6 Ways to Cut Down on Moving Costs

by Leigh A. Morgan
Van full of moving boxes and furniture near house

Whether you're moving back to your hometown or setting out on a cross-country relocation, moving can be a stressful process. You have to pack everything up, find someone to transport it and hope none of your treasured items end up missing or damaged. In some cases, moving is also costly. Here's what you can do to reduce your moving costs.

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Lower Moving Costs With These Tips

1. Do Your Own Packing

You can hire movers to do the packing for you, but if cost is a concern, pack boxes on your own. To make it a little easier, start as early as possible rather than waiting until a few days before your scheduled move.

You'll need to keep using your kitchen and bathroom until moving day, so leave those rooms for last. On your final day in your current home, put a few basic items, such as a toothbrush, soap, towels and washcloths, in a separate box so you don't have to search for them when you arrive at your destination.

2. Ask Your Loved Ones for Help

If you're packing up a small apartment, you may not need to hire movers at all. Instead, ask friends and family members to help you go through each room, pack important items and set other items aside for donation or disposal. To thank your loved ones for their help, treat everyone to pizza or take them to a local restaurant for dinner. If you can't afford takeout for everyone, at least provide cold drinks and a sincere "thank you" for the assistance.

3. Rent a Truck Instead of Hiring a Moving Company

Truck rental isn't free, but renting a truck and driving it yourself can really help you limit your moving costs. Depending on where you live, you may be able to rent a truck or panel van for under $50 per day. Even with the cost of gasoline and insurance, this is much cheaper than paying professional movers.

4. Look for Free Supplies

In most cases, you don't need to buy boxes, bubble wrap, tape and other packing supplies. You can get them for free by asking people in your neighborhood. Grocery stores often have free boxes, eliminating the need to spend $20 or more on a few pieces of cardboard.

If you need tape or bubble wrap, sign up for your local Buy Nothing group. The Buy Nothing project encourages community members to give away unused items instead of tossing them. If you belong to a local Buy Nothing group, you can post requests for free packing supplies. You may even make a few new friends along the way.

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5. Sell or Donate Unused Items

Most people have at least a few unused items taking up valuable space. If you're planning a move, go through your belongings and separate them into four piles.

  • Keep: This pile is for cherished mementos and items you use regularly, such as photo albums, children's art projects, jewelry and clothing in your current size.
  • Toss: Some items are so damaged you can't repurpose them. For example, a blanket full of moth holes isn't likely to keep you warm at night. Use the toss pile for items that are dangerous or unsalvageable.
  • Sell: If you have name-brand clothing or in-demand items, consider having a yard sale or setting up accounts at some of the top online marketplaces. Selling items reduces the number of boxes you need to pack, and it can help you make money to put toward your move.
  • Donate: Even if you can't use some of your items, there's probably someone who can. If you have unused items in good condition, think about donating them to a local nonprofit or giving them away on Facebook Marketplace.

6. Mail Books and DVDs

If you decide to hire professional movers, one way to reduce your moving costs is to limit the number of boxes you have to move. The U.S. Postal Service offers discounted shipping rates for books, DVDs and other forms of media.

Instead of paying someone to move your books and DVDs for you, pack them up and use Media Mail to ship them to your new home. It may take up to 8 business days to receive your items, but it's well worth the wait to save money on your move.

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