Moving is an exciting, yet stressful time of life. Whether you’re moving across town or across the continent, you’ll have a lot of plates to keep in the air. Closing paperwork, people to contact, utilities to turn off and on, and most likely, a job to schedule time off around. Plus, there’s the money. Oh yes, money and moving. From meals on the road to storage fees to paying for services, money is definitely a factor to consider.
Here at Showcase Properties, we’ve come up with our best tips to help you save money on a move!
Tip #1 – Decide on your timing.
One big decision that will be affected by many factors is when will you do the Big Move? The more time you have to plan—and do some pre-move work—the less expensive it can be. In nearly all areas of the country, summer is a busier moving time than winter. If you can work things out so that you’re moving from October through April, then you’ll probably get a better price on your moving services.
At the more micro level, moving between the 5th and 20th of the month may help your mover offer you a discount. Most people have to or try to move near the 1st of the month, so if you’ve got the option to adjust your timing, it might be helpful. You can also move on a weekday; this will usually garner you lower rates on truck rentals, hiring movers, and getting self-pack containers dropped off or picked up. A Monday through Thursday move date can let you have a discount of up to 20% off regular dates.
Tip #2 – Reduce the volume of stuff you’re taking.
This is an ideal time to review the things you’ve accumulated over the years and make a clear, conscious decision about what you really want to take to your new space. Does Aunt Molly’s crystal wedding stemware that is still in its box from two moves ago something you truly want to keep? Maybe not. On the other hand, the family dresser that was your grandfather’s, then father’s, and is now yours might be something worth preserving and taking along. This is a personal and emotional decision in some cases, so give yourself the time and space to weed through your belongings and let some things go. If you have children who are old enough, get them involved in the process too.
One caution: This may not be the time to get all Marie Kondo and spend days and days looking at everything you own. If you’re on a tight schedule, then you may just have to do Big Picture sorting and purging, and be content with whatever progress you make. Moving is already stressful; don’t make it harder for yourself by having unrealistic expectations about the level of order you can impose on this process. Do your best, make realistic choices about what you want and don’t want, and well, get moving.
If you have the time and energy, a pre-move garage sale can both help clear your stuff and help pay for your move! A curb alert at the end of yard sale day and a few calls to friends might get most of your discards taken care of. And you can certainly help others by donating items in good condition to charities, friends, co-workers, and family. Some charities will pick up large items or substantial donations. Call the Salvation Army, your local homeless shelter, or other charity-based thrift stores and see if one of them might want your donations.
Tip #3 – Decide how much you can handle yourself or whether you want professionals to do all or part of the work.
James Gervais, the owner of Skye Moving, LLC, (Florida Registration number IM2755), offers super savers this tip to save money. “Do as much as possible yourself,” he suggests.
You might be at the stage of life where you can fit your clothes, computer, and belongings into a dozen milk crates and be done. But if you’ve got real furniture (meaning bulky and/or heavy), numerous packed boxes, kids to move, pets, and other household items, you might need help. Some questions you’ll want to answer are:
- How much physical strength and stamina do you have?
- Can you handle the bulk and weight of any big items you’re moving?
- Do you have time to do the moving work and make trips back and forth yourself? Obviously, for moves beyond regional or local, this may not even be an option for you.
- Do you have a suitable vehicle like a box truck or a pickup that will work? A Prius or Camry is great on mileage, but boy, when it comes to loading and moving, these are not user-friendly vehicles! If a friend or relative has a truck you might borrow, then this could be a good solution.
- Is this the best use of your time? If you have just a few days to move and start a new job, would it be better to pay professionals to most of the work so you can focus on staying organized and resting enough so that your first day on the job goes well?
You can choose to do some of the work yourself, all of the work yourself, or none of it!
Gervais offers another suggestion. “For the budget minded, we have what we call hybrid moves or labor-only service. This is where you rent a truck from say, U-Haul, then you hire a moving crew to load and unload the truck at a fraction of the cost it would normally cost you for a full- service move.”
There are more options to pick and choose from the services you need. You might self-load a moving container, have the container company store and move it for you, then hire movers to unload the container at your new place. Hybrid moves are a combination of self-moving and professional services, and they’re a popular option because they allow you more control of the timing and can be cost effective.
Tip #4 – Get estimates from several different moving companies.
You’ll have different options depending on whether you’re moving across town or across state lines, so be sure you do an apples-to-apples comparison. Local movers might be able to do a regional move, for example, moving from Tampa to Ocala. But there are legal restrictions about crossing state lines, so check that the company you’re dealing with can handle your needs.
You also might find coupons or discounts through a motor club membership, AARP, a credit union membership, or even your company. You can check online reviews, ask for references from previous customers, and get referrals from your own personal network. Your real estate agent may be able to offer advice here as well.
Tip #5 – Score free moving materials.
For boxes, now is the time to keep an eye out on Craigslist, NextDoor, and Facebook sales pages to score boxes and containers. You might check in with recent arrivals in your neighborhood. Chances are, they have boxes they’ve unpacked and might be happy to get rid of. Even the classic liquor store boxes can be helpful; they’re strong yet often small enough to be handled by even kids. Ask your co-workers, friends, neighbors, and family.
Once you start packing, you can use newspaper, linens, towels, socks and sweaters to cushion fragiles, and even pillows. Of course, the bubble wrap is best for truly fragile items like crystal, stemware, and framed pictures. Whatever you can get for free will save you money.
Keep an eye out for sales on plastic tote boxes with lids. Big-box stores will often put these on sale after the holidays or you can use a generic 10 or 20% off coupon when a store runs specials. For example, Big Lots typically runs a “friends and family” 20% coupon about once a quarter, so this would be a good time to buy these boxes. And they’re re-usable when you get to your new place!
Even if you hire professionals to pack and move your belongings, there will still be some things you’ll want to hand carry. Consider banker-box sized plastic totes that are small enough that you can easily heft them yourself.
“Have everything ready to be moved out when the movers arrive,” Gervais of Skye Moving, LLC suggests. “Be done with your packing and have things organized so the movers can get straight to work.”
Tip #6 – Consider less conventional moving methods.
In addition to the conventional moving container companies (U-Pack, Pods, Packrats, etc.) where you pack on your own schedule, and the big moving companies (Allied, Atlas, Mayflower, etc.), you might be surprised to find out that both Amtrak and Greyhound will take personal freight! Each has pretty specific criteria for packing and you’ll need to drop it off and pick it up yourself. FedEx and UPS also do large loads at freight rates. Depending on how much you want to ship, this could be a way to move things that either you won’t need right away and that are bulky and heavy (think books, off-season clothing, sports equipment, and the like).
Tip #7 – Request a discount.
For the professional that you do hire, it’s worth asking if they have a discounted option that might save you some money. For example, the big companies might be able to combine your belongings with another going to the same region or city. For smaller, local companies, they might be able to schedule you in combination with another nearby move, and that would save them on mileage and fuel expense.
In addition, any membership benefits you have could help here. You also might find coupons or discounts through a motor club membership, AARP, a credit union membership, or even your company. Don’t forget credit card rewards programs; they often have discounts for truck rentals and storage units. For example, FedEx has a discount program through various employers; American Airlines staff get up to a 70% discount on shipping. Your employer might have a similar arrangement. It’s worth checking with your HR department or flipping through your employee handbook to see if you can save some money.
Tip #8 – Ask your friends.
The long-time barter deal of “you help me move, I buy you pizza and beer” might be a useful bargain. Of course, this depends on your schedule, their schedule, and everyone’s physical capabilities. Remember too that moving is stressful for you. You’ll need friends who can be supportive and patient with you on moving day.
If you and your friends can’t really do the big moving chores, then maybe someone can assist you with packing, sorting, and clearing out. A girlfriend who is a neat freak cleaner might spend a Saturday with you in the kitchen. A buddy who knows a lot about gardening might be able to help you sort and pack lawn care tools. Having a few hours of help in the weeks before the move will let you check some to-do’s off of your list and give you more breathing room for other chores.
And if the timing doesn’t work out that you can immediately go from your old house to the new house, and you need to store some things for a while, maybe your friends have some storage place they could offer you. Half of a garage or the use of someone’s not-used business warehouse could save you hundreds a month in storage fees.
Tip #9 – If you’re moving for work, ask your company to chip in.
Of course, if your employer is asking you to move to a new location for a job, you have a lot of leverage to simply ask that they cover all or most of the expenses. If they resist, you might want to push back and remind them that the moving expense deduction was eliminated with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. (What used to be an above-the-line deduction for gross income is now gone unless you’re military.) This works best if you’re staying with the company you work for now. Even if you’re moving for a new employer, it never hurts to ask if a relocation package can be included.
These are nine ways to save money on your next move. Plan ahead, do some work yourself, research the professionals, and remember, all the hard work is getting you to your new life in your new home. Once there, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy it!