Not many of us are lucky enough to move for free. For most, moving expenses add up fast, leading to unnecessary stress when money is tight. We’re experts at keeping spending in check and can help you move on a budget without compromising your sanity.
These ten moving tips will address some practical ways to move cheaply. Before diving into these practical ways to save money, create a moving checklist that you can edit and trim as you plan for your move.
10 Moving on a Budget Tips You Can’t Ignore
1. Declutter your home and sell the excess.
Did you know that you can make money when moving? Start by gathering some unneeded items that are valuable enough to sell. Consider if these items are worth the time, cost, and headache to move. If not, sell them and pocket the cash for moving expenses.
Some decisions are easier than others, like selling a television set no one uses anymore. Then, there are more difficult judgment calls. You may love the piano you grew up learning to play on, but if you rarely play it, selling it to a home that can enjoy it may make sense.
Once you’ve made a mental note of all the items you won’t be packing, it’s time to figure out how you’ll get rid of these pieces and make the most money possible on them.
How to get rid of unnecessary belongings:
- Host a garage sale or estate sale.
- Sell online using apps like Wallapop or OfferUp.
- List items on a neighborhood Facebook community or a site like Nextdoor.
- Barter with family and friends.
2. Donate bulky items you can’t sell.
Take what you can’t sell and donate it. Thrift shops are ideal for quick and effortless donating. Some shops even have drive-up garage access. You drive through the doors into an enclosed hallway, unload your items, and someone will be waiting there to give you a receipt.
In order for a donation to potentially save you money, request an itemized receipt so that you can write off the donation on your income taxes.
3. Reuse cheap or free packing materials.
Packing materials can be costly. Instead of buying an oversized bubble wrap roll, try using household items as packing material.
How to save money on packing supplies:
- Socks can be used to wrap glassware.
- Kitchen towels are a great way to separate plates.
- Leverage original packaging to transfer what originally came in them, or find a way to use these old boxes to protect finer goods.
- Avoid buying moving boxes altogether. Try sites like Craigslist to search for people willing to give them away for free.
4. Measure access points before moving.
We’ve all heard stories of the sectional couch that couldn’t quite make it through the doorway. Or a king-sized bed that wouldn’t make it up the stairs in a Cape Cod house. Don’t make the mistake of eye-balling size.
Make sure to measure your larger fixtures – tables, sofas, custom pieces, etc. – and evaluate how they will fit into your new footprint.
A straightforward way to do this is to measure the dimensions of each room in your new living space and consider the width and height of door frames, stairwells, and hallways. Live too far away to do this? See if your new landlord or current seller can give you this information in advance.
Once you know what won’t fit, it’ll be much easier to determine what has to go and what can stay.
5. Don’t overbuy for your new home.
This trick to moving on a budget is a mental one. You’ll need to freeze spending, even when it’s tempting to buy things for your new home—after all, you haven’t even arrived yet! It’s easy to start clicking “Add to Cart” for everything you see on Wayfair, but rein in the emotional purchases and hold that mouse. To stay on track, commit to a spending hiatus while in the middle of a move.
- One way to save money while moving is to strive to buy only what you need at your new place.
- Resist mentally decorating your new space until you’re actually in it.
- It’s common to be more impulsive with spending in the short term because you might start to visualize what you think you need in each room.
- The less you buy now, the more money you’ll save and the fewer items you’ll have to move on moving day.
6. Ask your company for reimbursement.
If your company won’t compensate you, moving expenses may be tax-deductible if you’re in the military.
Before you accept that job offer in another state, ask your company if they will pay for moving expenses or offer compensation for relocation. You’d be surprised how much some companies are willing to reimburse.
If your company doesn’t compensate you, your moving expenses might be tax-deductible if you are in the military. Talk to your accountant or tax advisor to determine eligibility for a write-off.
7. Decide if you should spend money on movers.
Recruiting friends or movers is one of the most significant decisions you will make when moving on a budget. While you may be quick to bribe your friends with pizza and beer, it’s sometimes better to call the professionals.
Ask these questions before hiring movers:
- Are my friends capable of safely moving heavy furniture?
- How much stuff do I have to move?
- Am I moving far away?
- How much money will I save by asking friends?
- Do I have any valuable furniture pieces to move?
- Do I have a piano, pool table, or otherwise complicated piece to move?
Movers come with a monetary cost, but they can save you a lot of headaches with speediness and efficiency.
8. Don’t move during the busy season.
While this may be out of your control, try to avoid moving during the peak season (May through September). Off-season rates are lower, and you will have an easier time scheduling the move.
9. Shop around for better prices.
Seek out new cable or satellite providers that offer a 12-month special for movers like you.
If you’re moving on a budget, figure out as many ways as possible to cut your monthly spending, even if it’s just temporarily.
Moving to a new place is the perfect opportunity to seek out new cable or satellite providers that offer a 12-month special. To better compare offers, you’ll need to know how much the plan will cost after the special expires and the contract terms.
Before your move, consider canceling TV or Internet services early. Surviving on your phone’s Wi-Fi – if possible – can help your budget before you even begin to pack.
10. Use self-storage when in a pinch.
If your move is temporary or you have a gap between when you need to leave your old place and when your new home is ready, renting a self-storage unit may be your best option.
Common questions about moving on a budget
What month is cheapest to move?
Summer is peak leasing and moving season, so it’s also when prices are highest. About 45% of annual U.S. moves happen from May to August, according to data from moveBuddha. So if you want to save money when moving, try to schedule it sometime between September and April.
How much money should I have before moving?
Before you move, you should have enough money to cover the expenses of the move itself (including movers, truck rentals, and gas), plus the expenses of purchasing items to furnish your new home once you arrive. Of course, that’s assuming you’ve already purchased a house or signed a lease. If you haven’t secured your next home yet, you must also factor in those costs.
Here are some benchmarks to help you budget:
- A 2022 HireAHelper study found that the average cost of moving within the same state in May 2022 was $427.
- Based on data from HomeAdvisor, local moving costs average $1,711, including hiring two movers and renting a truck. Cross-country moving costs have a national average of $4,803.
- The average hourly rate of local movers is $25 to $50 if you have one to two professional movers, according to data from Angi.
Is $5,000 enough to move out?
Of course, the answer depends on your situation. Let’s assume you’re not including the cost of a new house or rent for a new apartment, and you’re only considering the actual costs of moving.
If you’re moving within the same state, yes, $5,000 should be enough since the average cost of a local move ranges from $913-$2,531, according to HomeAdvisor. But if you’re moving long-distance (out of state), $5,000 will barely be enough. HomeAdvisor says the average long-distance move cost ranges from $2,649-$6,988.
How can I reduce my moving costs?
- Eliminate as much stuff as possible so you don’t have as much to move.
- Do it yourself. Pack up items and rent a truck to move them to your new destination.
- Move during the off-season, sometime between September and April.
- Negotiate with your new employer to see if they can cover at least some of your relocation costs.
- Instead of shipping your vehicle, drive it to your new home. Even better, if you can fit all your belongings into it, you’ll save more money.
What to do 5 weeks before moving?
- Begin packing up your belongings that you don’t need on a daily basis. Packing up an entire home is time-consuming, so getting a head start is best. Five weeks before your move, start packing items that you won’t need for the next few weeks, such as decorations, photo frames, fine china, and seasonal clothing.
- Put in a request with the USPS for mail forwarding and change of address. This can take up to two weeks to process, and you can put the date on which you want mail forwarding to begin, so it’s best to start this sooner rather than later.
- Schedule the movers. Start collecting quotes from moving companies and confirm which one you want to work with and on which dates.
- Schedule your car pickup if you’re shipping your vehicle to your new address. Five weeks should be enough time to schedule an auto transit company to pick up and ship your car to your new destination. If you wait until the last minute, you might not be able to schedule a carrier in time.
- Call your utility companies to coordinate the end of services. This includes water, electricity, internet, and cable. You need to give them advanced notice of the shut-off date.
Moving on a budget just got easier
We hope you enjoyed our ideas for moving on a budget. As you can see, it’s completely doable! Do you have any tips you’d like to share that saved you time or money? Let us know on Twitter.
This post originally appeared on the Life Storage blog on 7/1/16 and was revised on 4/17/19 and 5/9/23 to provide new information.