Best Practices for Moving on a Budget

Surprise – you can move on a budget, even if you spring for hiring a moving company. The key is planning ahead and being both flexible and organized. After running this gauntlet personally multiple times and sharing my tips with clients, I’m putting them all in one place. Read on for best practices for moving on a budget.

Start Planning Early

Whether you’re on a budget or not, leaving all the details of your move to the last minute will cost you — and quite a bit more than you realize. Get ahead of the move, and you’ll have time to scout for cheap or free moving supplies, start sorting your stuff into keep/donate/trash piles (arguably the hardest part), and maybe host a garage sale. Negotiating a better rate with a moving company is all about flexibility and staying away from peak times, which are the first of month, mid-month and weekends (pro tip – see about midweek options).

Give yourself time to:

  • Weed out everything that isn’t going with you to the new place. Make donations wherever possible, throw away stuff that can’t be used, or consider selling bigger ticket items online or at a garage sale.
  • Find the most affordable packing supplies. You’ll often find them listed for free on sites like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, but you can also check with moving companies — they may have used boxes to offload. If you can’t find any for free, check Walmart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and U-Haul for the most affordable moving supplies. 
  • Repurpose. While rolls of packing paper are definitely an option, you can save by using what you have. Think about using your own towels and linens to wrap more delicate items, and put your luggage to good use!
  • DIY. Instead of paying the movers to pack for you, pack your boxes yourself. The more of this task you take on yourself, the less time the movers spend (on your dime).
  • Find a deal. The cheapest moving company isn’t necessarily the best choice, so give yourself time to call around and find a reputable company and a good rate. Ask about discounts for mid-week or off-season moves.
  • Make arrangements for kids and pets. It’ll mean less stress if your kids and pets are safely out of the way on moving day.
  • Audit and dispose of old paint, toxins and cleaning supplies. I have yet to close a house where there isn’t an attempt by the seller to justify leaving old cleaning supplies, long unused paint cans or a plethora of half-used garage chemicals that can’t go in the regular trash. Do an audit early under your sinks and in your garage. In some areas, you can schedule an at-home pick up.  

Prepare for the Movers

You’re paying movers by the hour, so make the most of their time by being as prepared as possible. Make sure your home is packed up and ready to go before they show up. Label everything properly, so they know which room to move boxes in the new place. Make the process as streamlined as possible – if you can stack boxes by the door or in the garage, whichever will be closer to the moving truck, that’s a good idea. Just keep in mind that they’ll likely move furniture first, so make sure they have a clear path in and out. And make a point of being around on moving day to troubleshoot and answer any questions your moving crew may have.

If your budget is really tight and your possessions aren’t overwhelming, consider moving yourself. Rent a moving truck or lean on a friend with a pick-up. Just remember that moving furniture necessitates the right gear to ensure it’s done safely and properly, without damaging your stuff, so plan accordingly.

Short on Time and Money isn’t the Primary Issue?

Consider hiring a professional to help declutter, sell, sort and donate for you. There are a variety of professionals out there and of course I keep a short list of the best ones in each location I work. Services vary from white-glove completely packing and unpacking you in your new home to taking over garage and estate sales for you. Whatever it is, getting on the calendar early is the key to getting good help and less stress. 

A Good Reminder

 Don’t forget to cancel or update any subscriptions or memberships to your new address! If you’re opposed to paying the $1.10 for the online change of address at USPS on principal you can fill out in-person a change of address form up to three months before your actual move.

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