Do you need help moving for free? Although it sounds nice, we can’t all afford white-glove service… or even professional movers. Nor do you have Wonder Woman-style strength, friendly robot helpers or a gang of Oompa Loompas. But the job still has to get done somehow.
Luckily, all is not lost. If you’re moving on a budget and aren’t sure where to turn for help when it comes to wrangling futons and hefting boxes, we’ve got you covered. Here are our best tips for getting an assist on Moving Day, even when you can’t afford to pay.
Tips For When You Need Help Moving for Free
If you’re chewing your nails and wondering whether it’s okay to try and get help moving for free, we’re here to tell you it’s okay. Roughly four times as many people move on their own as hire professional movers, so you are not an island here. That means there’s nothing wrong with asking for a little help when you need it … as long as you do it right.
Ask People for Whom You Also Do Favors
No one likes a one-way street, but a good old two-way street never goes amiss. Chances are you have plenty of people in your life who rely on you from time to time, so those are the people to ask. Ideas include:
- Sympathetic coworkers
Service organizations are also a great place to find help. Religious or spiritual communities, AA or other support groups, and local, state or federal charities are all excellent resources if you’re not sure how to do this on your own.
Incentivize Your Crew
Convincing people to help you out isn’t necessarily as simple as buying pizza and offering a few six-packs around. Folks will help you if they love you and if you help them at other times.
That said, you’re expected to do something nice for your friends, family or other do-gooders on the day of your move, no matter how often you help them as well. Potential incentives include:
- Movie tickets
- Happy hour after the move
- First pick of the goods you’re donating (e.g. books, decor or kitchen supplies)
… and, let’s be honest, pizza and beer. No matter what you choose to do, the most important factor is whether or not your helpers feel appreciated. Whether you moved next door or the next country over, make sure to send thank-you notes once you’re settled.
Out-of-State Movers: Prep Carefully
Hands down, moving out of state is more expensive. Whereas an in-town move often costs less than $100 per day, a cross-country move that takes a week and a half can run into the thousands of dollars. For obvious reasons, this will stretch your budget a bit tighter. That makes it even more important to get help where you can.
Unfortunately, you can’t simply source help for a day if you’re headed from Arizona to Alaska. If you’ve got an S.O. or a roomie, this is less of a big deal. But if you’re moving far away on your own, it pays to think ahead about what you’ll do once you get there. Ask questions such as:
- Am I moving furniture?
- Can I get that furniture into my home/apartment by myself?
- If not, should I sell/donate it here?
- Or should I have someone come with me? Who?
- If the latter, how will they get home and what will that cost?
If you need help moving for free for an out-of-state move, you’ll likely have to incentivize people with a reward. A plane or train ticket, or perhaps another agreement between the two of you may be enough to get the job done.
Other Ways to Save for Your Move
Getting help for free isn’t the only way to ensure a fiscal-forward move. Before embarking on your moving adventure, it’s important to figure out how much it’s going to cost, which is where a moving budget comes in handy. After you figure out how to get help moving for free, it’s time to save… or even make a bit of money.
Get Packing Supplies for Free (Or Less)
Packing supplies might seem like an easy win, but they can actually add up really quickly. When you’re on a budget, you can’t afford to spend dozens or – if you have multiple rooms in your house – hundreds on new boxes, paper, bubble wrap and tape.
Enter the thrift brigade. Our fave ideas for saving on packing supplies include:
- Stockpile cardboard boxes in the month leading to the move, including small boxes that can fit inside bigger ones for padding and protection
- Ask grocery stores and local retailers if they have extra boxes (but do NOT go into their dumpsters without permission, which is a crime), though you may want to proceed with caution since these boxes tend to attract pests
- As friends, family and service organizations for boxes they’re getting rid of
- Check out Freecycle, a group of people who exchange goods rather than trashing them
- For fragile items, purchase higher quality moving boxes from your local Life Storage store
As for padding, use old newspapers, towels, sheets, clothing and other linens to wrap items, and hold off on bubble wrap unless absolutely necessary.
Make Some Money Beforehand
When you really need help moving for free, sometimes it’s best to get help in the initial stages rather than on moving day. Try money-saving tips such as yard sales, selling on Craigslist or OfferUp, and posting items online. If this sounds too overwhelming, ask a tech-savvy friend to come to help you with the digital stuff, and compensate them using one of the ideas above.
Be Smart About Hidden Costs
If you don’t want to spend a fortune, make sure you’re apprised of hidden moving costs ahead of time. The only thing more expensive than a cost is a last-minute cost, because the combination of scrambling and scarcity often mean you end up spending more money. Set aside money for:
- Replacement home goods when you arrive
Consider Storage Now to Save Later
It’s worth pointing out that storage, while it does cost extra money, can actually save you considerably in the long run. If you’re only relocating for a short time, it’s probably cheaper to get a small apartment in your new home and leave your bulky items behind. Especially in a big city, you’ll pay far less with a postage stamp apartment and an affordable storage unit at home.
Hopefully these tips help you get the help you need. If you have any other ideas we should put on our list, please let us know in the comments!