Save Money When You Move

man and woman sitting around moving boxes

Find out where it’s better to spend or save your money when you move into a new home.

Moving is considered one of life’s most stressful events. It doesn’t have to cost you your sanity—or an arm and a leg. Some things are worth a few extra bucks, but there are ways to save, too.

Packing Up

The American Moving & Storage Association recommends that you start thinking about your impending move eight weeks in advance. This will give you time to go through everything you own and determine what you’re bringing, giving away or selling. If you’re enlisting friends, give them plenty of notice so you can be sure you’ll have the help you need.

You can buy boxes, and you may need specialty boxes for items like guitars or fragile pieces. It’s less expensive to buy the right box than to replace an item. There are plenty of times any box will do, though—and you can often get them for free.

Ask friends if they have old packing or filing boxes to spare or share. Also check with local grocery stores, drugstores and liquor stores (divided liquor boxes are great for glassware and small items). They’ll often let you take what you need, but you may have to come at a certain day and time.

Bubble wrap is your best bet for especially delicate breakables, and it’s worth the price. Paper can go a long way, though, whether it’s newspaper, magazine pages or paper bags. Just remember that newsprint can rub off on items like dishes, so put paper towels between newspaper and light-colored items to prevent smudges.

Moving Your Stuff

Try to avoid moving during June, July and August. That’s peak season, which means peak prices. Plan and book as far ahead as possible, which might help you negotiate a discount. Get at least three in-home estimates from moving companies and make sure there’s a binding “not-to-exceed” amount on any contract you sign. You don’t want unpleasant surprises at the end of your move.

You can save a lot of money by doing all your own packing and just paying the movers to load, transport and unload your stuff. If you know a lot of helpful people, consider renting a truck and asking for volunteers to help you move. You should offer them food, beverages and some sort of gift or compensation, but it will still cost less than professional movers.

As you’re packing, label all boxes carefully. Use color-coding to assign different boxes to their respective rooms. Lay cardboard or a plastic sheet on the floor of the moving truck. Load heavier items, like appliances, first, and then load lighter items on top. Place bagged pillows or bedding in any gaps in-between. When you arrive at your new place, unpack the necessities first, like your bed, basic kitchen supplies, and comfortable clothing to wear as you unpack the rest.

Moving You

If you’re moving more than a day’s travel away, weigh the cost of doing your own driving against having your vehicles transported and flying to your destination. If overnight accommodations are necessary, plan ahead to avoid paying more for hotel rooms and meals than you expect.

Moving is stressful, though, so don’t go too bare-bones. A steady diet of fast food or reduced sleep won’t do you any good. Sit down to decent meals and choose comfortable hotels or motels. You’ll feel much better prepared to unpack once you get to your new home.

Are You Renting? If you’re moving from rental to rental, Nationwide renters insurance may give you peace of mind about your beloved belongings. Ask your agent about coverage that suits your situation.