Is anyone moving soon? I’m moving next month and it will be my 10th move in 7 years, so I feel ya. Big time. Moving can be super overwhelming and get expensive quickly if you aren’t careful.
Today I’m going to give you a few tips to help you get situated as smoothly as possible and without breaking the bank! I’ll provide my Top 5 money-sanity-optimizing moving tips and then a comprehensive list of things to do before and after your move to keep the chaos to a minimum! If you have any tips I missed, post in the comments!
Hire Movers (Sort of)
If you have the money and want to prioritize hiring movers to pack, move, and unpack your belongings, have at it. I do hear it’s wonderful (plus your items are insured if anything breaks!), I, however, do not prioritize my money that way and strongly prefer to pack my own belongings. Packing is also a great way to learn what you need to purge. I also don’t really have $1000+ for a crosstown move.
Moving cross-state or cross-country is even more expensive. When I was making a move to another city only 4 hours away, a full move would have cost $1500 AT MINIMUM, after negotiation, and that was simply loading/unloading and physical transport. It makes sense, right? You’re paying movers to not only load and unload your stuff, but also to drive your stuff down the highway and then return the truck to the other city. At the time I made that move, I was semi-employed and very worried about money. So I came up with a solution I believe is ideal if you’re moving more than a couple of miles:
HIre loaders/unloaders and rent/drive your own U-Haul.
This is the best of all worlds - you save money on the transportation. A one-way Uhaul ALWAYS costs less than paying someone to drive a truck for you. If you cut out the movers in the middle, you can hire people for a couple of hours on each end of your moving drive. It gives you muscle when you need it, and no dead weight when you don’t (almost anyone can drive a truck; no need to pay strongmen for that if you don’t have to!)
Rough cost for a half-professional mid-distance move (I spent about $500 vs the $1500 quoted):
$200-300 for movers, depending on your area and size of move
$40-80 tip for movers
$100-300 for Uhaul or other moving truck (depends on how far you’re moving)
$50-200 for gas
You don’t want to have to resort calling your friends to help you move a huge couch into a small apartment, you know? Especially if your friends are like Ros…
2. Shop moving truck prices & get a price match
You could also do this with moving services in general. U-Haul will match prices from other companies for similarly-sized vans. This is awesome, because U-haul is really the best van for moving, especially if you’re going to move yourself. All you have to do is get a quote from U-haul, get competing quotes, and call to request that they match the lower price you received from the other company.
Don’t be afraid to spend a little more time doing research and getting quotes, then asking your favorite company for a price match if they weren’t the lowest price. This is a skill I’ve honed for many years and I’ve saved SO much money over the course of my life. Most recently, I got my cell phone insurance company to replace my old iPhone 6s with a brand-new iPhone 8 (there was a series of unfortunate events before this success that led to me being able to ask for that in the first place, but it saved me $750 on a new phone, which I desperately needed!). Companies count on you giving up when they say no or never asking for a better deal. Don’t be the people they’re counting on! Take care of yourself. Ask for the discount, price match, or for them to fix what they did badly.
3. Hire someone to clean your old place before your move-out inspection (if you’re renting)
The cleaner a place is, the higher the likelihood your move-out inspection will go well, which means you’ll get more of your security deposit back. Hiring someone to clean your rented apartment or house for around $100 will:
(A) Save you TONS of time (I learned this the hard way once when my sorority sisters and I decided to forego the $150 beach condo cleaning fee one Spring Break because “we can clean ourselves!” - another girl and I spent ELEVEN HOURS after everyone else had already done basic cleaning to make that place shine. And it STILL didn’t look as good as if a professional had done it. Cost/benefit analysis, know what I’m sayin?). Nothing is worse after moving than having to clean grime from the past two years of your life
(B) Probably save you money. Clean cars usually sell faster or get higher trade-in values. It also follows that if you have a clean place, your landlord will be more likely to view the unit in a good light overall and thus overlook any minor wear-and-tear (or maybe even actual damage) when determining how much of your security deposit they should return to you. Often, dingy places look like they’re in worse condition than they really are and even well-kept places sparkle more when they’re professionally cleaned In the event that your security deposit is an entire months’ rent, the difference could be significant.
4. Shop around on electricity and cable if you aren’t in a contract and take advantage of referral opportunities!
Unless you’re Wise Mind Money and only have one cable company in your area (besides the one you’ve sworn off because they sent you to collections for no reason…see what each of the companies is offering. I generally recommend AT&T if it’s available, as I have direct or almost direct experience with most of the other cable companies. That said, you’re definitely going to be able to get a good signup deal when you move. Take advantage of that and set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to call and negotiate when the contract is up the next year. Usually you can negotiate something pretty close each year.
Electricity providers may be set in your area or you may have choices. If you have choices (in deregulated states like Texas: Here’s a list), look at aggregator websites and pay attention to the monthly service fees and fees per kWH that are separate from the actual electricity providers’ fee per kWH. They usually will advertise an “average” per kWH cost and it will sometimes cost more per kWH if you use more or less if you use more. Minimizing the gimmicks and the extra charges is the way to go. Overall cost should be your consideration.
Solicit referrals from your friends as well on both internet/cable and electricity! Usually you’ll both get some kind of bonus or discount and that can’t be beaten! Moving is a perfect time to reset and get some better prices and savings.
5. Change your address with the Post Office and get COUPONS
Guys I can’t believe I almost forgot this tip!!! When you register your move with the Post Office by completing a change of address form (which you should so that your mail will forward to you), you’ll receive “welcome to the neighborhood” mail from various companies. They’ll offer everything from a free lawn mowing to 20% off your purchase. The USPS actually sends an official packet with these offers.
Big names participate: Crate & Barrel, Home Depot, Best Buy, etc. Local companies will also provide coupons. Don’t neglect your change of address form. It’s free savings! Obviously don’t go refurnishing just because you received 15% off furniture, but if you NEED something for your new place, this is a great way to save some money in the process!
You’ll still need to update your address with anyone who sends you mail on a regular basis, but the change of address process streamlines this a lot.
Also: DO NOT USE non-USPS sites for this. They often charge a fee and the process doesn’t happen directly or automatically. Here’s a direct to USPS link. The USPS charges $1 for online change of address, which is totally worth it, I promise!
Does anyone else have tips for moving that helped you save money in the process? Let me know in the comments!
Now here’s my stream-of-consciousness Moving To-Do List for your quick reference/use:
Weeks Before the Move
Set up new electric and other utility services, as applicable
Schedule cancellation of your old utility services
Schedule cable/internet company appointment to move your services (or cancel/call new provider depending on availability in your area)
Schedule movers or rent your moving truck (or both)
If you are renting a U-haul, price other providers as well. U-haul will match prices on similarly-sized vans for the same move.
If it’s not an in-town move, I recommend hiring load/unload movers on each end, driving your own U-haul as described above in the post (if you have family or friends who can help or you feel comfortable towing your own car on a U-haul. I...do not feel comfortable, so my parents helped me).
Ask family/friends for recommendations before scouring the internet. Movers are super difficult to find in my experience.
Make sure you have enough boxes and packing tape. I like this packing tape: (scotch link). I happened to save my boxes from the previous move which will be awesome
Schedule your move with USPS and set your mail/magazines to forward
Schedule cleaners for your old place if you are leaving a place you’re currently renting
Make a list of providers with whom you’ll need to update your address for shipping and/or billing (think specifically about auto-ship subscriptions you may have)
Buy or borrow the following if you don’t have it:
Picture hanging accoutrements
Paper or regular towels
Large trash bags
Extra towels (for covering mirrors, sliding furniture, etc.)
Gallon and sandwich-sized Ziploc bags
Packing paper or old newspapers (but I recommend packing paper because it’s clean. Newspaper is dirty and may transfer ink)
Start organizing your things and making piles of items to sell or give away
Take photos of your space before you start packing, both for memories and to remind you of how things were decorated or grouped.
I recommend this with bookshelves specifically. I like my books a certain way and it’s hard to recreate without a picture
Contact your renters’ or home insurance provider to update your coverage. While you’re at it, price car insurance. You’ll probably get a better rate by switching companies! Insurance renewals usually coincide with moves because you will probably have purchased your renters’ insurance to start with your lease and renew annually and most people bundle car insurance with renters’ insurance.
Schedule charity pickups if applicable.
LABEL YOUR BOXES.
Don’t overfill your boxes - follow sizing guidelines, especially with books and kitchen gear. Big, heavy boxes are upsetting.
Do not pack your entire hanging closet in a box or take the clothes off the hangers. Use trashbags like clothes hanging bags to group clothes together and transport them in your car (you’ll punch a hole through the plastic with the hangers)
Take photos of anything you want to recreate if you haven’t already (gallery walls, bookcases, etc.)
Trash anything in the kitchen that isn’t good
Gather all papers together. Go through them before moving if you can, but if not, make sure they’re easily accessible
Wrap all of your dishes carefully.
Have cash to tip movers if you use them
Make sure all fragile items are carefully wrapped, covered, carried, etc. Stay on the movers about things like that
If you have to remove anything (like curtain rod screws, sofa feet, etc.), have one labeled box for all of those things so nothing gets lost. Plastic bags FTW here!
After your move:
Update your billing and mailing addresses based on the list you already created
Follow up with your utilities companies to make sure everything was shut down
Update your driver’s license with your new address
Update your voter registration!