7 Creative Ways to Save Money When Moving

Barbara Bellesi Zito
Updated January 6, 2022
A woman taking a coffee break while moving house
Photo: Kathrin Ziegler / DigitalVision / Getty Images

We can’t pack for you, but we can share some tips on how to save money when moving

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Nothing inspires more excitement and dread than moving. Packing everything you own into boxes is just the start of it, then you have to figure out how to get it all to your new place. Unless you own a packing supply company or have strong friends with endless amounts of time to help you haul all your stuff, you’re likely going to have to splash out some cash to make your move happen.

However, with a little know-how, you can seriously cut your moving costs. If leaving it all behind and buying everything new is not an option for you, here are some ways to avoid breaking the bank with your move.

1. Use Recycled Packing Materials 

It’s fine if you want to buy some specialty packing boxes or bubble wrap to secure fragile items and other valuables when moving. But don’t bust your budget on new packing materials for things like books or linens when there are likely plenty of boxes around that you can recycle. 

Ask friends, neighbors, and family to hold on to a box or two from their latest shipments, along with any packing paper. The same goes for old newspapers that you can use to wrap plates and other breakables. You’d be surprised how quickly you can stockpile boxes and packing material when you put the word out that you’re moving. 

2. Declutter Now, Not Later

Regardless of where you’re moving, you can save money by moving fewer things. The only way to do that is to get rid of what you don’t want or need now. It might be tempting to box up everything that’s in your garage or attic and sort it all out when you get to your new place, but that’s unnecessary time spent packing and wasted room in the moving truck. That’s why it makes sense to do all your decluttering now. 

When you figure out what’s not coming with you to your new place, donate or sell those items. You’ll thank yourself later when there are fewer boxes to unpack.

3. Rent a Packing Container

If you’ve got a longer timeframe to move, you might want to consider a packing container. Hiring professional movers locks you into an hours-long timeframe on a single day. With a packing container parked outside in your driveway or on the street, you can pack at a more leisurely pace. 

While a DIY move could save you money, don’t be too slow about it because packing container companies will charge you if you need to keep it longer than the time you agreed on.

4. Get Multiple Quotes From Moving Companies

Two contractor employees working
Photo: Svitlana / Adobe Stock

It’s tempting to book the first local moving company that has your moving date open just to get it off of your plate. Unless you are short on time, you should do some research before picking a moving service. 

Get referrals from friends or family members to find the best movers, then take some time to go over the various estimates. Be sure you hire the right movers for the job, especially if you’ve got specialty items or are moving a long distance. You should also ensure that the movers have the right types of insurance, especially if you are moving to or from an apartment building. 

Check with your building’s management team to see what insurance policies movers are required to hold—they might not be permitted to enter the building on moving day without them on file. 

5. Move During Off-Peak Times

Doing just about anything during off-peak times will save you money, and it certainly applies to moving. Peak season for moving is June through September when people take advantage of summer vacations and children being out of school to settle into a new place. If you can move any time between October and May, you’ll have better prices and availability. 

Of course, the sale of your current home or the end of your lease will likely dictate when you move, so this could be a moot point. However, if you have to move during peak season, try to book movers on a day in the middle of the week for the best prices and availability. 

6. Hold Off on a Major Food Shopping Trip

Yes, you still need to eat. But the last few days before a move is not the time to hit up any canned good sales or fill your freezer with ice cream unless you’re planning to eat it all before you leave (no judgment here). 

Instead, you’re going to want to order take-out or create a few final meals out of everything that’s still in your cabinets, pantry, and refrigerator. The only thing you really want to be packing up from your kitchen is your cookware and your appliances. Save money by planning your next grocery haul for when you’re in your new home. 

If you do have leftover, non-opened, non-perishable food, consider donating it to a local food pantry instead of wasting precious boxes on those boxes of cereal.

7. Start Early

A happy woman with spouse packing cardboard boxes
Photo: Portra / DigitalVision / Getty Images

To be fair, this advice applies to any major project you’re tackling, but it’s especially important to remember when you’re relocating. Starting early allows you more time to make thoughtful decisions, some of which might save you money, especially if you’re moving from an apartment to a house.

For example, you might come to realize that it will be easier and even less expensive to buy some new things for your home than it is to pack up what you have. This tip likely won’t apply to anything with sentimental value, of course, but you might be able to part with some furniture and other things now to lighten the load on moving day.

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