The 4 Cheapest Ways to Move Across Canada

By Arthur Dubois | Published on 12 Jul 2023

train moving across a way

While moving to another province with no money is technically possible, packing up your entire life and moving it across the country can be quite expensive. Whether moving for a job or just a change of scenery, you’ll want to keep costs low. Fortunately, there are many ways to move on a budget while still getting your belongings safely to your new home.

1. Renting a moving truck

Renting a moving truck can be an affordable way to move across Canada. With this option, you’ll pick up the truck at a rental location, load your belongings, and drive the truck to your new home. You’ll be responsible for the cost of fuel and any tolls along the way, but this can still be a cost-effective option.

When renting a moving truck, shop around and compare prices from different rental companies. You may also want to consider the size of the truck you need–smaller trucks cost less to rent and will be more fuel-efficient.

One thing to keep in mind when renting a moving truck is that driving a large vehicle can be challenging, especially if you’re not used to it. Be sure to practice driving the truck before hitting the road, and take extra precautions when driving in bad weather or on unfamiliar roads.

Assuming it takes about 40 hours to travel from Toronto to Vancouver spread out over four days, renting a 16’ light cube van from Enterprise Truck Rental will cost around $1,300.00 while renting a 15’ cube van from U-Haul will cost close to $4,000.00. The price range is due to the cost per kilometre, so be sure to research whatever company you choose and understand all charges involved before booking. 

2. Portable moving containers

Another affordable option for moving across Canada is to use portable moving containers. With this option, a moving company delivers a portable container to your current home. You load up the container with your belongings, and the moving company transports the container to your new home.

The cost of portable moving containers can vary depending on the size of the container and the distance you’re moving. However, this option can be a good choice if you have a lot of belongings to move and don’t want to drive the moving van yourself. A long-distance move using PODS containers can cost up to $4,000 for long moves, depending on the size of the container you will need. Note that this includes a month of storage which you may not need, making the overall cost of the move cheaper.

One advantage of portable moving containers is that you can take time packing and loading your belongings. You won’t have to rush to get everything done in a single day, which can be a big relief if you’re overwhelmed by the moving process.

3. Carpooling or ride-sharing

If you’re looking for a really low-cost option for moving across Canada and have little to no belongings your want to bring with you, carpooling or ride-sharing may be a good choice. With this option, you’ll share the cost of fuel and tolls with other people moving in the same direction.

One thing to keep in mind when carpooling or ride-sharing is that you’ll need to be flexible with your schedule. Coordinate with your ride-share partners to ensure everyone is on the same page about departure times and stops along the way.

Using a ride-sharing service, you can move your belongings using portable moving containers and book yourself a seat in a car that will take you to your new home instead of driving there yourself. Services like Poparide charge variable prices for seats plus 20%. Kangaride charges a membership of $7.50 a year and a $5.00 booking fee per ride. The price for each ride varies as drivers can set their own rates. 

4. Shipping your belongings by train

If you are okay with parting with your belongings for a few days, shipping your items by train can be an affordable option for moving across Canada. With this option, you’ll pack your belongings and send them to your new home via rail. You’ll need to arrange to pick up your items at the train station at your destination.

The downside of this option is that it can be slower than other moving options–three to ten days–and you’ll need to have a place to stay in your new city until your belongings arrive. However, if you’re looking to save money on moving expenses, it can be a good choice.

One advantage of shipping your belongings by train is that you won’t have to worry about driving a large vehicle or navigating unfamiliar roads. You can drive to your new home in your family car, take a train or a bus, or arrange a ride-share, and sit back and relax while your belongings are being transported.

Before choosing this option, check with the train company to make sure they allow the shipment of household goods. You’ll also want to ensure your items are properly packed and labelled to avoid any damage or loss during transit.

Shipping via rail from Toronto to Vancouver with Rail Freight Shipping costs $218.00 for one pallet weighing up to 500 pounds.  

Tips for reducing moving expenses

In addition to choosing a budget-friendly moving option, there are a number of other things you can do to reduce your moving expenses:

Decluttering before the move

Before you start packing, take some time to go through your belongings and get rid of items you no longer need or want. The less you have to move, the less expensive your move will be.

Packing your belongings efficiently

When it’s time to pack, try to do so as efficiently as possible. This means using smaller boxes for heavier items and larger boxes for lighter items. It also means using packing materials wisely, such as using towels and blankets to wrap fragile items instead of buying expensive packing materials.

Finding free or low-cost packing materials

When it comes to inexpensive packing materials, there are many options. For example, you can ask friends or family members if they have spare boxes or packing materials. You can also check with local businesses to see if they have any boxes they want to get rid of.

Timing your move strategically

Finally, timing can significantly affect how much you’ll pay for your move. Avoiding peak moving season in the summer months or aiming for a mid-week move can help to lower the cost of moving fees. You may also be able to negotiate a lower rate if you’re willing to be flexible with your move date.

Notifying your home insurance company

Regardless of your situation, keeping your home insurance company in the loop is essential. If you’re retaining ownership of your previous home and it will stay uninhabited, it’s crucial to notify them. Vacant properties carry different risks and may require adjustments to your home insurance policy. Alternatively, if you’ve sold your house, inform your insurance company to cancel or modify your existing policy. In both scenarios, timely communication can prevent unnecessary charges and ensure proper coverage.

Comparing moving company quotes

If you’ve decided to go with a moving company for your move across Canada, it’s essential to get quotes from multiple companies and compare them carefully. Some Ontario moving companies that will move you long-distance include Hercules Moving Company, Centennial Moving, and Number One Van Lines. Be sure to check reviews and contact the company for details and rates before deciding which one to use. Here are a few tips for getting accurate quotes and avoiding hidden fees:

How to request accurate quotes

When requesting quotes from moving companies, provide as much detail as possible. This includes the distance you’re moving, the size of your move, and any special requirements you may have (such as packing or unpacking services).

Also, get a written, binding estimate from each company you’re considering. This way, you’ll have a clear idea of what you’ll be paying for your move.

Understanding hidden fees 

Before signing a contract with a moving company, read the fine print and understand any hidden fees or charges. For example, some companies may charge extra for long carries (moving items up or down stairs), packing materials, or fuel.

Negotiating for better rates

Finally, don’t be afraid to negotiate with moving companies to get a better rate. If you’ve received quotes from multiple companies, you may be able to use this as leverage to get a lower price. Just be sure to compare apples to apples–make sure you’re comparing quotes for the same services and the same level of quality.

The Bottom Line

There are many affordable ways to move across Canada, and by choosing the right option for your needs and budget, you can save a significant amount of money. Whether you’re renting a moving truck, using portable moving containers, carpooling with others, or shipping your belongings by train, there are strategies you can use to keep your moving expenses low.

You can further reduce your moving expenses by decluttering before the move, packing efficiently, timing your move strategically, doing your research, and trying your hand at negotiation. If you’re working with a moving company, be sure to compare quotes carefully and avoid hidden fees.

With a little planning and research, you can move across Canada on a budget and still enjoy all the excitement that comes with a new adventure.

Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications