8 Tips to Help You Save Money When Moving

UPDATED: July 5, 2023
PUBLISHED: July 3, 2023
couple is moving themselves to save money

Moving is stressful and can take a lot of time and energy. Packing up your belongings, organizing everything, figuring out how to save money and finding the best moving company to help you get from point A to point B can drive you crazy if you aren’t mentally prepared to handle it. 

Moving can also be expensive, especially if you hire movers to do some of the work. Whether you’re moving across town or to a new state, deciding how to move your belongings and how much to spend can be almost as important as where you move to. To make the process easier, use some of these tips to save some cash when moving and, hopefully, some sanity. 

Estimate how much your move will cost.

HomeAdvisor says a local move with two professional movers and a truck can cost between $913 and $2,528. An out-of-state move can go even higher, ranging from $2,600 to $6,900, depending on the distance and the weight of your boxes.

If you have additional needs, like moving specialty or high-value items requiring additional insurance, or want someone to take care of the packing, you’ll likely pay even more. 

Although moving expenses can add up quickly, the total cost of your move will vary based on the amount you need to transport, the distance you’re going and if you use a moving company, among other factors.

Use an online calculator to help you estimate how much your move should cost. This enables you to set expectations about your budget and ensures any quotes from moving companies align with your calculations—potentially helping you save money when moving. 

As you develop your budget for moving costs, don’t forget to include things like:

  • Extra gas for your vehicle
  • Money for eating out when you arrive in your new place and don’t have the kitchen unpacked
  • Tips for the movers

Architectural Digest recommends a good tipping rule of thumb as $5 to $10 per mover per hour. That can come to about $20 to $40 per person for a four-hour move. Consider increasing your tip if you have heavy or precious items or receive exceptional service.

Use a system to save money when moving.

Most moving companies typically charge an hourly rate for local moves. Be organized with all of your boxes packed and ready to go when the moving crew shows up. It can help you reduce the total hours of moving help you need, which can help you save money. 

To make your life easier, develop a pre-move strategy a month or two ahead of the actual moving day. Make a little progress daily between now and your move so you aren’t frantically packing at the last minute.

A good system can also make unpacking easier. It can be especially useful if you’re moving across the country with several days or weeks between packing and unpacking. 

Along with labeling boxes with the contents, consider adding a colored sticker, using colored tape, or having a quick-reference system to help you and your movers easily identify where things belong. 

For example, use a red dot for everything kitchen-related, blue for the primary bedroom and green for your kid’s room. It’ll make it easier for items to wind up in the correct spot and help you save money by moving the process along faster.

Spend time decluttering.

Cleaning and decluttering your space before moving can help you save money on overall expenses. Each extra item you move costs you time and money, especially if it’s not something you need or want. 

A month or two before the move, go through each room in your home and create a pile of items you no longer need. Sell or donate furniture you no longer want or won’t fit in your new place. Measure the doorframes in your new home, so you know whether your couch or other bulky items will fit. 

To help offset moving costs, host a garage sale, sell items on consignment, or list them on an online marketplace. While there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to make back your entire moving expense, any little bit can help your budget.

If you can’t sell everything you no longer want, post items in your local buy-nothing group on Facebook or donate to a thrift store or charity before moving day. It will decrease the amount of stuff hanging around at your old place. 

Reuse packing materials to save money when moving.

Buying moving boxes, bubble wrap and packing materials can add up quickly. Instead, try using household items you already have.

Ask local stores if they will set aside boxes when they receive new merchandise. If you’re taking appliances with you, see if an appliance or big box store will save the right size box. If a friend or family member recently moved, ask them to hold on to their boxes for you. 

You can often find used moving boxes on Craigslist, and if you frequently receive packages, keep useful boxes and packing material to reuse and then recycle those items when you arrive at your new home.

Use bath towels and bedding to wrap large items, and socks and kitchen towels are great ways to protect glassware and plates. T-shirts and sweaters are great cushions to add to boxes, saving you the trouble of packing them in a separate container. 

Try to move during the off-season.

Most people move between mid-May and mid-September when the weather is generally more reliable. Because this is peak moving season, you’ll likely find higher prices and less availability from moving companies. 

While you can’t always dictate when you need to move, if possible, moving during the off-season of late fall to early spring can help you save money and increase the likelihood of finding a company to help you.

Cancel your utilities ahead of time.

Coordinating stopping service at an old house and starting it somewhere new can be tricky. You want to ensure you have internet access when needed, especially if you work from home but don’t want to pay for utilities simultaneously at two places. 

Consider canceling your current service the day you move out of your old place and starting a new service in your new home. Many internet and cable providers offer specials or deals to new customers that can lead to more value for the same amount of money or lower prices overall. Just be aware that your new customer deal will likely end, and prices will go up. Be prepared to negotiate and shop around when that happens. 

Get multiple quotes to save money when moving.

Before you hire a moving company, research the movers in your area and read customer reviews. As you gather quotes, make sure you’re comparing the same number of movers and length of time, the same size (or similar) trucks and if there are any added benefits like higher insurance amounts or if moving blankets and wraps are included in the price. 

Be sure to note their overtime rates or if they have time minimums that you don’t want to go over. 

While you might be tempted to save money when moving by picking the company with the lowest bid, don’t automatically choose it. Make sure you read what’s included along with customer reviews and find out what makes them different. It’s especially important to do so if the company’s quote is drastically lower than the other quotes you receive.

You might save money upfront. But if the company cancels at the last minute, damages your possessions or is generally a pain to work with, you may spend more in the long run to correct any issues. 

Consider a DIY move to save money.

Asking friends and family for help isn’t an option for everyone, especially if you’re moving out of state. However, it can be one of the best ways to save money when moving locally. 

You’ll likely have to front the cost of pizza, beer, and a truck rental or gas money for a friend’s truck. But in general, your costs are still likely much lower than using a moving company. 

Remember: When you ask your friends and family for help, any damage done by accidentally dropping a box (or your TV) is on you. Plus, you’ll likely be asked to return the favor one day.

Bottom line

Moving is stressful, no matter how you choose to approach it. To help you reduce the frustration and the bill as much as possible, develop a plan in advance, eliminate what you no longer want to keep, and compare quotes from multiple moving companies to help you save money when moving. 

Photo by Drazen Zigic/Shutterstock