8 Ways to Save Money When Moving
Moving is usually more expensive than you’d like, but there are some crafty lifehacks to keep costs down.
Apartment living has its pros and cons. On one hand, renting gives you a lot of freedom to find jobs in different places and seek out promotions. It's almost inevitable to move around a lot when you’re early in your career.
Moving happens in many different phases of life, but I’ve managed to flounder my way through a terrifying tally of 8 apartments in the last 6 years. Let’s not get into the logistics of how all that unfolded, but I’ve moved so very many times now that I fancy myself rather experienced in this unpleasant, arduous affair.
Moving is hard because we inevitably spend a lot of time in our home territory. Packing up one home and trying to make a new space home just isn’t easy. Whether you’re a homebody or an adventurer, a home still needs to have some creature comforts.
On the subject of creatures, one of my favorite cartoonists, Nathan Pyle, loves to delve into social commentary. I love how he manages to make it hilarious while still ringing painfully true.
I found this one particularly hilarious because moving always reminds me about how I either need to get out more or how I need to stay home and spend more time with my cats. It’s quite a first0world problem conundrum.
Regardless, I always end up spending a little extra time at home when it’s time to pack and carry out the dreaded task of moving.
1. Pack all your fragile items with extra clothes, sheets, and towels.
Basically, anything fabric. Carefully divide up your clothing into what you need for the next few weeks and what you don’t. Use everything extra, all your out-of-season clothes, and all of your extra blankets and linens to protect your electronics and fragile items.
Sure, you could buy a huge roll of bubble wrap for this, but even a giant $30 or $40 roll of that stuff doesn’t go as far as you think it will. I’ve used clothes and blankets to pad my prizes possessions for my last several moves and I’m thrilled to report I’ve had nothing break.
2. Save all the packing supplies and bubble envelopes you get in the mail.
Here’s another cheap way to get “bubble wrap;” save all the envelopes you get in the mail and use them to line your moving boxes. This is a great way to create a little bit of cushion without spending anything.
If you don’t get a lot of mail but have some space to store things in a closet or under the bed, just save bubble envelopes all year around. They can be a little bit annoying to store, but it’s worth it for the savings you’ll reap long term. After all, even after you’ve moved, you can always reuse these envelopes when you’re sending things to friends or family.
3. Go to a local liquor store and ask if they’ll part with some of their extra boxes.
This is a bit awkward if you’re an introvert like me. However, here’s the thing; liquor stores transport heavy, fragile glass bottles. Their boxes are big, twice as thick as standard moving boxes, and best of all, they’re free.
If you’re brave enough to ask and the store employees seem friendly enough they’ll probably be totally willing to unload some of their boxes on you. You’re saving money and they’re getting rid of a bunch of junk they’d ultimately have to flatten and recycle anyway.
I’m quite the introvert, so making a usual request like this is extremely awkward for me. If it helps you feel better, I’d definitely recommend buying something at the store before you ask about boxes.
4. Collect empty boxes from work.
Do you work in an office that does a lot of ordering? Are you in the same building as the procurement department?
Back when I worked in IT, we were always getting shipments of toner, computers, new monitors, so on and so forth. I would collect the boxes that were large enough and whisk them away to my car. They made great moving boxes.
Sadly, since I now ride the subway and train every day when I'm in the office, I can’t take boxes from work anymore. Well, theoretically, I could, but then I’d end up being that person in a listicle about weird people you see on the NYC subway.
Yet if you have the means to transport boxes from work to home, this is another great principle of how one person’s trash is another’s treasure.
5. Throw a moving party to get your friends to help you load up the truck.
Renting a truck will always, always, always be cheaper than hiring movers.
I’ve moved by myself a terrifying six times and it’s always an extremely arduous experience, so I wouldn’t judge you at all if you hired movers. It’s expensive, but if you have a lot of heavy furniture, it might be worth the investment.
Nevertheless, if you have a modest amount of stuff and all your furniture is IKEA like mine is, you might be able to get away with doing things the affordable way and renting a truck. I learned this hack from one of my coworkers back in Baltimore and it’s incredibly brilliant.
Get everything in boxes, save a bottle or two of alcohol and some beer, and throw a moving party. Order a few pizzas or another affordable, fun party food. Invite your friends over to help carry some boxes and have a fun party in the empty apartment afterward!
If you have five or six friends, the labor will be spread apart so much that no one will be breaking their back or ending up exhausted. Plus, any mess generated by this little party will be easy enough to clean up after since the place is empty.
6. If you’re hiring a mover, take a day off in the middle of the week.
If you are paying for a mover, it’s worth it to take a day off and move on a weekday. Call a wide variety of moving companies; there are lots of companies with excellent ratings but very different price ranges.
When you’re making these calls, ask if the day of the week makes a difference. Since there are so many people out there who don’t have flexible jobs or don’t have enough vacation time to burn a day, weekends are often more expensive. If you can spare the PTO, move on a weekday.
7. When it’s all said and done… save your boxes.
Nothing is permanent. Make yourself comfortable in your new space, but remember that the future is never set in stone. If you think there’s even a small possibility that you’re going to be moving again in the next year or two, save all those boxes.
Remove the packing tape carefully, fold them flat, and find a place to hide them. It can be hard in a small apartment. However, you can sneak them in next to the fridge, in the back of a closet, under the bed, or next to a washing machine should one be present in your delightful new people box (or apartment, if you must call it the usual name).
If there’s not enough space, you can always try and see if any friends or family members you’re very close to might be able to spare a little space in an attic or basement for some flattened boxes.
8. Be strategic with when you move.
Timing doesn't always work out perfectly and leases are notoriously stringent, but if you can manage it, be strategic with when you move. In most areas, peak season for moving tends to be May through September. Do research on your area, see if this might vary, and try to avoid this time if possible.
It's common for apartments to do fewer promotions or even charge higher prices during busy seasons.