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Cost of moving: Driving from coast to coast

How much would it cost in gas to drive across the country?

How much would it cost in gas to drive across the country?

Fans of the television comedy classic "I Love Lucy" will fondly remember when the whole gang moved to Hollywood, driving all the way across country in a brand new 1955 Pontiac Star Chief. But how much would a move like that cost, back then or today?

In the show's fourth season, Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel make the 2,800-mile trip from New York to Los Angeles. In 1955, gas cost roughly 23 cents per gallon, according to FiftiesWeb.com, and automotive review site ConceptCarz.com places the average fuel-efficiency rating of the crew's Pontiac convertible at around 20 miles per gallon.

It may sound incredible to us in present-day America, but more than 50 years ago it only cost $32.20 in gas to drive from one ocean to the other. Using the calculator at USInflationCalculator.com, that amount translates to $273.54 in 2012. And when you consider that national average gas prices are higher than they've been in years, that still seems like a pretty good deal.

Fuel efficiency in today's automobiles isn't that much higher than it was for Lucy's Pontiac Star Chief, according to recent market analyses. TrueCar.com finds the national average for cars sold in the United States during the first part of 2012 is just 23.2 mpg. While there are certainly many newer fuel-efficient hybrid cars available, they aren't yet popular enough to significantly affect average fuel economy.

Gas prices have climbed steadily since Lucy's day, but have seen a significant spike in recent months. If you estimate gas to cost $4 per gallon, a family of four moving from New York to Los Angeles by car today would spend roughly $482 fueling their car - about 76 percent more than in 1955, adjusted for inflation.

Most moving businesses increase their rates as the price of gas rises. The average 14-foot moving truck gets just 11 miles to the gallon, making fuel costs incredibly high for such a long-distance move. At that rate, it would cost more than $1,000 in gas alone to move your stuff across country.

Some moving companies offer moveable storage containers, which are dropped off at a customer's house. Homeowners can then pack their belongings at a leisurely pace into a secure unit before movers come and transport the container to the new home. Many companies that offer this type of service do not increase their rates with the rising cost of fuel.