How to Save Money (and Stress) When Moving

Cut the expense and hassle of your next local or long-distance move.

Laura Adams, MBA
5-minute read
Episode #298

How to Save Money (and Stress) When Moving

No matter if you’re moving into a new home across the street or cross-country, relocating is stressful, time-consuming, and costly. I’ll give you 5 great moving tips to save money and cut the stress of getting settled in your new place.

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There’s no getting around the fact that planning is the key to having a successful move. The earlier you start thinking about what must happen and begin making necessary preparations, the happier you’ll be before, during, and after relocation.

Though moving out-of-state requires more administrative work—like switching auto insurance, dealing with vehicle registration, and perhaps changing banks—local moves can also be very taxing when you wait until the last minute to get organized.

Here are 5 moving tips to make your next move easier and less expensive:

Tip #1: Move Fewer Items

Moving is a great time to reevaluate what you own and why you own it. If you haven’t used that second set of dishes or your gardening tools within the past year or so, how likely are you to use them in your new place?

Don’t get into the habit of moving the same unused stuff from place to place. I did that for years and believe me, it costs money and time to pack, move, and store each item that you take with you.

Set a move-in date that gives you plenty of time to purge unwanted items from your home, garage, or storage unit. Donate them to a tax-deductible charity, sell them online, or have a yard sale. Check out Domestic CEO’s great advice on How to Have a Successful Garage Sale. Also consider selling valuable items—like furniture and sporting goods—on consignment with a retail store or local auction house.

Related Content: Yard Sale Tips to Earn More Money

Tip #2: Get Multiple Estimates

The cost of moving depends on several factors, such as how far you’re going, the total weight of your possessions, the amount of moving insurance you purchase, and how much packing and loading is done for you.

Don’t assume that moving yourself is the best option; get several estimates so you can compare the cost and benefit of various alternatives. There’s a range of moving services available for every budget.

For instance, the most expensive (and stress-free!) option is drawer-to-drawer service where a company packs, moves, and unpacks every single item that you own. But to save money, you can pack yourself and have a mover load and unload your boxes and furniture.

Portable storage units are a popular do-it-yourself option. These big, weather-proof boxes are delivered to your home so you can load them with your possessions as you have time. Then the mover delivers the units to your new location where you unload them.

Typically, the least expensive (but most demanding) moving option is to rent a moving truck that you load, drive, and unload.

Tip #3: Pack Properly

When packing your own belongings, especially the fragile ones, don’t do a shoddy job. You’ll be really upset if your favorite china or pottery arrives in broken pieces.

Professional movers know the right way to move and protect heavy furniture, pack fragile stemware, and box up sensitive electronics so they arrive without damage. If something they pack gets broken, the moving company is responsible, up to the amount of your insurance.

However, if you pack something and it breaks, you’re out of luck. Unless a box you pack has visible damage that indicates it was crushed during transit, you won’t be covered by moving insurance.

So protect your belongings by using specially-designed moving boxes and supplies. For instance, dish packs or dish barrels have thicker cardboard walls that give fragile items more protection than regular boxes. Mirror boxes are designed for framed artwork and mirrors.

You can even use wardrobe boxes that come with a metal hanging rod at the top to easily move clothes without even taking them off their hangers!

Tip #4: Get Free Supplies

Getting the proper moving supplies to protect your belongings isn’t cheap. So don’t forget to factor in the cost of boxes, packing tape, newsprint or packing paper, bubble wrap, and moving blankets. Supplies for a typical move can easily cost over $500.

Apartment communities are great places to snag free boxes. Call a few in your area and ask what residents do with their empty boxes. Or visit stores that are likely to have strong, clean boxes, such as bookstores, coffee shops, and liquor stores.

Here are 5 great websites to search for free moving boxes and supplies:

Tip #5: Negotiate Expenses

If you plan to use a moving company and pack yourself, negotiate for the mover to provide boxes and packing materials free of charge. They buy these supplies in bulk, so it costs them much less.

And if you’re relocating for work, always negotiate for your employer to pay your estimated moving expenses upfront or as quickly as possible after you start a new job.

Taking the time to carefully plan what you want to move, getting several estimates, and negotiating expenses when possible will save you a bundle and make the process of relocating as enjoyable as possible.

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About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a frequent, trusted source for the national media. Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers is her newest title. Laura's previous book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love, was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.