How to save money on moving

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No matter how far you’re going, there’s one thing that’s consistent about moving — the process isn’t cheap.

A survey of 2,000 Americans by Duck Brand found that the average move costs $432 — no small expense at a time when you’re completing a home purchase or making a large lump sum payment to your new landlord.

From doing more yourself to finding cheaper alternatives to packing supplies, there are several ways to save on your next move. 

Move in the winter or on the weekdays to beat the rush

It’s not always possible to plan your move for certain times of the year or days of the week. But if you’re able to, it could help you save.

“The most common areas we see people overspend on for a move are overpaying for a higher level of moving service than is required, and paying a premium to move during a peak demand time window,” says Max Anderson, director of product at online moving and home repair network Porch.

“The supply of movers and transportation is relatively fixed, but demand for moving varies widely, with seasonality curves that play out on the annual level, monthly level, and weekly level,” Anderson tells Business Insider via email. “Moving demand peaks in the summer and is lowest in the winter.”

“There is also a peak near the end of each month, as end-of-month is when most rental leases tend to turn over,” he adds. If you avoid these spikes, not only will it be easier to find movers and trucks for your move, but it may also be cheaper. 

Consider the day of the week that you move as well, if possible.

“[There’s] consistently higher demand on weekends than during week days,” Anderson says. If it’s possible to arrange your schedule to move on a Monday versus a Sunday, doing so could pay off.

Only hire movers for part of your move

While movers are helpful, they’re also expensive. According to data from the American Moving and Storage Association and United Van Lines, the average local move will cost $2,300 with movers, while a long-distance move will cost about $4,300 for 7,400 pounds. 

Bob Mulligan, a certified moving consultant with Able Moving and Storage in Washington DC, says that simply packing yourself is a big savings. “A good rule of thumb is that it usually doubles the cost of the move if we do the packing,” he says.  

The more of the work you can do yourself, the less you’ll have to pay someone else to do, which could help you save. “If you just need to hire movers because a few pieces of furniture are too large or heavy to move on your own, you don’t always need to go all the way up to hiring a full-service moving company,” he says.

Rather, find someone to move the large pieces and do the rest yourself to cut the costs. “You can do a truck rental on your own and just book moving labor help to assist with the load and unload on either end, at a dramatically reduced total cost,” he says. “Or, use a containerized moving service like PODS to do the transportation, and use a platform like HireAHelper to book the loading and unloading independently.” 

Reduce and reuse your moving supplies

Moving supplies add up, but they can usually be found cheaper or free if you know where to look.

“Moving boxes, especially if purchased new from a retail store or truck rental company, can be quite a large expense,” Anderson says. “A little-known secret for getting free boxes is to simply show up at your local grocery store and ask if they have any spare cardboard boxes.”

Additionally, using things you already have around the house can help cut back on the costs of bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and more. Use things like towels and newspaper to wrap items that need some extra protection. 

Get organized before your move  

“The biggest expense is when people are not prepared,” says Mulligan. “Everything is based on time and materials, and lot of people fall short of their expectations of what they can get done before their mover arrives. The more you do before your mover gets there, the less time it takes us and the less money we’re looking for,” he says. 

People don’t often have things ready to go, but doing so would help people save. “I would say probably 40% of the people that we moved are packing boxes when we show up on the day of,” Mulligan says. It not only slows the process down, but adding hours to your bill will also increase your costs.

Book your move well in advance, if possible

It’s not always possible to plan moves ahead of time. But, if you’re able to plan ahead and anticipate your move several months ahead, it could make your move cheaper.


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