8 Ways to Dramatically Cut Your Moving Costs

Last week I moved to a new apartment. Thrilling, right? On one hand, yes; I live in a great area, in a modern, brand new building, I have more space, and my first two months of rent are FREE. Heck yeah! On the other hand, moving inevitably comes with moving costs — and if you’ve experienced a big move before you know how annoying that can be. Those bills add up quickly and ruthlessly.

My move wasn’t perfectly cost-effective, and I should’ve been a bit more cost-conscious. Let me share with you some lessons from my move so that you can do even better. Here are eight ways to cut your moving costs:

  1. Sell things you don’t really need

All homes build up clutter, and most people hold onto things they’ll never use again. Sure, some items hold real sentimental value, but most definitely do not. Throwing things away is a valid option, but it turns out most items can sell for something. Whether you host a garage sale or post a ton of items on Craigslist, try to earn some extra cash. The win is two-fold: less stuff to move and fresh cash to offset other moving costs.

2. Lookout for free (or cheap) boxes

I doubt you can name one person who enjoys paying for boxes — especially boxes used once. Start looking early for free boxes. You don’t need to pay for a fancy box service or buy new boxes. Save some old shipping boxes. Take empty boxes from work that will go unused. Ask friends if they have boxes to spare. You can even find people online who just moved looking to sell their boxes for cents on the dollar.

3. Ask friends for help

I personally find this awkward. I hate the idea of obligating someone to give up their weekend for me. It feels like a horrible ask. But here’s the thing: movers are incredibly expensive (easily costing up to several hundred dollars), and even if they’re good it may totally not be worth the money. Ask your friends for help… but more importantly, be the kind of person who always lends a hand when they need help, too. Make sure it goes both ways.

4. Conduct research early

Sometimes hiring movers is the only realistic option. Or if you don’t hire movers you’ll need to pay for a moving truck at the very least. Take some time to dig into all the different options. It’s a competitive market and everyone wants your business. Seek out the best deals (with good reviews) and see if other players are willing to offer lower prices.

5. Prepare to move quickly

Movers typically charge by the person and by the hour. Before the movers even arrive make sure to have everything good to go — boxes taped up, furniture sorted out, and the loading docks ready. The faster you move, the lower the cost.

6. Be careful with your most expensive items

Captain Obvious, here: don’t break things. It’s a little too easy to scrape furniture, crack dishes, and pack and load things suboptimally. Just be careful. And investing in padding for tabletops and TVs, for example, could protect you from any serious breaks.

7. Negotiate with your new apartment

If you’re moving to an apartment, there are a zillion fees involved — most of which are paid upfront. Find special deals and try to negotiate. Show dissatisfaction; threaten to rent elsewhere. It may not always work, but in my experience it totally can. I’ve saved thousands of dollars in fees from seeking out good deals and negotiating.

8. Don’t move again soon

The surest way to avoid moving costs is simply to not move! Some people love to bounce around, but if you’re serious about saving money try to keep your moving to a minimum. Sometimes great deals elsewhere justify the costs, but that’s probably rarer than not.

Moving is inevitable. Everyone does it from time to time — new school, new jobs, new relationships, buying a home. Take pride in your move; after all, moving is rarely ever for the sake of moving. Move intelligently and think about how to make the experience cost-effective. Remember to thank yourself later after saving several hundred dollars.

What else can cut your moving costs? Let me know in the comments!