Being a new homebuyer is full of excitement. You’ve found your ideal home and negotiated the price. Now it’s time to think about moving in.
Since the average moving cost can range anywhere between $2,300 to $4,300, the process deserves some serious cost analysis. After all, you’d rather spend that money on new furnishings and home improvements, right?
Are there ways to cut costs when moving and settling into your new home? To find out, we consulted official governmental data and talked with real estate agent Ann Hoke, a No. 1-ranked producer in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and real estate agent Virginia Gergoff, an associate of HomeLight condo specialist Kymber Lovett-Menkiti in Washington, D.C. Consider these 28 ways to save money before, during, and after your move.
How to save money before and during your move
Be smart about your moving strategy to keep from overspending.
1. Plan ahead
When people get in a rush, they tend to spend more money than they would have otherwise. Planning your move weeks or even months beforehand will not only help you reduce stress but can also help you save money.
For example, is there a friend or relative who may let you store boxes of non-essential items in their garage for a few weeks? Could you ship some of your books using the media rate at the post office? Are there friends who could help with the heavy lifting?
Planning ahead can help you creatively save money during your move.
2. Do your research
The American Moving and Storage Association recommends getting at least three quotes for moving services. In order to ensure you’re getting a good deal, make sure the quotes are “apples to apples,” meaning each company is charging for the same services.
But beware — if you see a quote that’s significantly lower than the others, that could mean the company forgot to include a major line item, and you could end up paying add-on costs later.
“Choose a moving company that offers a fixed estimate,” Gergoff says. That way, you know exactly what you’ll be paying and can budget accordingly.
3. Ask for a deal
Because most people move on the weekends and at the change of a month, sometimes moving companies will offer deals if you move mid-week or mid-month.
Whether you plan to hire movers or rent a moving truck, it never hurts to ask for a discount, especially if your schedule can be flexible.
4. Use coupons wisely
Hunt for moving coupons on sites like Groupon and RetailMeNot where you can find discounts on supplies, trucks, and moving companies. Savings up to 50% off can really help slim down your moving expenses!
In addition, when you go to the post office to change your address, you may receive a packet full of coupons that can help during and after your move.
Home improvement stores are often a part of this initiative with rare, total-purchase coupons. Be sure to make a comprehensive list of everything you need, since the coupons usually are single-use only.
For your current place, don’t forget things that you may need for repairs, such as caulk, putty, and Magic Erasers. For your new place, you may want to stock up on picture hangers, cleaners, towel hooks, and a new welcome mat.
5. Take only what you need
As Hoke says, “Less is better. So get rid of it!” A thorough purge of goods will help save money by reducing the labor and space necessary to move.
Haven’t used that treadmill in years? Pass it on to a friend. Won’t need a lawnmower at your new place? Sell it. Moving to a warmer climate? Donate your winter wardrobe.
Bottom line: Don’t pay to move things you won’t use.
6. Move incrementally
If possible, have your real estate agent schedule your closing prior to the date you have to leave your current residence. Not only will you save yourself a lot of logistical stress, you’ll also save money.
Moving multiple carloads of boxes over time would allow you to rent a smaller truck, which could mean a 25% to 50% savings, depending upon size. You may also get a better deal on moving services since there would only be large furniture items left.
7. Get creative with packing supplies
Start gathering boxes from local businesses a few weeks before your move. Grocery stores, liquor stores, and dollar stores tend to be more accommodating and have better quality boxes than big box stores. Often if you call ahead, managers will set aside boxes for you on delivery days.
You can also watch social media sites to get boxes from people who have recently moved. Many times people will post “curb alerts” after they’ve unpacked their things.
To avoid paying for bubble wrap and garment boxes, Hoke recommends using towels as packing material and trash bags around hanging items. Simply slide clothing into the bag and tie a knot at the hook of the hangers.
8. Don’t overspend on cleaning supplies
When you move, you’ll want to have plenty of cleaning supplies for both your current residence and your new home. You’ve likely got what you need to move out and leave the place “broom clean.” But your new home is going to need the white-glove treatment.
Consider saving both time and money by pre-ordering supplies from places like Costco, BJ’s, or Amazon and having them shipped to your new address.
9. Consider shipping containers instead of movers
“Moving companies are expensive,” Hoke says. Instead, she recommends moving containers, if your schedule and physical ability allows. For a complete rundown of your main moving options, visit our guide on the best way to move.
10. Take expensive fixtures with you
Gergoff says, “Bring fixtures from the old house that you may be able to use in the new house.”
If you’ve put in expensive faucets or chandeliers, consider switching them out to more standard versions before you sell your home. Your buyers may not even like the fixtures, so you might as well save money on your own upgrades at the new house!
Just be sure to make the changes before the listing photos, so that buyers know exactly what they’re getting.
11. Practice intentional meal-planning
With all the pressures of moving, who has the time or energy to cook? While it’s tempting to outsource cooking to the pros, eating at restaurants during a move can end up busting your budget if you’re not careful.
Instead, plan out the meals you’ll need before your move. Don’t forget to incorporate all perishables in your fridge and freezer, and use up pantry items too, if possible. You don’t want to box up a bunch of cans, and you definitely don’t want to throw away pounds of frozen chicken!
Meal planning during a move may require some creativity and flexibility (frozen waffles for dinner, anyone?), but the cost savings are significant.
If there comes a time during your move when you simply can’t cook, be smart about your restaurant choices. Order take-out to save on the cost of drinks and tips. Use coupons or take advantage of local promotions like “kids eat free” nights. Thinking strategically can go a long way toward protecting your bottom line — and your waistline!
How to save money after you move in
Simple maintenance and proactive energy measures can make a big difference.
12. Get an energy audit
An energy audit is a service conducted by a professional that’s designed to identify areas of energy loss throughout the home. Energy auditors use specialized equipment to determine if there are places where energy is leaking out of the home, and they will make recommendations for conserving energy based upon usage habits.
Implementing the directives of an energy audit can save homeowners between 5% and 30% on their energy bills annually.
A home energy audit costs $408 on average but can vary greatly depending upon square footage. However, in some areas, your electricity provider will offer free energy audits as an initiative to optimize energy usage throughout the service area. Check with your provider before paying a third-party source.
13. Wait to make renovations
Gergoff tells all her clients to wait at least six months before making major changes to their new homes. “Live in the house a little bit before you decide what to do,” she says.
You may end up liking a feature you thought you wouldn’t, or you may have a different idea that would increase efficiency, build more equity, or improve your quality of life in your new home.
14. Lower the temperature on your water heater
The U.S. Department of Energy advises homeowners to turn their water heater thermostat down to 120 degrees from the typical 140 degrees set by the manufacturer. According to their calculations, this simple change could save between $36 to $61 per year, and more than $400 in demand loss.
That’s a savings of between 4% and 22% on your energy bill, depending upon hot water usage. Plus, turning down the heat could help prevent scalding!
15. Insulate your pipes
Pipe insulation is another easy way to save money on energy bills. Thirty-six linear feet of pipe insulation costs around $24, and insulating 1” hot water pipes can save between $2 and $4 per linear foot per year. Pipe insulation pays for itself in less than a year!
Plus, you get the added benefit of shielding your pipes from extreme temperatures. No pipe insulation claims a complete guarantee against frozen pipes, but because insulation helps regulate the interior water temperature, it can help prevent freezing.
16. Check for leaks at the sinks
Take a peek under the sinks. Any water or moisture below the drain pipes can cause damage to the cabinetry over time and may lead to mold growth. Hiring a plumber at the first sign of a problem will save you money later.
Similarly, keep an eye on the faucets. Disregard a leaky faucet for too long and you may wash between $20 and $200 dollars down the drain per year.
17. Upgrade your thermostat
Smart thermostats adjust the interior temperature according to the daily schedule of the home. When the house is empty, you can raise the thermostat by 7 to 10 degrees during summer months and lower it 10 degrees during winter months. Other factors aside, those temperature modifications could end up saving you between 10% and 15% on your energy bill.
18. Shop secondhand
Big-ticket items such as dining tables, lawnmowers, bed frames, patio furniture, and entertainment centers can often be found at deep discounts if you purchase them used.
Browse local direct-by-owner sales sites such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to find savings up to 90% off list price, according to Gergoff.
19. Check your attic insulation
Hopefully, your home inspector checked for insulation prior to purchase, but did they check the quality of the insulation?
Insulation is measured in terms of thermal resistance, or R-values. Higher R-values equal greater insulating effectiveness.
Consult your local insulation professional regarding the recommended R-values for your area, or consult this zone chart from the U.S. Department of Energy. Improving your attic insulation could save up to 15% on heating and cooling costs, or 11% on overall energy usage.
20. Shop local
Often local hardware shops will offer discounts to their community members, so you may be able to get a better price than you would at big-box home improvement stores.
Also, many local shops run free weekend seminars that will teach you how to do repairs and upgrades yourself. Learning to put in your own shed, backsplash, or landscaping could save hundreds of dollars.
21. Install ceiling fans
The Department of Energy says, “Ventilation is the least expensive and most energy-efficient way to cool a home.” Installing ceiling fans creates circulation in a room, which helps occupants feel cooler at higher temperatures. Don’t forget to turn the fan off when leaving a room, though. A fan makes people more comfortable, but it cannot lower room temperatures.
22. Replace your air filters
The Department of Energy also says that replacing the air filters in your home can lower the energy consumption of your heating and cooling system by up to 15%. Considering that the HVAC system accounts for around 45% of the average household’s energy bill, reducing consumption is a big deal!
Filters last between 1 to 6 months, depending upon the material type used. Check your filter near the end of its lifespan, and replace accordingly. And don’t forget to clean your vents regularly, too!
23. Implement a hang-to-dry laundry system
An average load of laundry costs between 36 cents and 45 cents to run in the dryer, assuming approximately 40 to 45 minutes of drying time. That may not sound like a lot, but over time, that electricity adds up. If you run five loads per week, that’s up to $2.25 per week or $117 per year.
Instead, consider hanging up your damp laundry whenever possible. Line drying in your laundry room may work well in cold months, if you have the space. Setting up a clothesline outside is even better. That way, you won’t have to consider any increased humidity risks, such as mold and mildew.
24. Change your lightbulbs
LED lightbulbs may have a more expensive tag on the shelf, but over time, those LED bulbs add up to big savings. Lower energy usage and a longer lifespan mean that switching from an incandescent lightbulb to an LED lightbulb can save $61.55 over ten years. Replace all the bulbs in your new home and rack up some serious savings!
25. Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances
Appliances with the blue Energy Star label are certified to reduce energy consumption and emissions.
Certain Energy Star appliances have a greater impact than others. For example, an energy-efficient dishwasher might only save you about $2 a year. However, replacing a clothes washer can save around $40 per year and $415 over its lifespan.
For more on energy cost savings, check out this Energy Star consumer guide.
26. Plant shade trees
Shade trees are not only pleasant for outdoor activities, they’re also essential for keeping utility costs down. Trees planted on the west and south sides of a house can save around $25 per year in cooling costs, depending upon the climate, and can also reduce carbon emissions by 30% over time.
Check with your local nursery or consult the USDA growing zones to find the shade tree that’s best for your yard. Give trees 1,600 square feet (40’ x 40’) to grow, in order to protect your foundation, landscaping, and driveway from being damaged by roots.
27. Seal up doors, windows, and other openings
Add up all the little sources of air loss around a home, and you may be looking at the equivalent of a hole fourteen inches wide.
Use weather stripping around doors and windows to keep drafts under control. Seal up outlets, light fixtures, laundry dampers, and other gaps in building materials with caulk. Check for any malfunction at the fireplace damper. And make sure the basement and attic entrances are as insulated as possible.
28. Mark any cracks
Some small cracks in basement walls, foundations, patios, and even drywall are common as homes settle and flex. However, growing cracks could indicate a problem with the foundation, which can lead to significant expenses.
Use painter’s tape to mark any cracks you may find now. In a few months, reexamine the area to see if the cracks have spread beyond the tape.
Moving and settling into your home is a big undertaking. Intentional money-saving choices now can add up to big savings over time. And that’s good news! Because as a new homebuyer, those savings can be well-spent turning your house into a home.
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