8 Ways to Save a Bundle on Moving

Are you among the 35 million Americans who will be moving this year? Well, brace yourself for the costs you will incur unless you are relocating on your employer’s dime — and even then moving is still a pain.

U.S. News & World Report says:

According to the American Moving & Storage Association, the average cost of an intrastate move is $1,170, and the average move between states costs $5,630. (Both numbers are based on an average weight of 7,100 pounds.) Worldwide ERC, an association for professionals who work with employee transfers, places the number even higher: It says the cost of the average move within the U.S. is $12,459.

Fortunately, there are ways to save on this arduous and expensive task. In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson offers a few tips to alleviate the costs of moving. Take a look, then keep on reading for more information.

1. Do your homework

If you plan to hire a moving company, it is essential that you do your homework to avoid problems later on.

Rick Gersten, CEO of Urban Igloo, told U.S. News:

People need to do their homework on the moving companies that they use. Where people tend to get hurt [is] they hear a low price going in, and then they find out it’s hourly, but they forget to look into the details of what that means. How many personnel are they bringing to move your belongings? One person or three?

For starters, pay a visit to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website to access pertinent documents, such as the “Moving Fraud Protection Checklist” and “Red Flags for Moving Fraud,” along with an array of other useful material to ensure your experience goes smoothly.

Once you have familiarized yourself with what to expect, get quotes from at least three reputable movers, and evaluate their offerings to choose the best option. Remember, the cheapest option is not always the best choice.

2. Pick the right time

If at all possible, try moving during periods with less demand, like mid-week or mid-month, or during the school year to get the best rates. Avoid moving during holidays, when higher rates may be charged.

If you must move during the peak summer season, start planning early before movers are fully booked. Moving companies also appreciate if you allow flexibility in the pickup and delivery dates, so they can get a moving van with available space to your location with the most efficiency.

Remember that moving when it’s very cold or beastly hot could damage some of your belongings in the truck.

3. Find free materials

The cost of moving supplies, including boxes, tape and bubble wrap, can add up quickly if you buy them from a moving company or the U-Haul store. Free is better.

Try your place of employment or websites like Craigslist or Freecycle for free boxes. Also, check with your local grocery, book or liquor store to snag unwanted boxes. Just make sure the boxes are durable or you could end up with broken goods.

If you know you’ll be moving, save all the bubble wrap that comes your way. Or skip the bubble wrap and use towels, shirts and crumpled newspaper to protect fragile items instead.

4. Pack it yourself

You can save a lot of money by packing your items yourself, rather than paying the movers for that chore. United Van Lines offers this advice for packing fragile items like china and glassware.

Be sure to select a sturdy container with a lid. Place a 2- or 3-inch layer of crushed paper on the bottom of the carton as a cushion. Wrap each item individually with a soft material to provide a safe, protective, “padded nest.” Pack the heaviest items on the bottom and the lighter ones next, filling in empty spaces with crushed paper. Place plates on edge and glassware on rims for maximum protection. Mark the carton “Fragile,” and list the contents on the outside. Be sure to seal the carton with tape.

5. Pack only the essentials

The more you move, the more you will pay, especially if you plan to hire movers. Long-distance movers charge based on pounds and distance covered.

Be ruthless as you evaluate your possessions. Do you really need to cart around all of those college textbooks you promised yourself you’d read again but haven’t opened? Donate them to the library at the local community college. Do you have boxes of old receipts and records that you could easily dispose of (after shredding) or digitize?

Do you have gently used clothing you haven’t worn in years or other items you no longer use? Donate them to a thrift store or sell them at a consignment shop. You may qualify for a tax deduction or make a little money.

Or, if you have enough stuff to get rid of, hold a moving sale.

6. Get accurate estimates

Moving companies will send a staffer to your home to give you a free estimate of what your move will cost. Make sure they see every room and storage area so their estimates can be as close to reality as possible.

The actual price you pay — unless you choose a binding estimate — will be based on the difference in the weight of the moving van before and after your belongings were loaded.

7. Pick the released value option

Long-distance movers will include at no additional cost what’s called released value protection, which reimburses you at a rate of up to 60 cents per pound for damaged or lost items. You will pay extra for protection that replaces, repairs or gives you the cash to repair or replace lost or damaged items.

Also check to see if your homeowners coverage covers any aspect of your move.

ProtectYourMove.gov says:

Do not sign a delivery receipt for your household goods if it contains any language about releasing or discharging your mover or its agents from liability. By law, you have nine months to file a written claim. Strike out this kind of language or refuse delivery until a proper receipt is provided.

8. Keep good records

You should keep good records in case you need to file a claim against the movers, or write off the expenses for a job-related move because they may be tax-deductible.

IRS Publication 521 states:

You can deduct your moving expenses if you meet all three of the following requirements: Your move is closely related to the start of work, you meet the distance test and you meet the time test.

Do-it-yourself

Want to save a nice chunk of change? Skip the moving companies and handle the task on your own. Ask friends to pitch in and be sure to feed them well to show your appreciation for their willingness to help.

To lighten the load, label all your boxes so they end up in the proper location in your new home, and stack them near exits so the room is easily accessible and minimal effort is needed.

But be aware of the hidden costs associated with do-it-yourself moving.

Watch out for the little things

Also, don’t forget about the little things that can catch you off guard.

  • Deposits that will be required at your new place of residence to lock in the lease (if applicable) and turn the utilities on.
  • Storage space if your moving dates are unexpectedly altered.
  • The purchase of household items that you didn’t bring along.

Do you have any additional tips? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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Comments & discussion

We welcome your opinions, but let’s keep it civil. Like many businesses, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. In our case, that means those who communicate by name-calling, racism, using words designed to hurt others or generally acting like an uninformed bully. Also, comments that include links to email addresses or commercial websites typically aren't posted. This isn't a place to advertise your business.

  • Carole Scandrol

    I can’t say it too often…ONLY take the stuff you KNOW you really want or need! We’ve moved 4 times, and every time we’ve moved things that either wouldn’t fit in the new house, excess furniture (just because you like it), clothes like winter coats when we moved to Texas, all my business suits when we were retired, decorative pictures that won’t have a spot in the new house. When you’ve gone through everything, go through it again. We’ve ALWAYS moved way too much stuff that we later either gave away or tossed.

  • ModernMode

    Beware telephone quotes. A friend was moving and got a telephone quote. The day of the move, the movers showed up and announced that every single item they moved had to be covered in a blanket and each blanket was an additional charge. To my friends credit, she kicked them out on the spot and got a new company.