Nearly everyone moves at some point in their lives. In fact, each year sees roughly 43 million Americans move. Not every move is necessarily a massive one. While it’s true that for some people a move can mean traveling from one side of the world to the other — perhaps multiple times over the course of a lifetime — for others a move can be as simple as packing up one’s belongings and moving them down the street. You may be moving after getting a new job or you may be moving after losing a job. No matter what a move tends to be stressful. Simply the act of organizing everything that you own can be quite stressful, never mind the amount of money that tends to go into moving. It may seem impossible to save money while moving; though this isn’t the case, you will likely have to take the time to budget while moving if you want to save money rather than lose it.
To begin with, there are circumstances in which you might not have to make as much of an effort to save money while moving. If you’re moving due to a transfer in the military, for example, you may still have to spend money on certain personal aspects — like transporting your dog to a new country and having it quarantined — but the government will cover many out of pocket expenses. Some companies will also offer relocation packages as a part of their job offers to employees. With that being said, not all relocation packages cover your full transportation costs. Many companies, while still respectable, simply do not offer relocation packages to new hires. This means that it’s up to you to cover the costs, and you need to find a way to save money on your own. However, it’s not a lost cause. You can approach a move responsibly, and save money in the process, but you also need to make sure that you don’t cut corners. Let’s look into how you can save money on moving costs.
The Pros And Cons Of Moving On Your Own
There are some moving costs that are unavoidable, to be sure. When you’re seeking to buy a new home, you’ll have to pay not only for the new apartment or house itself but sometimes for appliances and furniture as well. But while many of us have a particular idea regarding how moving should work, moving doesn’t have to follow a standard step by step process. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to save money while moving is to simply move on your own, rather than hiring professional movers. There are plenty of people who move each year without hiring a professional moving company, but if you’ve never moved without the help of professionals before, it can be quite intimidating. Typically, a professional moving company may charge anywhere between $500 and $1,500 for a job, depending on where you live and how many belongings you’re moving. The fact is that many people don’t have to have their house packed up by professional movers. Most of us can do it on our own. So why do we pay for it?
Many of us are essentially paying for the convenience of professional movers. A move is stressful enough on its own; some of us get overwhelmed by the idea of handling the physical aspects of moving as well. There’s also this idea that professional movers have a better idea of how to strategically pack a house and can handle the task in less time, which is sometimes the case. But is that convenience and time worth choosing to spend rather than save money? Of course, there are other factors to consider when deciding whether or not you should hire professional movers. One of the biggest issues that comes with moving is the concern of whether or not your more delicate belongings will survive the move. You may trust professionals more than yourself and your friends and family to safely pack your belongings. Furthermore, if you aren’t very experienced with regards to moving or physical labor, bodily safety could be a concern as well. Slip and fall accidents can occur if you’re not careful while moving. The last thing you want when trying to save money is a visit to the emergency room!
With that being said, you shouldn’t count yourself out. As overwhelming as packing and moving your home may seem, you can do it yourself. The key is being prepared and organized. Yes, it’s more work for yourself, but the ability to save money is quite motivating. You should simply take a thorough inventory of your belongings prior to moving, and approach it strategically. Only seek help from people you can trust to handle your items carefully — close friends and family. While moving on your own is always stressful, it’s much less so than you might think if you approach it calmly. Of course, a major pro that you should consider, aside from the opportunity to save money, is making sure that the job is done to your standards and your belongings are safe. You can handle your more delicate belongings on your own, packing them the way you feel good about. Paying professional movers involves a great amount of trust. Professional movers can always steal from their clients — and it can be very difficult to prove it when this happens. Finally, when it comes to the matter of safety, that is something that you can only control on your own as well. While you may be reluctant to put in the effort to move on your own nonetheless, you may want to see it as an opportunity to build muscle!
How To Be Strategic Regarding The Moving Process
There are a number of different strategies that you can take when moving, in order to save money. If you can control when you move, you should aim to move during what is sometimes referred to as the off season for movers. This would mean moving between October and April. Yes, this would mean moving during the winter, when the weather is much cooler and sometimes harder to move within. But the fact is that professional moving companies are aware of this as well. They know that more people will attempt to move during the warmer months, which is why they’ll charge higher prices for moving services — whether you want to lease 53 foot trailers or work with a moving company throughout the process. The fact is that if you ultimately decide to work with a professional moving company rather than move by yourself, you can still save as much money as possible by moving during the off season.
You should also consider selling, or donating or in some cases throwing away the belongings that you don’t want anymore. That way, you’ll have to spend less money on moving in general, and less time as well. Why take belongings that you don’t want or need with you to your new home? For that matter, you may very well be able to make money that you need to help the moving process, through the sale of your old items. Keep in mind that even if you end up moving on your own, you’ll probably need to rent a moving truck. Most rentals are done by the day, which is why you’ll want to move as few items as possible in order to spend as little time as possible on the moving experience.
It may be tempting to hire the neighborhood kids to help you, for a minimal fee. However, this is advised against. Not only will you likely end up spending more time on the moving process than you might want — amateurs aren’t known for being hasty — but you’ll also risk the safety of your belongings. If you have to worry about what professional movers might do, think of what non-professionals might do in the same situation.
What To Do Before Moving Day Arrives
Once you’ve decided whether or not you’re going to work with professional movers, you need to move forward and craft a strategy for the day. As previously mentioned, you should take an inventory of everything you own. Of course, you’ll also need to go ahead and start gathering the packing supplies that you’ll need. While you’ll have to buy some of those supplies — like tape — at the store, many of these things can be attained for free, or for very little. For example, you can gather up newspapers that you have received from over the years, and ask for the extra newspapers that your neighbors have received. You may be able to go to the local grocery store and ask for additional boxes — many will give them freely. The fact is that there are many things that you may need to spend money on while moving — but you don’t have to spend much on packing supplies. Even old blankets that you don’t wish to use anymore can be used to pack up old belongings. Once you have the supplies you need, you should make sure that your packed belongings are carefully organized and labeled.
Another issue that you may want to consider is whether or not you’re going to rent out a moving container, versus a typical moving truck. A moving container can be parked in your driveway, then loaded up, after which the container will be moved by the company you may call. The moving container would then be unloaded by you, and moved by the container company once you’re done with it. This means that you don’t have to worry about moving a truck yourself. It can be difficult to drive a moving truck, compared to other types of vehicles — and you may not want to have to worry about things like towing safety and caring for the vehicles. If you do decide to rent a moving truck and use it yourself, it may be a less expensive option than working with a moving container company, and it’s certainly less expensive than working with professional movers. Ultimately, before choosing to rent out a moving truck, you need to be honest with yourself about whether or not you’re up to the task. It may be more intimidating than you might think.
While it’s far from impossible to save money while moving, you do need to be strategic. It’s important to view the moving process, not as this incredibly stressful or traumatic experience, but a part of life. Yes, there may be emotional aspects to it — it’s always emotional to leave one place and move into another, even if you’re not moving far away. But it’s a good idea to simply focus on stepping forward and worry about the more emotional aspects of the moving process after the fact.
Have a budget in mind before you move, just as a company would if they offered you a relocation package. Keep in mind that you cannot spend any more than that on moving. In fact, you may even want to focus on all of the things you can buy for your new home with that extra money. With a little bit of ingenuity, some elbow grease, and a good deal of planning, it’s more than possible to save money while moving!
Caroline is a freelance content creator and creative writer.
VCUArts alum with a focus on the arts, travel, and culture.