Moving is going to cost you money — likely more than you think. Getting from point A to point B can be either way too expensive or surprisingly manageable depending on how you plan. If you take an inventory of your finances, plan ahead, and do your research, you can successfully relocate without breaking the bank.

Research Everything before moving

Research and compare companies and price points. It’s basic advice, but it’s not followed nearly enough. This is really where you’re going to save a lot of your money. Make sure to start this process at least a month in advance, though we recommend two. The following steps are all things you should be doing in the research and planning phase before your move.

a man doing budget calculations on a calculator

Assess Your Finances

Apps like Mint and Personal Capital are great tools for monitoring your spending habits. You can categorize your spending in chunks, like entertainment, restaurants, utilities, etc. This can be extremely helpful to see how much you’re spending in each category and whether there’s room to cut back. Maybe you don’t need to eat out for lunch so often after all.

Research the cost of these key expenses so you can have a relative estimate of how much the move itself is going to cost:

  • Gas (if you’re renting a truck or driving your own vehicle)
  • Furniture shipping
  • Boxes and supplies
  • Travel expenses such as hotel costs and food
  • Packing and loading help if you need it

How Much Money Should You Save Before Moving?

Even if you’re trying to move on a tight budget, it’s always a good idea to have a little extra padding in case of the unexpected. We recommend saving up at least three months of expenses before your move. This includes three months’ rent, utilities, the costs of a moving truck or portable container, as well as money for food and transportation. Build some buffer if you can.

NerdWallet has an easy-to-use cost of living calculator where you can see key differences in expenses between cities. If you’re moving to a city with a lower cost of living, your paycheck will go further than if you’re moving to a more expensive city.

Four Things that Influence the Cost of Your Move

1. The season: Are you moving during the summer? It’s the most popular time of year to move, so there’s limited availability for moving solutions, and prices could be higher.
2. Your belongings: You may need to pay extra to insure your move.
3. Hidden extra charges: Depending on the services and moving company you hire, you may be charged extra to move large items like a piano, or if your furniture needs to be disassembled and re-packed.
4. The distance you’re moving: Whether you’re moving locally, out of state, or cross-country makes a huge difference when it comes to moving costs.

Moving and Packing Hacks

Packing supplies like boxes, paper, tape, mattress bags, and blankets don’t seem expensive on their own. But just like that daily cup of coffee, they add up quickly. This doesn’t mean you should pack your items in garbage bags, of course. Check out these moving and packing hacks instead, and you could find some real savings.

moving boxes, packing tape, and cushioning roll for moving

Moving Boxes

Moving boxes from moving companies are highly recommended due to their sturdiness, ease-of-loading and like-sizes. But they can be expensive.

Alternatively, you could contact or drop by local businesses to collect unused boxes. A lot of businesses will break down boxes and pack them for recycling right away, so call ahead and make sure there are some available.

Pro Tip: Don’t take boxes that are flimsy or falling apart. It’s great to save a buck, but you’ll eat those costs later if you aren’t careful.

Baskets and Bins

Laundry baskets and any bins you have around are great for packing clothes, shoes, and even bathroom items. They’re sturdy and provide a lot of valuable storage room, plus they’re something you already own.

Shoe boxes and Tupperware are great for toiletry items, smaller kitchen utensils, and accessories. Old tackle boxes are also a great way to store accessories and eliminate the headache of tangled jewelry.

Packing Paper Alternatives

Instead of buying packing paper, wrap up your vases, picture frames, dishware, and any other fragile items in your soft household materials. Sheets, towels, scarves, and soft, bulky winter gear are all a great way to protect items that might get damaged during your move.

moving meal hacks

Meal Hacks

It’s hard to plan your meals while moving and easy to grab take-out when you’re stressed and overwhelmed. These expenses can creep up, and you’ll have blown through your food budget before you even know it. Here are some meal prep hacks and tricks to keep your hunger at bay without breaking the bank during relocation.

Two to three weeks before your move, take a full inventory of your kitchen. Plan your meals with the intent of eating your frozen and perishable foods first.

To begin, pack a kitchen emergency box. This should include the essentials to tide you over for at least 72 hours once your kitchen is packed up. Include the basics:

  • Kosher Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemons and/or Limes
  • Red Onions
  • Heads of Garlic
  • Fresh Basil
  • Heat Resistant Spatula
  • Non-Stick Pan
  • 1 Kitchen Knife
  • Dinnerware
  • New Sponge/Dish soap
  • 1 Mixing Bowl
  • 1 Bag of Dove Dark Chocolate (you’ve got to indulge a little too, right?)

Next, buy frozen meat like chicken or burgers and pair them with pre-cooked, frozen veggies. Then just add pasta, bake everything together, and throw in a few of the above ingredients for some healthy, delicious, and cheap meals.

Organization is paramount when it comes to saving money and eating well during a move. This means making a schedule for yourself and sticking to it. If you’re like us and could use some further guidance for meal prep, AnyList and Paprika are two phenomenal apps to help with everything from finding recipes and building shopping lists to organizing your pantry and planning your meals.

You’ve Got This

Always remember that there are entire industries dedicated to figuring out the logistics of moving. It’s certainly hard, but you’re not alone. Take as much time as you can, thoroughly research, build lists, consult apps, and even give us a call if you want — do everything at your disposal to budget the right way from the beginning. Costs are easier to cut when you know where to look! Check out the PODS Blog for more tips on all things moving and storage.


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