It’s no secret that moving is a stressful and often costly venture. And without a plan in place? You can pretty much bet that getting from point A to point B will end up being a much bigger expense than you bargained for. Want to know how to reduce moving costs and successfully relocate without breaking the bank? Take a look at these money-saving moving tips. You’ll be a budget-savvy mover before you know it!

1. Research moving costs

Your first money-saving opportunity? Research and compare companies and price points. 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. Be aware, though: The cheapest option may not be the best option.

2. Assess your finances

If you’re not already tracking your income and expenses, your move is a great time to start. Budgeting apps like Mint and Personal Capital are great tools to help you monitor your spending habits all in one place. They make it simple to separate your spending into categories, like entertainment, restaurants, home expenses, subscriptions, debt, etc. From there, you can see where you can cut back and how much you have leftover for your move.

What makes moving expensive?

Moving costs a lot because you’re piling a lot of expenses on top of each other all at once. Whether it’s gas (especially if you’re renting a truck), furniture shipping, new furniture, supplies, other travel expenses, or moving help, it’s a lot to handle at one time. Add alllll that to the expenses of buying or leasing a new home, security deposits, and any other unforeseen expenditure, and it’s easy to see yourself digging for loose change in the couch cushions.

A woman whose parked her car checks a map on the side of a mountainside road.

3. Know these five things that influence average moving costs

  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 — not to mention prices could be higher. Moving during the off-season can help you find lower prices and more affordable movers.
  2. Your belongings: The more items you have, the more it costs to move them. If you’re worried about this, decluttering your space beforehand can help.
  3. Extra hidden fees: 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.
  5. The moving option you’ve chosen: Having professional movers take care of every aspect of your move is typically the most expensive option, while going DIY with a moving truck rental is often considered the cheapest. But with the recent rise in fuel prices, that may no longer be the case. Moving with PODS means you can choose your container size, take your time with packing and loading, store your things if you need to, and (the best part?) you don’t have to drive a big rental truck

Can you negotiate moving costs?

In short, yes, you can negotiate moving costs. How much you can save is going to depend on your situation, though.

If you’re moving to start a new job, ask your new employer about the costs they’ll cover for your relocation. When you’re apartment hunting, see if it’s possible to negotiate the monthly rent or have a portion of the initial fees waived. And if you’re buying a house, there are a number of things you can negotiate, like closing costs or renovations and repairs.

A mason jar sits on a wooden table, stuffed full of  dollar bills to use for the big move.

4) How much should I budget for moving?

The cost of a move varies greatly from a few hundred dollars for a small, local move to $10,000 or more for a cross-country move. When determining your moving budget, you’ll need to consider things like:

  • Where you’re moving
  • Your living situation
  • What you’re moving
  • What you already have vs. what you need

Once you’ve nailed down the details, you’ll have a better idea of how much you’ll need to prepare for the move. 

Q: How can I save the most money on my move?
A: You can start by asking around for free items, like boxes, paper, bubble wrap, and other packing supplies. You can also get creative with what you already have in your home.

5) Save up before moving day, just in case

Even if you’re moving on a tight moving budget, it’s always a good idea to have a little extra padding. We recommend saving up at least three months of expenses before your move. 

You can take advantage of free cost of living calculators for your new area to get an idea about the key differences between cities. From there, you’ll get a better idea of how far your money can go. It’s also smart to have a comprehensive moving checklist on hand, so you have a guide to follow when you’re calculating moving costs. (Apartment dwellers: We have a list specifically for you! Check out our checklist for apartments.)

A stack of flattened cardboard boxes piled high.

6) Get creative with your moving materials

Packing supplies like boxes, paper, tape, mattress bags, and blankets don’t seem expensive on their own, right? But just like that daily cup of coffee, they add up quickly. Check out these moving and packing hacks instead, and you could find some real savings.

Moving boxes
Moving boxes from moving companies are highly recommended due to their sturdiness and uniformity, but there are other options, too.

For free boxes, try getting in touch with local businesses. 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. You can also check out Facebook or Craigslist to see if your neighbors are giving away their gently used boxes.

Packing paper
Instead of buying packing paper or bubble wrap to pack away your vases, picture frames, dishware, and other fragile items, turn to your linens. Sheets, towels, scarves, and soft, bulky winter gear are all a great way to protect things that might get damaged during your move.

What you already have
You have laundry baskets and bins lying around, don’t you? Why not use them to pack up clothes, shoes, or even your bathroom items? Instead of packing your first night essentials in their own box, you can turn to a clear or open container for easy access, too.

Shoe boxes and reusable food containers are great for toiletry items, smaller kitchen utensils, and accessories. And old tackle boxes are a great way to store accessories and eliminate the headache of tangled jewelry. If you don’t have a tackle box, you can try placing necklaces and bracelets into each finger of a rubber glove before tying or taping it closed. Genius!

An array of common cooking essentials, including onions, garlic, lemons, tomatoes, olive oil, cucumbers, squash, and pasta.

7) Keep using those cooking skills

You might think takeout and delivery are the easiest options, but eating out three times a day can put a serious strain on your wallet. Here are some meal prep tips and tricks you can use to ease the burden:

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 essentials to last at least 72 hours once your kitchen is packed up, like:

  • Salt and pepper
  • A neutral oil (olive, vegetable, avocado, etc.)
  • Lemons and/or limes
  • Red onions
  • Heads of garlic
  • Your favorite spices
  • Something sweet
  • Heat-resistant spatula
  • Non-stick pan
  • 1 kitchen knife and other prep tools
  • Cutting board
  • Dinnerware
  • New sponge/dish soap
  • 1 mixing bowl

Next, buy frozen meat like chicken or burgers and pair them with pre-cooked, frozen veggies. Then just add pasta and toss everything together, and you have some healthy, delicious, and cheap meals.

For breakfast, you can pack some eggs up to cook. Or simply throw your blender into this box along with bags of frozen fruit to make smoothies.

8) Know that you’ve got this!

If you’re overwhelmed, remember that there are entire industries dedicated to figuring out the logistics of moving. Yes, it can be hard, but you’re never 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! And in the meantime, check out the PODS Blog for more tips on all things moving and storage.

Katlynn Mullins is a St. Petersburg-based freelance writer whose only roommate is their cat. A frequent PODS blog contributor, Katlynn loves finding ways to make moving into new spaces simple and stress-free. Between yearly apartment hopping, you can find them on the waterfront or experimenting with new ways to make coffee.

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