Household Moving Costs Go Down With These 7 Tips
Exhaustion. A new hernia. At least a dozen large bruises that look like an alien infestation. Muscle and joint pain from head to toe.
Add a large dent in the bumper of my Honda Accord after running into it with the moving van.
Household moving costs are painful in many ways for do-it-yourself movers. But it’s a lot cheaper than hiring a professional moving company to do all of the work. That choice can easily run into tens of thousands of dollars depending on the amount of stuff to move and the distance from the old home to the new home.
My previous companies paid for two moves. One cost $25,000 to take us from Seattle to Virginia Beach. The other cost $12,000 to take us from Virginia Beach to Richmond.
We decided to make our latest move as inexpensive as possible because we were paying for all of it. Our experience with six total moves has given us some useful tips on how to cut costs.
1) Get Rid of 'Don't Needs'
Anyone who lives in a house with children can understand that homes build up a massive amount of things over time -- furniture, toys, appliances, tools, clothing, dishes, etc. Much of that stuff had a reason for being there. Much of it may not have a reason now.
Getting rid of as much of it as possible has three possible benefits:
It reduces how much needs to move.
Selling it raises cash.
Donating it reduces taxes (if using itemized deductions for charity)
We thought we got rid of a lot from the last 15 years in our previous home. We discovered we didn’t get rid of nearly enough. Be aggressive.
A free box is a lot cheaper than one that costs $3 or more at a store.
2) Start a Box Collection
A free box is a lot cheaper than one that costs $3 or more at a store. Grocery stores, liquor stores and other retailers that receive shipments in large boxes are ideal places to get free boxes.
Ask an employee if any are available and when is the best time to get them. Keep in mind that other people ask for them as well, so start the process a couple of months before the move.
Start buying them if enough boxes aren’t available two weeks before the move. We ended up paying several hundred dollars for dozens of boxes. We packed carefully to use them again for the next move or for other uses. Recent prices from various sources include:
- $47.95 for a kit of 20 boxes in various sizes
- $36.65 for a kit of 15 large boxes (18” x 18” x 24”)
- $16.95 for a heavy duty wardrobe box (24” x 24” x 45”)
- $12.12 for a kit of 15 small boxes (12” x 12” x 16”)
Boxes designed for home moving have at least one advantage over store throwaways. They are often designed to hold heavier amounts retailer boxes.
3) Shop Hard for Moving Vans
Of course it makes sense to get the cheapest van possible. But rental cars and vans have deals according to the amount of time or the total distance.
In our case, we were moving only a few miles away, so we looked for the best deal based on the fewest miles.
Consider using a cash-back credit card to knock a few dollars off the cost.
For people who have full-time jobs, it pays to start packing weeks in advance of the actual move.
4) Create a Scheduled Packing Plan
Do-it-yourself packing saves a great deal of money. It takes plenty of time and energy to pack an entire house. For people who have full-time jobs, it pays to start packing weeks in advance of the actual move.
Pack non-essential items first and essential items last. Mark the boxes with tags so that it’s easy to tell which boxes belong to which rooms.
If using temporary storage, put the boxes with the non-essential items at the back of the unit. Climbing over massive numbers of boxes and other items to get something at the back of a 10x20 unit is both a hassle and an easy way to get hurt.
5) Find Cheap Storage Facilities
This tip depends on the situation. In our case, we had a three-day delay between the closing of our old house and the closing of the new house. We needed temporary storage before we could start moving everything into the new house.
We contacted every storage facility within a 10-mile radius of our home, compared prices on similar-sized units and picked the cheapest ones.
If do-it-yourself movers need a few weeks to pack everything, the odds are good they also will need a few weeks to unpack everything. In our case, the new house needed the entire interior repainted, so we paid for temporary storage for more than a month -- a total of five units at more than $500 a month.
Frugal movers who do a lot of their own packing and need days or even weeks to pack have an important decision to make about storage.
Store everything on their existing property.
Store everything at a commercial storage facility.
- Store everything on the new property (if allowable).
Store Everything on Existing Property
The upside of storing in the current house is the cost. The downside comes when it is time to move those boxes into the moving vehicle, unload them and drive the vehicle back again. It is not an exaggeration to plan on 50 to 100 boxes, some of which are quite heavy.
Store Everything at a Commercial Storage Facility
Temporary storage has another purpose for a single person, couple or family. Packing an entire home takes days and even weeks to do. Common storage facility sizes are 5 feet by 10 feet, 10 by 10 and 10 by 20.
Other options include PODS, SMARTBOX and similar mobile solutions. For example, SMARTBOX has a pod that is eight feet deep, seven feet tall and five feet wide. It holds up to 3,000 pounds and can handle a room and a half of storage. The company estimates a four-bedroom home will need five to six boxes.
To save money, divide the total square feet by the monthly cost to find the best value.
Store Everything on the New Property
If the property is available and nearby, storing the boxes there is a given.
6) Hire Large Sweaty Men Only for Big Items
Movers charge according to the amount of time they take to pack and unpack, the size of the truck they need and the time it takes to move from one location to another.
Frugal savers can’t do anything about the driving time and distance because the location is already set. But they can reduce the number of items, the time it takes to pack those items and the size of the truck needed for the move.
In our case, the least expensive movers we could find still cost us more than $1,000 just to move the largest items a few miles to temporary storage and then to the new house.
7) Schedule Utility Shutdown Dates
People who are moving can easily forget to schedule utility shutdown dates because of the confusion from the move. They include water, electric, natural gas, telephone, cable TV and Internet.
Schedule everything to shut down the day after the move to avoid paying for services that are no longer needed.
© 2017 Scott Bateman