5 smart ways to save money on expensive moving costs

5 ways to make your move cheaper and easier

Don’t fall into a money pit on the way to your next apartment.

Maybe there’s someone out there who just loves moving season. A maze of cardboard and packing tape, a massive project standing between them and their new home, runaway moving costs for collecting and lugging piles of unwanted things.

But I haven’t met that person.

More often, moving is a stress-filled and wallet-draining ordeal. But it doesn’t have to be. To get some smart tips on saving your bank account and your sanity while relocating, I talked to a young marketing professional from Chicago named Angelina. She and her roommate recently moved from a fourth-floor walkup in Logan Square to a more spacious townhouse. As Angelina told me, shrewd decisions throughout the process can save money, time, and stress. Here are her top five moving money hacks:

1. Get financially ready to move.

“I wish I’d spoken to my roommate early on to make sure we were on the same page financially. When we were applying for our new apartment, our credit check went fine, but the owner was adamant about seeing additional funds in case we lost our jobs. Fortunately, I have a six-month emergency fund, which was enough to qualify both of us. But my roommate doesn’t have savings.

“So we had to have a stressful, difficult conversation about how he needed to get on that because next time he might not have a roommate who can help him out. The good news is he’s now working on building his savings and his 401(k).”

2. Make some lists.

“The first thing I did was make lists of what I had to do with everything I owned. I knew I wanted to purge some stuff because I didn’t want to pay to move unwanted things, and some things just didn’t spark joy.

“In my phone’s notes app, I made three lists: What to Donate, What to Sell, and What to Pack. The lists steered me in the right direction and gave me an idea of how much I was actually going to be moving. And it was a good way to set a realistic moving budget.”

3. Use your stuff to cut moving expenses.

“I mailed two bags of my best unwanted clothing to Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads Trading, making about $50 from each. I donated other usable clothing to a housing charity, and the rest a local clothing scrap drop-off, making sure to fill out the tax-deductible receipts.

“I also sold a few items—some furniture and kitchen stuff—to the person taking over my room at the old place. So I didn’t have to pay to move this extra stuff, and I got some money back for it.”

4. Determine how much muscle you need.

“My roommate thought we’d move with help from a couple of friends and a truck rental. I was like, ‘No way.’ Ultimately, I won that discussion and started to look for moving companies. The quotes ranged from $1,000 to $1,500. They all said the fourth-floor walk-up was really costing us. Some said moving at the end of the month is more expensive, and we could save if we had a flexible move date. But the landlord wanted us to move on this specific Thursday.

“I told a bunch of friends about these crazy moving prices. One of them said, “Why don’t you just get a TaskRabbit?” They’re priced by the hour, and TaskRabbit has insurance to cover the movers. Plus, I could read individual reviews of the actual people doing to the move. I picked two and we rented a U-Haul—$68 for half day. We spent $168 per mover, including tip and a TaskRabbit fee of about 7%. The whole move took two and a half hours and cost less than $500.”

5. Unforeseen costs? Check your mail.

“Despite all my planning, I underestimated the number of household things we had to get for the new house. I even had to make a fourth list: What to Buy. Mostly little things: a toilet brush, a shower drain cover, sponges, coat hooks. They’re nominal costs but they add up really quickly. What’s cool is I got a moving packet with tons of coupons because of my change of address with USPS—including one from Bed, Bath & Beyond. It’s not like I’m an extreme couponer, but this saved me a lot in terms of moving costs.”

(Quotes have been edited for style and length.)

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