How to Save on Moving Expenses

My wife and I finally completed our long-anticipated move this weekend. I’m happy to say we also learned a few things along the way that we’re bound not to repeat next time. In honor of movers everywhere, here is a list of ways to lower those dreaded “moving expenses” that are so hard to define and plan for ahead of time. Although our new apartment was only 4 miles away and in-town, many of these tips apply to cross-country relocations as well.

  • Plan your trip in detail. If moving farther than your local area, plan out where you will be sleeping and what you will eat on the way and once you get there. This prevents costly on-the-fly decisions and allows you to search for better deals ahead of time.
  • Change your address ahead of time. Avoid missing important bills or checks by ensuring that your change-of-address form is completed a few weeks prior to the move. Set your mail to start forwarding a few days before the move, in case that any “straggler” mail continues to come in at your old address.
  • Plan ahead for packing materials. Starting a few months before you relocate, begin to keep a lookout for anyone or anywhere you can get boxes and other packing material. Visit local stores that receive shipments in boxes of your desired size, and ask them for the best time to stop by to get a few empties. Ask friends and family to save you boxes from appliance purchases, office paper, or electronics.
  • Raise cash before the move. Hold a garage sale or sell your unneeded items on eBay to raise some capital before you move. Not only does this reduce the amount of items you have to relocate, but it gives you an extra boost in cash to help with moving-day expenses.
  • Consider alternative options & shop around. Consider if you will be doing everything yourself (and/or renting a truck), hiring movers, or using a system like PODS. Get estimates and shop around to determine what you’re willing to pay for. Then plan ahead for the expense.
  • Reduce volume & weight. Whether you’re moving yourself or hiring some sort of service, volume and weight will be your enemy, both in terms of convenience and cost. Reduce both ahead of time through purging, donations, and garage sales to lower moving costs.
  • Tax deduction. If you’re moving more than 50 miles to a new job, you may be entitled to a tax deduction on your moving expenses (and that can add up to a lot of money). Consult with your tax professional to determine your eligibility, and track everything just in case.
  • Avoid peak moving season. Summer is peak moving season. Just by avoiding these few months, you can easily shave costs and have more attentive and flexible movers at your service.
  • Evaluate your new home layout. Get a floor plan of your new home whenever possible. Measure your existing furniture and lay out the new space before you move. You may discover that not everything will fit as planned, and you can get rid of a few things without having to move them unnecessarily.
  • Maintain sanity and resist comfort-buying. Take time to relax and connect with friends and family during the stressful time of moving. Try to avoid dining out or buying up everything in the store just because you think you need it. Unpack, organize, and then determine what your needs truly are.

As with most other things in life, if you’re willing to do a lot of the work yourself, great savings are in store. If you’d rather have someone else take care of the “heavy lifting” for you, both literaly and figuratively, you will pay for the privlidge. Do your homework and plan ahead in either case to avoid last-minute surprises. What was your moving experience like and how did you save money?

Photo by spyblab

2 thoughts on “How to Save on Moving Expenses

  1. Congratulations on your move! Thanks for the moving tips…they are helpful. In addition to your list I would add it would help to purge unnecessary items every year. That should keep your home uncluttered.

  2. Some great tips indeed. One other tip I’d emphasize is to begin the packing process way ahead of time, by packing a box a week or two boxes a week, etc. This way most of the small things are packed by the time moving day comes. Regarding looking at alternatives, you are correct by mentioning moving pods. When you add up everything, such as your time, gas, frustration, with renting a moving truck, it can really be worth having the pods dropped off at your home and carted away when everything is packed up.

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