Moving to a new place is exciting. Paying for the move, on the other hand, can feel like a nightmare. With boxes, truck rentals, new furniture, and other moving fees, the cost can add up fast. Moving.com estimates that it costs as much as $2,994 to move a 2 to 3 bedroom house just one zip code over (ouch).
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by moving costs, we’ve got you covered. We’ll fill you in on how to save money on moving costs in eight simple steps:
1. Negotiate for your employer to subsidize your moving costs
If you’re moving because of your job, you can negotiate for your employer to cover or subsidize your relocation costs. Some companies offer “relocation packages” to employees moving from out of the area. According to a survey by Allied Vans, about 26% of people moving for a job received relocation packages, while another 28% received funds to help with house hunting and miscellaneous expenses.
Employment giant Monster.com recommends finding out what kind of relocation packages are typical at your company by contacting the HR department or asking current employees or employees at similar firms about their experiences. You can reach out to people on LinkedIn and read reviews on sites like Glassdoor to gain insight.
Once you have a good idea of what the company typically offers, pitch your relocation package as a benefit to the company; if you can get settled in quickly, you can work efficiently right away.
2. Choose the most affordable moving service for your needs
There are many options for moving services. If you’re moving from a small apartment to another and already own a large truck, you could possibly get away with doing the job solo. For more sizable moves, consider these options:
- Full-service moving companies: These companies take care of everything from start to finish, including packing, loading, transporting, and unloading your belongings to the new destination. Companies that offer this service include Mayflower and United Van Lines.
- Rental trucks: You can choose to rent a truck from a company like U-Haul or Penske, load it up, and drive it to your new home yourself.
- Freight trailers: Another option is to rent space on a freight trailer. You’ll pack and load yourself, but the company will handle transportation. Companies such as U-Pack and SureMove offer this service.
- Portable storage containers: Finally, you can rent a portable storage container from Pods or SmartBox, load it up, and have it delivered to your new home. This option is helpful because you can leave the container outside your property while you move in, eliminating the need for renting out a storage unit.
Request estimates from a variety of companies to save money on moving costs. For a quick overview, see the below chart comparing the average price to move a 2-bedroom home for different types of moving services:
|Moving service||Short move (under 100 miles)||Long move (over 100 miles)|
|Full service moving companies||$550 – $2000||$2000 – $7,500|
|Rental trucks (excluding per-mile fees and fuel costs)||$132 – $366||$500 – $1,700|
|Freight trailers||$1,000 – $2,000||$2,484 – $3,105|
|Portable storage containers||$500 – $1,500||$1,500 – $5,000|
3. Reduce your belongings before you pack
While it’s natural to accumulate stuff, large items like pianos, surfboards, and TVs significantly increase the price (and difficulty!) of your move. Consider letting go of large items that don’t have too much sentimental value. You can replace them at your new location, and in the meantime, can put the sale money towards your moving costs.
Here are a few popular websites where you can easily list personal belongings for sale:
If selling everything online seems like a hassle, consider hosting a garage sale. If you think it’s unlikely that you’ll make enough money to justify the effort, you can always donate items to charity organizations. Some organizations, like Habitat for Humanity and The Arc, will even pick up your items up for free.
4. Weigh the cost of moving furniture against selling and repurchasing
Do you love your couch beyond words? If not, selling it before you move and buying furniture to match your new home may be a wise choice. Long-distance moving companies usually charge by weight or by cubic feet. Since furniture accounts for more weight and mass than your other belongings, you can save money by reducing how many pieces you move.
On the flip side, buying new furniture is expensive, and your used bed frame and dresser won’t always catch a great price. Think about what furniture you need for your new home and research what the items you want cost. After that, reach out to a few moving companies for estimates based on the weight of your current furniture. If it turns out that selling your current furniture is cheaper, congratulations, you’ve saved money and upgraded your new home at the same time!
5. Consider selling your car before you move
If you’re only relocating to a new neighborhood or the next town over, it might not make much sense to sell your vehicle. However, if you’re moving across the country, it might save you money to sell your car and purchase another one at your destination.
In some cases, you may need to drive a moving van cross-country to reach your new home, meaning that you’ll need to have someone else drive your car, rent a trailer in addition to your van, or pay to have the car shipped (the average cost to ship a mid-size vehicle cross-country is about $1,105). Additionally, if your car is older or in poor condition, adding cross-country mileage could result in more expensive issues like cracked radiators, worn-out bearings, or transmission failure.
6. Strategically plan your moving date
Everyone’s situation is different — your ideal moving date may depend on your work schedule, home sale closing, children’s school schedules, and even the weather. However, the timing of your move can have an impact on the cost. Just remember that you can save on moving costs if you plan your moving date wisely:
- Research when your preferred moving company offers lower rates; many companies will offer reduced rates in the winter or on weekdays.
- Schedule your move for a date when friends or family can help.
- Try to align your moving-out and moving-in dates so you don’t overspend on temporary accommodation.
- Take advantage of any accrued PTO days.
7. Find free moving boxes and padding
While the cheapest moving boxes might only cost a couple of dollars, larger and heavy-duty boxes can cost more than $20. When you consider how many boxes you need, the sum of small costs can add up to a significant expense. Additionally, fragile items and furniture may require padding like blankets, foam packing, or bubble wrap, which adds to your packing material costs.
Fortunately, people are almost always looking to get rid of boxes and padding. Here are some ideas for where you can snag them for free:
- Use Freecycle, a network that connects you with people in your area looking to avoid waste by giving away stuff they don’t need. If you catch someone who has recently moved, they’ll probably have boxes they’re willing to part with.
- Ask your office or your local liquor or grocery store to see if they’ve got any boxes that they’d otherwise throw away. You might also ask around at large retailers like Costco or Walmart.
- Call ahead to an area recycling center and ask if they’ll keep boxes for you to pick up.
- Post a wanted ad on Craigslist for moving boxes. People often need to get rid of boxes they’ve accumulated from a move or small business operations.
8. Enlist friends and family to help you pack
Helping your friends and family move is a time-honored tradition, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t make use of it to save some money. U-Haul prices professional packing and loading services at around $45 an hour. Depending on the size of your home, the job could take all day or even multiple days. While you might owe your loved ones a pizza after they’ve helped you move, it’ll cost much less than hiring a professional.
If you don’t have anyone available to help, try checking out TaskRabbit, a platform that connects you with people willing to help out with various jobs for a fair price.
Header Image Source: (Maksim Shutov / Unsplash)