5 Expensive Things You Don’t Need to Buy When You Move—Even If You Have the Cash

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Moving is one of those sneaky expenses: You can try to control it, but the hidden costs can come out of nowhere and derail your budget. Luckily, a lot of those things you think you “need” for a move are actually unnecessary. Thanks to some smart advice from moving and design experts, we’ve discovered some easy ways to save on those big-ticket items. Hopefully it saves you a little sanity, too:

Movers

Yes, you read that correctly. Ali Wenzke, packing expert and author of “The Art of Happy Moving,” had to move 10 times in 11 years—and a whopping 70 percent were DIY.

“We worked with a tight budget and moved cross-country multiple times,” she says.

It’s more than possible to move yourself. If you do, though, Wenzke recommends investing in a hand cart with some bungee cords to transport bulky furniture.

Boxes

Lori Dennis, founder of interior design firm Lori Dennis Inc., and Sara Plaisted, senior designer, say that there are always plenty of free boxes to be found if you know where to look. They recommend looking at listings on Craigslist, OfferUp, Letgo, or Nextdoor—or peeking even behind big box stores to check out their recycling. There are other surprising places to find boxes (including your own workplace!) or you can rent boxes instead as an eco-friendly option. 

Bubble wrap

When it comes to packing, the key is strategically using what you have. Wenzke says, “We never purchased bubble wrap or packing paper when we moved.” Instead, use whatever’s available: newspaper for dishes, and bedding, towels, or jackets to roll up fragile items like picture frames. 

Pre-emptive furniture

If you do need movers, moving heavy furniture you don’t like (only for you to then put them on the curb or buy something new) doesn’t make financial sense.

“Decluttering for a move is different than decluttering to spark joy,” Wenzke says. “Weight matters. Why spend time and money packing, moving, and unpacking items that you don’t love?”

Think of it as literally unburdening yourself. Fun fact! You can also rent furniture, particularly if it’s a short-term move.

Decor

While it’s tempting to buy small and inexpensive decorative items to try and make your new home feel cozy, the folks at Lori Dennis Inc. say you should wait on them—at least for a bit. Not only are these items are often poorly-made, you might end up not liking them once you settle into your home. Instead, they recommend starting minimal, displaying items that mean something to you, like family heirlooms, then seeing what else you need.

Remember: You’re also more likely to find a better-made (and unique!) piece of vintage furniture or decor at an estate sale or thrift shop for the money you’d spend on something entry-level at a big box store.

So what is worth spending money on? 

Cutting moving costs is totally feasible, but there are a few things that are worth it. “There’s nothing more frustrating than cheap packing tape, so spend the money,” says Wentzke. “You’ll save yourself hours of headaches.”

For decor, extra money should go to window coverings, which make the room feel finished. The same goes for bedding and big ticket items: Dennis and Plaisted recommend investing in a sofa, which will not only anchor your living room, but can double as a guest bed.

Also, pick up a plant! Not only will it brings new life into your space, it’ll help with air quality too.

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