3 Best Ways to Move Across Country

WASHINGTON (MainStreet) -- A new house, new job or just new scenery are all great reasons to move across country, but you'll pay for the novelty.

Roughly 37 million Americans move every year, according to 2009 U.S. Census data, with more than half doing so during the summer. Of that total, 12.5% move out of state and truck an average of 7,400 pounds of stuff for roughly 1,225 miles. They want new or better homes (14.5%), to tend to family (11.5%), to start their own household (9.5%) or wanted a new job or to transfer within their company (8.7%).

They also pay an average of $4,300 to do so and help kick in 69.6% of the $16.5 billion the moving and storage industry makes annually, according to the American Moving & Storage Association trade group.

Where are they going? According to the AMSA, Alaska has the highest percentage of inbound moves at 63%; Vermont, Oregon and Kentucky tie for second at 57%; and Texas and North Carolina take third with 56%. Their gain is Michigan's loss, as 62% of all moves in Michigan are headed out of state, with New Jersey trailing just slightly with a 60% exodus and Illinois following in third with 59% of all moving traffic heading outbound.

Much as few Americans can agree on where to move and why, seemingly nobody can reach a consensus on how to get there. Of the 3 million households that moved back in 2007, according to the Census, 800,000 hired professional movers, 1 million did so with a rented truck and 1.2 million got from point to point without any commercial help. For those two-thirds of American moving households that will pay someone to lug their stuff, we teamed with AMSA to look at the best options on the table, based on a a residential move of 10,000 pounds from Chicago to Dallas this month. Depending on how much you value your money, time or body, each option has pros and cons for those looking to pack up and go.

Renting a truck

Pro: It's easily the least expensive option -- probably why it is embraced by one-third of all moving households nationwide regardless of destination. Rental companies such as U-Haul, Hertz, Penske, Ryder, Budget and Enterprise have a huge national presence and make it easy to pick up a vehicle at Point A and drop it off after you're unloaded at Point B.

When it came to our Chicago-to-Dallas trek, a U-Haul truck rental came in at $2,207. We tacked on $90 for insurance coverage, $80 for renting dollies and pads and $233 for packing materials and it still came in at nearly $1,500 less than the next least-expensive option.

Con: For one, you're driving a truck across country. This means all of your belongings are with you when you pull into a roadside motel or restaurant and sitting in the back of the truck while you eat and sleep out of view. At the very least, that's going to require some insurance coverage for the contents, but at most it'll cost some nervous nomads a few hours of sleep.

Speaking of hotels and restaurants, you're also going to be paying for that and fuel on top of your moving costs. Oh, and if you're driving a truck, that also means you're not driving your own car, which will cost even more to transport. What's your reward for this "frugality"? The honor of unpacking and lugging all of this stuff into your new place by yourself.