No two moves are ever the same, but they do all have one thing in common– The question that comes up on every move is, “How can I save money?”
Many people start their quest for savings on the internet. They’ll search for ‘budget moving services’ or ‘cheap movers in my area’ but that’s not really what most people want. Ultimately, they want the best possible service for the lowest possible cost. That typically achieved by choosing the company with the lowest pricing, but by working with your Mover to understand ways to reduce unnecessary costs.
In this article we explore ways to cut moving costs without sacrificing quality. We identify moving tasks that you can take on yourself to avoid paying for extra services and highlight some smart decisions you can make to help further limit your expenses.
Let’s Get Packing
Having your home packed is a great convenience, but it is one of the more expensive services your Mover provides. Professional packing fees include both time and a lot of materials, which can add up, especially in a large home. If you have the time and ability to pack your own belongings you can potentially save thousands of dollars.
If you don’t have a lot of time, or don’t feel comfortable packing items like glassware and dishware, you can also ask your Mover to provide a ‘partial’ pack. This lets you pack the ‘easy’ stuff (think books, clothes, linens) while leaving the difficult job to the Movers. Fragile items require the most time and materials to pack, so you won’t be eliminating the most costly part of your packing job, but you’ll still save a good amount!
If you do decide to do some or all of your own packing, remember that most moving companies sell professional grade packing materials like boxes, tape and newsprint. Using quality boxes can be very important for protecting your items, especially if they are being shipped long distance or going into storage for a period of time. You can also find packing materials in some retail stores and online, and even free boxes, but be aware that the quality may not be the same and a few pennies saved could result in expensive damage to the contents inside!
Pro tip: if you do get free boxes, make sure to avoid any that have been used for produce or other fresh food products. They can harbor bugs that can infest your shipment and your new home!
Moving Less Costs Less
Moving time is the perfect time to evaluate what items in your home you really want and what has just been taking up space. Donating or disposing of items you no longer want will allow you to make a fresh start in your new home and save money! After all, the less you have to move, the less time it will take and the less your move will cost!
There’s a lot to think about when downsizing, which we tackled in a previous article Donate It, Toss It or Move It.
Pro Tip: the majority of food items can’t be transported by your Mover and can’t be placed into storage. But your local food pantry should be very happy to take donations of food items in bags, boxes and jars. You can hang onto the canned items or just donate those too and make a fresh start!
Timing Isn’t Everything– but it sure is something!
If you have the flexibility to move during the Winter you might be able to save in more ways than you think.
In many parts of the country, especially where snow and ice make moving more challenging, many movers offer discounted rates or other deals during ‘off peak’ months. So a move in November through March will likely cost you less than one during other parts of the year.
During that same time period the housing market also tends to go into semi-hibernation. There are fewer homes on the market, so motivated Buyers have a smaller selection of homes and may be willing to pay more than they would during the height of the real estate season.
So moving in the winter can both save you money and earn you a higher sale price…and you’ll get the added bonus of not having to move in the heat of the summer!
Good Help is Hard to Find
If you decide on a ‘do it yourself’ move, all kudos to you…but be prepared for challenges and be careful to keep everyone safe!
Relying on friends and family to help with your move has the potential to save you big money, but it’s no guarantee. You may be trading one cost for another if your possessions or home get damaged during the course of the move. And, once you have your stuff out of the house, remember that it still needs to be loaded in the truck and transported safely. Padding furniture, loading a truck and securing a shipment can be very challenging if you don’t do it regularly.
In the end, hiring the right mover can actually save you money and it will DEFINITELY save you stress.
Pro Tip: If you’re moving locally, ‘Furniture only’ moves are a way to contain your moving costs and minimize the potential for damage and injury. You can ask your Mover to handle the ‘big stuff’ and leave the boxes for you to carry and transport on your own.
A Little Prep Time = A Lot of Saved Dimes
Local moves are typically quoted on an hourly rate. Your final bill will be determined by the number of hours that it takes the Movers to do their job. How well you prepare for your move can significantly cut down on the amount of time the job takes. Here are a few easy ways to shave time off your move:
1) Color code your shipment using colored masking tape or painters tape. Choose a different color for each room in your new home and create a chart that your Mover can post in the truck and on the door leading into the new house. If the Movers know where everything goes, it all goes a lot quicker!
Painters tape or masking tape is specifically recommended because it won’t damage the finish on furniture or leave residue.
2) Stage your packed boxes near the entrance the Movers will use on moving day. This will reduce the time it takes the Movers to get boxes out to the truck. Boxes are used fill gaps and build ‘tiers’ in the truck, so having a lot of them nearby is a big help to the Loader and will also contribute to making the loading process go faster.
3) Disassemble/reassemble furniture yourself. Taking apart beds and tables is time consuming. If you are capable of doing it yourself, that’s time that you won’t be paying the Mover.
Mix & Match to Save Cost & Stress
Ultimately, the decisions you make about moving will come down to a simple equation of cost vs. your time. The more ‘sweat equity’ you put in, the less hard cash comes out of your pocket. A good moving company will send a consultant out to your home to provide a free, in-home survey. That’s a great time to discuss some of these cost-saving approaches and develop a move plan that meets your needs and your budget.
by Kiana Wright & Jeremy Forest