This article was written by Site Editor Brenda Harjala and staff writer Audrey Henderson. All photos (and a few more!) can be found on our Pinterest board Steps to a Cheaper Move.
Whether you’re moving across town or to the other side of the world, moving can be a stressful and costly proposition. There is no way to completely eliminate the expense and hassle of moving. But with (considerable!) forethought and a bit of patience and humility, you can get through the experience intact, and begin to enjoy your new home.
1. When’s moving day? Pick a date ASAP.
Just as summer is high season for vacations and weddings, the months of June, July and August generate the highest demand (and expenses!) for moving-related services. In college towns, May and September are also busy months. On the other hand, moving in the dead of winter can turn out to be more expensive than you planned if you pick the one day when a major winter storm hits your area for your move.
2. Check, Check, Checklist. You need a moving checklist.
Print one out from Pinterest, get one from your moving company, or craft your own. But you need a moving checklist!
3. Take Inventory of your Stuff.
Everything in every room, write it down on separate pages of a notebook. Planning to sell anything before moving? Still write it down, but cross it off once it’s gone.
4. Predict Expenses and Budget for your Move.
Did you get a moving allowance from your new employer? Are you using your savings? Build a budget, and account for surprises.
5. Compare moving companies. Consider rates and packages.
6. Hoard moving coupons.
We’re not talking grocery coupons here. We mean moving truck coupon codes, discounts from home improvement stores, and coupons for free add-ons (like extra boxes and packing supplies). Look for coupons in the change of address packages from the post office.
7. Reserve your moving truck in advance
8. Check gas costs. Gas in Moving Truck > Gas in Prius.
9. Moving Far? Hire Professional Movers.
If you’re gearing up for a long-distance move, hire professional movers to help you pack, load the truck, and move your stuff. It may be hard to believe, but it’s often cheaper than trying to do it yourself (all the while getting overwhelmed and behind schedule).
10. Moving Internationally? Trust the shipping company.
If you are moving overseas, attempting to save money by packing your own shipping container is a foolish endeavor. By doing so, you risk voiding much or all of the insurance coverage that the shipping company would otherwise provide for the contents of your container.
11. Always get moving insurance.
Nowadays, you can’t avoid paying for moving insurance. What if the truck is in an accident, or a mover drops something super-valuable? Without insurance, you’d be SOL.
12. Hire pet movers if you need them.
Long-distance trip? Moving with a zoo of animals? Hire a pet moving service. If it’s just you and the dog, save the money and have a road trip buddy.
13. Skip the self storage unit.
Sure, that first month might only cost a dollar. And yes, it might be nice to have some extra space for a little while. But you’d be surprised at how quickly that month goes by, and how fast that $1 becomes a new $100/month bill.
14. Panic and freak out now; you won’t have time to do it later.
15. Prune your possessions, sell stuff online.
EBay, Craigslist, Facebook garage sales. Small knickknacks and old electronics are nothing but clutter. Why take it with you?
16. Throw a huge garage sale for the big and heavy items.
Furniture, heaps of clothes, antiques… If it’s heavy, or difficult to move, you’ll save money (and make money) by letting someone take it off your hands.
17. Don’t forget church rummage sales (they’re everywhere)
If it didn’t sell in your garage sale, it might at a church rummage sale. Usually any leftover items are then donated to charity.
18. Look for consignment stores.
Donating is great and all, but money is always better.
19. The average wardrobe weighs 75lbs. Donate your clothes.
20. Donate toys, especially the old ones from the attic.
21. Save and track receipts from donations.
22. Clean your house or apartment now.
Now that all the excess is gone, do the heavy cleaning now. It’ll make cleaning up after moving day easy-peasy.
23. Buy Moving Supplies: Markers, tape, shrink wrap…
24. Go on a moving box hunt.
We hope you saved the box for your TV! Visit local stores and shops for clean boxes, and check Craigslist for free boxes and moving materials. If you’re really diligent, you won’t have to buy anything but extra tape.
25. Plan meals from your freezer and pantry.
When you only have a few weeks left before the move, only grocery shop for things you go through quickly like milk, bread, and fresh produce. Plan meals around the frozen foods and pantry items you already have so nothing goes to waste.
26. Start packing as soon as you have boxes and supplies.
Assemble boxes and color code them by room. Start filling boxes everyday, as often as you can. No need for fancy labels, colored duct tape will do just fine. And remember to take inventory of what each box contains.
27. Use suitcases, crates, and storage totes efficiently
Moving a suitcase full of heavy books is a lot easier than moving a box full of heavy books.
28. Skip the bubble wrap and peanuts, use socks and linens.
29. Pack valuables securely, but loosely.
Anything that’s especially fragile needs room to breathe. Don’t pack anything that you care about flush against something else you care about. Both items just might break.
30. Re-flat pack all of your IKEA furniture.
That huge entertainment center? That cheap dining set? If you can break it down, you’ll save both space and money.
31. Beg your friends to help you move–Bribe with pizza.
Not moving far, but still need help moving that body *cough* moving that couch (and inevitably everything else in your house)? Give a few friends a call, and offer a free meal in exchange.
32. Take regular breaks to regroup.
33. Save every single receipt!
If you’re moving for a job, you’ll want proof of every expense for next year’s taxes. Not moving for a job? Still keep the receipts–they will come in handy for your next move.
34. Fill out a change of address form two weeks before your move.
35. Update insurance policies with your new address.
Your new area may have lower rates on auto, renters, and other insurance.
36. End service with current utility companies.
Schedule end-of-service dates with your water, gas, and electric companies for your moving day.
37. Update individual companies and websites with your new address.
Late payments? Missed bills? Mis-delivered Amazon packages? Not in this house.
38. Disconnect Cable and Phone Services.
Keep it disconnected for a few months and reap the savings of cutting the cord.
39. Schedule new service with utility companies now.
What’s worst than paying for utilities for an empty apartment or house? Arriving at your new house and not being able to turn on the lights.
40. Do you need to clean your carpets?
Most rental agreements require you to pay for professional carpet cleaning upon lease signing. Don’t pay to clean your carpets if you already paid for it.
41. Get your security deposit back.
It might seem like a good idea to focus on packing, fill up the truck and drive away without cleaning up, but it’s not. Make sure you’re apartment is spotless, take pictures, do a walk-through, and get every cent of your deposit back. You’ll need it!
43. Settle all closing costs on your old home before moving.
No one wants to get to their new place only to have to hop on a plane back home to deal with paperwork.
44. Send moving announcements to friends and family.
Send emails or update friends in a private Facebook post with your new details. How else will they know where to send the housewarming gifts?
45. And Finally…
Brenda Harjala is a personal finance writer at SuperMoney. She specializes in personal finance topics such as budgeting, debt settlement and money management. Brenda has a B.A. in Scientific and Technical Communication from Michigan Technical University.