10 Creative Ways You Can Save Money While Moving

published Jul 3, 2018
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You just bought a new home or signed the lease for an apartment you’ve been coveting. Spending your discretionary dollars on a great piece of art or furniture sounds a lot more fun than blowing money on boring moving boxes and tape, right?

If only it were that easy: Moving can be a pricey endeavor once you layer in all of the costs associated with professional movers, rented trucks, housing deposits, and miscellaneous fees. Add to that the expenses you don’t always know are coming, like paying a technician to come out and hook up your much-needed Wifi or replacing spices and cleaning supplies you tossed because they were running close to “E.” Ugh!

Once you’ve bribed your friends with pizza and beer, we’ve got 10 more tricks to help you save money on your next move.

1. Move on a random weekday.

And, to really get this right, try to avoid moving at the end of the month or mid-month, because those tend to be the busiest times for moving companies, explains Shelly Place, an agent with Triplemint real estate in New York City. “When demand is lower, you’ll get a better rate on your movers,” she says. If you have some flexibility, call the moving companies and get quotes for various days in the month. Also note that demand for movers is highest during the summer season.

2. Hit up local businesses for boxes.

During my own moves, I’ve had luck going to big-box retailers and picking up cardboard boxes. I went to Walmart at midnight when employees were stocking shelves and it was a cardboard goldmine. But, Johnny Harper, the owner of J and J Home Inspections in Hendersonville, Tennessee, has an “out-of-the-box” idea he doles out to homebuyers: Go to local businesses. “This is especially helpful for specific box types,” he says. “Check your local liquor store for wine boxes, which have special dividers that make packing glasses, mugs, and your favorite bottles of liquor easier.” As for bookstores? They’ve got the ultimate sturdy boxes great for hauling heavy items, he says. Here other unexpected places to get free moving boxes.

3. Get creative with packing.

Before you buy boxes or bins, don’t forget to load up your suitcases, laundry hampers, baskets, and coolers, Harper suggests. And put down that roll of bubble wrap—use your towels instead to pad breakables.

4. Apply for your change of address early.

You can schedule the date that the USPS actually starts forwarding your mail. But once you put the request in, they’ll mail you a packet of coupons to moving-related businesses, says Harper. (This is a strategy backed up by Redditors). You’ll score not only score discounts to local businesses, but also—depending on your region—national retailers like West Elm and Kohl’s.

5. Try a hybrid move.

Hiring a full-service moving company can cost at least $1,000 in some cases. A hack? Hire movers for just a portion of the job, like loading the truck, moving big pieces, or unloading boxes, suggests savings expert Andrea Woroch.

6. Skip the yard sale.

There’s no sense in moving unwanted items, but it takes a lot more effort to host a full-on yard sale or a garage sale while you’re in the throes of moving. Instead, snap photos of your items and post them on Facebook Marketplace with detailed descriptions, suggests Woroch. Most times, buyers are willing to come pick up the goods at a time that aligns with your schedule. You can also sign up to sell furniture and other good-looking wares on Apartment Therapy Marketplace. After all, why spend money moving when you could make money moving?

7. Meal prep.

It can be tempting to go out to eat every night while you’re in transition and don’t have your kitchen completely unpacked. But Kristen Morasan, a realtor with Prime Real Estate/Lifstyl Real Estate in Crown Point, Indiana, recommends taking some time to meal prep before you move so dinners are portioned out and can be put in your new freezer. You can also order a meal kit service—like HelloFresh or Blue Apron—to be dropped off at your doorstep on moving day.

8. Use trash bags instead of wardrobe boxes.

Skip pricey wardrobe boxes and instead wrap your hanging clothes with trash bags. Leave the hanger sticking out at the top of the bag so you can hang them back up immediately once you move in, suggests Justin Brasington, head of marketing at Moved, a free moving concierge service.

9. Hit up the dollar store.

Yes, your grandma’s favorite errand is also the millennial moving mecca. Save money and pick up their scissors, bubble wrap, and packing tape for a dollar a pop. “They’re typically cheaper than U-Haul and much cheaper than using the mover’s supplies,” says Allison Bethell, a real estate analyst with TheClose.com. (Bonus: Here’s how to make some sophisticated dollar store crafts for your new digs).

10. Understand how movers charge.

Movers typically charge by the hour, so the game for getting the best bang for your buck is maximizing your time with them. Be organized, disassemble items that won’t fit out the door, and get out of the way so they can get in and out quickly, say the experts at Oz Moving. If you live in an apartment or a condo building, reserve the elevator and have necessary paperwork done ahead of time. Also, if possible, make sure there’s a place where they can park their truck, Bethell says.