Chances are, you have at least one move in your future. Here’s how to save money and make it as smooth as you can.
Years ago, my dad was fond of telling this young college grad – “Every time you move, it will cost you.” He was right then. And, I think it’s still true today. Yet with a little planning, you can shave moving costs and smooth out your hassle factor too.
Yes, moving is a pain, no doubt about it. It’s not just the actual packing, but the nitty gritty of finding help to move, getting boxes, cleaning, installing new services…and all the paperwork that goes with it.
Where to begin??
Timing is everything. When you start the moving process early enough, it’s easier to nail the details and not spend as much.
It’s all about the details
Consider these six steps to have a better move…
- Make a plan – outline your move step-by-step. Use your calendar to nail down a timeline of exactly what needs to happen – and when. Not only mark your actual move-out/move-in dates, but list due dates for getting quotes, utilities shutoff, when deposits are needed, mail forwarding, bank account switches, insurance coverage start/stop.
- Do a moving budget – the unexpected is a shock. Buying boxes and cleaning supplies doesn’t seem that costly? What about new utility deposits, food, bubble wrap, extra charges to move that heavy cabinet or washer upstairs, drywall repair when your friend put a hole in the wall? Check below to see some ways you can downsize moving expenses. Use a moving calculator to estimate what professionals charge.
- Make a checklist – get organized for tasks. You know, being short of time is no fun. That happens when you’re disorganized. Having the boxes and moving supplies on-hand when you have some spare time to pack is key. Keeping a supply of trash bags and donation boxes is handy too. Use a checklist to track your tasks. When you leave an apartment building, getting your paperwork done and reserving the elevator ahead of time helps – a lot.
- Inventory – list, label, take photos. It helps to know what’s in each packed box and where you want it to go in your new place. Be sure to take photos in case the box goes missing.
- Simplify – before the move. Figure out what you really want to take and what you‘ll leave behind. If you’re lukewarm on keeping well-worn items or heavy furniture, books and boxes of stuff, decide what to sell/donate before moving it. Use NextDoor or Facebook neighborhood buy/sell groups, and ask buyers to pick up items.
- Research – evaluate your options. There are many ways to move your stuff – professional movers, renting a u-haul, port a storage pod, pack-and-ship or ship via Greyhound, DIY with friends – or a combination. Each option has a price tag and hassle factor. Get quotes from reputable companies, do background checks, and see if your new employer will reimburse any moving costs.
Moving costs you shouldn’t ignore
Moving costs can vary greatly. The average long-distance move (more than 1,225 miles) was about $4,300 in 2018, compared to roughly $2,300 for a local move of similar household stuff, according to the American Moving and Storage Association.
Try these 7 tips to avoid some moving costs:
- Time it! Move on a weekday, and definitely avoid busy times like Memorial Day weekend. Moves can cost less in mid-week, mid-month or in winter.
- Avoid buying new boxes. Buy used, find free, or borrow boxes instead of buying new ones. Or sell your boxes when the move is done. Try to find sturdy compartmentalized boxes (from liquor stores), boxes with handles (used for eggs or veggies), or boxes designed for heavy items (think book stores).
- Negotiate! Moving companies are competitive so get several estimates and compare like costs. Ask your top choice for a price match if a competitor is lower. If your dates are flexible, ask to fill a cancellation for a discount.
- Get prorated utilities. If you are leaving before getting a full month of utility use, ask for a prorated rate – or time your move so you do use the full month.
- Find discounts. Newcomers often get welcome discounts. Apply for a change of address early to get them.
- Pre-prep food. Stock some easy fixings for meals, so you don’t have to eat out too many times.
- Apps save time. The MagicPlan app will help you see if your stuff will fit in the new place. Make checklists with an app like Remember the Milk.
Other helpful resources for moving
• U.S. Postal Service address change forms
• State driver’s license info
• Find/sell used boxes or containers
• Find your new neighborhood
• Sell or give away household stuff on NextDoor