Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to save on... moving

We moved several times in the last few years.  Moving can be incredibly expensive and often coincides with a period of no income if you're moving to switch jobs. So we've found that it can be really worth it to put some extra effort in and try to move on the cheap.  Here are some of the ways we've saved:
  •  DIY - The first, and biggest, way to save some money is to roll up your sleeves and do the work yourself.  This is an obvious way to save some cash and many people do it.  I've never hired professional movers so I'm always shocked at the cost.  However, even if you do hire movers there are other areas to save in, you can pack all of your own boxes, for example.
  • Get rid of stuff - The less you have to move the better.  It'll cost less and it will be significantly less hassle.  Consider the cost of moving the item versus replacing it when you get to your final destination.  Particularly consider selling furniture since it's the bulkiest type of item you own, most expensive to move and can usually be sold used easily through Craigslist or other means.  Books are another good candidate for the "it's not coming with us" pile since they're heavy, often not regularly used, and usually available from the library wherever you're going.  Plus if you can bear to part with a lot of your junk then your new place will be easier to clean, less cluttered and will feel more spacious.  Do you really need it?  Do you actually use it?  By getting rid of stuff you'll save on:
    • Boxes
    • Packing materials
    • Gas
    • Time spent packing it, moving it (including repeatedly lifting), unpacking it, organizing it and cleaning it
    • Backaches
    • .... and more
  • Ask friends or family for help - Pizza, beer, and plentiful thank yous are a lot cheaper than hiring professional movers.  Just make sure you're willing to return the favor.  Fair is fair after all.
  • Plan ahead - Don't wait until the last minute to start packing, asking friends to help, or looking for boxes.  It will be a lot more stressful and you'll have less success.  Start planning your move gradually as soon as you know about it.  Scope out what you might be able to get rid of before you pack over a month in advance (if you're like us and can't be decisive about it) and it will give you the opportunity to sell or donate the item or call bulk trash instead of sneaking it into the dumpster or abandoning it on the curb.  We start packing about two weeks in advance and fill boxes as we get them.  You'll also need advance notice to reserve a spot on busy family or friends' schedules if you want help.
  • Find free boxes and packing materials - Many stores will let you take their no longer needed boxes.  Liquor stores and copy shops are particularly good for this since their boxes are designed to hold heavy loads.  Newspaper, used copy paper, crumpled paper bags from the grocery store all make great packing material.  You may also be able to salvage boxes and paper for moving from your office if it hasn't gone paperless.  Ours seems to always have a few copy paper boxes around.  If you start a couple weeks early you may be able to snag enough to make a dent in what you need.
  • Wrap with what you have - Why get something additional to fill boxes or protect fragile objects when you have plenty of stuff already that needs to go into a box anyway? In our last few moves we've packed all of our dishes in out of season clothes to keep them from breaking.  If you're still worried about them breaking and getting glass in your clothes you can wrap them in a plastic grocery bag before further protecting them.The down side is that you'll end up with a box that's half clothes, half dishes so you'll need to unpack the dishes in the kitchen then take the clothes to the bedroom, but we haven't found it to be a big obstacle. 
  • Grocery shop appropriately - A lot of money can go into eating out when you're in the middle of a move (I know from experience).  You can trim this often forgotten cost by intelligently grocery shopping and prepping beforehand.  Plus, having easy, healthy food on hand can help everyone avoid the grumps.  Before our last move we whipped up an extra large batch of hummus and some quesadillas along with baby carrots, crackers, and plenty of apples to get us through a long day of moving.  Other options might include sandwiches, home made trail mix, bananas, or other finger foods.  If you have a cooler, think about using it (and packing it somewhere accessible).
Have you moved recently?  Do you have any sure-fire tips for making the process smoother or cheaper?

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    1. We moved into our house in 2007 and did it ourselves. With all the furniture we've purchased since I'm not sure that I could reasonably expect a DIY situation. We bought new bedroom furniture for ourselves which is really heavy. We have two kids rooms. We bought new family, living, and play room furniture, all with two couches each. We have a very high couch : people ratio in our house. My plan is to never, ever move :)

    2. When we were younger, we'd DIY or get friends to help, or get rid of all or stuff! However, now that we're older and we have furniture we love (and not just crates ;)) we pack ourselves and hire movers. We just can't schelp it ourselves anymore. ;)

    3. We've moved so many times in our leaves, that this last house has been our longest-staying abode at eleven years. We don't plant to move again for at least until the kids go away to college.

    4. Great tips! We used most of them with our apartment moves, but we bit the bullet and hired movers to get the big boxes and furniture into our house. My in-laws had my husband a little later in life and we didn't want to accept their help and end up being the cause of a slipped disc...