11 Money-Saving Tips When Moving

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall
Credit: Shutterstock / M2020

Moving to a new home costs money, and we’re not talking about rent or new mortgage payments. Moving to a new place in-state costs about $1,250; if you’re heading out of state, plan to spend $4,500 or more. However, you could significantly cut costs if you’re savvy about your relocation.

Starting to prepare for your move months ahead is a big time saver, so you can gather supplies and negotiate the best deals. Plan to move mid-month and mid-week to score the most affordable rates, and wait until winter if possible. Declutter so you have fewer items and wrap, pack, and assemble your belongings and furniture instead of paying movers to do it. 

Saving money when moving is more than possible. But you must give yourself the advantage of time and embrace some DIY tasks. Here are 11 money-saving tips to lower moving costs so you have more dollars for setting up your new home.

11 Ways To Save Money On Your Move

Make reading this list of moving money-savers your first step on your relocation to-do list.

1. If Possible, Wait Until Winter

Sometimes, you don’t have a lot of choice when it comes to when you need to move. But if you do have flexibility regarding your moving day, choose wintertime, when moving companies generally aren’t as busy.

Other ideal times to plan your move are mid-month and mid-week, since many people are moving on weekends or closing on properties at the end of the month. If you can swing scheduling during the low season, you’ll save money and be more likely to get the time and day you want.

2. Start Gathering Supplies Early

Some people find asking around for boxes tedious, preferring to pay for a bunch of boxes and call it a day. But paying for all of your moving supplies adds up quickly, running up your total bill significantly.

If you start planning for your move a few months ahead of time, you have wiggle room to gather boxes for free. Spread the word to co-workers, neighbors, family, and friends, and start stockpiling newspapers, boxes, and packaging supplies (keep the packing materials from items you and others receive in the mail).

Check U-Haul’s online Box Exchange, and before you buy brand-new boxes, visit UsedCardboardBoxes.com to find materials at a deep discount. Even if you don’t collect everything you need for free, you’ll drastically reduce the number of things you need to pay for. 

3. Declutter Before Moving

Why take the time and put in the effort to painstakingly wrap and pack a bunch of stuff you don’t even want? Before you start packing, take time to declutter and get rid of anything that doesn’t have a place in your new life.

Reducing your inventory before a move is beneficial in so many ways. It makes the process easier when you have less stuff, and it also reinforces the idea of starting anew somewhere else. Also, if you decide to sell some items, you can put that money toward your moving costs.

If you donate some belongings, save donation receipts so you can use them as a tax deduction. Contact charities like The Salvation Army or local shelters to schedule a pickup for large items.

4. Get Specific Quotes

Moving.com has a handy moving calculator that provides rough estimates of what you can expect to pay for your move. However, this should only be a broad guideline for you to start forming realistic expectations. 

When it’s time to plan your actual move, you need specific quotes from moving companies. Otherwise, the odds are good that you'll get stuck with surprise costs on moving day (when it’s too late to change your mind.)

Ask the companies quoting you to provide a list of extra fees, and how much they charge by the hour. Also, don’t forget to ask about insurance, how it works, and how much it costs. Furthermore, get precise quotes from them regarding the details of your move; don’t accept broad estimates or ranges.

5. DIY Packing, Wrapping, And Assembling

The more tasks you tackle yourself, the more money you keep in your pocket. Once again, starting early so you have the benefit of time on your side is critical. After decluttering, begin organizing your belongings into categories of what to pack first and what needs to wait until closer to moving day.

Start packing and wrapping up items according to these groups. Disassemble and reassemble furniture yourself, unpack your belongings, and rearrange furniture. Moving companies often charge extra for these services, not to mention it increases the amount of hours they work.

6. Be Packed And Ready To Move

Another benefit of DIYing anything you can is reducing the hours the moving company needs to spend on your move. Most companies charge by the hour, so it’s in your best interest to minimize how much time they’re with you.

Have everything packed and ready to go. When the moving truck arrives, all they need to do is load the truck, drive to your new home, and unload. Once the last box is off the truck, thank them, and stop the clock. If you plan to do as much as possible yourself (or bribe your friends with beer and pizza), you can cut approximately 10 to 15% from the bottom line.

7. Book A Moving Company In Advance

Once you choose a moving company, get on their schedule well in advance to secure your date and lock in a low rate. If you wait too long, you’re at the mercy of the company’s availability. It could pencil you in during a busier time, force you to go with a higher-priced company or make you pay a rush fee.

When you book in advance, you have more control over the date and time. Therefore, you’ll have a better chance of setting your move during the light season.

8. Research A POD, Storage Container, Or Truck Rental

Compare pricing for using a moving company to renting a portable storage container, like a POD. If you’re already planning to do the packing, loading, and unloading yourself, this could be a more affordable option.

Another possibility is to rent a moving truck from Penske or U-Haul if you’re comfortable driving a larger vehicle. Consider the costs of the rental, gas, and insurance when comparing your various options.

9. Be Strategic With Packing

Challenge your packing skills to lower your moving costs by using some creative and clever techniques. Put clothes in your suitcases, wrap items in dish rags, towels, and T-shirts. Load up pet supplies in the extra dog crate.

When you use your belongings as packing materials, it limits the number of things you need to load on a truck. It also saves you money on supplies.

10. Use Two Moving Companies For Out-Of-State Moves

Many moving companies bump up the price for out-of-state moves. If you find this is the case with the company you’re getting quotes from, consider a hybrid move. This is when you have one company load your belongings and drive it to a certain point. Then another company in your destination state takes over and does the unloading and unpacking. 

This step may or may not be worth it for you, depending on the out-of-state charges and the company’s policies. But it’s worth researching if you’re trying to cut a few corners and lower your moving costs.

11. Look For Moving Coupons And Discounts

Never underestimate the power of coupons and haggling. Be bold and ask for discounts. If you can pay cash, find out if it will get you any major price reductions. However, make sure to get everything in writing and keep receipts since you’ll have no statements to back you up if any issues arise.

Look on the Chambers of Commerce websites for your moving company’s area and in welcome guides to find coupons for moving companies. Online coupon sites are other options, as well as the websites for truck rental companies and similar businesses.

Your real estate agent may also be a good resource for saving on moving costs. Some moving companies provide referral fees to agents who recommend them. Your agent might offer to apply the fee to your bill instead of pocketing the money, as a thank you for your business.

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Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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