Ten Ways To Cut Costs On Moving Expenses

by Hank Coleman

Ways to cut costs on movingMoving from one home to another or into your next apartment is expensive. I have come to find this out the hard way. For years, I have been blessed with an employer that covered all of my moving costs, but this time it is different. This time I am footing the bill by myself. You may remember that I have been interviewing property managers to help me rent out my current home. So, without my employer helping with this move, I have to find ways to cut costs on moving expenses. The good news is that there are a lot ways to cut costs on your moving expenses.

Ten Ways To Cut Costs On Moving Expenses

Get Multiple Quotes

If you think that you are going to use a moving company, you need to get several quotes before you decide. Three quotes is a great number to give you a sense of how much your move will cost and whether or not you should simply do it yourself.

Pack Yourself

One way to save over half of the cost of a local move is to simply pack your own belongings instead of having the moving company do it. I was recently quoted over $1,500 in boxes and packing fees alone for my 30 mile local move for the approximate 8,000 pounds of household items and furniture I wanted moved.

Bribe Your Friends

A few cases of beer and a little begging can go a long way. When you are quoted thousands of dollars to have a three to four man professional moving crew move your belongings, $100 in beer and pizza is a small price to pay to help find ways to cut costs on your moving expenses. Even hiring your neighbor’s teenage son for the afternoon is twenty times cheaper than the moving crew.

Get Free Boxes


Boxes are one of the biggest expenses that you will encounter when you are moving. Buying boxes and the packing service was even more expensive on the quote I received from moving companies than the actual travel cost with their truck. There are a lot of places that you can get free boxes. My mother use to go to the liquor store and raid their extras. Most stores also simply just crush their boxes and are more than willing to give them to you instead if you ask. You can also find people giving away boxes that they have used in their moves on sites like FreeCycle.

Sell Your Stuff

I’m a huge fan of selling stuff on eBay and Half.com. This is a great way to get rid of extra stuff that you have in your home and also make a few extra dollars to help out with the move as well. Recently, I have finally taken the plunge and used Craigslist to sell some of our bigger items we didn’t want to move, and now I’m hooked selling things on Craigslist. It is a great resource to help you downsize before the move.

Give Your Stuff Away

When I was growing up, my mother would always purge the excess items that we had in our homes about once a quarter. She called a local charity that picked up donated items. It was a great. We simply left the things we wanted to donate on the porch, and they were gone by the time we got home from school in the evening. I found a great free website, Donation Town, that helps you find charities in your area that will pick up donations from your home.

Pack Smartly

Don’t buy very much bubble wrap if you can help it. This is an expense that will quickly add up. You can save a lot of money by wrapping some of your breakables in your own towels or bed linens. You may also be able to find newspapers or ask friends and family members to start saving their newspapers for you to use.

Rent Your Own Moving Truck

If you are moving yourself, it almost makes sense in simply renting your own U-Haul or moving truck instead of using a pickup truck. You can make fewer trips, save on gas, and save time.

Be Flexible

If you have to use a moving company and are not doing it yourself, you can save money on your move by being flexible on the dates that you want to be packed and moved. As you can guess, the weekends are the prime time that families across America want to be moved. Moving on a week day when there is an opening in the moving company’s schedule will save you money.

Update Your Home Inventory

Now that you are moving and most likely packing your boxes yourself, it is a good time to take a new inventory of the items you have in your home. If there is a loss, you will need your inventory and possibly pictures to help you prove what you had to your insurance company when you file a claim. Ensure that you do not let your renter’s insurance lapse during this time of transition as well.

Moving is expensive, but that does not mean that there are not ways to cut costs. You can save a lot of money on your move by planning ahead and thinking outside of the box a little.

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and is currently pursuing his Certified Financial Planner credentials. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.


Hank Coleman has written 525 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

SB @ One Cent At A Time

When I moved from Austin to Miami, I sold all furniture and gave away old clothes and cookwares, etc. I then shipped my boxes using UPS. We drove back to Miami our self. The whole moving was less than a $500. Very good points and I think I followed all of ‘em.
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Hank

I love the idea of mailing things to yourself. That’s a very creative way to move to say the least.
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Jai Catalano

My wife and I have an 11th way… Never move. :)
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Hank

I wish that I had that option, Jai. Just not compatible with my career.
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Newlyweds on a Budget

WE moved last weekend, and spent about $80 on the u-haul truck, got boxes from work and packed everything ourselves, and used (borrowed?) our friends to help us move. We supplied pizza and beer (and i got the beer for free doing a grocery mystery shop). couldn’t get any cheaper…unless we had our own uhaul
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Hank

No pickup trucks that you could have borrowed instead? I wonder how many times you would need to pimp out a u-haul truck that you owned yourself to your friends and neighbors who were moving for it to pay off in the long run? I see so many for sale now a days.
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Jeremy @ Modest Money

Timely post for me. I am moving at the end of the month and have already done some of the stuff on this list. When you recruit friends to help with the move, just keep in mind that you are basically committing to helping all of those friends next time they have to move. If you won’t want to help them down the road, you might be better off paying the kid down the street or hiring some general laborers.
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Hank

That’s a great point, Jeremy. I never thought about that. I remember my first job out of college….my boss MADE me help him move across town. Maybe I’ll go the general laborer route. How do I go about hiring a general laborer?
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Jeremy @ Modest Money

Your old boss sounds like a smart man exploiting the free labor. For general laborers there are various companies that contract them out in each city. Or you could risk it and try craigslist and hope you find someone you can trust. Some moving companies on there might reply if they have more workers than trucks.
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Jackie

Those are all great tips, especially the ones related to getting rid of as much stuff as you can first. I’m a firm believer in moving ourselves whenever possible, just because I moved so much as a child and remember all the hassles of things being broken, etc. I’d rather at least know that I did it if something gets damaged!
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Joe

The downsizing tips are exceptionally useful. I’d emphasize that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In general, live light. Most people are weighed down in life by tons of crap. The only thing I’m not sure I could safely fit into the back of a Ryder truck is my big screen. Last time I moved, it was 150km. Cost me $200 between the truck rental and gas, and it was for work so it’s deductible.
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Carrie - Careful Cents

This is a perfectly timed post Hank! One of my best friends is moving this weekend, so I told him about your tip of getting free boxes from liquor stores. He went there tonight and picked up a whole bunch, which saved him a ton of money from buying/paying the movers.

Also, I am thinking of moving this Summer (after my lease is up) and these tips are a great reference. I’ve bookmarked this post, for later use as well. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and wisdom.
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Zack Jones

half / ebay / craigslist have been great money makers for me in the last two weeks:

$60 on books from half.com
$245 on eBay stuff. Will transfer that to checking soon to pay on bills
$1200 on Craigslist. Just sold a Canon camera to a guy in Myrtle Beach today.

Cash deposited this evening and $1260 payment to credit card on the way. This will get us out of debt at least a month sooner so we can start fully funding our emergency fund.
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Brent Pittman

We’re moving in a week, so I’m going through all your list carefully. Getting free boxes from Trader Joe’s and renting our own truck for sure.
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Young Professional Finances

I spent about $500 on moving costs when my boyfriend and I moved from our apartment to our house – mostly for the moving company I used. Before that, I always bugged friends to help me move but this time, we had a lot more furniture. I’m so glad I used them – that’s one expense I’ll be willing to have again in the future! Definitely shop around though – and negotiate the price if possible.
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Denita

Thanks for these wondeful tips. I’m moving at the end of this month and was concerned about total expenses. I don’t own a car, so I was going to buy boxes, which is another added expense. But, I found new hope to sell somethings, use my towels and linens to wrap up breakables, and to cut corners overall. Thanks!

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Becca@removalistsmelbourne

I totally agree about getting any free boxes ready to use when you are in a moving status. It will make your budget more useful in other things.

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donate furniture

this really helps for me i’m moving next month and i’ll use this system. thanks!
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Moving Company West Caldwell NJ

Movers will typically take full responsibility only for the goods they pack themselves. If you plan on containerizing some things on your own, make sure you understand what that may mean if something is accidentally broken or lost in transit.

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