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Moving Cheap: How To Move On A Tight Budget

Last updated 03/21/2024 by

Brenda Harjala
Moving house is an exciting prospect. But if you’re on a budget or simply want to keep your costs low, planning an inexpensive move can be challenging. The truth is that relocating is often one of the biggest financial hits many people ever have to take. However, by being savvy with your relocation plans, you can keep expenses down. We’ve compiled a list of a few cheap ways to move that can help you move house without breaking the bank.

How to move on a tight budget

  • Sell stuff you don’t need.
  • Try to get free moving supplies.
  • Compare the cost of moving trucks.
  • Get quotes from several moving truck companies.
  • Consider an affordable moving container.
  • Hire affordable loading and unloading labor.
  • Move during off-peak seasons.

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Sell stuff you don’t need

Your first step when planning to move should be to get rid of things you don’t use anymore. Decluttering reduces moving expenses, as it allows you to rent a smaller rental truck and hire fewer professional movers. It also saves you time; you don’t have to do too much loading and unloading.
Another surprising perk of removing clutter is that it offers you an opportunity to receive tax deductions. Donating your belongings can help you save extra bucks when tax season comes knocking. You only need to keep the receipts from the non-profits you’re contributing to. On the receipts, note down the items you’ve gifted the organization, giving an estimate of their cash values.
When relocating, however, you may barely have any time to spare. In such a case, you can take pictures of your donated belongings to keep track of everything you’ve given away.
Sometimes, though, keeping your belongings may be the better option. For instance, if you’re moving from a studio apartment to a spacious three-bedroom flat, getting rid of your valuables may not be the best idea.
That said, here are a few platforms you can use to get some quick bucks for your expendable items:

ThredUp – Best for selling clothing

thredUp is an online thrift store that allows you to downsize your overflowing wardrobe. It offers you an opportunity to sell clothes you’ve outgrown or no longer need. The process is simple: you order a kit from the store, pack your dispensable garments in it, and ship it back to thredUp.
The store displays accepted pieces on their site and put them up for sale. You receive a percentage of the amount your clothes sell at, with more expensive items attracting higher rates.
The best part is that thredUp sells the clothes it turns down to textile recyclers, meaning you don’t get any clothes back to overload your closet. Once you send your packed kit to the store, you can start expecting some consignment earnings.

Gazelle – Best for selling electronics

If your home is overstuffed with dispensable electronics, you can make a bundle by selling them to Gazelle. Gazelle is a marketplace that purchases pre-owned gadgets such as TVs, desktops, and laptops and sells them to other consumers.
Using the platform offers you an opportunity to dispense some unused gadgets and boost your moving budget with some extra bucks. If you’re looking for the cheapest way to move, consider Gazelle for selling your electronics.

OfferUp – Best for selling furniture

Keeping furniture that no longer serves, you can add unnecessary costs to your budget when relocating, especially since they’re probably the heaviest of your possessions. You can use an app like OfferUp to get a good offer on them.
You only have to post a picture of your item and write a short description, offering insight into its current condition. Come up with a reasonable price and wait for offers from other users. Luckily, every OfferUp buyer has an individual rating, so you can easily ignore dodgy buyers.

Your garage – Best for physical sales

Even though organizing garage sales may be less convenient than the methods mentioned above, it may be the most gratifying. Seeing your cherished valuables get new owners can be an oddly satisfying experience. While you’re sad to lose them, you’re also proud they’re moving to more worthy owners. And there’s also the added perk of extra money in your pocket.
You can use local Facebook groups for advertising your garage sale. Make sure your posts have enough pictures to attract sellers. Post only in relevant groups; you can’t sell a lawnmower in a Facebook group for teenagers.

Goodwill – Best for donations

Goodwill is a non-profit organization that accepts donated items and auctions them on its site. It has over 3,000 stores in the country, and you can deliver your items to any of these stores closest to you. You can also provide your location so that Goodwill representatives can pick up your donations.

Try to get free moving supplies

After decluttering, your next step should be to look for moving supplies at cut-price deals. You’d be surprised by the number of moving boxes you can get for free if you look in the right places. Purchasing boxes – especially if you’re moving loads of items – can quickly jeopardize your budget. By getting used boxes, you’re not only maximizing your budget but also helping the environment.
Here are a few places you can get cheap and free boxes:

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook is a treasure trove of free moving supplies. Often, people try to dispose of moving supplies, as they may hardly ever use them again, and they may be consuming valuable house space. Facebook Marketplace offers them an opportunity to give the supplies to their local neighbors.
You can do a quick search such as “free moving materials,” and you will discover several options. A benefit of the platform is that you can view another person’s profile. Craigslist, for instance, doesn’t have such a feature, meaning you can’t know if you’re dealing with a donor with ill intentions.


Nextdoor is an app that connects people to other nearby residents. The app features a board where you can view local services, yard sales, area news, crime reports, etc. Here, you’ll often find neighbors offering all kinds of free stuff. People who have just moved into the neighborhood, for instance, may be happy to give away their moving boxes.

Liquor stores

After restocking, liquor stores normally have boatloads of boxes that they do not have any use for. In fact, these boxes can sometimes be a nuisance. You can save the store managers the hassle of throwing the boxes away by using them.


Freecycle is a non-profit organization that aims to reduce pollution by reusing items. You can download their app and join a local community for free. You can then ask the members if they have any boxes they’re willing to dispose of; you’ll likely get a couple of responses.
The problem is that the organization is not always easily accessible, but if you live in an area with several Freecycle enthusiasts, you can score lots of free moving supplies.

Get quotes from several moving truck companies

One of the cheapest ways to move is renting a moving truck. While you will not get the same convenience that comes with hiring a professional moving company, you will significantly cut down on expenses.
You should consider several factors before you rent a moving truck. Consider things such as the number of appliances and size of furniture to save you money on moving day. Make sure to get an accurate estimate of the space your items will take up before looking for a rental truck. To be on the safe side, add an extra 10% more space to your estimate.
Here are some extra tips that can help you cut costs when hiring a renting truck:
  • Refill the truck’s tank before returning it to the moving company. Most companies charge expensive fuel rates if you return a truck on an empty tank.
  • When requesting a rental truck, try to negotiate for better pricing. You will sometimes find the moving service is running a limited offer.
  • Don’t just account for the fuel cost; make sure you have added all possible expenses like storage and hotel costs. As we’ll see later, these costs can quickly add up, and renting a moving truck can become more expensive than getting a container.
It’s smart to get several quotes when shopping for a moving truck. Some companies may lower their rates if you provide them with a cheaper quote from a competitor. Here are some companies to consider when comparing rates and terms.

Budget Truck Rental

This company is a great moving option for people on a tight budget because it provides a low upfront price and boatloads of discounts. It allows military personnel, students, and Motor Club members to rent their trucks at cut-price deals. Local moves with Budget trucks typically average a total cost of about $80 – a far cry from the $150 average price offered by other moving companies.

Penske Truck Rental

We recommend Penske trucks for one-way moves. At an average of about $1,750, the moving company offers one of the most affordable moving options for long-distance moves.
One common factor normally overlooked when renting a truck is fueling. Most people fail to take into account fueling costs. For long-distance moving, these gas expenses can quickly skyrocket and jeopardize your budget.
Luckily, different companies provide different gas rates. Penski is possibly the cheapest way to move and can save you about $60 more in gas expenses. To top it off, it provides unlimited miles on interstate moves for US residents. And if you’re either a student, an AAA member or a new customer, you can get an additional discount.


It’s easy to forget about insurance when you’re in the middle of a stressful long-distance move across the country. Insurance cover is a crucial element when relocating, especially when you consider you’re driving a rental truck worth almost $45,000 for thousands of miles.
You can purchase a policy that compensates you if you are ever dealt a bad hand when relocating. It can cover anything from minor inconveniences such as flat tires to severe incidents like accidents.
U-Haul beats other companies for insurance rates, offering about $50 lower costs than others. It provides its services to over 20,000 different locations, so you can rent a U-Haul moving truck with ease regardless of where you are.

Consider an affordable moving container

Renting a moving container is probably the cheapest way to move for long-distance relocations. They keep everything you own in one place, with the peace of mind knowing your belongings are safe.
The best part about using storage units is that you’re free to keep them for as much time as you need. You can load and unload at your own pace, and you don’t have to hurry unnecessarily to get things in order. Consequently, you won’t lose or break your valuables in a rush to cut costs.
So what makes them a better way to move than rental trucks? Generally, driving trucks can be a chore, especially in bad weather. Containers eliminate the stress of paying for vehicle fuel, navigating heavy traffic in a clunky truck, and shelling out bucks for insurance.
To save even more money, you can rent a lower-quality moving container. Moving containers feature different designs, and this reflects on the pricing. Wooden PODs, for instance, are often more affordable than steel ones. Consider, though, that they’re more likely to wear out quickly. In harsh weather conditions, they may not be the cheapest option for you.
The downside to using moving containers is that it can cost you an arm and a leg when you’re moving only a short distance. If you’re traveling for less than 150 miles, hiring a rental truck will probably be the cheapest way to move.
To move using a pod, you first have to make sure you’ve given an address where you want the container to be dropped off. You’ll pack all your things on your own. After loading, the moving company representatives will return to pick up the container. At this stage, you can choose either of these two moving options: the company should store your stuff until you’re ready to move, or your things will be transferred to your new location.

U-Pack ReloCubes

You probably have lots of things on your plate when relocating to a new residence. Forking out deposit money for a moving container can inconvenience you and ruin your budget. U-Pack is one of the few moving companies that don’t require any upfront deposits from customers.
These containers are also reasonably affordable for long-distance moving across the country, charging an average of about $2,390. The low cost makes it a great way to move, especially if you’re strapped for cash.

Go Mini’s

Go Mini’s offers an option for short-term rentals. If you’re looking to only use a moving container for a few days and save money on storage, consider these moving containers that offer a week-to-week option. They also provide affordable pricing for short-distance moves, charging an average of $550.

U-Haul’s U-Boxes

U-Haul is mostly popular for offering low rental truck prices, but it also offers good value for money for pods. Charging an average cost of $2,850 for a long-distance move, it’s one of the most affordable rental companies. Its containers are designed from plywood, explaining why this moving option has a relatively affordable price tag.

Hire affordable loading and unloading labor

Loading and unloading all your belongings can be a daunting task, and you may need to get some help to reduce this workload. Hiring full-service movers can offer you some much-needed relaxation. But this luxury often attracts a very high price tag. A more affordable way to move may be to hire some extra hands to do the loading and unloading for you. Not only does it cost much less, but it also gives you more control.
Here a few options to consider to save money on moving labor:


HireAHelper is a platform that lets you enlist the services of movers and pay them hourly. If you’re not looking for all the bells and whistles that come with a professional moving company and just want a few helping hands, then this option will suit you best.

College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving

College HUNKS works similarly to HireAHelper. You hire a team to do the heavy lifting for you, and you pay them for every hour they’re assisting you. They start charging you only after they arrive at your residence and start working.

Ask friends and family to help

If you’re not looking to spend a penny on full-service labor, then a good option is to request help from your friends and family. Arguably the cheapest way to move, this alternative lets you decide when and how you want to move, giving you complete control over the relocation process, unlike with movers.
The DIY option’s perks are clear, but so are its downfalls. Note that you absorb all losses if your friends damage any of your valuables. If someone sustains serious injuries when carrying heavy objects, you pay for all their medical expenses. If you’re not careful, a DIY move can take a toll on your finances, even though it’s probably the cheapest option.

Move during off-peak seasons

Surprisingly, moving also has its peak and off-peak seasons. Relocating during the peak season (from April to September) can lead to you spending big bucks, especially for long-distance moves across the country. It’s the time almost everyone is moving; in fact, nearly 80% of relocations happen during this time. So, it only makes sense that costs skyrocket, as there’s more demand for full-service movers, rental trucks, and portable storage.
The winter is the perfect time to get the best cut-price deal for moving services. Moving companies can offer you a discount as high as 30% of the total cost. Demand is typically at its lowest, and most full-service movers receive very few orders. This season provides you with a perfect opportunity to find the best rates before hiring movers.
Another benefit of choosing the winter season is that physical work is much less taxing. When temperatures are high, lifting heavy objects can become too tiring, and relocation can consume a lot of time.
As winter arrives, so do apartment vacancies. It’s during this season that landlords are scrambling to fill their vacant apartments. This provides a chance to negotiate for both lower relocation costs and your overall rent.
Peak seasons aren’t restricted to months only; certain days of the week can present perfect opportunities to relocate. Weekends and holidays are often the busiest days for movers, given that most people are out of work and kids are out of school.
So, if you want your relocation process to be as cost-effective as possible, then you’re better off choosing a suitable weekday. Relocating on a weekday also offers you enough time to unload and organize your belongings; you get an entire weekend to get things in order in your new home.


Moving is already tough enough without the added sting of high costs. You don’t need to break the bank to move to a new home. By following the tips we’ve mentioned above, you can relocate successfully without having to fork out all your hard-earned money.

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Brenda Harjala

Brenda Harjala is a personal finance writer at SuperMoney. She specializes in personal finance topics such as budgeting and money management. Brenda has a B.A. in Scientific and Technical Communication from Michigan Technical University.

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