Save Money on Moving
Posted by Sarah at 12:54 pm in Great Deals, Transportation, Travel

Whether it’s your first time or your fiftieth, moving stinks. You’re already stressed out, whether you’re taking on a new job, starting a new relationship or just looking for a change in a new city. And now you’ve got to tackle the piles of possessions you’ve accumulated over the years, wrestle them into boxes and get them to your new home. Whew! Moving can be frustrating and expensive, but following a few simple steps will help cut down on the costs and the crises.

Before you start worrying about hiring trucks and comparing rates, get cleaning! This is the perfect time to go through all your old clothes, files and junk drawers and get rid of the things you don’t need anymore. Keep in mind the reality that you’ll have to pack and carry anything you keep – and pay for if you use a space-based moving service! So toss the clothes you haven’t worn in years, get rid of all the useless knickknacks you’ve accumulated and send the books you don’t ever read to the library.

Also take a close look at your furniture. If you’re living the secretary life, you’re “décor” probably consists of garage sale finds and third generation hand-me-downs. If you’re moving long distance, it could actually cost you more to move your old furniture than to buy used furniture in your new location. In fact, scoping out garage sales and second-hand stores can be a great way to get to know your new neighborhood. So donate anything that doesn’t have sentimental value and don’t forget to get a donation receipt for your taxes!

When it’s time to start packing, don’t spend a fortune on new moving supplies. Put a message out to your local freecycle group for moving boxes (read the article “Learn to Freecycle” if you’re not sure what that means). Or check with grocery stores, hardware stores or bookstores in your area – these businesses pay to recycle boxes every day and may be happy to let you have them for free. Newspapers and linens like towels and sheets can take the place of more expensive bubble wrap and packing paper. Two things you shouldn’t scrimp on – good black permanent markers and strong packing tape!

The type of moving arrangement you need will depend largely on what and how far you’ll be moving. Moving a few boxes across town requires a different set-up then a move across the country. The most common arrangements are:

Do it yourself: Using your own truck (or a rental), you and your buddies pack your belongings, load them onto the truck, drive the truck and then unload everything at your destination. While this is typically the cheapest route, watch out for unexpected costs like rental truck insurance, mileage fees and pizza for your moving buddies. For local moves, check with nearby moving-related businesses for a good deal on a rental truck. A friendly storage unit company I used for one college summer let me use their truck for free!

Space-based rental: Major truck carriers like ABF U-Move and Broadway Express or portable storage unit companies like P.O.D.S. let you pack your belongings and charge you based on the space you use. They do all the driving and deliver your boxes to your new location. You’ll still save money over a full-service moving company and you’ll avoid the hassle of driving a semi-truck on unfamiliar roads. If you use this type of service, set aside anything that you’ll need immediately for transport in your car – if the truck is delayed, you could have to wait awhile for your possessions.

Full-service moving company: These companies load your boxes, drive the truck and unload everything in your new home. For an additional fee, they may even pack your boxes. This is the most expensive moving option, but if you’re under a lot of stress, the saved energy might be worth the extra cost. When you’re shopping for quotes, get as accurate an estimate of the items you’ll have to move as possible and get details on any extra charges up front. If possible, try to plan a mid-week or mid-month move when the movers aren’t as busy. However, if you’ve hired movers, DO NOT let them move things like your computer or things that are irreplaceable if damaged. Move these yourself. You’ll take much better care of them than the movers will – even if you mark a box as “fragile”.

A final word of caution – be careful who you do business with. The internet is full of horror stories about damaged possessions, lost trucks and items held hostage for extra money by unscrupulous moving companies. In fact, the moving industry ranks 14th out 1,100 industries the Better Business Bureau tracks in terms of customer complaints. So get references from friends and check with the BBB and websites like and before signing a contract. Doing a little background research beforehand will help your move go as smoothly and easily as possible.

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