I Moved Apartments and Made a $161 Profit—Here Are 5 Tips That Helped

published Nov 3, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: kitzcorner/Shutterstock

I’d been living alone in the same apartment for seven years before I decided to move in with my boyfriend in October 2018. I had gotten so comfortable and accumulated so much stuff along the way that the relocation process was feeling unimaginably intimidating.

To distract from the daunting task staring me down, I set myself a challenge: to make money from my move. 

Even breaking even seemed impossible at first, but with a lot of time, focus, and a three-month long to-do list, I ultimately accomplished my goal. I spent a total of $924.61 on my move—which included the purchase of several big-ticket items for the new place—and made $1,086, which put me $161.39 in the black. Here’s how I did it.

Selling everything that wasn’t nailed down

Since I was moving in with a partner who already had some furnishings, I was lucky to be able to sell quite a few larger items over Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, including a couch ($325), a nightstand ($175), and a dresser ($150). But to reach my goal, I had to adopt the mindset that every little bit counted, which meant wringing the profits out of smaller items as well, like a mirror ($10), a DVD player ($15), and a Roku ($10).

Spending time on the sale postings

To attract potential buyers, I spent a ton of time on the sale postings themselves, including keyword-rich descriptions of the items, and staged, styled photos of each piece to help people imagine it in their own space. I had one particular faux IKEA plant that made its way into almost every photo, as did stacks of colorful books, candles, and artfully-draped throws. 

Credit: Photo by Alexis Rhiannon
My Urban Outfitters couch

Linking to the same or similar items for sale new

Wherever possible, I found the item online to see what it was going for new, and linked to that page in my own listing. Not only was it helpful for finding accurate dimensions, but it helped me sell some pieces for more than I might have asked on my own.

How? I’ll use my Urban Outfitters couch as an example again (because it was my shining achievement). I’d purchased it secondhand for $250 in Feb. 2014. But noticing that a similar model was selling at UO.com for $699, I gave it a deep clean and put it up for $325, linking to the site. Sure enough, I had a bunch of offers, and easily sold it for asking.

Communicating my butt off

I tried to make sure not one single email from a potential buyer came in without getting a message back from me, but the communication didn’t stop there. I also made sure I was in contact with my super about what items he might be interested in (like my air conditioning unit), and got in touch with the person moving into the apartment after me to see if there was anything they’d be willing to buy that I could leave behind. 

This also meant heavy communication with my partner. Since I was moving into his one-bedroom, that left the financial and stress burden pretty squarely on my shoulders. I offered to handle the entirety of packing, organizing, and selling my own items if he’d cover half the moving costs, and he readily agreed.

Moving the goalposts

For the way my brain works, this might be the most important item on the list. Throughout the process, I kept a running tally of how much I’d made so far, and every time I started getting close to my goal, I increased it to keep myself motivated. Once I’d sold enough to pay for my half of the Gorilla Bins ($106.46 total) I’d rented and the moving company I selected ($356 including tolls and tip), I challenged myself to pay for a new mattress ($425) and a dresser ($268.38) for the new space as well, and was able to pull it off. 

Ultimately, I achieved both my goals: to make money off the move, and to distract myself from the emotional enormity of leaving my home of seven years. But looking back, the one thing I didn’t value quite high enough was my own time. Walking away with just $161.39 to show for three months of time and energy isn’t quite ideal. 

There are plenty of situations where it makes more sense to spend money to save yourself some time, and next time around, I’ll be better equipped to weigh out those benefits.