Six years ago Don and I moved with our six-month-old son cross country from Los Angeles to New York, and it cost us $5,000. Yikes.
We just moved again, into our Blue Cottage, and when I add up all the moving costs for this time, I get to about $200.
How was I able to move a household of three bedrooms for only $200?
With a lot of willingness to do everything ourselves, including driving the truck, and finding a thrifty way to get free packing materials.
We only moved 10 minutes down the street, so this time we didn’t have to relocate two cars, but no matter how far you move, my five tips about how to save on moving costs will still help you do it for less.
5 Ways To Save Big On Moving Costs
1: Have a Garage Sale or Donate Unnecessary Items
Before you pack up anything, declutter and have a tag sale. Or donate all unnecessary items to .charity
The more you can get rid of before you start boxing up your belongings, the better – for three reasons: less to box up, less to move, and you might get away with a smaller moving truck.
My biggest regret after our latest move: not realizing that the heaviest furniture piece, a large entertainment center that weighs over 250 pounds, doesn’t even work in our new house. If you can, figure out the layout of your furniture before you move and get rid of those items that don’t fit in your new space.
2: Don’t hire a mover and rent a truck
The biggest saving comes from your willingness to pack up your belongings yourself and to rent a truck and drive it instead of hiring movers to do all of that for you.
I happen to love boxing up all our things myself, so I never considered hiring a moving company, but if at all possible, rent a moving truck and find someone who feels comfortable driving it.
If you are moving far away and can’t drive the truck yourself, you can still consider renting PODS and filling them yourself – that’s how we saved a lot of money moving from Los Angeles.
For our recent move, we rented a 17-foot U-Haul truck for one day for about $70 to move the big furniture pieces and used our cars for a few days to move the rest of smaller boxes. That size truck isn’t that hard to handle or park, and since we lived close to the new house, we didn’t mind making an extra trip to get around renting a huge truck.
3: Enlist the help of family and friends
If you feed them, they will come! Ask family members and friends to come over for a moving party.
And divide up the different chores. My deal with my husband: I pack up everything and you get it out of here and into the new house.
4: Get free packing material
I don’t pay for moving boxes. You don’t have to either. Ask your local wine store for small boxes — they are especially great for heavy books — and Starbucks, Panera Bread, and similar places who get deliveries all the time and usually love to get rid of their extra boxes.
If you know you’ll be moving and have the space, start saving every box, packing paper, and bubble wrap you can get your hands on.
The only boxes I bought were 20 document boxes, because I like how sturdy they are and that they have handles. Stock up when they go on sale for about $10 for 10 boxes at office supply stores.
Another tip: you can usually find free boxes in the Free section of Craigslist.org – no need to buy them for a lot of money. And after the move you can place an ad on Craigslist for your free boxes so they get recycled again.
Don’t have enough bubble wrap? Use towels, table cloths, dish towels and T-shirts to wrap fragile items.
5: Buy packing tape and permanent markers at the dollar store
I don’t buy tape or permanent markers at big box stores, office stores, or the super market – I buy them for much less at the dollar store.
You might even be able to buy name-brand packing tape there for less, which is the preferred kind because it really is a lot sturdier.
If you are moving far away and your boxes will be on the road for a while, double up on the tape.
I hope these 5 tips to save on moving costs will help you. Do you have other tips?