8 Ways to Save Money (and Stress) When You Move

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  • Hiring movers can be expensive but they can make the experience a lot smoother, which can be priceless.
  • You can save money on a truck and movers by booking early and booking on a weekday.
  • Packing smartly, strategizing loading/unloading, and being mindful of time if you're being charged by the hour are also great ways to save money on your move.

Moving can be stressful. Here's help.

Thanks to growing up in an Air Force family and then working in a location-based career as an adult, I'm a reluctant moving expert. While I am hoping to buy a house in the next few years and put the brakes on for a while, after 35 moves, I've become a pro. If you are changing locations in the near future, try some of my tested ways to have a cheaper and less-stressful moving experience.

1. Get rid of stuff

Now is the time to downsize! Go through all your stuff, decide what you don't need, and donate items, sell them online, or maybe have a yard sale if you have the time. Put the money you make in your moving budget to help you cover expenses.

2. Get some help

If you can afford to hire movers, do so. They really are worth it. Call around to get a few quotes from moving companies. Read reviews and ask for recommendations from friends and family. And when you pick one, get your move in writing with them via a contract. I also recommend making sure you have good contact information (like a cell phone number) for the company, in case of day-of issues. And in my experience, movers really like a cash tip on top of the fee they're charging you. I aim for $20 to $40 per mover.

If you have friends who offer to help, let them. But go easy on them, and be generous with the pizza you'll be buying on moving day.

3. Book early (and maybe on a weekday)

You might be able to save some money on movers as well as on your truck rental if you don't move on a weekend and instead opt for a weekday. The beginning and end of the month is also likely to be busy (and expensive) for both moving companies and truck rentals.

4. Upgrade your supplies

In all my moves as an adult, I've sworn by reusable plastic totes. Yes, you have to store them when you're not moving, but they last for years and can also be washed if need be. And they're waterproof. Has it ever rained on your moving day? It poured on my last one, in 2021.

5. Hack your packing

Pack your stuff by room if possible. Label your boxes clearly (I use masking tape and a permanent marker). And don't pack too many heavy items into a large box, thereby making it impossible for one person to move said box. Trust me on this one.

6. Take measurements

I recommend taking measurements of the rooms and the wall space (and doorways) you're going to be dealing with in your new place. Compare it to your furniture. Make sure that everything will fit because there's nothing worse than discovering your beloved living room couch can't be put in the living room of your new house because of a rebuilt hallway (true story).

7. Strategize

Arrange your boxes logically for loading onto a moving truck, as this will make moving day so much smoother. Group like items together. And you should have at least a rough idea of where things will go in your new home. If your movers are charging you by the hour, saving their time will save you money.

8. Rock the big day!

Check the weather forecast for moving day -- you can't change it, but if you know it'll be raining, you can mentally prepare yourself (and maybe leave out an umbrella or two). Sequester your pets in an already-empty room (perhaps a spare bathroom) and appoint a friend or family member to be their caregiver/comforter for the day. Moving is stressful for them, too. Buy a big package of bottled water, and put some in the refrigerator in your old place and some in the one at your new place. Keep your meals simple; pizza and takeout are moving day classics for a reason. Pack essentials in suitcases, one per family member, so you have clean clothes and toiletries at the ready and don't have to search through boxes for them. And make sure you can use the shower in your new place right away. If you need to put up a shower curtain, I recommend doing it prior to officially moving in, if you can.

Moving is undoubtedly stressful, but with a little planning and some good help, you'll get through it with your wallet intact, and then get to enjoy settling into a new home. Happy packing!

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