9 Ways to Save on a Move

For those of us who have been somewhat transient in the past, moving invokes nausea. The fierce rip of packing tape and musty odor of boxes can make anyone's head spin — and then you fork over big bucks for movers, a truck, and storage. Relocation is beyond the definition of hassle.

There's no way to eliminate all stress associated with moving. But with some extra planning you can at least save money on the essentials. Starting early is key to keeping your financial options wide open.

1. Get moving company recommendations from friends and family.

The cheapest price may get you boxes of broken dishes and torn upholstery. On one occasion, the bottom dollar company we hired never showed up on the day of our move. Paying an extra $100 for a better reputation is well worth it. And regardless of who you use, always confirm several days out as well as just before your move.

2. Negotiate rates and/or services.

Make sure you ask several vital questions before getting a quote:

  • Does the rate include a two- or three-man crew?
  • How much is the trip fee?
  • Do you charge extra for moving up and down flights of stairs?
  • Is there an extra charge for moving large objects like pianos?
  • Are dolly and moving blanket rentals included?

After you have a solid quote including all charges, call around to get comparables. Although many large, centrally run companies can't negotiate prices, they can throw in extras for free.

3. Snag boxes from grocery and department stores.

While you don't want soggy old boxes carting the family heirlooms from one abode to another, you can still find solid boxes in good shape from local merchants. Ask a manager when they receive shipment and offer to take some boxes off their hands. I picked up some wine boxes from Walmart during our last move and had built in padding for moving dishes.

4. Ask about two-way and one-way rates on trucks.

Prices vary wildly for truck rentals depending upon your destination. If you happen to relocate to a college town around the semester break, you'll probably get a stellar rate since most moving companies there need a surplus of trucks for students moving away after graduating. Sometimes it's cheaper (even accounting gas costs) to drive the truck back to its original pick up location.

5. Know when to pay by the hour or pay a flat rate.

If you are moving from a two or three bedroom apartment, you'll probably get a better rate paying hourly — especially if you have everything stacked neatly and ready to load. Moving from larger house, you'll want to get flat rate quotes since hourly will run you a higher price tag.

6. Avoid storage delivery/pickup services.

They sound too good to be true...because they are. The new thing is a mobile storage facility that's delivered to your site. You pack it and they move it to storage until you need it. Every quote I've received for these companies is at least 300% higher than the same service with a crew that helps you move boxes. You'll have to pack it yourself and even pay more than if you had professional help! Unless you're rolling in money, this will kill your moving budget.

7. Move on a weekday — preferably Tuesday.

Statistically, gas prices are cheaper on Tuesday. And most movers charge less for weekday moves. But this can change based on demand so get a quote for several dates.

8. Dump some junk.

Do you drag the same junk from house to house? If you're not going to use that weight bench anymore, why waste money moving it? Salvation Army and thrift stores will often pick up quality furniture or appliances. You can also try selling your stuff on Craigslist or eBay.

9. Inquire about truck rental and storage packages.

Some movers, like Uhaul, offer packages for folks who need truck rentals and storage facilities. Sometimes the deals can get you a month of free storage with a certain size truck rental. Make sure you check out how what type of storage is being offered — climate controlled will be more expensive than an outdoor garage.

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Guest's picture

All oustanding suggestions, especially number 8. We use periodic moves to jettison the spare crap that we never seem to be able to tackle. Paring down the possesssions can save a boatload on a move, but start early on that, it's a job in itself.

On keeping your belongings from getting broken, it might help to let the movers know up front that they'll be getting a tip at the end of the move that will reflect the condition of your contents. A down payment on the tip won't hurt either.

This can save on breakage no matter what company you choose. It all comes down to the guys doing the actual move, and the rapport you develop with them.

Guest's picture

No time for evaluating what to get rid of than before you pay to move it!

John DeFlumeri Jr

Guest's picture

I picked up good clean boxes from my local liquor store. They were happy for me to take them away by the truck load.
Also we coordinated our move with a friend to share a UHaul. Cut the cost in half and doubled our labor.

Guest's picture

Make sure to read your rental truck fine print. My truck was not available at my reservation time, so I pointed out the 50% refund clause. They refunded 50% & upgraded me to a larger truck at a different location.

Guest's picture

Full service moving would have cost me upwards of $5000 to move from the West Coast to the East Coast. Renting a U-Haul would have cost $2000+ not including fuel.

I instead ended up using ABF's U-Pack service where they drop a container in front of your house, you load it, and they haul it as a shared load on trailers and deliver it to your house on the other side. It cost only ~$1400 and let me gradually pack/unpack over several days rather than be stressed out about trying to get everything moved in the span of a single day.

There was minimal breakage (mostly plates that weren't adequately packed), the truck with my shipment arrived a day or two ahead of schedule, and everything was trackable online. The price quotes were super easy and online as well. I wholeheartedly recommend the service.

Guest's picture

Get apple boxes from your produce manager. They have a solid bottom, a full lid, and carrying handles.

Bonus: the apples come packed with a layer of padding between each layer of apples - you can use that to save on packing materials.

Guest's picture

Those are good places to get boxes. I moved last year and paid 40% of retail. A couple of negotiating tricks: call the major companies, then call the ones that didn't get you the lowest number, and negotiate from there. Also note that sometimes that the calling the store itself sometimes gives you more flexibility than the 800 number since a number of them are authorized service providers and can discount if they have an available truck,etc.

Guest's picture
Pamela Walker

This post is awesome. I’m moving cross country and I was stressing about getting moving supplies. Make sure you have insurance. One of the number one ways to become financially broke is to go without insurance when you need it. Moving even the simplest of households can be expensive. Save yourself a lot of stress and money by planning far in advance of your move.

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