Moving can get expensive. On the low end, it can cost in the hundreds. But on the high end — especially for a long-distance move? You could pay $10,000 or more.
Obviously, that’s not feasible for everyone — especially if you have just handed over a huge chunk of cash for a down payment (and have a hefty mortgage payment in your immediate future). Fortunately, not all moves will break the bank, at least if you’re willing to get creative. Want to save on the costs of your upcoming move? These seven tips can help.
1. Clean House Before Packing
Moving items you’ll never use is just a waste of time, effort and money, so before you even begin your moving process, make it a point to declutter your home. Go through each closet, cabinet and drawer, and really think about what you use, what you have a connection to and what really has a place in your life.
Get rid of anything that you no longer use, need or want. That could mean dropping off a donation at the local Salvation Army or Goodwill, or it could mean heading to a resale shop, setting up a garage sale or selling some items on Facebook or Nextdoor. In some cases, it may even mean throwing some items out entirely. Ultimately, it’s about whittling down your belongings only to what 100 percent needs to come with you.
2. Shop Around for Movers
If you’re using professional movers, never choose the first moving company you come across. Get at least three or four quotes. Find out what they charge for vans and equipment, how many movers they come with and how long they expect your move to take. You should also factor in any gas or mileage costs, as well as extra fees for things like furniture pads, dollies, etc. These will all play a role in your overall costs to move.
3. Time it Right
Another thing to consider when using professional movers is the timing of your move. Moving companies tend to be the busiest on the weekends and at the very beginning of the month (most people buy new homes at the very end of the month). If you can try to time your move outside of these periods, you’ll save money on their services. Aim for a midweek move, ideally mid-month, if you really want to lower your expenses.
If you have the flexibilty to postpone your move for a few months, try to avoid moving in peak season, which is generally May through August. The majority of families try to move before school gets back in. If you can wait until school has started (or better yet, until winter) you’ll probably save even more on your move once all is said and done.
4. Be Creative With Packing Materials
Buying brand new boxes and packing supplies is never your most economical option. If you’re looking for boxes, steer clear of stores and storage facilities. Instead, head to a few local grocery and liquor stores and find out what days they get deliveries. Show up on delivery day morning and pick up those leftover boxes before they get sent to recycling.
You can ask neighbors on Nextdoor and Facebook for boxes, and sites like Craiglist and Freecycle are good places to find gently used moving boxes, too. (Unless the person has had things in storage for a while, most moving boxes come out in fairly good condition.)
For other packing supplies — like tape, bubble wrap, packing paper, etc. — try out your local dollar store. Most have a huge gift wrapping section (especially around the holidays), which is perfect for picking up supplies for a bargain.
5. Consider a Storage Pod
Storage pods are a nice way to move stuff out of your home gradually — while you pack up or declutter the house. It sits in your driveway or yard, and you fill it up as you’re ready. The storage company will then come pick it up and transport it directly to your new property once you move.
These usually come at a minimal fee (around $100 to $200 per month) and can cut down on your moving day load considerably.
6. Cut Nonessential Services Early
You obviously need your water and electricity service until the day you move out, but is cable really a necessity? What about your Ring doorbell service or security system? If you can reduce your in-home services and utilities for even a week or two, it could mean significant savings, which you could use toward your move or even on new furniture or decor.
7. Resist the Urge to Eat Out
We all know moving can be stressful, but don’t let it get the best of you. Instead of spending an arm and a leg to eat out or ordering pizza every night of the week, commit to cooking cheap and easy meals at home as you lead up to moving day. You’ll be surprised at just how much you save over the course of a few days (or weeks).
Moving Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive
It’s easy for moving costs to get out of hand, but with a little planning and some good ol’ creativity, your move doesn’t have to break the bank. Do you need more help getting ready for your upcoming move? Try these comprehensive moving tips.
I’m a freelance writer and journalist from Houston, covering real estate, mortgage and finance topics. See my current work in Forbes, The Motley Fool, The Balance, Bankrate, New Home Source and The Simple Dollar. Past gigs: The Dallas Morning News, NBC, Radio Disney and PBS.