from San Francisco to Dallas is nearly three times more than from Dallas to San Francisco.

Likewise, renting a truck from San Diego to St. Louis is nearly twice as expensive than the reverse trip would be.

The Verdict – When loading and unloading labor, gasoline, food, and hotels are taken into account, the cost of renting a U-Haul and doing a DIY move from San Francisco to Dallas would likely cost more than $6,000. In other words, you’d probably be better off hiring professional movers.

You can compare for yourself using our move cost calculator.

Consider All Your Options

Moving can be fraught with challenges, but if you’re considering renting a truck, planning ahead and looking at things from every angle are more paramount than ever.

If a truck rental is your first choice, check out our recent article: How Much it REALLY Costs to Rent a Moving Truck.

Then, think about the pros and cons of hiring professional movers vs renting a truck.

Though it wasn’t the case in the past, the former may now be nearly as affordable as the latter.

Container moving companies are also becoming increasingly popular with cost-conscious consumers because they offer more options and flexibility along with significantly lower costs.

Some of the best are:

  • U-Pack
    U-Pack     4.0 out of 5.0 stars
  • PODS
    PODS Moving Services     4.0 out of 5.0 stars
  • Zippy Shell
    Zippy Shell     3.5 out of 5.0 stars
  • Pack Rat
    1-800-Pack-Rat     3.5 out of 5.0 stars

Consolidating your move with someone else’s is another often overlooked way to maximize efficiency and lower cost.

Finding a load going your direction on your dates may not be easy, but being flexible will help, and you never know what’ll turn-up if you spread the word on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Freight moving companies are great alternatives worth checking out too.

Many large national trucking companies have recently expanded into household goods moving.

They don’t provide packing and labor services, but they’re cheap, fast, and have lots of equipment that isn’t subject to seasonal availability swings like moving companies are.

Insider’s Tip: Just remember, unlike moving vans that have air-ride suspensions, freight trailers are usually equipped with spring suspensions which are much harder on household goods, especially on long trips.

And last, the cheapest ways to move out of state aren’t always the best options, but sometimes they are.

FAQ

1. Will the Coronavirus pandemic affect my move?

It may, but thankfully things are relatively normal for the time being. You can find more specific Covid-19 information here.

2. Why are truck rates so high in California?

It comes down to supply and demand, mostly caused by people leaving the state for reasons like high taxes, diminishing living standards, and rising home and apartment prices.

3. Is it more expensive to rent a truck during the summer?

Yes, because most families move during the peak moving season which typically lasts from May until September. Moving during the fall and winter is a great way to save money, and truck availability will be better too.

4. How much does it cost to move a 4-bedroom house cross-country?

It can vary quite a bit depending on how much you’ve accumulated over the years.

See our full 4-bedroom cross country move home cost breakdown.

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