7 Tips to Save Money on Moving

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7 Tips to Save Money on Moving

Teresa Bergen · Jan 27, 2022
Young woman reads through helpful moving tips on her phone to take the stress out of her move.

Nowadays, renters can expect to spend anywhere between $1,000 and $3,000 on a move. Yikes! How are you supposed to afford all that cash plus first and last at your new place?

We can’t make moving free, but these tips should help you cut your expenses:

Move on a Weekday in the Winter

Sometimes you have to move in a hurry, which is usually pretty expensive. But if you know ahead of time about your move, there are some easy-ish ways to save money when switching households. First, you should know that moving has a high season (May through September), and high season means higher rates. If you’re hiring movers or renting a U-Haul, you could save money by opting to move in the bleaker months of October through April. Sure, nobody wants to carry boxes in and out of the house in the snow or rain. But pull on your coat and boots, and you should be able to get a better rate.

Movers and truck rental companies are busier on weekends than on weekdays, especially at the end of the month. So check the weekday rates and move on a mid-month Tuesday or Wednesday if you can.

Don’t Move Stuff You Don’t Need – Sell It

Used futon left out on the curb with a "free" sign taped to it.

If you’ve ever moved at the last minute, you might have had the experience of throwing everything into boxes as fast as humanly possible and planning to sort it all out later. Unfortunately, this means you’re spending time, energy, and money moving unnecessary stuff. Instead, go through your things and divide them into piles: keep, sell, donate, trash, recycle. The “sell” pile can really help you offset your moving costs if your stuff is desirable enough (and you have the time to sell it). Think of online options like craigslist, Nextdoor, or Facebook Marketplace, or in-person choices like consignment shops or even your own garage sale.

For maximum convenience, find a charity that will send a truck to your apartment to pick up any donations. And if you itemize your taxes, get a receipt. Jot down a summary of all the stuff you donated, and reap the benefits come tax time.

If you’re hiring movers for a cross-country move, think again about your heaviest items. For example, are you going to pay more for getting your weight equipment moved 2,000 miles than it would cost to buy a new weight set in your new city? And is it really worth paying a hundred dollars to move that ratty couch you bought at Goodwill?

Measure Access Points at Your New Place

Speaking of that heavy couch, did you measure the doorways and stairways at your new place? Write down the dimensions before you’ve paid someone, or used your own time and energy, to transport an armoire or a king-sized bed that won’t fit in your new home.

Eat All Your Food

Foods you might find in a kitchen pantry laid out across a flat surface.

You’re working hard preparing for the move. It’s tempting to reward yourself with takeout every night leading up to moving day, but instead, try to empty out your pantry and fridge. You’ll save money by eating what you already have. Besides, who wants to move a bunch of jars of spaghetti sauce and pickles hundreds of miles? Remember to eat all your frozen food, too, since it doesn’t travel well.

Still have food left over? Consider donating non-perishables to your local homeless shelter or food bank.

Take Advantage of Free Packing Material

U-Haul’s apartment starter packing kit for a small studio apartment costs more than $100. That’s not a terrible deal if you’re in a hurry, but do your wallet and the environment a favor and source some used boxes instead. Your local supermarket or retail store probably has an area with a whole bunch of empty boxes lying around. Peruse craigslist or Nextdoor to see if anyone close by is giving away used moving boxes. Collect as many small to medium ones as you can get for free, but don’t skimp on packing tape. Recycled boxes can get a bit stretched or floppy, so make sure the seams are sound by taping them.

Stuff you’re already bringing is a clever source of packing material. Instead of wrapping glassware and other breakables in bubble wrap, use socks, towels, and sheets. Separate plates with kitchen towels. Wrap your furniture in blankets from your bed. Are you moving extra suitcases? Fill them up with your stuff.

If You Hire Movers

cropped view of movers holding stretch film roll near sofa

Sometimes you just can’t do it all yourself. Hiring movers might be worth the money if it means keeping your sanity.

First, think it over. How heavy is your furniture? Is it too much for you and your volunteer work crew of family and friends to handle? Do you have ultra-bulky items, such as a piano or pool table?

If you decide to hire out the job, compare quotes. Local movers often charge by the hour. Long-distance movers will probably charge by the job. A fixed rate, if you can get one, is safer for budgeting. Scrutinize paperwork for extra charges, including extra money for stairs, fuel, or extra packing materials. The cheapest quote might not be the best.

It’s important to be as prepared as possible, especially if you’re paying by the hour. By the time the movers show up, there should be nothing in your apartment except furniture and neatly packed boxes, ready to go. Be sure to leave clear pathways for your moving crew. Allow access to all the largest furniture, which they will probably load first. Treat your movers well. Show your appreciation by offering them a cold soda or a snack, and a tip if they do a good job.

Remember to Cancel

As soon as you know you’re moving, make a list of all your subscriptions and figure out when to cancel them. You might want to keep Netflix or Amazon Prime at your new home, but if you’re moving out of town, be sure to cancel your local utilities at the right time so you’re not paying for two places. Gym memberships are especially notorious for being hard to shake, so read that fine print and cancel ASAP.

Moving always involves stress and expense – but with a little planning, you can save money and focus more on the excitement of your new start.

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