5 Tips to Cut Moving Expenses

By Thursday Bram on 30 December 2010 (Updated 2 February 2011) 3 comments

Moving is an expensive proposition, but there are ways to cut costs, especially if you have a little insight into how the process works. In high school, I worked for a moving company, and I picked up a few tricks:

(See also: 5 Unexpected Moving Expenses.)

1. Get the Little Stuff Out of the Way

Moving boxes, clothes, and the little stuff that makes up most homes is never a big deal. If you have to, you can make a couple of trips with a small car and get a surprising amount dealt with. But the big stuff can present a problem. Rather than hiring a moving company for the little stuff, take care of that yourself and just bring in help for those items that might hurt you if you move them yourself.

2. Don't Move Trash

One of the things that consistently surprised me about the people we moved was how many people had full trash cans that we just moved. When you add on the fact that most people don't sort before they pack, a lot of people pay to move things they don't even want. Clear out your trash ahead of time.

3. Use Linens for Packing

The price of packing materials adds up pretty quickly. You can use towels and other household linens (along with clothing, if necessary) to pack fragile items. You'll cut down on the total number of boxes you need as well. Assuming you're packing clean dishes and the like, you won't even need to run a load of laundry afterward.

4. Consider Not Moving Items

Especially on moves out of the city, it can cost more to move something than to buy it new in your destination. The smaller the amount of belongings you have to move, the cheaper the overall process.

5. Keep Basic Household Goods Out of the General Packing

An unexpected moving cost is needing to run out and buy plates or towels your first night in your new home because you can't find those that you packed. By having a few items in reserve that you move personally, you can avoid that cost entirely.

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Welmoed

We just moved two weeks ago. We were fortunate to have access to both houses for nearly a month, and they are only 6 miles apart, so we were able to do a LOT of small-stuff moving ourselves. Our initial estimate for the move was $1800; by the time the actual move happened, the total charge was $1300.
One thing that helped a lot: the moving company we used offered used moving boxes for free! We just had to go pick them up. This saved us lots of money. If the company you are using doesn't have this same deal, you can always ask for packing materials on your local Freecycle list.

Guest's picture

Too true on #4. As a young person I don't have a lot of valuable furniture. I've often found its much easier and cheaper to just leave it behind and find new furniture in my new city.

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Pam

Very good recommendations. I've moved over 30 times, both long and short distances, and have a few additional ideas to ease moving stress.
1. Eliminate "stuff" no longer used: from make-up and bathroom items to books and CDs/DVDs, not too mention kitchen gadgetry.
2. Box up by room, then by furniture contents; i.e., entertainment center, bookshelf, etc. Then mark each box stating entertainment center, bookshelf, etc. I've gone as far as indicating on the box which side of the entertainment center, LOL. This really helps in unpacking.
3. Mark your final box as "last box". This box holds all the last items; flatware, plates, cups, and any other last used items such as box cutters, moving tapes, etc. So when you get to your new place that "last box" becomes your "first box" to unpack.
4. When unloading the truck, place the boxes in the appropriate room; i.e., bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room, etc. No need to move a box 3 or 4 times before it gets to the correct room. Save yourself time and energy by doing this.
5. If you are moving pets, please don't leave them behind for the last trip. I only did this once and when I saw how frightened they were, it broke my heart. They think they'll be left behind. Now the pets and their "things"move on the first trip. Place them in a closed room with their "things" and food/water and they'll hear the activity in the other rooms so they will be comforted when they hear your voice. The results will be a happier pet and less stress for you.

Hope these additional items help!